Wednesday’s (Jan. 25) episode of “Lethal Weapon,” “The Seal is Broken,” leads us to a hypothetical: If Martin Riggs ever finds peace, does that mark the end of the series?
Yes, the show is only in its freshman season, with no sign as yet of a Season 2 renewal, but it’s hard not to wonder about the sanctity of the franchise and its underpinnings: Both the Riggs/Murtaugh bromance, and Martin’s own disastrous downward spiral.
While the main case that our dynamic duo is tasked with solving comes at a very “Se7en” slant, the real driving factor behind the episode is the discovery that Martin Riggs — exactly a year and a day after his wife’s death — got intimate with a complete stranger. Acting out like this is not a healthy expression of anything, and could mean a lot more self-destructive behavior coming down the pike.
In the original films, Mel Gibson’s iconic take on the role not only had Riggs smiling maniacally in the face of death — the overall canon followed him as he dealt with the same grief Clayne Crawford’s Riggs is grappling with here. The main difference so far is simple: TV offers a bigger playing field to explore issues deeply, and gives characters the room to grow, evolve and change.
Can Riggs go through the same cathartic growth on TV as he did in the films? When thinking of the later sequels, it’s pretty evident that everyone’s favorite, chaotic, unpredictable detective was able to find a semblance of normalcy and peace, and that’s the end of the film narrative, as it should be.
So… Can Martin Riggs can be cured? Is his character doomed to being defined by the unpredictable edge that makes him hilarious one minute, volatile the next? FOX could go that route with his character but, something tells us — if the series does get renewed — we’ll be going on that familiar journey with Riggs and Murtaugh, watching as the two men fix each other while also following through facing (and struggling) with their own responsibilities to themselves.
There’s a level on which we couldn’t be happier watching a compelling character like Martin Riggs succumb to his deepest, darkest demons. It’s satisfying and inspiring to see someone we love rise from that depressive chaos — resulting in a new and better man. There’s a reason that’s the classic hero’s arc, and the one we return to as an audience again and again: Because those are the heroes we long to be, and seeing them falter is a big part of seeing them fly.
“Lethal Weapon” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.