Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday's season three premiere of Lethal Weapon.
After Lethal Weapon star Clayne Crawfordwas fired in May over his on-set behavior, questions were raised over how the show would address his absence in the third season. Now, we have our answer.
In the sophomore finale of Fox's buddy cop drama, the fate of Crawford's Martin Riggs was left up in the air, after he was shot in the abdomen by his half-brother, Garrett (Peter Coventry Smith), and left to die. In the opening minutes of Tuesday's season three opener, a lifeless Riggs is wheeled into the hospital with his partner, a worried Detective Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans), by his side as doctors and nurses race against time to save him.
"It's going to be all right?" Murtaugh asks the doctor after Riggs is wheeled in, but the look on the doc's face doesn't bode well.
Sometime later, the doctor comes out to break the tragic news to Murtaugh: They couldn't save Riggs.
"I'm sorry," the doctor says, somber.
With just two simple words, Murtaugh's world comes crashing down and he cries alone in the hospital waiting room after receiving the devastating news of Riggs' death, unsure of what this means for him and his future at the Los Angeles Police Department.
But the show doesn't spend too much time in the days following Riggs' death, jumping forward in time six months and showing that Murtaugh is still having a difficult time grieving the passing of his friend and partner. Instead of going back into the office, Murtaugh has been investigating a possible new theory that Riggs' death is part of a larger conspiracy -- that he wasn't just killed by Garrett and that Garrett, who we learn died by suicide after shooting Riggs, may have actually been killed.
"Honestly, I think you're finding reasons to keep this case open because you want to keep Riggs alive," Dr. Maureen Cahill (Jordana Brewster) tells Murtaugh, who insists he's not grasping at straws. But sometimes, the truth stings.
It isn't until Murtaugh is shown a confession video from Garrett, where he admits to killing Riggs, that things start to become real for the detective -- that his six-month investigation may have been for naught. "I ain't asking for forgiveness," Garrett says in the grainy video. "I know it's caused some people pain. I thought you should know the truth." That evening, Murtaugh comes to grips with the fact that he needs to let the Riggs case go for good. "I was just trying to keep the case alive because I was afraid to let him go," Murtaugh tells his family. "It wasn't a conspiracy, no bigger story. He was just killed by an angry kid with a gun."
Just when you think Murtaugh is coming out on the other side, he makes the rash declaration that he's done being a detective, burning his badge in the fire, alongside the months of evidence he's accrued since Riggs died. Murtaugh's wife, Trish (Keesha Sharp), pleads with him to start to "move forward" and tells him Riggs' death doesn't have to be "meaningless," handing him his burnt detective badge. Of course, Murtaugh's true calling is bringing down the guilty and helping the innocent -- and he's back in action with the newly promoted Detective Wesley Cole (Seann William Scott), his new partner.
But it's clear Murtaugh's grief over Riggs won't go away any time soon -- and it's understandable; the two were close. At the end of the hour, Murtaugh finally gets around to cleaning out Riggs' desk, jokingly complaining over the amount of booze stashed away in the drawers to a makeshift Riggs, which consists of a hat, aviators and a post-it of his mustache. "I'm sorry I wasn't there that day. Wish I was by your side. Maybe I could have uh... I don't know... But I'm going to regret it for the rest of my life because I love you," a tearful Murtaugh apologizes to Riggs.
Later, Murtaugh and Cole have a heartfelt moment that sets the tone for what Lethal Weapon will be from now on. "I take this partnership very seriously," Murtaugh tells Cole, who acknowledges he has "some big shoes to fill." "I can't ever replace him, so I won't even try. But I want to make this work," Cole says.
In an interview with ET in August, Scott said it's been a blast working with Wayans on set so far. "We hang out all the time on set and he's always making me laugh. It's been so much fun to hang out with him and work with him," he said. "The first time we met was in Matt Miller's office, who is the creator of the show, and immediately we started to laugh and we could tell we were going to have a ball."
Lethal Weapon airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.