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Many spoilers ahead for Episode 6 of Lethal Weapon Season 3, called "Panama." If you haven't caught the episode yet, feel free to check out some of our spoiler-free articles until you get the chance to tune in.
Season 3 of Lethal Weapon has seen the focus of the series shift due to the departure of former co-lead Clayne Crawford, who played Riggs. Crawford was ousted from the series after allegations of misconduct, and the cast actually thought Lethal Weapon was cancelled before plans were put in place for a new character to step in as Roger's partner. All eyes have been on Cole to discover if he really has what it takes to fill a void that might have been left after Riggs' death.
After all, what is Lethal Weapon without Murtaugh and Riggs? Well, Season 3 has proved that Lethal Weapon is so much more than Murtaugh and Riggs thanks to the rich supporting cast, and "Panama" ended on a cliffhanger all about Cole that proves the show definitely doesn't need Riggs, despite some of fans' early fears about Season 3.
Riggs was the one whose tragic backstory drove a lot of the series, with the Murtaugh family largely as a constant and stabilizing force for the man haunted by his previous life. Cole is different from Riggs in nearly innumerable ways, but he did step in as somebody with a complicated past with the potential to come back and bite him.
Instead of a cop whose wife and unborn child were killed, Cole is a former CIA agent who lost part of himself by doing dirty deeds overseas, and it cost him his wife and daughter, although both are still alive. "Panama" saw Cole's former life and dark deeds invade his new life in Los Angeles, and that is extraordinarily dangerous now that he has formed a relationship with his daughter and begun to put down roots with those around him.
Early in the hour, Cole realized that he was being followed by folks he thought he'd left behind when he moved on from the CIA. His past was invading his present, and he encountered his former handler who brought him into the CIA and turned him into a deadly assassin. The episode showed Cole via flashback as he was tasked with his first bloody mission to kill a man out to dinner with a woman who seemed to be his wife.
At first, Cole seemed like he wasn't going to be able to pull the trigger, even after he followed his mark into the bathroom. His hand shook as he aimed the gun, and that was enough of an opening for his target to fight back. The two got into a dangerous scuffle with a loaded gun between them, and Cole eventually gained the upper hand, pulling the trigger and killing the man. They were so close together that Cole ended up sprayed with blood.
He finished the job of killing the guy just as his wife ran into the bathroom, panicking at the sight of the man she loved covered in blood and looking pretty dead. When she first rushed in, she was too frantic to even notice that Cole was in the room, instead screaming for help and cradling the dead man. Then, in one fateful moment, she glanced up, and there was Cole reflected in the broken bathroom mirror.
Flash forward to the present, and the woman (played by guest star Leonor Varela of Captive) is back with a vengeance. The person who was left crying and terrified in the bathroom all those years ago became a woman set on vengeance with cartel ties to back her up. Despite signs pointing toward her interest in a list of CIA operatives and their families, Cole's handler figured out she really only wanted Cole. He made a deal that she'd forget the list and he would make sure she got Cole.
Unfortunately, Cole thought he was in the free and clear until the very end of the episode. He was chatting with his daughter, promising to pick her up and watch as she engaged in a debate in front of an audience. She was nervous about the task in front of her and clearly relying on her dad for support. Sadly, nothing good really ever seems to stick for Cole, and he was immediately surrounded by bad guys as soon as he hung up the phone.
Well, he did what he could to fight back, but even a lethal weapon like Cole can't take out a bunch of adversaries who are armed and ready. The trailer for next week's episode proves that he's going to have to fight for his life and perhaps even end up buried alive. As if he wasn't already battling demons! We'll have to wait and see how he gets out of his latest predicament and if he'll be able to recover mentally any time soon.
We've seen on more than one occasion that Cole can deal with physical pain without too much trouble; emotional scars run deeper for him. In this way, he is similar to Riggs, and we can probably count on his flashbacks continuing similar to how Riggs' continued prior to his death. "Panama" managed to use Cole's backstory to drive a dangerous story, much as earlier seasons did with Riggs.
Cole can carry a decent chunk of the show as well as Riggs did while continuing to mix up the series and take it in some unpredictable directions. Lethal Weapon is a different show now that Riggs is gone, and that's certainly not a bad thing. Here's to the future!
"Panama" was directed by fan-favorite actress Keesha Sharp, and it also introduced Bailey's new partner, known as The Gute. This new character is a sign of growth for Lethal Weapon, and she's important to the franchise for some key reasons. The Gute will stick around to work with Bailey, and their dynamic already proves to be intriguing and perhaps a bit dysfunctional until they get used to each other.