Chaos is What’s Called For.
Warning: Full spoilers for Lethal Weapon’s Season 3 premiere follow…
Firstly, it’s absolutely nuts, even though this TV series is a mix tape-style alt universe based on the movie franchise, that there’s an iteration now of Lethal Weapon where Riggs dies. I mean, it’s not totally out of line considering the original ending of Lethal Weapon 2 had him dying after being shot by “Diplomatic Immunity!” Arjen Rudd, but this time it all happens off-screen. Murtaugh gets the dire news relayed to him by a doctor in a dialogue free moment, that just involves a head shake. Crazy.
I’m not here to comment on the behind-the-scenes chaos that led to star Clayne Crawford’s firing and, subsequently, Riggs’ death (we assume Riggs would’ve just survived the shooting had Crawford returned) except to say that this created a massive hurdle for a show that’s always existed on the bubble and is based on a very popular, established franchise that leans heavily on Riggs for action and drama (granted, the character’s nesting doll of surprise skeletons from his past had dried up). This was a massive mountain to climb.
Watch a Season 3 sneak peek below:
Had the Season 2 finale not gone out on a smoking gun cliffhanger, they could have just made Riggs drive off into the sunset to live with Molly in East Elsewhere, USA. But they had to snugly tuck themselves into the bed they’d made the best they could and – you know what? It worked. All things considered. For all of the awkwardness that this Season 3 premiere had to own, it was still able to rise up and provide us with a story that both felt natural for Roger while also seamlessly introducing Seann William Scott’s Wes Cole.
Cole, named after movie franchise character Lorna Cole (whose doppel-double on TV was played by Hilarie Burton), has no connection to the “story so far.” Early rumors had Scott possibly playing some sort of Riggs relative (since they tend to crawl out of the woodwork), but the choice was made, the much better choice, to have Cole come in as an interloper-type, abruptly getting involved in a big case that happened to cross paths with a grief-stricken Murtaugh’s web of conspiracies surrounding Riggs’ death.
Scott is actually pretty great in the role. He comes with some baggage (a dead child he feels guilty over, a real daughter he yearns to reconnect with, etc) but nothing to match Riggs-levels of depression. And that’s a good thing. There are certain Riggs-style elements you want keep, and some that need to be ditched. Cole doesn’t feel like a full character just yet, but he is, in the very least, a likable presence (who’s able to fight the way Riggs can in the movies). He’s stubborn, courageous, foolhardy, and ready to deflect his personal drama by diving headlong into daredevil situations. Scott, as Cole, is able to perfectly blend humor and action hero-type grit.
Because Cole is, for lack of better labeling, a lighter version of Riggs, Murtaugh’s morose musings were able make their way to the front here and, in a rare occurrence, he got to be the self-destructive one. Yes, Roger no longer has to be talked onto the roof of a moving vehicle. In the episode’s funniest moment, both he and Cole climbed up to the top of a speeding food truck, having assumed the other one would stay inside and drive. It was a nice way of showing how much Roger had evolved – by sort of devolving.
I’m sure it won’t take long for Murtaugh and Cole to form a bond (mostly because Cole seems so breezy and malleable) but it was still a unique touch at the end of the episode for Roger to quickly accept that Cole was going to sacrifice himself to drive a subway car loaded with explosives away from citizens. Cole told Roger to leave, because he had a family (Cole did too, but whatever) and Roger agreed. Had it been Riggs, Roger wouldn’t have let him do it. As easily, anyhow. But with this new guy? Sure, he’ll take the out. Cole still has to earn that “There’s no way I’m letting you die!” style of friendship.
As usual, things moved fast here. Cole went from overseas CIA operative to someone “placed in the LAPD” with a redacted past to Murtaugh getting him hot-shotted through the ranks to detective, but that’s the Lethal Weapon pace. It’s equal parts marathon and sprint. You’ll soar over a ton of things in order to touch down on the important stuff. The main takeaway here is that Murtaugh’s way of moving forward, past Riggs, is to try and emulate, as best he can, their old partnership. And in Cole, and Cole’s “shoot first, shoot more later” approach, he sees that spark. Stepping back, it one hundred percent doesn’t seem emotionally healthy at all, but I suppose it beats building oneself a replacement Riggs head on a desk to talk to.