Lethal Weapon 2.16 Featuring ‘Ruthless’ Randy Drexler
by Ben Martin
[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 16: Ruthless DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 16: Ruthless can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
I’m by no means a sports person and never have been. My interest in watching televised athletics is something I’d consider marginal at best; not stretching beyond a handful of hockey and college football games every year. However, that’s not the case when The Olympics rolls around. Like many others, I watch The Olympic Games for the event of it all. During such a time, I don’t miss whatever my regularly scheduled programming may be too much, as it’s all put on hold for the games. Alas, during this years Olympic-induced TV hiatus, I very much missed Lethal Weapon. Thankfully, said break is now over with Episode 2.16: Ruthless picking up just a week after the events of the previous episode in the series storyline.
The episode opens with an outdoor LAPD buyback program. Nearby, three gang members sit in a black sedan, casing the event. The gangster in the passenger seat, Booker (Sheaun McKinney) assumes that he and his crew will knock-off this buyback later. Such an assumption is logical as the buyback is swarming with LA’s finest. However, the man in the driver seat, who’s apparently the crew leader named Carlo (Lovensky Jean-Baptiste) has another idea. He proposes that they go for the guns now, in broad daylight. Despite Booker’s objection, the other two members of this crew agree with their leader and proceed accordingly.
Meanwhile, Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and Ruthie (Swoosie Kurtz) are spending their afternoon in a much more peaceful manner, playing Mahjong. It seems the game has served as the new bosom buddies entertainment for the past week since they became lot mates. Having lost five nights straight, Riggs’ determined to win by hook or by crook. Alas, Mahjong gets interrupted when Ruthie’s cell phone rings. She steps out to take the call and becomes visibly frustrated. Upon coming back inside, Ruthie tells Riggs she has to leave. Despite our hero’s questions and protests, Ruthie maintains her course.
Domestic delight seems lacking as Murtaugh’s (Damon Wayans) still in the doghouse; having slept on the couch for the past week. At that point, the kids have taken notice of their parents’ lack of marital bliss. It seems neither spouse are budging on their respective positions either. Thus, Trish (Keesha Sharp) isn’t talking to her husband much. In turn, he’s pushing the envelope as far as he can. For example, Murtaugh has made his motorcycle his main mode of transportation; despite knowing how much Trish loathes it. Not to mention, he does have a department car. It’s fair to say that our hero is much like a kid, pushing his luck on Santa’s nice list.
Any and all domestic issues will have to wait as the boys get tasked with investigating the gun buyback robbery. Although such matters are difficult to forget as Riggs’ telling Murtaugh that he needs to apologize to Trish. It seems Avery (Kevin Rahm) also agrees. Upon arriving at the crime scene, the team finds that Carlo was shot in the back. No doubt, the gang leader was killed by one of his own. From there, our heroes head to Crenshaw to see what they can find out about the robbery. Riggs questions Booker, correctly pegging him as Carlo’s killer. Obviously, the suspect stays mum at first, so Riggs pressures him. As if making a harmless comment, Riggs asserts that Booker killed his crew leader. The accusation is a surprise to the men around him. Without hesitation, Booker makes a run for it, but our protagonist quickly catches up with him in an ally. Knowing that it will be just the two of them for a few moments, Booker takes this opportunity to tell Riggs he’s undercover. Buying it, Riggs hits Booker (to protect his cover) and takes him in.
Back in interrogation, Booker admits that he shot Carlo. However, the undercover agent contends that he only did so because Carlo was about to shoot a uniformed cop. When Murtaugh asks where the guns are, Booker tells him that once the ATF’s operation is complete, they’ll get the guns. All this new information computes with Riggs, but not his partner. No, Murtaugh isn’t buying it, thanks to his previous personal undercover experience. For two weeks, Murtaugh was undercover as “Randy Drexler,” to investigate an illegal chop-shop. About the time Murtaugh gets done waxing poetic about his deep cover stint, Booker is confirmed to be ATF. Shortly thereafter Booker’s boss, ATF Chief Charlie Blum (Wallace Langham) shows up at the station to take his man off the case. It seems that Agent Booker has become unstable after his partner was killed awhile back, in this same undercover operation. Unfortunately for everyone else, the scorned ATF agent isn’t going down without a fight. Holding Murtaugh at gunpoint, Booker escapes using the station’s elevator shaft. Beyond that, he also stops Riggs’ pursuit, by shooting the cable of the elevator Riggs and Murtaugh are on.
One would think that after narrowly escaping a falling elevator car, your day could only improve. Sadly, that’s just not the case for Murtaugh. To the contrary, issues on the homefront have escalated. Becoming fed up, Trish “accidentally” hits Murtaugh’s bike, which was parked in the middle of the driveway. Back at the station, Riggs has his continuing domestic matter that needs tending. As is his way, Riggs deals with his new best friend in true Martin Riggs fashion. That is, he has Ruthie’s RV booted after finding she has over 1,800 unpaid parking tickets. Granted, our hero is doing this to protect his friend; understandably thinking she was in trouble. Not to mention, he doesn’t want her to leave and hopes such an act will give Ruthie pause. Unsurprisingly, Ruthie doesn’t appreciate these gestures of friendship. Now, Seeming more determined to go than ever.
The next day, after having most-assuredly spent the night on the couch, Murtaugh’s on a stakeout. This stakeout quickly proves fruitful as Murtaugh spots Booker getting ready to unload a truck filled with the LAPD’s guns. Sneaking up on the undercover agent, Murtaugh attempts to take him in. Alas, such an attempt is thwarted when the head of the organization Booker has infiltrated, Luther Strickland (Adam Lazarre-White), walks out, seeing the two men. Quickly, Murtaugh pivots, going into character to look like an arms broker.
One by the name of none other than “Randy Drexler.” Knowing of the recent unfortunate development, the LAPD and ATF send Riggs in to save Murtaugh and Booker. Unfortunately, to get in the door, Riggs poses as Randy Drexler. Not being a big believer in such coincidences, Strickland tells Murtaugh “Drexler” to kill his doppelganger. Overwhelmed, Murtaugh pulls the trigger, relieved to find that it’s empty. A shootout commences with Booker taking a shot in the shoulder before the joint task force bursts in, putting a stop to the violence and taking down Strickland. Murtaugh claims after the fact that he could tell that the pistol was empty, thanks to its weight.
Another case solved; another day’s work complete. Now, to resolve matters of the heart and home. Back on the lot, Riggs finds Ruthie has managed to take the boot off of her RV. While she still intends to leave, Ruthie does apologize to Riggs. She hands him a Mahjong set as both a peace offering and gift between friends. With this, “R&R” (as I’ve dubbed them) bid one another farewell. These two kindred spirits part on friendly terms as Ruthie drives her RV into the sunset. It also seems that Murtaugh has finally come to his senses; bringing home flowers of apology for his wife. Thankfully, Trish is on the same page as the couple begin to mend the marital fences. All is going quite well until she finds that Murtaugh just made an “Impulse purchase” of a used classic car. Such a purchase tears down this newly laid fence; landing Murtaugh in an utterly different dog-house. The episode concludes with Murtaugh bunking in his partner’s trailer. Welcoming Murtaugh, Riggs pulls him into a game of Mahjong.
After what seemed like an interminable hiatus, I found Ruthless to be an absolute delight! As with the series strongest episodes, this one was perfectly balanced with action, comedy, emotion and a compelling case. It was also nice to have such a tight continuity between this episode and the previous one, An Inconvenient Ruth. It’s not often that you get such a thing in a weekly cop/procedural show; so that was a nice change of pace. However, I must say I was sad to see the character of Ruthie exit the series so quickly.
As I stated in my previous recap (which you can read here), I’m both a fan of that character and the actress who portrayed her. Then again, I know that it makes more sense to make Ruthie an occasional guest player as opposed to a mainstay of sorts. That being said, I do hope that Swoosie Kurtz (Man with a Plan) will reprise her role in a future season. For the chemistry between herself and Clayne Crawford is entirely electric. In addition, to closing that character’s storyline, this episode gave our protagonists plenty to do. Not only was there an even split between work and home life; the story was evenly distributed between Riggs and Murtaugh on all fronts. If you’ve read any of my previous recaps; you know that I find that such isn’t always the case.
At the same time, in doing so, this episode holds an agitating flaw within it. Said weakness is the whole B plot with the Murtaughs being in a currently unhappy marriage. Frankly, I feel that Murtaugh and Trish are a little too mature to be displaying such behaviors. To be at each others necks for a few days or even a week, as is the case with this episode; okay, fine. However, when Ruthless concluded, this is still an ongoing plotline. Yes, I’m sure this is the case just so that the next episode storyline can be facilitated. Despite knowing this, I’m just tired of the conflict. I’d rather not see this become Lethal Moonlighting. Other than that, I feel Season 2 has really hit its stride in recent weeks and am looking forward to the next episode!
RECAP OF EPISODE 2.17: THE ODD COUPLE COMING SOON!