LETHAL WEAPON shows us sides of Riggs and Murtaugh we haven’t seen before in “Can I Get a Witness?” This show has been great entertainment right from pilot. I can’t understand why Fox hasn’t dedicated the delivery to a solid weekly schedule. “Can I get a Witness?” is another character growth entry.
The crime of the week is a casino heist perpetrated by a team on motorcycles. They smash through the windows, steal a million dollars, and roll back out without hurting anyone. The cameras don’t help much because the men are wearing helmets, but a waitress claims she got a good look at one of the bikes.
Riggs arrives at the crime scene and lays the check for the sale of his El Paso home on the roulette table. Murtaugh pulls it away, he can’t stand to see Riggs’ waste a nest egg like that. The ball lands on Riggs’ number; that would have been a huge payout. Trish forces Murtaugh to face his own wild side when she reminds him he agreed to climb Kilimanjaro with her. Since then, he’s grown and his interests have changed, but he also wonders if he’s slowed down too much. Let’s face it, we all slow down, but he’s had open heart surgery.
Meanwhile, the cocktail waitress witness, Sarah McFadden, gets a visit at her apartment from a man claiming to be a detective. Billy is a member of the gang that robbed the casino. Sarah tells him what she remembers about the bike and he shoots her in the head. Riggs and Murtaugh were also on their way to see Sarah; they hear the shot and break into her place. Sarah is still alive and Billy escaped through a bedroom window, but Riggs discovers Sarah’s son, Ethan, hiding in the closet.
Ethan is quiet at first, he doesn’t respond to Murtaugh or Dr. Cahill, but Riggs gets through to him, little by little. The first thing he confesses is that Sarah never saw anything at the casino. Their baby sitter canceled and she had to take him to work with her. He was hiding behind the bar and got a good look at a distinctive mark on the motorcycle. If Sarah admitted to having Ethan on site, she’d be fired.
Murtaugh follows up on the bike lead and heads to a custom motorcycle shop to see if anyone recognizes the design. The motorcycle shop owner admits he puts that logo on all the bikes he works on. That doesn’t help them out, but being at the shop makes Murtaugh itch for a motorcycle. He claims he used to ride when he was younger. At the very least, he was a huge CHiPs fan. This is a real thing among California cops. The day Erik Estrada got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, dozens of actual CHiPs showed up and lined the street boulevard with their bikes. The problem is, Murtaugh isn’t Estrada and no one can picture him on a motorcycle.
Lethal Weapon is rarely about the crime. This wasn’t some sort of euro-mastermind heist. “Can I Get a Witness?” is about Murtaugh getting back on his bike and Riggs being more of a responsible adult. Ethan’s mom is alive but has a difficult surgery and recovery process. Riggs doesn’t want to turn Ethan over to foster care, but he doesn’t have a good alternative either. Riggs doesn’t treat himself right, how could he possibly handle the needs of child?
He lets Ethan spend the night at his trailer which is barely comfortable enough for the stray dog Riggs took in. This is all good character stuff, Riggs means well. The year before, he was getting ready to add a baby to his life. He sees Ethan on the edge of a great loss and understands the kid’s pain and uncertainty. Ethan is also sensitive enough to see Riggs’ dull edges. He points out, not in a mean way, that Riggs looks like an alcoholic. Ethan says it doesn’t scare him, his father was also an alcoholic.
Scenes like this are great for the show. We know Wayans has a deep kit and can deliver the drama as well as the comedy. Crawford, on the other hand, must deliver a much more nuanced performance. He can show a sense of humor, but he doesn’t have the perspective that Murtaugh does. His initial gear is always more somber, which demands he shade his drama more precisely. Ethan confesses he never looked at the man that shot his mother, he only heard the guy’s voice. Again, Riggs takes the information less like a cop and more like a guardian.
Dr. Cahill and Captain Avery tell Riggs, since Ethan isn’t an actual witness, he has to go into foster care until his mother recovers enough to take him home. Riggs understands, this time he has to deliver. He drops Ethan off at the city office, but stays in the neighborhood to buy some booze. Billy goes in posing as a detective and asks the reception desk to see Ethan, they have one last question for him. Ethan recognizes Billy’s voice and sneaks out the window and into the back of Riggs’ truck.
This leads to the Lethal Weapon moment of the night. Murtaugh gets a lead on Billy and calls to inform Riggs, who just arrived home and discovered Ethan hiding in the back of his truck. Billy and his team see Ethan and Riggs on the beach and ride down to kill them. Riggs hides Billy in the fridge, tells him to count to one hundred, and goes out to face the baddies. Riggs is effective in a shootout, but Murtaugh arrives, on his new motorcycle, in time to save Riggs and Ethan from Billy.
Trish allows Murtaugh to keep his new toy, she can enjoy riding it too. Riggs donates his house check to Sarah and Billy so they can have a nest egg. Then, he goes home, cleans up his trailer and gives the pooch some proper dog food. Baby steps.
Season 1, Episode 8 (S01E08)
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