LETHAL WEAPON serves up an armored car heist in “Best Buds.” If this episode were a movie, they would concentrate on two story elements. “How” to pull off the heist, and “why.” Lethal Weapon skips all the clever planning and prep that goes into “how” and starts with the take down. Why is this heist interesting? Murtaugh gets a glimpse into his future.
Lethal Weapon hasn’t established any legacy villain yet. This was something that worked well Breaking Bad, The Black List, and many other crime centered narratives. Instead, “Best Buds” continues to work the character love arc. We know all about Riggs and keep learning more about his wife, Miranda. Riggs isn’t ready for new love, his arc is the constant torture of loss, something he experiences every time he sees Murtaugh with Trish.
They do a funny little shtick this week about what the word “there” means. Riggs gets it wrong and shows up at Murtaugh’s house unannounced. Trish spots Riggs moping in the back yard after she enjoys a little private affection with Murtaugh in the kitchen. When Murtaugh asks how long Riggs was waiting out there, he says he didn’t want to interrupt their happiness. Murtaugh mentions how he realizes he could lose everything in an unexpected instant. I don’t know how long they can keep playing that note, but it’s working so far. This week’s love story centers on Murtaugh and Trish.
It starts on date night, the first one they’ve had in a while is interrupted by the armored car heist. Murtaugh recognizes the driver as his mentor and Training Officer, Ned Brower (Ted Levine.) Hollywood fuels a whole spectrum of fantasies. Fame and fortune are common but there are many others. The studios hold treasures of dream making resources for those who get the green light. One of those fantasies is the ability to build a world filled with the faces of talent we love. Somebody at Lethal Weapon got to make the Ted Levine call. Maybe, they wanted to make it for years. “You know, Levine would be great for Ned, can we make him the offer.” A couple of e-mails, phone calls or maybe a coffee and light-calorie lunch later; the man who breathed life into Jame Gumb walks on set. Anyone a size fourteen?
Ned’s a little banged up from the heist, his truck was carrying $17million worth of cash from medical marijuana dispensaries. There is some quick chit-chat while Ned and Murtaugh catch up. Murtaugh’s big news is the baby, Ned’s is the death of his wife. He spent his good years doing the job right, planning on spending quality retirement time with his wife. She got sick and died of ovarian cancer before that could happen. Roger always who knew he had something good, now he sees how fragile that life can be.
The case is interesting. Apparently, banks won’t hold money made from marijuana shops. Owners have to employ specialists to handle their profits and liquid assets. In this case, the agent, Angela Carlson makes a whopping 20% commission for taking care of the money, but she’s also on the hook if anything happens to it. Part of her job is collecting and paying their special taxes on a certain day which is why the load Ned was driving was so big. This had to be an inside job.
Very few people had this specific information. Carlson’s clients, Donnie and Lonnie are the first stop, but they don’t appear to know much. While questioning the whacky duo, Riggs notes the smell of patchouli oil. Later, Ned reveals he smelled it on the heist team too. Riggs and Murtaugh return to Donnie and Lonnie’s place only to find them decapitated.
Scorsese determines the decapitation happened post mortem. Donnie and Lonnie were cattle prodded to death. Riggs and Murtaugh check the M.O. with the gang unit. A young detective, and former gang banger, Cruz, knows a guy named Paco that uses the cattle prod as a signature device. Paco is tough, but Riggs makes him talk. He did question Donnie and Lonnie but they really didn’t know where the cash was. Turns out, the cash is parked in Ned’s back yard.
Ned heisted the money from the boys. He turns himself in for arrest to Murtaugh just before Riggs shows up at Ned’s house. Murtaugh has a real dilemma here, he knows he has to arrest Ned, but feels terrible about it. Riggs suggests they turn the money in immediately and give Ned twenty-four more hours of freedom. This plan backfires when the cartel get a hold of Ned and make Riggs return with the cash. This is where we get the gunfight, chase sequence. Ned scurries off while the cartel guys go after Riggs and Murtaugh. They are outnumbered and run out of ammunition just as LAPD arrives in force. It’s unclear whether anyone else knows of Ned’s involvement. Captain Avery informs Riggs and Murtaugh that Angela Carlson’s head showed up in TJ. He also tells Riggs that city attorney Delgado has been calling and leaving messages. Avery still hasn’t made the connection to Riggs’wife.
The scenes with Riggs and Delgado are fantastic. The connection to her family is something we never saw in any of the movies. Long form narrative holds many advantages, deep character exploration is a huge perk. There’s no doubt bringing this property to TV was a gimmick, we see other attempts struggle. Lethal Weapon proves there is a great way to expand a non-DC franchise.
Season 1, Episode 3 (S01E03)
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays at 8PM on Fox
Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor