Lethal Weapon: Season 3 Premiere – New Blood, Same Boat

by Ben Martin

[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 3, Episode 1: In the Same Boat DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so.  Episode 1: In the Same Boat can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]

If you’re a fan of the Lethal Weapon TV series at all; then you probably know that it’s experienced its share of behind-the-scenes drama. The long-and-short of which is that co-stars Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford did not get along. While there was tension between the two during the first season of Lethal Weapon; the discontent ramped up during Season 2 of the show. Early reports made Crawford out to be an ill-tempered, unprofessional actor. However, later actions of Wayans made many fans wonder who was at fault for all these on-set troubles.

I wasn’t on Lethal Weapon set, so I can accurately speak to the upheaval. I will say this though; there are more than just a few behind-the-scenes issues when things on-screen go through a significant change. Crawford was fired and Wayans continued on in his role. Not wanting to let their highly-rated series die on the vine, Warner Bros. TV chose to not only recast Crawford, but replace the character of Riggs all-together. Such a trend is nothing new in the medium of television. Numerous series have replaced lead characters and continued to run successfully.
For example, Happy Days (1974-1984) ran for several more seasons after the departure of Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard). A more modern case is the American version of The Office (2005-2013), whose last couple of seasons don’t feature Steve Carell. The point is, TV shows can still work and survive a changing of the guard. By that same token though, I was hesitant about Lethal Weapon taking this approach with its third season. After all, if the show doesn’t have Riggs and Murtaugh in it; is it really Lethal Weapon? Being part of many online fan communities, it was clear to me that viewers were unsure if they would give this new Lethal iteration a shot. If you’re on the fence, hopefully, this recap will help you decide.
The new season opens in Aleppo, Syria where we’re introduced to our new protagonist, Wesley Cole (Seann William Scott). Cole is a black ops agent on his latest mission. A mission which requires intel from a 10-year-old local boy. Cole proceeds to efficiently shoot his way through the hideout of what appears to be a terrorist cell. Alas, Cole is unaware that his young informant has followed him; and, in the firefight and explosions that ensue, the boy gets killed in the crossfire. We then cut to LA on that same day.

To be more specific, it’s the same day day on which Season 2 ended in a cliffhanger; in which our hero, Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) was shot in the chest. Riggs is rushed into the hospital with Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) right behind him. Murtaugh waits, hoping that his partner will survive. Alas, Riggs (who’s clearly played by a faceless stunt double) dies on the table as we cut to a very somber Lethal Weapon title card.
Six months later, we find Murtaugh in a deep depression. His only goal in life is solving the murder of Riggs. While the LAPD has correctly pegged Riggs’ brother Garrett (Peter Coventry Smith) for his murder; Murtaugh maintains that the case goes deeper. It’s worth mentioning that Murtaugh has somehow managed to avoid active police duty; including going into the office during this period of grief. Instead, he spends his days following leads from his landlocked boat, parked in The Murtaughs driveway. The rest of his family and Maureen Cahill (Jordana Brewster), understandably encourage him to move forward with his life. Ignoring their pleas, Murtaugh proceeds to follow his latest lead; a BMW connected to the case.
Meanwhile, Cole has found himself a job with the LAPD as a meter-maid. However, his mundane duties are interrupted when Cole spots a Jeep, carrying a couple of passengers with guns. Not surprisingly, Cole follows them into the parking lot on foot. Very casually, he hops into the back of the vehicle to find out what’s going on. Before he can though, a man hopes out of a BMW across the lot and begins firing a machine gun. The owners of the Jeep jumps out as Cole ducks into the front of the vehicle and runs it into the Beamer to stop his now multiple shooters. In doing so, he runs the BMW off the roof’s parking lot where it falls onto Murtaugh’s empty car.
Mere feet from the incident, Murtaugh realizes he’s found the car. Up on the roof, Cole fights his remaining assailants while their leader makes a run for it. As fate would have it, Murtaugh and Cole commandeer the same delivery truck to pursue the perp. A decent enough car chase ensues through the streets of LA. Both of heroes get on the roof of the delivery truck to jump onto the perp’s stolen car. However, in true Lethal Weapon fashion, the men miss.

Back at the station, the boys are chewed out by Gina Santos (Michelle Hurd). However, Cole manages to identify the gunmen from earlier as Chezcian. Having been suspended, Cole makes his way to his daughter Maya’s (Shay Rudolph) piano recital. Unfortunately, he also manages to interrupt said recital. Despite his best efforts, it seems Cole’s having trouble rebuilding his relationship with his daughter and ex-wife, Dr. Natalie Flynn (Maggie Lawson).
Later that night, Murtaugh finds Cole at the motel at which he’s temporarily staying. Thanks to files garnered for him by now politician, Brooks Avery (Kevin Rahm); Murtaugh shares with Cole that the men from the roof lot shootout are indeed, Czechian mercenaries. Upon learning this, Cole theorizes that the criminals may have blueprints for nefarious means. Or at least, he thinks that’s what may have been in one of the men’s bags. Murtaugh invites Cole to come along to check the potential address he has on the mercs. Cole reluctantly refuses, citing his suspension.
Undeterred, Murtaugh heads to this address. Parked outside of the house at this address is Riggs’ truck. In other words, definitive proof that Garrett had been staying with these Czechian guys at some point. Alas, it’s one step forward and two back for ol’ Murtaugh as he has a gun pointed to his head. After Which, he’s promptly taken into the house and tied to a chair.
Thankfully, Cole soon interrupts the torture which Murtaugh would’ve otherwise surely endured. While defeating the villains upstairs with some quick-paced hand-to-hand combat; Cole observes that there are many materials required to make bombs. But, for all his multi-tasking skills, Cole does sustain a knife wound before knocking out his opponent. Barely fazed, Cole rushes to the basement to save Murtaugh. The two men escape just as the house explodes thanks to open gas lines and those bomb materials.
Back at the station, Cole gets stitched up by his former wife, Natalie. Meanwhile, Murtaugh’s wounds get closed in other ways as  Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor), shows him a confession video Garrett had recorded. On this cell phone video, the now late Garrett admits to killing Riggs. Murtaugh finally finds a way to move on as Cole finds more leads on the bomb materials. These leads involve a security firm and the plans for a new railway that is being built. If the railway can be bombed, the bank vault could be entered. Hence, the modus operandi of the case.
Murtaugh and Cole head down to the underground railway. As tends to happen in this series, fistfights occur while bombs are unable to be diffused. The boys’ only choice is to drive the train away to avoid casualties. Just as it looks like the new duo might ride off into the eternal sunset; they jump from the train as it explodes. Once again, the day is saved.
After all this, Cole manages to reconnect his family somewhat. Meanwhile, Murtaugh cleans out Riggs’ desk and finally makes peace with his partner’s death. The next day, Murtaugh and newly minted, LAPD detective Cole agree to become partners. As they sit drinking celebratory beers on Murtaugh’s boat, it starts to move. The season premiere ends on a humorous note as everyone’s favorite annoying neighbor, Jim McNeile (Andrew Patrick Ralston) has the boat towed on account of a Homeowners Association (HOA) violation.

I’m going to go ahead and put this out there. For a series that’s essentially been given a reboot, In the Same Boat was an entertaining episode. Yes, this season premiere is carrying some baggage; which is what makes this season opener a bit clunky. Riggs’ death is dealt with the subtlety of a nail gun to the head. Furthermore, the emotion that comes from the character’s doesn’t feel entirely earned. The biggest problem is that it feels like Wayans is phoning the majority of Murtaugh’s emotionally-based scenes.

Otherwise, this new season is working for me. While I do like Seann William Scott, I wasn’t sure if the former Stifler was going to fit in as the new, titular Lethal Weapon. Well, I’m happy to report that while his character of Cole may not fill Riggs’ busted boots; I like him a lot!  Of course, my affection for Cole is because he’s his own character as opposed to merely being Riggs’ replacement. Not only does Scott give a layered performance as Cole; he and Wayans seem to have great chemistry. In other words, while it’s no longer about Riggs and Murtaugh; the new duo of Murtaugh and Cole still manage to be a semi-fresh take on Lethal Weapon legitimately. In closing, I think Season 3 has potential and encourage you to give it a go!

Episode 2: Need to Know Airs Tuesday, Oct. 2 @ 9:00 PM, only on Fox.

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