Lotto Numbers Are The ‘Lethal Weapon’ In Ep. 3.3

by Ben Martin

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

If there’s one dream that I’d wager 99% of humanity shares, it’s that we all want to win the lottery. It would all be green gravy after such a win. Alas, as we’ve seen, many folks can’t handle their lucky numbers finally coming up. Many lotto winners have burned through their prize within five years. Even so, some people will go to extreme lengths to win the lotto; which is precisely what Lethal Weapon, Episode 3: A Whole Lotto Trouble tackles.
This episode opens by introducing us to a guy named Larry Mandel (Herbert Russell). A man tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck in his job as a short order cook. Thankfully for Larry though, his winning numbers came up. As a result, he walks out on his verbally abusive boss and the job to go cash-out his winning lotto ticket. Alas, his excitement is short lived as a man calls him by name and then guns Larry down.
The next morning we find that Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) is getting ready to celebrate 30 years with the LAPD. Unfortunately, though, Rog’s parade is about to get rained on as Trish (Keesha Sharp) announces that her dad, Judge Don Bennett (played by that “Bad mother” himself, Richard Roundtree) is making a surprise visit for the occasion. As tends to be the case, father and sons-in-law don’t manage to get along. Adding to the oddness of it all is that Don’s in LA on his book tour. It’s family visits all around as Wesley Cole (Seann William Scott) is keeping his daughter Maya (Shay Rudolph) for the night.

All those familial obligations will have to wait though, as the boys are tasked with Larry ’s homicide investigation. Upon taking a closer look at the body, Cole notices that Larry’s sporting a sobriety medallion; as well as the winning lotto numbers written on his arm. Later in the day, our heroes are back at the office and while they’re concerned with the case at hand. However, those aforementioned familial obligations are also getting their attention. Murtaugh’s trying to figure out how to keep Don as far away from his ceremony as possible; while Cole’s giving an unimpressed Maya a tour of the station.
But again, those things will have to wait as Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) gets a hit on an individual who used to live with Larry in a halfway house. His name is Rocco Ricci (Tony Pasqualini), who oddly enough, six months prior, also won the lottery. Murtaugh and Cole go to pick Rocco up from his swanky apartment. However, things quickly go south when the boys find that Rocco is being held hostage by a gang of armed criminals. Through a series of fistfights and shootouts, our heroes lethally defeat the assailants and take Rocco in for questioning. Who (Rocco) is very forthcoming in that a fellow AA member, albeit, one who was a stranger to him gave Rocco his winning numbers.
Things quickly escalate when Cole and Maya are out driving around as Cole’s notified that they have a location on the so-called “Guardian Angel” AA member. Reluctantly, Cole allows his daughter to remain in the car, and hopping the pre-teen will give up her silent treatment, stops to get her a “Fraffle.” This stop works out though as “The Fraffle Shack” is one of Mateo “The Guardian Angel” Peralto’s (Stephen Friedrich) regular haunts. As luck would have it, our Lethal duo spot Mateo here, who makes a run for it. Stepping over the guardrail of an overpass, Mateo drops his laptop and is going to commit suicide. Thus, Murtaugh goes to retrieve the computer as Cole attempts to talk Mateo off the ledge.

Mateo explains that he wants to jump because he accidentally killed someone while driving drunk years ago and can’t live with it anymore. Hoping to save this man’s life, Cole tells Mateo that he’s also killed people by accident, telling him about Hanni. Unfortunately for our hero, his daughter Maya heard this whole exchange, which Cole realized at the last minute. Just as Murtaugh is getting the laptop of the highway; Mateo slips and falls off the overpass and unto a car carrying a mattress, which breaks his fall. There’s a real streak of luck going here.
Back in interrogation, Mateo explains that after getting clean, he got a job with the lottery commission IT department. In this position, Mateo found a “Loophole in the lottery code.” Thus, he decided to exploit it by giving folks who were down on their luck winning numbers. Mateo goes on to say that he was working this scam with Rodney (Tom Musgrave), the lottery commissioner. Elsewhere,  old Rodney’s luck is about to run out as Petros (Ronnie Gene Blevins) (who murdered Larry), tells Rodney to find the money, or he’s dead.
Meanwhile, matters haven’t improved between father and daughter as Maya presses Cole for information on the people he killed. Understandably, Cole desperately attempts to avoid such a conversation. Adolescents are persistent though, so Maya keeps pushing. Eventually, Cole tells his daughter about Hanni. After this, it’s as if the pressure is released; resulting in the two of them understand each other a little better now. Across town at the Murtaugh residence, Murtaugh finally snaps a bit on his father-in-law, accusing Don of showing him up.
The following morning, the lucky leads keep coming on the lottery case. Rodney, an Arminian gang and all ties to the lottery case are discovered. Alas, that does not mean everyone involved in the scam is safe. Petros goes after Bridget (Erica Piccininni) who happens to not only be the wife of the man Mateo accidentally killed; but also a waitress at The Fraffle Shack. Wasting no time, Petros and Rodney force Bridget at gunpoint, to make a $7 million withdrawal from her account. In all the chaos, her young son Max (Jaeden Bettencourt) makes a run for it and ends up on a rickety fire escape.

Everyone keeps getting lucky as Murtaugh and Cole show up just in time to save the day. Murtaugh stops the criminals inside the restaurant; while Cole defeats the men chasing Max. However, Cole must still save the boy and himself from the collapsing fire escape. Using his belt, Cole creates a zip line, and the two of them escape. Conveniently, Maya sees her dad do this as she passes by in the car. All family bonds are rebuilt as Murtaugh and Don make amends at his ceremony; while Maya spends another night at Cole’s.
A Whole Lotto Trouble is what I call a break-even episode. I found the plot to be a tired one which we’ve seen a variation on time and time again. Although, when you consider that money is the root of the majority of crime, I guess a lotto-based story makes sense. However, Lethal Weapon’s variation on this theme just felt lazy. Thus, the case featured in this episode made it feel like a filler episode.
Now, that’s not to say this episode does not has a strong suit. Indeed it does, and it’s the aspect of Lethal Weapon that’s most important to me. That being emotional resonance of course; which this episode had in spades. That quality featured in this episode’s familial subplot was what made this episode quite watchable. The show just needs to keep an eye on the procedural plot to emotional mix to fully utilize its formula.
Although A Whole Lotto Trouble is a weak episode; I still have hope for the rest of this season. That is if Season 3 can continue at all. On the one hand, I read that Fox and Warner Bros. TV have secured Wayans for two more episodes of the 15 episode season. On the other hand, whispered rumors are swirling of the show’s potential cancellation. I suppose we will all just have to wait and see.

Episode 4: Leo Getz Justice can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service! Recap Coming Soon!

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