Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Lethal Weapon - A Problem Like Maria - Review

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Subscribe for show updates
Receive news and updates about Lethal Weapon - A Problem Like Maria - Review whenever something new comes out.

Lethal Weapon - A Problem Like Maria - Review

Lethal Weapon has had an impressively consistent first season, but it's not quite managed to recapture those peaks of quality that it reached in the very middle of the season where it blended an impressive emotionality with an engrossing weekly story.

A Problem Like Maria is the first time in the back half where Lethal Weapon really captured the purposefulness of direction that embodies the show at its best. It's an imperfect episode, hampered by some slightly messy plotting here and there, but this was an example of almost everything working as it should, from the performances to the character arcs to the case of the week. A lot of the episode's success lies in its small but significant deviations from the formula.

The case of the week, for instance, is far less procedural than normal, swapping collections of evidence and interviews with suspects for a single objective in protecting Maria's baby, which allows it to clip along at an impressive pace with only a few pauses for breath as A Problem Like Maria services its numerous character stories.

The action, too, breaks from the tight formula of shoot-em-ups in abandoned warehouses or footchases, with the motel set-piece acting as a smart exercise in building tension that culminates in a classically silly escape from an explosion, while the final fight in the convention centre has a greater scope and scale to it than normal. We even end on a cliffhanger as opposed to a neat, close-ended moral.

All of these small changes add up to a substantial result, which is that A Problem Like Maria just feels more compelling than Lethal Weapon has been in a while. Its looser and less segmented story feels freed from the typical rhythms of an episode, representing a step up in urgency as the season gears up for the final showdown in this week's finale.

Yet A Problem Like Maria also succeeds by doing what Lethal Weapon does best: simple, sincere character arcs with an affecting moral at the end. Riggs' story with Palmer appears to be heading in a cliched direction of Riggs as the avenging male hero looking for the people who harmed his girlfriend, but the reveal of Palmer's circumstances midway through allows the episode to pursue a much more interesting direction.

It's not the basic premise of Riggs' arc that works, as it broadly revolves around his familiar conflict of guilt at moving forward and temptation at being stuck in the past. It's the execution, instead, where his arc here works where other episodes have failed. For instance, A Problem Like Maria plays into his engagingly nuanced father figure relationship with Delgado to firmly push Riggs forward with some sage advice that clearly resonates with him, using an existing relationship to push his character arc out of the tight loop it can often get stuck in.

And then, in a cruel but effective twist, it rolls that all back with the reveal that Miranda was killed in a deliberate cartel hit. In of itself, it's not a wholly surprising reveal - the movies did something similar. But the way it comes after Riggs commits unequivocally to moving forward to Palmer gives it an emotional sting that allows us to empathise with the horror written over Clayne Crawford's face in that final scene. It's the first time Lethal Weapon has really created any overarching mythology, and it'll be very intriguing to see Riggs' response in the season finale. I'm guessing it will not be pretty.

A Problem Like Maria also delivered a really satisfying story for the Murtaughs that put Trish front and centre and allowed for an incisive exploration of their marriage. Trish's own professional life is something that's always existed on the fringes, talked about but rarely seen, so it was a nice surprise to gain the insight we did into her decision to take on the new job, and for that decision-making to be refreshingly free of angst and deliberations. Lethal Weapon has improved immeasurably with its female characters since the pilot, and its sincere focus on the sheer skill of Trish in her professional life as her defining characteristic is perhaps the best example of this.

Her relationship with Murtaugh is also deepened further by their debate over the proposed trip away. It allows a little conflict between work and personal life to creep in, but for the most part, the plotline shines a light on the mutually supportive and compassionate dynamic of their relationship that's founded on complete understanding of the needs. It's always nice to see happy, loving relationships of this kind in a medium that's obsessed with conflicted couples, and the nuance that A Problem Like Maria layers on with Trish's final words to Murtaugh ensures that it's still a dramatically engaging relationship despite its stability.

Sometimes, A Problem Like Maria struggles under the weight of its many stories. It fails to follow through on the intriguing thread of Riggs' suspension, pushing him back into the role of rogue ally to Murtaugh with barely a beat skipped, which feels like a missed opportunity given how infrequently this show separates the two detectives. The lack of consequences at the end for Riggs' rule-breaking only cements the insubstantial nature of this 'twist'.

There's also a few clunky and predictable moments in the case of the week, specifically in the lethargic mystery of the leak inside the station, in which there is only one suspect - the new, abrasive guy from the DEA - who, surprise surprise, turns out to be the culprit.

For the most part, though, this was the best episode in some time, and a impressive acceleration as Lethal Weapon heads into the season finale. This show has developed so much since its promising start, A Problem Like Maria shows that potential converted into tangible and impressive results. Not bad at all.

Overall Grade: A-


SpoilerTV Community
Latest News