Point Break Meets Lethal Weapon In Episode 2.7: “Birdwatching”

by Ben Martin

[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 7: Birdwatching  DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 7: Birdwatching can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]

When I was a kid, I had a habit of watching movies repeatedly. Had I been allowed to watch horror films, I’m sure that would have been my genre of choice. Alas, I wasn’t, so action movies, comic-book related or otherwise, were my go-to genre. Mind you, this was a time before on-demand or DVR. Instead, you either had to own a title on VHS or hope it came on TV. For some of these movies, there was no doubt you could catch them when they played on cable at least once a month.
Among these highly broadcast titles were the Lethal Weapon movies, mainly the first two. As well as Point Break (1991) which seemed to play every other weekend on one channel or another for a few years. Thus, I saw the mentioned movies a lot, and they became some of my favorite action films. Years later, it seems both these titles have been somewhat combined for this season’s seventh episode, “Birdwatching”.
The episode opens with Kyle Kennedy (Andrew Kai), a surfer looking to catch a new stretch of waves. Alas, when he tries to do so, he encounters some aggressive surfers, one of whom knocks him off his board, causing him to hit a rock. However, the injury is a bruise at most and Kyle remains conscious. This is fine with the aggressive leader of the surf gang who has a piece of advice for Kyle. He tells him, “Go home or go to the hospital; but you can’t surf this beach.” Meanwhile, on the beach upon which Riggs (Clayne Crawford) resides, he is wandering  near his trailer when he suddenly sees a body lying on the shore, which we are initially led to believe is Kyle’s.
However, when Riggs turns the body, it’s revealed to be his father, Nathan Riggs (Rex Linn). Upon this discovery, Riggs wakes in fright, revealing the encounter to be a nightmare. It seems our hero has been plagued with nightmares of late, having not slept in days. Seeking a solution, Riggs goes to Cahil (Jordana Brewster) about it because he wants meds. However, he won’t open up to her about it; so she refuses to prescribe a sleep-aid.
Something must be in the air as Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) is also lacking sleep. Between his infant daughter, Harper being restless, and Trish’s (Keesha Sharp) phone constantly going off, he figures he might have gotten four hours of sleep. A vast majority of the texts Trish is receiving are from someone named “Scott”. Not surprisingly, Murtaugh is suspicious as to who this Scott is and why he insists on texting another man’s wife so much. When he asks his wife about it, Trish claims that Scott is a big part of charity dinner which she’s working on. This charity dinner is called The Innocence Project and its  purpose is to make people aware of wrongfully imprisoned individuals. It’s very evident that Murtaugh’s ready for the whole event to be over.
However, for our heroes, they’ll have to keep trucking following their sleepless nights. The boys are tasked with investigating the death of a surfer who died due to blunt-force trauma to the head. Incidentally, it’s the same surfer, Kyle, who was pushed off his board earlier that day. Interestingly, Bowman (Andrew Creer) proves to be a big help in the case, as he’s from the area. Having heard rumors of a territorial surf crew, Riggs and Murtaugh suspect said crew might be responsible. Having grown up in the area, Bowman identifies the group of aggressive surfers as “The Shore Boys.” Utilizing Bowman’s knowledge of the locals, the investigating officers decide to split-up.
Thus, Bowman and Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) investigate The Shore Boys. Meanwhile, Riggs and Murtaugh interview a local named Tom Noble (Andy Buckley). After having multiple issues with the surf gang, Noble filed a complaint against a Cody Lewis (Zach McGowan), the leader of the group. Noble’s nuisance is amplified by the fact that his son, Austin (Steven Cox) is also mixed up with The Shore Boys. The agitated neighbor also identifies Cody from a video he recorded. On the other side of town, “The B Team,” are sitting in a surf bar. Unfortunately, the pair is having trouble maintaining a low-profile as Bowman is popular with the locals since he supposedly punched a shark and saved two kids.
Bowman is enjoying his local celebrity status, but that’s short-lived. Almost simultaneously, Cody spots Boman and Bailey as they spot him. Upon seeing them, Cody runs for it. Conveniently, Riggs and Murtaugh are pulling up to the bar when the chase ensues. Thanks to such timing, they manage to chase Cody down, though it takes running through street traffic and a hotel to do so. This chase was quite exciting and humorous. Much of which was because Riggs was on foot for it as result of having too much caffeine. Once in interrogation, Cody confesses to pushing Kyle off his board, but nothing more. Cody also shows Riggs a cut on his leg that came from Tom Noble’s sunken boat. It seems the same propeller also caused the blunt-force trauma to the surfer’s head.

Due to this new development, Murtaugh goes the charity dinner, which he knows Noble will be attending. Luckily for Murtaugh, this means he gets to keep an eye on Noble and Trish. He doesn’t have to worry about Trish for long though. Murtaugh finds that the “Scott,” in question is Scottie Pippen and is immediately star-struck. Much to Murtaugh’s surprise, it seems the former basketball star is the dinner’s key speaker. Alas, he is very uncomfortable with public speaking; unlike the basketball court. While his partner is having a dry evening with high-society, Riggs takes a dive to find Noble’s sunken boat. He finds it along with a big bag of cocaine, 30 kilos worth to be exact. Back on dry-land, Riggs calls Murtaugh, demanding that Noble be arrested at the dinner, due to the newly found evidence. Murtaugh does so, attempting to be as inconspicuous as possible; which is to say not very. Just when the boys think they have a break in the case, the excellent wave they believe they’re riding goes flat. It turns out that Noble had reported his boat stolen two days prior. Due to this, his arrest and the charges are found null and void.
Murtaugh has had a helluva day. After messing up at work and at home, he tries to rectify the domestic side of it all at least. To do so, he brings home roses and expensive wine to try to make up with Trish. His tactic works at first, ensuring that our hero will not end up in the dog house. Unfortunately, such progress comes to a halt when Murtaugh sneaks a peek at his wife’s phone when she steps out of the room. Sadly, for a not quite sly enough Murtaugh, she steps back into the room quite quickly. When Trish catches her husband with her phone,  she doesn’t appreciate the lack of trust. Thus, Murtaugh will get no taste of that expensive wine nor anything else for that matter, as he’s back in the dog house.
Riggs isn’t having a much better time at his home either. He’s sleeping peacefully on his couch until he smells something cooking. Waking suddenly, Riggs sees his father again, who is apparently the chef du jour. Riggs’ father yells at him to wake up because he cooked him breakfast. Sitting up befuddled, Riggs accepts the meal with a scared and timid expression on his face. After taking a few bites, Riggs discovers that the meal is actually a dead raven. Riggs spits the carcass out, disgusted, as his father laughs in his face. This causes Riggs to wake in shock at his desk; revealing the encounter to be another nightmare.
Hoping to make the most of his inability to get some sleep, Riggs gets back on the case. In order to not let his fatigue get the best of him, Riggs makes his way to Cahill’s office. Once there, he begins rummaging through the doctor’s drawers, looking for  “Free samples,” of stimulants. When Cahill comes in and catches Riggs doing this, she rolls her eyes; quickly kicking him out of her office. Drugless, Riggs heads back to his desk and starts rummaging through records as opposed to drawers. In Tom Noble’s record, Riggs finds a drug charge. One which belongs to Noble’s son Austin, in reality; but that he took the rap. Meanwhile, Austin is trying to explain to the leader of a group of neo-Nazi drug dealers what happened to their cocaine. It seems this skinhead also was the one who ran over the surfer with the boat. Due to this complication, they kidnap Austin for coke money/ransom.

The next day, Bowman and Bailey spot Austin’s car which is being driven by Cody, who claims he’s looking for Austin. Cody explains to “The B Team” that Austin had fallen-in with neo-Nazis. Furthermore, he gives them the name of the neo-Nazi gang leader, Duke Rollins (Josh Wingate). After obtaining this new information, the boys give Noble an update on the situation, believing that his son has been kidnapped. Surprisingly, Noble admits that Austin had called saying he’d been kidnapped, but that he didn’t believe his son. Proof of Austin’s claims is  provided, as if on queue when the gang calls on Skype. They cut off one of Austin’s fingers and tell Noble he only has one hour to deliver the money to them. Or else, they will kill Austin.
With the clock against them, our heroes track down the neo-Nazis house out in the woods. Riggs goes to find a way in while Murtaugh pretends to be a bird watcher. The skinheads quickly begin giving Murtaugh trouble. Thankfully at the same time, Riggs makes his way into the house and start taking down the gang to save Cody. Duke drags Cody down to a dark basement. Once in said basement, Riggs begins to hear his dead father’s voice. He shuts it out, trying to focus on his mission and see his way through the pitch-darkness.Teamwork at it’s finest then comes into play. Murtaugh causes an explosion outside, allowing his partner the visibility to take down Duke and save Austin. Once he’s safely back at the station, Austin confesses all he knows and is only charged with possession. Due to his cooperation, it’s determined that he will most likely just be sentenced to a short prison term.
After such an explosive day, Murtaugh finally gets home where he successfully makes up with both Scottie Pippen and Trish. In fact, not only is out of the dog house with Trish; Murtaugh, the fanboy is also now texting with Pippen. Things aren’t as serene in Riggs trailer. Once again, the tortured hero has another nightmare concerning his father. In the dream, Riggs threatens to shoot his father but ends up turning the gun on himself before finally waking up. Beads of sweat pouring off of him and only hours of sleep had in the last few days, Riggs knows he must do something about these night terrors. Thus, he does, and the episode ends with Riggs going to talk to Cahill openly about his issues.
“Birdwatching” was a very entertaining episode for me. How could it not have been? After all, as I said in the opening of this recap, this episode combined two of my favorite action movies into a 45-minute time-slot. More importantly, this episode managed to do what all the best episodes of this series have done. That is, this installment achieved the perfect mix of action, humor and humor emotion; just as the film franchise it’s based on did. The humor in this episode worked particularly well for both protagonists this time around, putting them both in similar sleep-addled states. To top it off, as a basketball fan of the 90s, it was nice for to see Scottie Pippen. It’s true, Mr. Pippen is by no means a great actor; even when playing himself. Even so, the comedic subplot was still fun to watch.
The sole criticism I have for this episode is one that I’ve previously mentioned. It seems that the emotional B story revolving around Riggs’ dysfunctional relationship with his father is going to continue. While I’ve liked this story arc well enough thus far, I’m beginning to tire of it. To me, this secondary story is getting to a make-it-or-break-it point. In other words, this arc needs to evolve and allow Riggs to do the same. Alternatively, the writers just may need to wrap this storyline up as it’s feeling repetitive. Despite this qualm, I would rank “Birdwatching” among this season’s stronger episodes and look forward to the next one!

Recap of Episode 8: Fork-Getta-Bout-It COMING SOON!

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