Lethal Weapon 3.8 Asks, ‘What The Puck?’

by Ben Martin

[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 3, Episode 8: What the Puck DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 8: What the Puck can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]

When I was a kid, I was too busy watching movies or reading comics to be concerned with athletics. That is except for hockey, the one sport I’ll sit down and watch any time. Hockey is a visually exciting game that moves at an almost kinetic pace. Not to mention, there are occasional outbreaks of on-ice violence! Surprisingly though, hockey has not often been utilized by the action genre, with the exception of Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) and Sudden Death (1995), respectively. Thankfully though, this episode in recap takes us back to the rink, and asks, What the Puck?
This episode opens in a popular Italian restaurant and introduces to a man who’s making a successful living there as matradee, Elliott Nunziata (Jay Acovone). As happens in genre pieces, part of Elliot’s job is to deal with customers who are involved in organized crime. On this particular night, such a professional hazard rears its head as Elliot makes the mistake of seating mafioso Tony Corsetti (Fred Mancuso) at a table that’s typically occupied by crime boss, Fabrizio Stavos (Costas Mandylor). Under normal circumstances, such seating might be acceptable; alas, Stavos drops in unannounced and is none too pleased. A few hours later, Elliot finds out just how displeased Stavos is when his car explodes, thanks to a car bomb put underneath by Stavos’ guys.  Thankfully Elliot spots the bomb right before it goes off.
The next morning, Wesley Cole (Seann William Scott) has some car trouble of his own. It’s never a good idea to talk on your phone while driving. However, our hero is doing just that as he continues to “Try to reconnect with the love of his life,” Natalie Flynn (Maggie Lawson). Alas, all that gets him a short phone call that causes Cole to rear-end Deputy DA Erica Malick (Nishi Munshi). Of course, that isn’t the last time this morning that the two will have an encounter. Mere hours later, Cole and Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) are tasked by Erica with babysitting her witness in a case to bring down Tony Corsetti. As faith would have it, the witness in question is none other than Elliott Nunziata. Unfortunately, such an assignment creates a problem for Cole as he now knows there’s a ticking clock on Natalie and Andrew’s (Jonathan Sadowski) impending engagement.

Not surprisingly, Cole ditches the assignment to make his lunch date with Natalie; leaving Murtaugh to guard Elliot. After getting off to a bumpy start, the two men begin to bond and Elliot introduces Murtaugh to hockey. Unfortunately, things aren’t going as smoothly for Cole; who arrives at the restaurant the same Erica does. Bad timing quickly escalates into murder as shots are fired inside the bistro, leaving Corsetti dead. Our hero and the DA jump in her car and engage in hot pursuit of the killer. This chase preempts the hockey game, leading Murtaugh and Elliot to get on the line with Cole. While the matradee’s shortcuts to Cole are helpful, the pursuit doesn’t end well as the killer escapes as Erica’s car crashes into a fish truck.
Back at the hotel, Elliot hesitantly explains that a couple of weeks ago, Corsetti and a guy named Jimmy “Blinky” Doherty (Ian McLaren) robbed an armored truck and came away with two-million dollars that belonged to Stavos. Upon learning this, Erica tasks Cole with babysitting Elliot; and Murtaugh with tracking down Blinky. Being the charmer that is Elliot convinces Cole to relocate his and Natalie’s date to the hotel bar; Cole takes Elliot suggestion and leaving the matradee handcuffed to the shower rod in the hotel bathroom. Meanwhile, Murtaugh and Brooks Avery (Kevin Rahm) find out from Blinky that he and Corsetti stashed the money in  Elliot’s restaurant. Blinky also adds that the money is now gone and he believes Elliot absconded with the dough.
Thus, while Cole’s waiting in the hotel bar, Elliot manages to escape. Later that night, Cole shows up at Murtaugh’s house after Natalie revealed to him that she has chosen to pursue a future with Andrew. About this time, Elliot phones and apologize for what he did. Being the keen detectives they are, Murtaugh and Cole determine that Elliot is still at a bar in L.A. (Such a deductive conclusion is thanks to hearing a traffic report on the 101 in the background of the call.)
The following day, the LAPD and the DA determine that Elliot is still in town. Thinking further about why the matradee turned thief would stay in town, the cops deduce it’s for the LA Kings playoff game. Unfortunately, Stavos has managed to garner this same intel from Blinky; whose life he has threatened. Before long, the cops and the criminals are all at the hockey game, seeking Elliot. Moments after Stavos has taken Elliot’s girlfriend, and partner-in-crime, Jill Brown (Sandra Purpuro) hostage; Elliot is informed, over the phone, that Jill will be released in exchange for the money.
Luckily, the boys show up in the nick of time to help Elliot. Murtaugh escorts Elliot to retrieve the cash, while Cole goes to get Jill. Matters escalate quickly for both partners as Stavos, and his men start shooting at Murtaugh and Elliot in the parking lot. Despite Elliot getting shot and wounded, Murtaugh does manage to take Stavos’ men out and get the drop on him. Inside the arena, Cole fights off the remainder of Stavos’ goons, saving Jill in the process. Alas, Cole’s heart will get hurt during this fight; as he hears Natalie and Andrew get engaged over the speakers of the Jumbotron.

This case may have taken our heroes to the ice, but it has a bittersweet conclusion. After Elliot is released from the hospital; he will head to jail to serve his time. So, as a token of his appreciation, Elliot gives Murtaugh his season passes to the Kings games. Around that same time, Natalie calls call to deliver news of her engagement. However, he cuts her off with congratulations. The two former lovers make amends, knowing their romantic days are behind them.
On the whole, Episode 8: What The Puck is a decent episode. It proved to be an entertaining episode with plenty of action and comedy. Best of all though, this episode introduced to the character of Elliott Nunziata, played very endearingly by character actor Jay Acovone. However, What the Puck’s depiction of characters such as Elliot and the organized criminals that surround him is its most significant issue. Frankly, all of these characters felt like stereotypes to me; which hurt the already standard narrative a bit. Thus, this episode dealt with well-treaded territory but was enjoyable enough in doing so.

Episode 8: What the Puck can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.
Recap of The Mid-Season Finale,  Episode 9: Bad Santas COMING SOON!

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