Lethal Weapon: ‘Commencement’ Season Finale Review
Can’t let go.
Warning: This review is for the season finale of Lethal Weapon. Of course there’s spoilers.
Oh, man am I glad FOX renewed this show for a second season. I wouldn’t call the ending of season one a cliffhanger, but more so an exciting set up for what’s to come. I am so thrilled we’ll get to see it. I’m thrilled this series, which had a lot of preconceived notions of failure by so many, including me, is going to move forward past its first season. Something so many other reboots adapted from films have failed to do. But see, Lethal Weapon has taken all the right steps to shine on its own, without piggybacking on the formula of the previous Lethal Weapon film series. In season one alone, even with plenty of filler episodes and a procedural approach instead of a serialized format, there has been an incredibly amount of character and plot development for our main characters Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. None of these achievements would be possible without some fantastic writing and the outstanding performances of Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans. Considering where we were when Season One started and where we’ve ended up, “Commencement” serves as a very satisfying conclusion to the show’s freshman season.
The setup from last week’s episode and the previews made this the most anticipated episode of the season for me. When Palmer dropped that bombshell on Riggs, suggesting Gideon Lyon may have killed Miranda, it was obvious Riggs was going to do something extreme to get him to talk. Opening fire on a police transport and kidnapping him was pretty damn extreme, I’d say. The interactions between Riggs and Gideon were by far some of the best moments of this finale. Gideon is one smooth criminal though. His calm demeanor while evading Riggs’ questions was so well done. The Glades star Matt Passmore played a great villain in this and the previous episode. His ability to play mind games and suggesting Riggs wasn’t strong enough to torture and kill in cold blood made for one of the episode’s more nail biting moments. Even more sinister was when Gideon finally admitted the graphic details on Miranda’s death. It was actually painful to hear him say Miranda didn’t die on impact after the semi crashed into her car. That Gideon suffocated her in the aftermath. One can only hope he was lying to piss off Riggs. Although I enjoyed watching Rigg beat the crap out of Gideon holding him down so he’d get run over by the subway train, I wonder what kind of damage Gideon could have done in the series had he escaped. Either way, Passmore left his mark as probably the best villain of season one.
Claye Crawford needs to get an award of some kind for his fine work in this episode alone. So far, it’s been a hell of a journey looking into the life of Martin Riggs, watching him grieve over Miranda, avoid attachments, then finding love and happiness again, only to have that stripped away once he found out the truth about Miranda’s death. Interestingly enough, back when he was searching for the truth, or at least suspected her death was a hit, he acted more frantically. He seemed a little more in control knowing the truth, having his wife’s killer in his captivity. Even while still searching for answers on why she was killed and who set it up, he rarely got overly emotional. Claye’s performance was so subtle and precise, never over the top. When he’s given the chance to go off on Gideon, it’s warranted. I enjoyed watching him beat Gideon’s ass.
Damon’s work was good all around also. He had a few fun moments with the Murtaugh fam, but he had his most dramatic episode to date, struggling with his dedication to his partner, the law and his family. It was expected Rog would cover for his partner, even after Riggs had gone pretty far taking the law into his own hands. Riggs has pulled a lot of crazy stuff during their partnership but obviously, that was the last straw for him. So even though you could tell it wasn’t an easy decision, Roger had to ask Avery for a new partner. The scene back at the Murtaugh house was really dramatic with Roger trying to convince Riggs to let it go. In that scene, Riggs was a bit frantic and desperate, making his reaction to the news of their reassignment really impactful. Both actors gave it their all in that scene, but Clayne gave off the perfect sense of hurt that the one guy who believed in him was giving up on him. It was heartbreaking even though we all know their partnership won’t be coming to an end.
And talk about one hell of a dad. After getting electrocuted with defibrillators and getting shot at, Rog still made his way to his son’s graduation without shoes and covered with cuts and bruises.
Oh, Ronnie, how could you? The twist of Miranda’s death came at the expense of her father and Riggs’ father-in-law, City Attorney Ronnie Delgado (Tony Plana). Turns out Miranda was killed because Tito Flores wanted to send a message to Ronnie. As he says to Riggs’, he no longer says no to the cartel so he can protect his other daughters. I feel like I should have picked up on this or at least entertained the idea that Ronnie, because of his position of power, would have been strong armed the cartel, and that Miranda being targeted was because of him and not Riggs. The show is a little vague with some of its details. We never really knew how much Riggs knew about the cartel back when he was in El Paso. The only clue we ever had was when Tito Flores told him back in “Jingle Bell Glock” that he wasn’t that important. As for Ronnie, throughout his brief appearances, he seemed like such a caring, understanding father figure to Riggs. I never even thought of him as someone with ties to the cartel. Though I understand Ronnie’s predicament trying to protect his family, it’s kind of unsettling how he could look Riggs in the eyes and act like he knew nothing about Miranda’s death. Perhaps as he was trying to convince Riggs to move on, he was trying to forget what happened. Either way, it’s a rather sad turn of events.
We’re probably not going to see anymore Miranda flashbacks, which is both sad and fitting. I’ve enjoyed Floriana Lima’s presence as Miranda so much. It was always nice seeing Riggs in a happier time in his life in contrast to his messed up life in the present. But her arc is basically finished now. Her killer has been found. Even though Riggs now has to hunt down the ones truly responsible, there is a major sense of closure to her death now. Riggs should be able to have some peace of mind. Therefore, I don’t think future flashbacks are necessary, but I wouldn’t be opposed to them either.
The Mexico setup for season two has me very excited, and this finale presented it beautifully. Riggs is going after Tito Flores and is not keeping it a secret. Riggs’ courtesy call to Tito was cool, and it indicated he had no plans to come out of this venture alive. Now with Murtaugh on his way to Mexico, it’ll be interesting if he tries to keep his friend from getting killed by trying to bring him back to the states, or more believable for the sake of the show’s pace, he’ll make sure Riggs stays alive by teaming up with him to take down Flores. Either way, I wonder if this will change the format of the show a little. The boys have no jurisdiction in Mexico, so I doubt they’ll be solving crimes on a weekly basis until Flores is taken down. So we might be looking at a more serialized format for season two, at least temporarily. I do hope this new arc for Riggs and Murtaugh isn’t a simple fix done in an episode. I’d like to see it last for a good amount of time, build the suspense, pack on some drama, build a stronger foundation between Riggs and Murtaugh. There are so many possibilities they can take on with this new development. However, what will the rest of the cast do back in California? The Murtaugh family will probably have much less to do than any other characters, but the absence of Riggs and Murtaugh at the precinct can open the door for crime solving for Bailey. With so much of the supporting cast often walking around in the background to aid Riggs and Murtaugh, maybe they can step in the spotlight while they are gone.
As for this Lethal Weapon episode alone, it was exceptional. Probably the best in terms of drama and development. Things got a whole lot more serious than usual, but it certainly made sense with Riggs staring into the eyes of his wife’s killer, and Murtaugh coming to a crossroads with his partner. To sum it up, “Commencement” was a rewarding finale to the surprise new hit show of the season.