Conspiracy Theories Are A Lethal Weapon In Episode 2.9

by Ben Martin

[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 9: Fools Rush In DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 9: Fools Rush In  can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]

For the third episode in a row, it seems Lethal Weapon is cribbing from favorite films in or related to its genre. Personally, I haven’t been opposed to this trend, but it’s had mixed results. Episode 9: Fools Rush In actually takes a bit from one of Mel Gibson (Daddy’s Home 2 (2017) and director Richard Donner’s (Superman, Scrooged)  non-Lethal Weapon pairings, 1997s Conspiracy Theory. In the film Gibson plays a somewhat unstable conspiracy theorist. He has investigated these theories, finding them valid and knowing that they must be part of a malevolent scheme. Much of this episode revolves around a similar plotline.

This episode opens on “The Walk of Fame” in Hollywood. As most of you probably know, that stretch of street is filled with impersonators; many of which are Elvis. Then from out of a throng of people bursts a purse snatcher (Cory DeMeyers). The thief is being pursued by a cop; so he cuts through an alley and jumps in a dumpster to hide. But, as quickly as the thief was in; he pops back out. Turning over the purse to the cop the burglar yells, “TAKE IT, I DON’T EVEN WANT IT!,” taking off like a shot. Wondering what could make a perp do such a thing, the cop cautiously approaches the dumpster. Upon shining his flashlight inside it, the officer finds a corpse with a bullet hole in his head.
Back at the Murtaugh residence, people aren’t living in hope and dying in despair or dumpsters in some cases, as they are on Hollywood Boulevard. Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) is having a lovely evening, watching an old western on TV. Alas, his respite is interrupted when Trish (Keesha Sharp) excitedly ends a phone call. Trish explains that the call was from one of the premiere private pre-schools in the area. After a little finessing, she convinces her husband that they should try to get Harper into this fancy preschool called Kellogg. The institution requires an interview, which is just around the corner for the Murtaughs. Unfortunately, the preschool has rules, such as no TV for example. As is his approach, our hero goes overboard, claiming he’ll “Throw that TV out the window if it gets Harper into that preschool.”
Murtaugh’s spending his nights living the family man life. On the other hand, Riggs (Clayne Crawford) is spending his evenings, uncharacteristically, out. Our generally introverted protagonist has spent the last three nights chowing down at the same fancy restaurant. Not only has Riggs been dining at this same establishment; he’s downright become territorial about doing so. On this particular night, he gives a fellow diner guff when they complain about how their pork chop has been cooked. Such behavior makes a lot more sense when it’s revealed that this particular restaurant is the one at which Molly (Kristen Gutoskie) works. After seeing Riggs spend the past three nights at her workplace, she convinces him that they should do something else. Without too much persistence from Molly, Riggs agrees. For his cooperation, Molly surprises Riggs with a kiss and makes a date with him.
The next morning, the boys get tasked with the dumpster case. After examining the body, they spot boot tracks and decide to follow them. These tracks end up belonging to a man named Tom Meany. Once Meany’s identity is determined, the guys speak to his landlord and investigate his apartment. Inside Meany’s apartment, we see that his walls are plastered with outlandish newspaper articles and other conspiratorial paraphilia. It’s quite clear to we the audience and our heroes that Mr. Meany is a major conspiracy theorist. The suspect’s preoccupation is cemented when Riggs tries to turn on Meany’s computer, resulting in a small explosion. Being open to conspiracy theories himself, Riggs quickly becomes more wrapped up than usual in the case. So much so that he brings a psych profile he did on Meany into Cahill’s (Jordana Brewster) office for her to take a look at. While in her office, Riggs takes the opportunity to tell Cahill about the situation with Molly. Clearly, he wants such an evolution in their relationship but is also utterly terrified of such a thing at the same time. Cahill, being the excellent therapist she is, knows her patient. She tells Riggs to calm down and see where things go. Moreover, she’s encouraging this romantic development.

Unfortunately, it seems that Riggs’ romantic plight isn’t the only crisis afoot. Upon further investigation, there seems to be a bit of an identity crisis for the case’s primary suspect. “Tom Meany,” is proven to be an anagram for “Not my name.” A fingerprint analysis reveals the suspect’s true identity to be Jonah Canter (Derek Richardson). Such a revelation prompts  Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) and Murtaugh to go and reinvestigate the apartment. This time around, Bailey notices something the boys didn’t: multiple pictures of the same woman. Upon confirming the mystery woman’s identity, she’s tracked down and brought into the station. The woman is revealed to be none other than Jonah’s estranged wife, Andi (Fiona Gubelmann.) According to Andi, she and Jonah are estranged due to his delusions, and she doesn’t know where he is. However, our heroes don’t have much trouble finding him at all. They find Jonah playing chess by himself in a local park. When Rigg’s calls Jonah’s name, he tries to run, but Riggs catches up with him. In his paranoid delusion, Jonah brandishes a gun; threatening to end his own life as opposed to being taken in. Afraid that Jonah will commit suicide, Riggs distracts him by talking about his own issues. Riggs tells Jonah to point the weapon at him and shoot him. At this point, Murtaugh jumps down from a terrace, tackling Jonah.

Despite Jonah’s efforts, he’s taken back to the station. Eventually, Riggs is able the make the conspiracy theorist comfortable enough to cut through all the chuffa and get to the bottom of why he’s more uncomfortable than usual. Jonah says that he’s being framed to be kept quite. According to him, Elvis framed him and is controlling traffic all over LA. Following this outrageous claim, Jonah is examined by Cahill. Upon her recommendation, Jonah boards an ambulance to be taken to the hospital. With Cahill tailing the ambulance, the road to recovery seems relatively straight for Jonah, that is until he manages to bail on his ambulance ride by knocking out the paramedics and stealing Cahill’s car. On the upside, Jonah does apologize for what he’s done.
Later, Riggs and Cahill are heading up the effort to find Jonah as quickly as possible. After all, the last thing anyone wants is for this suspect on the edge to cause more harm to anyone else, himself included. However, this effort comes to an abrupt halt when Molly comes to the station, mad at Riggs for missing their date. He apologizes, saying that he got caught up in the case. He then adds that made a list of all the reasons Molly and he shouldn’t date. Molly demands $12 for parking and storms out of the station. Sadly, things aren’t going much better on the Murtaugh’s homefront when Dr. Weir (Alexie Gilmore) comes to interview them. The interview is immediately off to a rocky start. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that Murtaugh’s putting on airs thicker than molasses. Things only get worse when little Harper brings Trish the remote, wanting to watch TV.

Work and home life can be a tricky balance, but thankfully the former takes a positive turn. When going through evidence with Riggs, Cahill notices that all of Jonah’s notes are, “Written on placemats, from the same diner.” Following this lead, the pair finds Jonah near the diner where he demonstrates that traffic lights can be hacked. Granted, this causes a small accident, but at least partially proves Jonah’s theory. Back in the interrogation room with Riggs, Jonah still maintains that  Elvis impersonators are controlling traffic. He explains that after posting a video online and presenting his theory, Elvises started following him. Jonah expounds, stating that being stalked by “The Kings,” eventually led to one of these Elvises killing Larry, the man in the dumpster. Meanwhile, while stuck in Hollywood traffic, Trish calls Murtaugh to let him know that Harper was rejected by Kellogg due thanks to his behavior. It turns out that traffic is gridlocked in Hollywood due to the Elvises controlling the lights. The purpose of such a fiendish plot makes sense when an armored truck tries to find an alternate route and the Elvises jack it.
Unfortunately, Trish isn’t the only one in traffic as Molly has ended up taking a star tours bus by herself. That is until Riggs shows up with his list in tow. Molly maintains that the list is solid, but wants to add to it. Murtaugh calls Riggs, updating him on the Elvis situation. Conveniently, Riggs is able to spot the armored truck from the bus. After seeing it, our hero manages to get everyone off the bus; except Molly who refuses to leave. Molly dictates her list as Riggs chases down the truck. Ultimately, she convinces him that they should give it a go. Then, Molly takes the wheel while Riggs jumps off the second story of the bus and onto the truck. Even in such a precarious position, Riggs manages to shoot the Elvis, killing the passenger and wounding the driver. Murtaugh and the truck stop up on the sidewalk of a movie theater. When they do so, Murtaugh sees Dr. Weir coming out of the movies with her kid; the two make eye-contact.

From here, the episode wraps up nicely. A couple of days later Murtaugh finds Dr. Weir. He surprises her by letting the doctor know that he has the incident with her leaving the theater recorded on his dash cam. Not surprisingly. The school administrator suddenly decides to accept Harper. As Murtaugh makes a move for his family; Jonah is reunited with his. He walks out of police custody, happily reunited with his once-estranged wife and daughter. No doubt, his road to recovery and stability will be difficult; but is achievable. To top all these happy endings off, Riggs and Molly finally go out. They decide to drink alcoholic milkshakes; eventually winding up at Murtaugh’s house to make more shakes. Murtaugh finds them, scolds them and walks away from the drunken couple, agitated. The episode ends with the couple kissing again with Elvis’ I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You over the scene.
As I stated in my opening, like the last couple of episodes, Fools Rush In also follows the trend of borrowing tropes from popular genre films. However, unlike the previous episode, Fork-Getta-Bout-It, this episode works very well. It borrows only a little, as previously mentioned, whereas last week’s episode was quite simply, unoriginal and lazy. Like this series’ strongest episodes, the one in question gives both Riggs and Murtaugh equal time, both on the work and personal fronts. In addition, we also finally get to see Riggs and Molly’s romance progress. Personally, I found this episode to be highly entertaining. This season’s next episode, Wreck the Halls, will be its (thus far) annual Christmas episode. The first season had one entitled, Jingle Bell Glock which ended up being one of my favorite installments of the freshman season. Hopefully, the upcoming Christmas episode will be a nice holiday tradition (albeit, a punny one) that pays homage to the original film. I look forward to reviewing said yuletide episode shortly. In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays!

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