Lethal Weapon 2.10: ‘Wreck the Halls’ Calls Up Memories Of Christmas Past
by Ben Martin
[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 10: Wreck the Halls DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 10: Wreck the Halls In can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
Straight out of the gate, I would like to apologize for the delay in getting these recaps up. The holidays turned out to busier than I expected and greatly appreciate all readers patience. Appropriately, I’m returning to these recaps by covering the holiday episode, Wreck the Halls. As has seemingly become an annual tradition, this series has had a Christmas episode. Such a tradition, of course, is paying homage to the original 1987 film that started it all and “Wreck the Halls” most certainly does.
The episode opens with a semi-truck traveling down the highway. It moves right along the curves of a mountainous California highway with Jingle Bell Rock serving as the soundtrack. Then, the music fades as the driver gets pulled over for a dead tail light that. Not surprisingly, the officers want to search the truck to see what the driver is hauling. The driver cooperates, but things soon go askew. While the officers are doing their search, they get a black, almost tarry substance on their hands. Since the driver was hauling raw denim, whatever this material is, it’s not something as innocent as a pair of jeans. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, the driver of the semi throws a lit cigarette into the back of his trailer, causing the officers to catch fire; this leads to truck and trailer catching fire, causing them to explode. Without breaking a sweat, the driver takes the cop car and flees the scene.
Unfortunately for those highway patrolmen, this was apparently their last Christmas. However, for one our heroes, it seems he may be able to have a family Christmas for the first time in a while. We find Riggs (Clayne Crawford) at a tree lot with Molly (Kristen Gutoskie) and Ben (Duncan Joiner). Despite being a little anxious about such an activity, Riggs seems to be taking reasonably well to becoming a family man.
So much so in fact, that Molly ropes him into getting a picture taken with her and Ben. Meanwhile, the Murtaugh family is getting ready to go on their trip to Hawaii finally. Alas, as seems to have happened with every previous attempt to take this vacation, something comes up for Murtaugh (Damon Wayans). Diego Cabrera (Eddie Ramos), a rehabilitated young man whom Murtaugh once arrested for drug possession with intent to distribute and has now befriended has reached out to our hero. The young man says he needs to talk to Murtaugh, who quickly agrees to do so, citing that he’s taking a later flight out than the rest of his family.
Turning on a dime, Diego says not to worry about it. Of course, this concerns Murtaugh, as it would anyone. Shortly after receiving this call, the boys are assigned to a homicide in Inglewood. Sadly, the victim turns out to be none other than Diego. This discovery hits Murtaugh hard, and despite his planned vacation, he vows to get to the bottom of Diego’s death before doing anything else.
Upon further investigation, another set of prints are found on the cocaine that Diego had in his possession. These fingerprints turn out to belong to Jasper Edmonds (Jesse La Flair), a fellow employee at The Herald Club. Thus, our heroes go to investigate said club. While there, they meet Grant Davenport (Martin Donovan), the board chairman of the organization. Davenport is very cooperative with the investigation, as one would expect. Eventually, the three men come to the club’s employee lockers. While Davenport is away from the lockers, the boys lose patience and take matters into their own hands. Riggs jimmies Jasper’s work locker open. Inside the locker, he and Murtaugh find a .38 revolver, the same caliber that killed Diego, along with a bag of cocaine. About this time, Jasper walks in on the duo, seeing this evidence. Jasper immediately makes a run for it, and the boys give chase. This chase ends abruptly when a fire escape that the perp is on breaks out from under him, causing Jasper to fall to his death.
Back at the station, Diego’s personal effects are taken into evidence. Despite the fact that Murtaugh should be getting to the airport, he sits down and looks through his late friend’s personal effects. Among them is Diego’s cell phone; which of course Murtaugh looks through. While he’s doing so, an obviously drug-related text comes through. Meanwhile, Riggs and Ben are driving back from Christmas shopping. At one point, Jake comes up in conversation. Young Ben is apparently of the opinion that his estranged dad is no-good. Hoping to set the record straight, Riggs tells the kid how Jake saved his life.
While Riggs is unintentionally being a father figure, Murtaugh is making his way to a place that will get most husbands in trouble. The text has led Murtaugh to a strip club called The South Pole. While he’s there Trish (Keesha Sharp) FaceTimes him. During this awkward video call, Murtaugh reveals that he’s going to have to catch an even later flight. This new development in addition to her husband being at a strip joint pleases Trish none too much. The “Crystal” who sent the text also dances at the club. When Murtaugh is finally able to sit down with Crystal (Chelsea Tavares), she apparently wants to tell him something but is afraid to, mainly thanks to an intrusive bartender. As Crystal walks away from the table in a very sitcom-like moment, Murtaugh and his annoying neighbor, McNeile (Andrew Patrick Ralston) notice each other at the club.
The whole gentlemen’s club situation is going to get worse before it gets better. Just as Riggs and Ben are wrapping up their awkward conversation about Jake; Trish calls Riggs to ask about this case. Riggs goes to The South Pole to check on Murtaugh, who he finds outside, waiting for Crystal to get off work. Riggs has Murtaugh stay with Ben while he goes to the club to investigate further. Once inside he finds Crystal being yelled at by some heavies. Thus, in true Martin Riggs fashion, our hero poses as a drunken customer sporting a Santa hat who wants a dance from Crystal. Such a novel approach gets a gun pointed in Riggs’ face.
Gunfire quickly rings out, causing Murtaugh to put Ben in the floorboard of Riggs’ truck. Following this, he rushes inside with his shotgun to help his partner. Once back in the interview room, Crystal reveals that Diego was a document and cash runner for Davenport, who is in bed with one of the owners of The South Pole. It also seems that Davenport and the strip club goons are part of the Aryan Nation. Shortly after this new information is obtained, Molly storms into the station; furious that Riggs took Ben to a strip club. However, she’s even more upset when she finds out that Riggs told her son about how Jake saved his life. Despite all this, she still invites Riggs to Christmas dinner, but only if he’s not bringing Jake along.
Things only get worse when Davenport and the Aryan Brotherhood get our heroes addresses. Not knowing about the address acquisitions, the boys confront Davenport, making a scene at The Herald Club. When Davenport pushes back with a threat and inference of Nathan Riggs’ ties to the Aryan nation, Murtaugh dunks his head in a bowl of eggnog. After leaving The Herald Club, Riggs reveals to Murtaugh that his father was a part of the Aryans and how Jake saved his life. Murtaugh takes all this in for a moment and responds saying, “That’s complicated, man.”
Back at home, Murtaugh’s evening of solitude is interrupted with McNeile comes over. The purpose of his visit being about fear over the strip club. Matters suddenly get a lot livelier when machine gun fire sprays through Murtaugh’s windows. The shooters are Aryan bikers, who are also apparently on Riggs’ trail as well. Cutting to Riggs, we seem him getting shot at and running his truck off the road and into a guardrail. He quickly dives to the floorboard, much like Ben did earlier. As bullets wiz over Riggs’ head, he answers Murtaugh’s call. The partners each find that they’re being hunted by “Santa’s helpers on Harleys.”
At this point, the shootout sequence cuts between both our heroes’ own perils. Murtaugh pulls a Hail Mary move, turning on the oven and microwave, ensuring they might explode. With this, he and McNeely rush upstairs. On the other end of things, Riggs manages to take out a few of the bikers but is outnumbered. He calls Molly to hear her voice, but hides what’s happening. Molly goes pale as she hears the gunfire in the background. Meanwhile, Murtaugh is sitting in the tub with his shotgun. He takes the opportunity to call his wife. No doubt, he thinks it’s the last time he will ever hear her voice. Ending the call, Murtaugh hears the bikers enter the house. But, as quickly as the assailants arrive, they are forced to exit; thanks to an explosion caused by rigged oven and microwave. The tides seem to finally be turning for our heroes as the bikers are mysteriously called off of Riggs. Free of fire, Riggs rushes to Murtaugh, crashing through the front of his house, thinking this will help eliminate the threat only to find that it has already been neutralized.
The next night, our heroes and their families are reunited just in time for Christmas. The Murtaughs rejoin one another very happily, despite their house being wrecked. While the Murtaughs spend yet another holiday together, Riggs gets to spend his in a new way. That being with Molly and Ben. It’s clear that Riggs is happier than he’s been in awhile. That is until Molly goes to put Ben to bed and Riggs’ phone rings. According to the caller I.D., it is an unknown call from Amarillo, Texas. In a surprise ending, the caller is shown to be Riggs imprisoned father.
I very much enjoyed returning to this show after the hectic holidays. Thankfully though, I wasn’t far enough removed from the Christmas spirit to be nauseated by yet another Christmas-themed episode. Like the first season’s holiday episode, “Wreck the Halls” also proved to be quite strong. As with this series’ stronger installments, this episode manages to give stories to both Riggs and Murtaugh that provide them both with equal dramatic weight. Aside from that, the action sequences in this episode were phenomenal.
Of course, it helps that Lethal Weapon is a TV show that is provided with a budget that allows them to execute such action sequences properly. Too bad I can’t say the same for any of the DC/CW shows nor Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. and Inhumans. The only criticism I have of this episode is the fact that it took a little too much from the original Lethal Weapon (1987) that inspired it. Much of the plot and some of the action are incredibly similar to the point where occasionally, homage bordered on rip-off. Other than that though, I have nothing negative to say about “Wreck the Halls”. I will say, though, that I look forward to seeing what happens in the upcoming episodes after the surprising ending this one provided.