LETHAL WEAPON delivers surprises and dramatic twists in its first season finale, “Commencement.” Murtaugh wants to take RJ on a camping trip to teach him family manly skills, survival and self-reliance as RJ’s graduates high school ready to seek adventure in the world. Trish rents him a cabin and fully stocked fridge so they don’t have to rely on catching fish and setting tent. This bit provides plot pieces for Riggs’ vengeance story, but it’s Wayans’ excellent performance of a man grappling with deep dilemma that elevates this finale.
The Feds won’t let Riggs question the assassin Gideon Lyon. To make the situation more Lethal Weapony, the prisoner transport is attacked and someone grabs Gideon without hurting the guards. Of course Riggs is the guy who jacked the transport. He plants some clues to deceive the investigation, but Murtaugh puts a theory together quick. Murtaugh doesn’t want to believe Riggs would go this far. He drops in on Riggs at the trailer while Riggs is there torturing Gideon. Riggs successfully hides Gideon but Murtaugh’s suspicions grow.
Later, he calls Riggs several times but Riggs never returns the calls. Murtaugh has Bailey track Riggs’ cellphone and realizes Riggs is using the cabin Trish rented for Roger and RJ to torture Gideon. At first, Gideon claims he doesn’t know anything about Miranda’s death, but later he starts to provoke Riggs with details about the day she died. Gideon says he watch them eat blueberry pancakes, something Riggs remembers too. Riggs smashes Gideon’s hand but Murtaugh arrives before he can get more information out of him.
Murtaugh confronts Riggs outside the cabin but when he goes in to see how much damage is done to Gideon, they discover he has escaped. Riggs and Murtaugh search the woods for the wounded assassin. Murtaugh finds and shoots Gideon when he makes a run for it. One of the great Lethal Weapon moments of the night happens when Gideon flies off the cliff and drops a long way into the rocky rapids below. Who could survive that?
Riggs completely expects Roger to turn him in for the attack on the prisoner transport van, but when the time comes and they’re standing in front of Avery, Murtaugh tells a different story. He says they tracked Gideon to a Cartel safe house in the woods together, engaged him there but he ultimately escaped. Avery is happy enough they didn’t blow anything up or do something that might get him fired.
However, after Riggs leaves, Murtaugh returns and tells Avery he needs a new partner. This is an important emotional beat and a fantastic scene by Wayans. We always see Riggs fighting with some level of pain but Wayans delivers great dilemma performances in short, powerful scenes. Murtaugh goes home to Trish and his family while Riggs heads back to his trailer to drink. He realizes he never made Trish blueberry pancakes the morning she died. They talked about it on the phone with her father, Ronnie Delgado, but Riggs spilled the batter. Gideon was lying, he wasn’t watching them, but he did hear them. Riggs rushes to Murtaugh’s house to update him and Murtaugh confesses he’s getting reassigned in the morning.
Murtaugh wears a brand-new suit the next day, he plans to go to RJ’s graduation ceremony straight from work. Bailey has been pouring over Riggs’ El Paso cases looking for connections to Miranda’s death and finds links to Ronnie Delgado. Riggs goes to Delgado’s house to apologize for getting Miranda killed, but Delgado keeps telling Riggs to move on. He slips and says, Gideon never had any part of Miranda’s death. Riggs realizes it’s Delgado who knew about their plans that day and the blueberry pancakes. He’s the top cartel insider in Los Angeles. Delgado feels bad about Miranda but he has other daughters and family to protect.
Gideon is waiting for Riggs as he leaves the Delgado house and he already has Murtaugh. Gideon takes them both to a subway maintenance room lair to torture for information about who else knows Delgado is their man. Riggs tries to get them to start with him, but Gideon starts with Murtaugh. He knows Murtaugh has a weak heart and pacemaker. Gideon is a proper mean dude. He removes Murtaugh’s shoes and puts his bare feet in a pan of water while delivering a series of shocks from a defibrillator. Murtaugh’s pacemaker holds long enough for Riggs to break free and kill several nameless hench. Gideon makes a run for it and ends up fighting Riggs in front of an approaching subway train.
Lethal Weapon doesn’t show us anything graphic. No one mentions whether or not Gideon died on the tracks, even though it looked like he would, but we do see Riggs slip away. Murtaugh rushes to catch the moment where RJ receives his diploma, still no shoes. As RJ’s world opens, Delgado’s closes. LAPD arrests him and Murtaugh asks where Riggs is headed next. Season one ends with Riggs in Mexico, watching and harassing Tito Flores, the head of the Flores cartel and the man that ordered the death of Riggs’ wife. Murtaugh drives south looking for Riggs. I love the way this show pulled the story together. Delgado makes a great traitor for Riggs and adds to the tragedy of Miranda’s death. I’d also like to see Gideon return, or an angry vindictive Mrs. Gideon, a dark mirror to Trish. The Lethal Weapon team knows they head into the second season armed with many story telling assets, great dramatic talent, and a growing fan base.
Season 1, Episode 16 (S01E018)
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays at 8PM on Fox
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor