LETHAL WEAPON Review: “Better Living Through Chemistry”

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Lethal Weapon delivers a low-calorie caffeine free episode with “Better Living Through Chemistry.” I’m not sure what they were trying to achieve with this episode so I don’t know if they succeeded. Was it entertaining? Certainly not as much as other episodes or any of its competition. Was there good Lethal Weapon action? There was a pretty complicated bar fight and a high fall they cut away from. Even the Murtaugh family issue was a little light this week. I love the series, but this came up short.

Trish and Murtaugh are worried about RJ. He dropped out of school three weeks ago and he’s been spending most of his time just floating in the pool. That’s the emergency; RJ, at home, floating. He isn’t being shot at in some foreign land or running with the wrong crowd, he’s spending a few weeks recalibrating his journey after a decade of assuming he’d be at university getting drunk and stoned with the rest of his peers. Trish and Murtaugh make an appointment with a shrink.

RJ’s therapist spends an hour with him and lets Trish and Murtaugh know he’s doing just fine. His current concern is how disappointed his parents are with him. Trish is shocked to hear this, but RJ heard Murtaugh tell the mailman the reason his son was home from school was because he was recovering from a rare tropical disease. RJ has the Moondays because his dad is being a dad. As a subplot, this has to be the league minimum. Later, Murtaugh has a five-minute talk with RJ and then they watch the game together. If there is a lamer use of screen time and talent, please let me know.

Riggs has been in a steady backslide since the call from his father and the assassination of Ben’s puppy, Chuck Norris. He’s depressed, drinking, haunted by nightmares, and suicidal again. He starts his morning by gargling his secret hangover cure, on a public street, and spitting it out on the Deputy Mayor’s electric car. When the man gets upset, as anyone would, Riggs smashes the man’s car with his nasty truck. Several people capture the incident on their phones and it’s all over the internet by the time Riggs’ staggers into work. Avery has already fielded a few angry calls, then every phone starts to ring.

Dr. Cahill gets called to facility to check on one of her patients, Stanley Oliver (I’m glad somebody thinks they’re funny.) Stanley fakes Cahill out, takes her hostage at scalpel point, and forces her to leave with him in her car. The Lethal Weapon team respond to the call and track her car to an abandoned strip of filth under a highway overpass. Cahill is okay, Riggs finds her tied up in her trunk, but Stanley is dead by bullet to the temple. Some quick sleuthing shows Stanley only had one visitor while he was in treatment, his former burglar-partner, Carl Edwards.

Riggs and Murtaugh drop in at the dive bar where Carl hangs with his lowlife pack. To their credit, when Riggs and Murtaugh announce they’re looking for Carl, everyone at the bar claims to be Carl Edwards. This leads to a fight, Riggs and Murtaugh versus the naughty bunch. They deliver a quick beat down and check everyone’s ID. Then, the real Carl Edwards steps out of the men’s room. He’s glad Stanley is dead, but he was on “The Price is Right” when it happened. Carl steers the investigation at Stanley’s new fence, a guy named Jose Esparza.

This sends Dr. Cahill into a funk, Esparza is one of her patients too. She thought both guys were doing better. Cahill calls Esparza and sets up a meet in public where Riggs and Murtaugh can pick him up. Esparza spots the cops and runs, then climbs up construction scaffolding like all TV crazies. Riggs pursues until the two men are at the end of an “H-beam.” Esparza gets spooked and falls to his death as Cahill and Murtaugh watch from below.

Two of Cahill’s patients are in the morgue and Riggs is in the fast lane to death. Deputy Chief Santos pressures Cahill to sign a fitness report showing Riggs unfit for duty so they can take his badge, or stand by a good fitness report by tying her to his. At first, Cahill backs Riggs, but she also answers the call of the bottle. Scorsese determines both of Cahill’s patients were clean of drugs which is almost an impossibility, they were both prescribed a steady selection of meds.

Those clinic drugs could be worth a million dollars on the street. They suspect the doctor in charge, Samuels, but they don’t have any evidence. They do have one crazy cop. Avery and Murtaugh set Riggs up to be admitted. Riggs sneaks out of his cell and finds facility staff swapping out the treasure drugs. There’s a fight and he ends up in a padded room where Dr. Samuels monologues his corruption and the murder of Stanley. A few moments later, Murtaugh and Cahill break in and rescue him. Case solved.

Cahill calls Riggs when he misses an appointment. He doesn’t admit where he is, which is sitting on the ledge of a very high building draining a six-pack, but he does tell her she’s very good at her and has helped keep him together all year. We learned Riggs’ mother committed suicide when she got sick of taking chemo, otherwise, there’s absolutely nothing in this episode that adds to the series in any meaningful way.

TB-TV-Grade-C

Season 2, Episode 13 (S02E13)
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays at 8PM on Fox

Read all of our reviews of Lethal Weapon here.
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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.
Follow Eric on Twitter: @Etom2012
Keep up with all of Eric’s reviews here.

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