'Lethal Weapon': How the buddy cop drama is throwing in new faces to keep things interesting
It looks like a desperate attempt to keep things fresh — however, is this the best strategy to save the show?
From Annet Mahendru to Nishi Munshi, the latest season of 'Lethal Weapon' has seen a lot of new faces lately. While the tradition of guest appearances goes pretty deep into the history of this television adaptation, this season seems to be seeing stars in these special roles now more than ever. We know that the rumors of the show shutting down have been running galore — so is this 'Lethal Weapon's way of saving this sinking ship?
This season started with a guest appearance from 'Blindspot's Michelle Hurd, who has appeared on the show previously as Gina Santos. The character who just doesn't trust Captain Avery's leadership skills, Santos was one of the first few characters on the show that were brought in when things got a little dull. It made sense to do so too — after all, how long could you watch Murtaugh and Riggs wreck havoc right?
Then came everyone's favorite Nick Searcy as Ray, a federal agent in charge of a murder investigation that the new duo of Murtaugh and Cole were a part of. Searcy's role on the show was pretty non chalant and the fact that he had just been a part of an Oscar-winning film ('The Shape of Water') didn't stick out as much — but now with the news that the buddy cop drama has roped in a 'General Hospital' alum, things have become much more clear.
Then in episode five, 'Get the Picture', we came across another guest star. Annet Mahendru was brought in to play Layla Khudari, the daughter of a Lebanese artist who was killed by a rebel attack. She is the villain of this episode's crime — the robber and the manipulator. The storyline, just for fun, throws in a Cole angle to the whole crime — and Layla ends up locking lips with Cole after the whole thing is put to bed.
Mahendru's resume is just as interesting as Searcy's. She starred in shows with big names behind them and they have, more often than not, been meaty. From the recent Russian adoption agent's role in Matt Weiner's 'The Romanoffs' to Nafisa in Howard Gordon's 'Tyrant', Mahendru is a rising star.
While her character was clearly a requirement of the plot, we've been seeing a lot of villains lately who are connected to Cole and in that relation, connected to the plotline as a whole. These guest appearances aren't just a face in a procedural drama anymore, like they used to be. They are now, in ways, open-ended questions, asking for your interpretation. It could potentially be a way to keep viewers engaged, hence making the season much more interesting.
Case in point is 'Lethal Weapon's addition to this season's guest/recurring cast, Nishi Munshi. Munshi has previously starred in The CW's 'Jane the Virgin' and its extremely popular vampire spin-off 'The Originals'. Munshi plays Assistant District Attorney Erica Mallick, a hardworking and intelligent woman who believes in no favors. The show introduced her to us in episode eight, 'What the Puck', in a way that made it clear that this character was going to be romantically linked with Cole in the future. She's making a comeback in episode 10, 'There Will Be Bud' along with another love interest for Cole named Julia, played by Hayley Strode. Do you see the problem here?
In an attempt to keep the story fresh, the show is ignoring an already created plotline — something that could potentially be a really great plot arc. Strode could just be the catalyst to their love story but this does bring us back to the too-many-new faces-just-to-up-their-game theory. The latest addition to all this 'Lethal Weapon' developmental plan appears to be 'General Hospital' alum, Sean Blakemore. He's set to star as a character named Barrett in episode 11, 'Dial M for Murtaugh' — the details are being kept under wraps.
One doesn't really need to explain just how popular the soap opera is and just how much their characters mean to audiences.
While we certainly do enjoy a break from Cole and Murtaugh's antics, if this is indeed 'Lethal Weapon's strategy to get the show back on the tracks, they couldn't be more wrong. Guest stars are great as a one-time thing and if they do bring in a character like Erica — they need to be patient enough to do justice to it. Instead of writing in stars into this already thickened plot, it would be much better if 'Lethal Weapon' invested in a brand new pen.