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How Does 'Lethal Weapon' Kill Off Clayne Crawford's Martin Riggs?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 26, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 26, 2018 |


I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but at all times, I keep one police procedural on my list of weekly TV shows. I don’t have time to watch many of them, but I like to keep one around for background viewing while I’m making dinner or engaged in some other form of multi-tasking. It was Castle for a while, but for the last few years, it’s been Lethal Weapon, and that’s almost entirely because of Clayne Crawford, the Rectify star turned soulful cop with a death wish turned on-set monster who got himself fired over a feud with Damon Wayans (who has his own issues).

Whatever kind of person Crawford is in real life, he’s undoubtedly a great actor and he brought a lot of pathos into a television genre that doesn’t typically traffic in that. With his departure from the series, I did not expect that I’d continue to watch.

I did tune into the premiere, however, to see how Martin Riggs would be written out of the show, and because I was at least a little curious as to how Seann William Scott would fare in his stead. As for Riggs’s death? He was shot and killed by his own half-brother, who then shot and killed himself. Riggs was actually shot in last year’s season finale (filmed before Crawford had been fired — and even before accusations against Crawford went public) and it was supposed to serve as a cliffhanger (I suspect that producers may have had an inkling that Crawford might be killed off when it was filmed, however).

In the third season premiere, the cliffhanger hangs against Riggs. He dies, and a grieving Murtaugh spends the next six months depressed and trying to figure out who really killed his partner. It almost feels like Riggs’ death will become the serialized arc of the season, a cruel and cynical ploy to keep Riggs around without keeping around Crawford. However, near the end of the episode, police find a video suicide note from Riggs’ half-brother, who confessed to killing Riggs.

Case closed. Riggs got a fairly anti-climactic send-off, which wrapped up in one episode, although Murtaugh’s grief over Riggs’ death may ultimately help Jordana Brewster — who plays the department shrink — keep her job on the series.

As for Seann William Scott? He was actually … very good, far more Doug Glatt from Goon than Stiffler from American Pie. He plays a CIA Agent who attracts chaos wherever he goes, but after a mission goes awry in Syria and a kid is killed in crossfire, Cole gives up his gig to move back to the States, work as a cop, and reconnect with his ex and his daughter. He’s actually surprisingly good in the role: Like Riggs, he attracts chaos, but unlike Riggs, he doesn’t actually invite it, because he’s trying to settle down and build a more stable life for his family, which he is trying to win back. I was surprised at how easy it was to forget about Clayne Crawford, although the biggest selling point in Lethal Weapon season 3 may not be Seann William Scott but his ex, who is played by Maggie Lawson, the charming Psych actress who has been bouncing around on crap TV shows for the past few years (although, I liked her short-lived sitcom Back in the Game).

Again, it’s still a police procedural, so it’s not exactly great and necessary television, but until a better police procedural for background viewing comes along, it looks as though it will maintain that spot on my television viewing list for the time being. Cole and Murtaugh have surprisingly good chemistry, and there’s a solid supporting cast on the series to keep things interesting. Better still: Unlike most police procedurals, this one doesn’t take itself seriously (unlike Crawford, who apparently took his role in the series way too seriously). It’s formulaic as hell, but at least the series has mastered its formula.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Getty