LETHAL WEAPON delivers its Christmas show early with the dramatic “Jingle Bell Glock.” This uses several flashback scenes to show us a bit of the life Riggs enjoyed with his late wife, Miranda. We get to see the night they met, their first Christmas together, and a scene where Riggs finds out she’s pregnant. These are all supposed to bookend the contrast of how lonely Riggs is without her in the present. Lethal Weapon also uses Murtaugh’s family, bursting with love and potential to frame Riggs as a man suffering the loss of his love engine. It isn’t just that he stopped receiving Miranda’s love, Riggs stopped loving himself and others. It takes everything he has to simply care about life.
Disney’s Up set the gold standard for showing a compressed love story and it ends much the same way it does for Riggs, with a guy completely disconnected from the world around him. These flashbacks were a good start, but I hope to see more. If we take a good look at these two men in their love relationships, they are a bit similar. A good love arc isn’t just about two people coming together, it’s about the right two people finding and, as Jerry Maguire put it, completing each other. That isn’t the case here.
Trish is as complete a human as there could be. We haven’t seen much of Murtaugh’s backstory in flashback, but he doesn’t seem like a wreck in the love department. If Murtaugh and Trish had never met, they both would have done fine and found someone else; and that doesn’t pass a love arc test. Miranda is lonely when she meets Riggs. It’s her first time that she won’t be spending the holidays with her family. That’s rough, but Miranda is a catch. If not Riggs, she would have found someone else, maybe even a better choice than Riggs. Finally, there is Riggs, the show’s last chance to deliver a tragic love character. He’s alone at a bar during the holidays. This tells us he may not have family or friends, but not why. Then we see his sparse apartment, it isn’t exactly set up to entertain a romantic evening. Where love is concerned, he isn’t anywhere near Roger, Trish, or Miranda. That doesn’t make him hopeless, but if they plan to continue showing Riggs howl at the moon, we need to see a man incapable of giving or receiving love in the future. It’s crucial in a film or TV love arc for at least one of the people involved to be near impossible to love. All thorn, no love petal, like Carl from Up. Right now, Riggs’ world isn’t impossible without Miranda, it’s just very unpleasant.
This week’s victim, Elena Toll, was thrown off her balcony and fell 25 floors to her death. She was dating a notorious cartel biggie named Eddie Flores, a man Riggs investigated in El Paso. Riggs almost had Eddie years before but the main witness was decapitated before trial. Flores recognizes Riggs and teases him about Miranda’s death. Riggs almost throws Flores off a building, but Murtaugh stops him and convinces Riggs it’s better to build a case and send Flores away proper.
Elena’s friend Hannah has security footage that might help put Flores away but she dies right in front of Riggs and Murtaugh when her car explodes. Again, Flores snarks about killing the witness in an explosion. Riggs gets overly emotional about the idea Miranda was murdered and he asks Scorsese to audit the investigation file, but he finds no evidence of anything but an accident. Riggs becomes obsessed with linking Miranda’s death to Flores. Then, Hannah’s security footage shows a clear picture of Flores killing Elena.
Riggs and Murtaugh arrest Flores at a party where he’s drinking with holiday victim number three, but Flores tells one of his hench to make a call as they remove him from the building. That one call sends a killer to Murtaugh’s house. Trish is as strong as you’d expect, she doesn’t panic or do anything that might endanger her three kids. Riggs gets a call from Flores’ uncle, Tito, the head of the Juarez cartel. Tito offers a simple trade. If they deliver Flores to the Van Nuys Airport, Murtaugh’s family will be spared.
Riggs drives Flores to the airport to make the exchange while Murtaugh heads home to save his family. Trish and Murtaugh take down the hench so quietly the kids are never aware the family was in danger. The Flores exchange doesn’t end well. When Riggs gets a text from Murtaugh that his family is safe, he puts a gun to Flores’ head and asks him if he did have his wife killed. Tito has one of his hench shoot Flores before he can answer. He thanks Riggs for bringing Flores to the airport, but explains his anger and aggression had become liabilities. Again, Riggs asks Tito if Flores had Miranda murdered. Tito tells Riggs he wasn’t that important to the cartel in El Paso and he still isn’t. At that point, I believed Tito, but once he’s on his little jet he makes a call and tells the person on the other end, Riggs was asking about Miranda’s accident and he told him the truth. Maybe Riggs wasn’t important to them but Miranda was?
This episode was all part of the initial series order; they’ve produced a great crossover property. However, I expect Lethal Weapon is only getting better as people settle into their roles. There’s one more episode next week and then the show takes a short winter break.
Season 1, Episode 9 (S01E09)
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