blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Equalizer (2021) s01e04 – It Takes a Village

Did they save up their Chris Noth for this episode? He actually does something with the plot. Nothing with the non-Queen Latifah cast, but they get him in a lengthy action set piece involving the episode villain (Scott Cohen). Noth and Latifah crashing actually evil philanthropist Cohen’s formal ball isn’t as good as it could be—there’s no tango or even ballroom scene—but they actually get to have fun together as opposed to doing exposition dumps while on a New York location walk and talk.

Here’s the plot of the episode, told in RoboCop. Cohen is actually Dick Jones, trying to get gangster Clarence Boddicker (Jayson Wesley) to get the residents out of Old Detroit except there’s a certain Black community activist (Marcus Callender), who needs to be gotten got. Sadly there are no ED-209s, but there is a scene where Latifah crashes Wesley and crew beating in a new gang member and she gets to terrify them thanks to CIA prepping.

Oh, and Cohen’s a CIA asset. American billionaires who fund terrorists as CIA assets on CBS. How far we’ve come. Or not, actually.

The minimal B plot is about Latifah’s daughter, Laya DeLeon Hayes, getting mad about a pothole screwing up her driving lesson and becoming an online road maintenance activist. They seem to have realized she’s a little bit too annoying and to give her some humility; sadly no one accuses her of being fake woke about potholes like she accused a former friend of being fake woke about police violence last episode. Lorraine Toussaint gets a little to do in the subplot, probably more than Hayes because Toussaint gets to have conversations with both Latifah and Hayes while Latifah and Hayes just exchange angry one-liners.

Then there’s detective Tory Kittles, who’s seemingly given up pursuing Latifah as a vigilante and is instead her police department insider. Speaking of police department insiders and being fake woke about potholes… there’s a super gross scene where Adam Goldberg and Liza Lapira (fourth episode of the show, fourth different characterization of the obnoxious, charmless couple) cheer the cops arresting someone. It’s a bad guy, but the way they do the cheering… let’s just say a Blue Lives Matter sticker on Goldberg’s computer is only unlikely because the set decoration isn’t good enough. It’d certainly be appropriate.

Goldberg and Lapira are getting real tiresome. Cohen’s blah in the Dick Jones part. Zach Appelman’s fine as his son, who’s basically Bob Morton (no spoilers, just basically Bob Morton). Wesley’s fine. It’s a crap part.

But then there’s Robert G. McKay, who isn’t good and really needs to be good. He’s got one of the biggest supporting roles and while it’s also not a great part, there’s potential to it; instead McKay gets worse as the role gets more difficult. His scenes become a chore, whereas the rest of the episode at least doesn’t feel like one.

“The Equalizer” seems to be evening itself out… and turning out to be a lot blander and safer than originally implied.

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