Family Ties Fly In Lethal Weapon 2.4: “Flight Risk”

by Ben Martin

[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 4: Flight Risk  DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so.  Episode 4: Flight Risk can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]

Last week’s episode of Lethal Weapon opens 20,000 feet in the air. A private charter flight for the rich is in its final approach. Everything is copacetic until one of the passengers pulls a gun, demanding his fellow passengers’ valuables. The thief manages to obtain his spoils with ease until he gets to a passenger holding a briefcase, who refuses to hand it over. The two fight each other and the owner of the briefcase pulls a gun of his own. However, the high-flying burglar gets the upper-hand, by pulling the emergency exit door; causing the briefcase owner to fall out of the plane, without his prized possession. With that, the thief grabs the case, and parachutes out of the aircraft.
On the ground, we find Riggs (Clayne Crawford) in a pawn shop. He is in the midst of pawning off what looks like the majority of possessions that fill his trailer. It’s all the junk that one collects over the course of living life until he sets one particular item on the counter. The unique item in question is a valuable, vintage Winchester rifle. At this moment, we’re treated to a flashback. In this scene, we see that Riggs was given the rifle as an adolescent, by his father. The gun was a family heirloom, first belonging to Riggs grandfather, then his father and now to him. He and his gruff father are out deer hunting in the flashback,  Riggs’ father is doing so to distract him from the fact that his mother is at home, dying.
Flashing back to the present, the pawn shop owner tells Riggs that the rifle is a nice one, asking Riggs if he’s sure he wants to trade it because he won’t get what the rifle is worth at this shop. In true Riggs fashion, our hero trades the Winchester for a vintage, leather Van Halen wallet. Meanwhile, Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) is dealing with some fatherly issues of his own. With Trish out of town, he’s trying to have some quality bonding time with his teenage daughter, Riana (Chandler Kinney). Alas, his efforts are to no avail as the teen would rather spend time with her friends.
However, work soon takes precedence over our heroes personal problems as they’re assigned to the flight robbery. After learning about the flight, they interview its attendant, Nora (Monica Barbaro). Nora’s very cooperative, but we’ll soon find she’s more than what she seems. Upon further investigation, the thief is identified as Dan Cooper (Adrian Pasdar). They deliver this information to Avery (Kevin Rahm), who’s back in his position, now working in conjunction with Santos (Michelle Hurd). Shortly thereafter, Cooper’s tracked to a hotel.
However, when the boys go to get him, they find he’s already bailed on his hotel stay; he has left his cell phone behind. Suddenly, a call comes through on the phone and Murtaugh answers it. The caller is none other than Nora, the flight attendant; who as it turns out is also Cooper’s daughter. Suspecting an inside job, the boys arrest her. Upon interrogation, Nora manages to prove her innocence. Doing so is easy considering she has spent the majority of her adult life distancing herself from her father. In fact, Nora hadn’t seen him in years due to their dysfunctional relationship and the intentional distance. Without hesitation, Nora agrees to help the boys catch her father.
Nora quickly proves to be an asset; based on an educated guess, she leads Riggs and Murtaugh to a possible drop-off point for Cooper. Her hunch was correct as her father does indeed show up. However, things go awry when men with machines guns attack and try to kill Cooper upon his arrival. Luckily, Riggs intercedes, taking out the assailants, providing the viewers with an exciting shoot-out sequence. In the end, aside from Murtaugh’s car getting shot up, everyone survives and Cooper is taken into police custody. Unfortunately, the mile-high robber refuses to give up any intel until he can speak to Nora. This does nothing for our heroes as Nora refuses to talk to her father upon Riggs’ request.

Meanwhile, Murtaugh is once again experiencing issues with his daughter. As he and Riggs are trying to figure out a better approach to this interrogation, Riana is escorted into the station in cuffs. Much to Murtaugh’s chagrin, it seems the youth was arrested for protesting the inhumane treatment of animals…at a zoo. The young lady doesn’t make it easy on her father, so he reciprocates in a similar fashion and takes Riana to an interrogation room. He uses the opportunity to try to get actual information about his teen’s personal life,to no avail. Riana then turns the tables on her father, calling him a parent who “hovers;” Roger asks to be let out of the room in humorous frustration. On the upside, Cooper does finally give the duo some information.
It is revealed that Cooper is being hunted down because the briefcase he stole was filled with $2 million in uncut diamonds. But, Cooper claims he lost the briefcase during his parachute jump. However, any further information that could be gleaned is short-lived as Cooper suddenly faints. His fainting is due to a cardiovascular system infection for which he’s hospitalized. After her father’s hospitalized, Nora stays by his side. Trying, yet again, to be a good daughter and mend fences.
The next day, Cooper proves to be the worst father of the year, at the very least. Using one of Nora’s earrings, he picks his cuffs and escapes the hospital. After evading custody, he digs the briefcase, which he had claimed to no longer have, out of a dumpster. Aside from being a terrible father, Cooper proves not to be a great criminal either. Knowing he still has the briefcase, Cooper’s pursuer’s kidnap Nora. Calling to tell her father of the situation, Nora’s call is answered by Riggs. Acting as if he’s Cooper, Nora tells Riggs that they want the case in exchange for her, twenty-four hours from now in Echo Park. With this new development, the boys get a line on Cooper and inform him of the situation.
Twenty-four hours later, Riggs, Murtaugh, Avery, and Santos go undercover in Echo Park, working with Cooper to recover Nora.  Cooper does his part, trying to be a father for a change. He hands off the case, but the kidnappers refuse to turn over Nora. Thus, in pure Lethal Weapon fashion, Murtaugh shoots Nora’s nearby captors as Riggs snipes the others, having to place a shot right through Santos’ blazer to do so. Despite the great potential for collateral damage, all goes well with Nora being recovered and her kidnappers arrested. After all this, Cooper is re-hospitalized. Sadly, just when Nora thinks her father has turned a new leaf, he proves to be a consistent criminal. As Nora hugs her father, he attempts to give her a loose, stolen diamond that he had scrounged from the briefcase. Appalled, Nora refuses, leaving her father to recover in the hospital alone.

Luckily, elsewhere,  it’s proven that other families stick together. Santos offers to transfer Avery to another department, should he want to be. She does so under the assumption that he would like to maintain a career by getting away from Riggs and Murtaugh, whom she calls, “lunatics.” Avery declines, claiming Riggs and Murtaugh as his “lunatics.” From work family to blood-relation, family ties are strengthened as Murtaugh finally manages to smooth things out with Riana. Knowing her father wants to spend time with her, the teen decides to spend the evening with her friends still. However, she does so by staying at the house and watching a movie with them. Murtaugh is happy with this outcome, merely wanting his daughter nearby.

At the same time, we’re reminded that some family relationships are just broken. After the rifle Riggs pawned is used in a liquor store robbery, it’s recovered and put into evidence. From there, the lethal heirloom finds it’s way back to his desk. Upon seeing it there, he goes directly to talk to Dr. Cahill (Jordana Brewster). While in his session, Riggs reveals to Cahill that he used that gun to kill his first deer. Coincidentally, that deer was also the first living thing our hero had killed. Riggs then goes on to say that he even ended up shooting his father with that gun. With that, the episode abruptly ends, leaving us to wonder what exactly Riggs means by that.
Without a doubt, “Flight Risk” was a filler episode. However, I don’t think that works against it. Nor is that an insult in the least, because I quite enjoyed this episode. It had all the elements (as you know by this point) that I like in my Lethal Weapon: action, comedy, and believable family relationships. What more could I ask for? Being a history buff, I was thrilled that the writer, Seamus Kevin Fahey, and the showrunner, Matt Miller, managed to answer that question for me as they essentially ripped the case out of the history books…

The flight robbery and its perpetrator took direct inspiration from D.B. Cooper. For those of you who are unfamiliar, an unknown man now referred to by said epitaph, hijacked and robbed a Boeing 727 flight in November of 1971. He managed to steal over a million dollars and parachute from the plane. To this day, he has not been captured, nor his plunder recovered. Most baffling of all, D.B. Cooper’s true identity is still not known. In addition to all of the above, this episode  left me with a burning question, though not one quite as interesting as the D.B. Cooper case.. “What is Riggs talking about?! Surely he didn’t KILL his father?!” As you no doubt discerned, I can’t wait to find out the answer to this cliffhanger, hopefully, next week!
Episode 5: “Let It Ride” will air Tuesday, October 31, HALLOWEEN, on FOX at 8:00 PM.

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