(Spoiler warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday’s season premiere of “Lethal Weapon.”)
Clayne Crawford was fired from Fox’s “Lethal Weapon” last season, and though it ended with a seemingly dire cliffhanger for his character, it wasn’t immediately clear how the show would handle his exit.
Fan questions were answered in the Season 3 premiere on Tuesday, when the Fox drama revealed that Martin Riggs did not survive a shooting in the graveyard from last season’s finale.
Much of the episode, co-written by showrunner Matt Miller, focuses on Murtaugh’s (Damon Wayans’) inability to accept the death of his partner, convinced that he fell victim to some vast conspiracy. Unshaven and refusing to change out of sweatpants, Murtaugh spends all his time on a boat parked in his driveway, trying to crack the case of Riggs’ death.
Those who watched the season finale earlier this year know what Riggs was actually shot by his half-brother, Garrett (Peter Coventry Smith), while visiting his wife’s grave. The premiere reveals that Garrett is also dead, and his death has been officially ruled a suicide, but Murtaugh suspects foul play.
Crawford’s character was killed off after on-set clashes between the show’s two stars nearly led to its cancellation.
In June, footage surfaced of Crawford and Wayans exchanging expletives in an argument about an injury Wayans sustained while Crawford was directing. In another incident, Crawford can be heard off-camera losing his temper during a scene disrupted by background noise. Two months before that video leaked, Crawford apologized for his behavior, saying he’d “been reprimanded twice during the past two seasons of ‘Lethal Weapon.'”
When Fox ultimately decided to order a third season of the show without Crawford’s involvement, Seann William Scott was brought on as his replacement.
Scott’s first appearance as Army veteran Wesley Cole came in the new season premiere, when he accidentally gets involved in Riggs’ case while working as a parking enforcement officer. The two cops end up chasing down a group of criminals planning to rob a bank using explosives set up in Los Angeles’ subway system.
Though Murtaugh was initially convinced the plot is somehow connected to Riggs’ death, a video found on Garrett’s phone confessing to the murder finally forces him to put his suspicions to rest. Garrett really was the sole individual behind Riggs’ murder — and he even apologizes in the video for the pain he has caused.
Murtaugh is finally forced to admit what everyone around him already knew: His obsession had less to do with the facts of the case than his refusal to accept his partner’s death. Armed with that realization, he finally cleans himself up and gets back to work.