BUDDY TV – Ratings-conscious viewers (which guillotine-wielding broadcasters have forced us to be lest we get too attached to a freshman show) can be rest assured that Lethal Weapon will be providing us with our weekly dose of sexy adrenaline-pumping action, self- and partner-deprecating hilarity, torturous grief, and syrupy sweet romance for the foreseeable future.
“Best Buds,” Lethal Weapon’s third outing of the series, delivers lots more of all of the above as the partnership continues to solidify (“He took a cattle prod for me”) and Riggs begins to open up to Dr. Cahill (“I shot my TV!”). This super fun episode is especially intriguing due to the introduction of Murtaugh’s old training officer, Ned Brower. It’s unclear if Brower’s appearance is a one-off, but I vote he should be a regular.
You Had Me At $17 Million
An armored car carrying $17 million in tax money collected from the booming Californian cannabis trade gets brutally smacked off the road by two masked guys. The driver, Murtaugh’s retired training officer, is knocked senseless and the loot is carried away. Ned Brower, played masterfully by Ted Levine (who will always be Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs to me in the same way Gene Wilder will always be Willy Wonka) does cash pick-ups for Joint Assets Securities Company, the money managers who insure the cannabis trade. Immediately, I have Ned pegged as part of the heist, but I pray hard that Lethal Weapon eschews cliche in favor of something more interesting.
What Some Call Illegal, California Calls Tuesday
One of the victims of the theft is medicinal cannabis dispensary Budding Blossom (though I didn’t see anyone waving a page from a legitimate Rx pad anywhere). Riggs and Murtaugh visit the home of the Budding Blossom owners, Lonnie and Donny and find themselves in the midst of a group therapy session, er, mid-day pot party. Riggs, having already had a date with Mary Jane that morning (which was when he shot his television screen for displaying two frolicking lovebirds) imagines he sees his deceased wife and follows a dark-haired woman up the stairs while Murtaugh talks to Donnie and Ronnie. By the time they leave the party they are none the wiser, but Riggs has a pretty good buzz going.
Ned tells the guys that some of that tax money in the truck belonged to the drug cartels whose business has taken a huge hit now that pot is legal in California. When Riggs and Murtaugh return to the Lonnie and Donny house, they are too late. Donny and Lonnie have been tortured with a cattle prod and decapitated. That’s brutal, man.
The decapitations, most likely executed by the cartel, lead them to the L.A.P.D. Gang Unit where they adopt “Cruz,” a cop who tells them the cartel outsources their wet work to local gangs. The cattle prod variety of torture is the signature of a gang banger named Paco. Riggs and Murtaugh, continually bickering about Riggs’ serious lack of planning, approach Paco at his garage without back-up and a serious fight breaks out. (Reminds me of a hockey game I once attended … I digress.) When Paco grabs his cattle prod and goes after Murtaugh (who has a pacemaker, if you recall), Riggs tackles the guy and ends up getting the business end of the prod himself.
We get an eyeful of Riggs’ cattle prod wound and it’s nasty. (Thank you Lethal Weapon for a little peak under the hood, by the way. Yummy.) Riggs’ wound is identical to the burns on the two decapitated bodies, so now the team has cause to keep Paco under lock and key.
Familiarity and Food Lead to the Overshare
In the middle of all the happenings, Riggs shows up at Murtaugh’s house, fries up some bacon and dips it right into the mustard jar before lapping it up. The audio is fantastic, exactly like what it sounds like when a puppy licks a plate clean. Riggs has got a thing about eating with his hands and dipping his food in other people’s dishes. It’s endearing and hilariously gross, as are the reactions of those who witness it.
While slurping up his breakfast, Riggs patiently listens while Murtaugh shares the story of how he and Trish met. He had stopped her for speeding and gave her a ticket which she then fought in court, wiping the courtroom floor up with his ass. He tells Riggs that things are still hot between he and Trish despite all they’ve been through. The overshare is a little awkward in that, well, it really is an overshare, but it emphasizes Murtaugh’s feminine side, personality wise. He’s a man of deep feeling which is part of what allows him to be so good for grieving Riggs.
Homicide Leaves Little Room For Romance
Throughout “Best Buds,” Murtaugh and Trish struggle to keep date night a priority. The situation becomes even more dire when Murtaugh learns that Ned’s wife died of cancer shortly after he retired. The first 20 years were for the force, Ned explains, the second 20 were supposed to be spent with his wife. Oops. That’s it then, thinks Murtaugh.
Despite being sleep deprived and in the middle of a double decapitation/armored truck heist case, Murtaugh is going to have a romantic interlude with his beautiful wife, by god. At the restaurant he’s slightly loopy considering the lack of sleep, but he’s come prepared with some notes about their oggely googely love being a raft of love and how he loves her more each day. It’s just corny enough to be realistic. Of course, her phone rings, then his phone rings, then rings again. Typical. Also realistic. Finally, he gets a 9-9-9 call from Ned, so Trish insists he go handle it.
Paying Back Payback Is a Bitch
While Murtaugh is at Ned’s house, Riggs take off to bring a half a sandwich to Paco, making his fellow bangers suspicious. Finally, Paco confesses that he tortured Donny and Lonnie who admitted stealing the dough, but that someone else stole it from them. Guess who that was? Apparently Ned was pissed off and desperate enough to saunter over to Donny and Lonnie’s driveway and take the car when no one was looking. #1 That’s brilliant. #2 That takes balls. Ned, thank goodness, wasn’t in on the heist plan. He realized he recognized the thiefs’ shoes, and that’s what led him to their house and the truck full of cash. Having heard that the thieves had been tortured and decapitated, Ned was afraid for his life and that’s why he called Murtaugh. Better to have the good guys get you than have the cartel electrocute and behead you. Pretty solid reasoning in my book.
Riggs realizes Ned won’t survive in lock up because Paco, who is already in lock-up, will surely kill him. Murtaugh and Riggs decide to take the money in, but plan to give Ned the night and pick him up in the morning (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink). And did I mention that Riggs somehow dropped some of that money on Ned’s property so the poor guy would have something to live on? Awwwww.
Another Hockey Game Busts Out
Somehow, in the few moments it takes for Riggs and Murtaugh to drive the (almost) $17 million away, the cartel gets its hands on Ned. Ned calls Murtaugh and they immediately arrange a trade: Ned for the money. Sundance and Cassidy, driving the truck of cashola, meet a whole posse of gang bangers for an exchange at dawn. These gang bangers are dressed in shorts, wife beaters or button-downs with only one button done, and sparkling white knee highs (which is the most ridiculous fashion statement EVER. Just had to put that out there).
Since they are completely surrounded by bangers with guns, Riggs decides to drive right through, diverting the bangers’ attention away from Ned so the old guy can escape. While the truck careens through the group of unattractively clad bangers, the back of the van busts open and suddenly it’s raining stolen money all over the streets of L.A. The gangbangers shoot out the truck’s front tire making it fly ass over teakettle and land on its side. Riggs and Murtaugh kick their way through the front windshield and open fire in every direction, making cracks at each other about their situation all the way through. Just when they exhaust their fire power and it looks like it’s the end of the line for Butch and Sundance, the cavalry arrives. The two chuckle at their unbelievable luck as if it weren’t luck at all, but predestination.
Riggs Tries for Absolution, Murtaugh Gets Satisfaction
In the final scene, Dr. Cahill tells him to return his father-in-law’s phone calls because he obviously needs to connect as part of his own grieving process. So do it for Miranda’s father if he can’t do it for himself. Riggs buys an expensive bottle of whatever and makes it all the way to the front of his father-in-law’s house but is overwhelmed by memories and drives off. Poor guy. Murtaugh, on the other hand, drives up behind his wife on her way home and turns on the cherries to pull her over. Once she sees it’s him the two have a spontaneous hood picnic overlooking the lights of L.A. Pretty cute, huh?
All in all, this was a pretty excellent and entertaining episode. If ratings continue as they have been so far, it should be safe to get attached to Lethal Weapon … at least for another 20 episodes.