Riggs and Murtaugh try to figure out if someone in the sheriff’s department is responsible for the death of a Texas Ranger in this episode of Lethal Weapon, “Lawmen.” The question of integrity is at the forefront as two legal entities take the ring against each other with the LAPD’s Captain Avery right smack in the middle of it all.
From the beginning, I was skeptical about Captain Avery. I had him pegged as a major douche. As we’ve rolled through the first 10 episodes, I have come to respect him more and more, but “Lawmen” has sealed the deal as we get a view into Avery’s past when he was a mere detective and Roger Murtaugh’s partner. Avery has to choose between his own aspirations and doing what’s right. When the truth comes out, Murtaugh rips Avery a new back side, and Avery takes it with aplomb. The only one willing to cut Avery some slack is Riggs, who knows that sometimes you have to color outside the lines.
The LAPD Goes Head to Head with the Sheriff’s Department Over a Dead Texas Ranger
Texas Ranger Mark Irvin is ambushed and shot to death while transporting prisoner Wayne Davies from Texas to Los Angeles. The ambush was impeccably planned. It looks like an inside job, meaning either the Texas Rangers or the LA sheriff’s department has dirty hands. Texas Ranger Samual Petry shows up in the LA morgue to transport Mark’s body home — and immediately I suspect he’s a dirty cop. Captain Avery tells Murtaugh and Riggs to tread lightly when looking into the sheriff’s department.
When our boys crash a Sheriff’s department bowling fundraiser to ask questions of the one deputy that knew of the transport route, a fight breaks out between the cops and the deputies. They do, however, get one piece of good information about a fellow deputy’s dog getting killed after he talked too much about the case. And guess what? The bullet in the dog matches the bullet that killed Texas Ranger Mark Irvin.
Scratch My Back or I’ll Scratch Your Name Off the Promotion List
Afterwards, Avery is taken to dinner by Sheriff Reed and given a veiled threat to put a leash on Murtaugh and Riggs or his future will be over.
After telling his men to tread lightly but be persistent while investigating the sheriff’s department, Avery meets with Roger’s wife, Trish, to ask her for legal advice. He says it’s about something he did when he and Murtaugh were partners, but Murtaugh never knew about it.
Later, Avery spills to Riggs about how he planted a piece of hair on a rapist and pedophile so he wouldn’t be let off on a technicality. Reed is the only other person who knows about it, he tells Riggs. Riggs had that figured something wonky was going on with Avery because he could smell the sweat and fear on his captain. Riggs advises Avery to tell Murtaugh. Avery makes Riggs promise he’ll catch the guilty bastards fair and square this time around.
Avery then confesses to Murtaugh, who doesn’t forgive him, and promises to resign, which Murtaugh does not disagree with.
A Foot Chase and a Confusing Shootout Leaves Two Men Down
Murtaugh and Riggs go to Deputy Jeffery Veld’s house and find prisoner Davies holed-up there. Davies takes off, with the boys in hot pursuit. Before long, Deputy Luke Barton steps into the street that Davies had just run down and shoots Davies. Barton, Riggs and Murtaugh stand around with their guns pointed at each other until Weld shows up behind Riggs and Murtaugh and gets shot in the head by Barton.
Riggs accuses Barton of killing Davies before Davies could spill anything incriminating. It looks like he does the same thing to Veld, though Barton says he was saving Riggs and Murtaugh’s lives. It’s hard to tell whether Barton is a really good guy or a really bad one, but the needle is pointing toward bad. In the world of reverse psychology television, this means Barton is probably a good guy, and perhaps he will get knocked off before the hour is up … probably by Petry.
Riggs Threatens Deputy Barton Then Breaks into His House
Barton had words with Murtaugh after their debriefings over what happened at the shootout. Barton makes the enormous mistake of mentioning that he might want to hire Trish as his lawyer, though the innuendo about what he really wants to do with her is hard to miss. Riggs then shows up at Barton’s house and lets him know he has his eye on him. When Barton tries to push Riggs’ buttons by mentioning that he has no family, Rigs corrects him, saying the Murtaughs are his family so he better stay clear of them.
The next day, Riggs breaks into Barton’s house and finds a box of bullets that match the bullets from inside the dead dog and inside Ranger Mark Irvin. Murtaugh flips out that Riggs stole the bullets until Baily uncovers that the purchase of those bullets and the guns they are used in tie back to Barton as well as Davies. Doh!
Avery Meets with Sheriff Reed and Gets Him on Tape
Reed admits to Avery that he knows Barton killed Texas Ranger Mark Irvin and orchestrated the Davies cluster, including Davies’ and Veld’s deaths. He suggests they let Veld take the fall for it all, since he’s dead anyway and no one will be the wiser. Avery appears to be drunk, but it’s a ploy. He records the conversation. He’s either going to use it to blackmail his blackmailer or he will use it to lock Reed and Barton up. When Avery leaves the bar and listens to the recording, he hears a gun cock and finds Barton in his back seat ready to blow his head off. Shit.
Barton erases the recording and takes Avery to the house of the rapist/pedophile (Scarelli) that he’d framed all those years ago. Scarelli was recently released from prison because he is nearly dead from cancer. Barton’s plan was to make it look like Avery had gone to apologize to Scarelli, but it backfired and Scarelli killed Avery. However, things don’t go according to Barton’s plan. Riggs and Murtaugh crash through Scarelli’s bay window just as he’s about to put a bullet in Avery’s temple. People, furniture and bullets fly, but Barton runs out of the house, only to be caught and beat in a trade of punches with Riggs.
What do you know … Texas Ranger Petry really was innocent.
Murtaugh Forgives Avery, Avery Doesn’t Resign
Avery and Murtaugh have a heart to heart about Avery going public with his framing of the rapist/pedophile all those years ago. If he comes clean, all 400 criminals that he and Murtaugh put away could be out in the streets committing more crimes. They decide it’s not worth it and instead kiss and make up.
Remember the sheriff department’s bowling alley fundraiser from the beginning of the episode? Murtaugh’s picture was hanging on a plaque at that bowling alley for having bowled a perfect game. However, the sheriff’s deputies questioned the validity of that score because there had been a computer glitch right in the middle of that game. The fight broke out because of this disagreement. After the case is closed Murtaugh, Trish, Riggs, Avery and the entire crew of deputies return to the bowling alley to have a rematch. The deputies actually thank Murtaugh and Riggs for locking up Barton because he gave the whole department a bad name.
When it gets down to the wire, Murtaugh confidentially confesses to Riggs that he may have fudged the numbers a tiny bit when he reported that perfect game to get that plaque on the wall. He says he can’t repeat the performance because he cheated and now he’s dirty. Riggs claps him on the back and says something snarky and supporting before we fade to black. We never see the final score, but it’s a feel-good moment and it’s perfect.
Was Avery right to plant that evidence on Scarelli so the criminal wouldn’t go free? Should Avery have agreed to let Veld take the fall for springing Davies and killing the Texas Ranger? In one of the final scenes, Petry offers Riggs a job. Could you see Riggs returning to Texas to be a Ranger? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Lethal Weapon season 1 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.