It took until after we’d finished watching the episode for me to realize there’s no Tory Kittles in it. He’s got a credit. He’s not in the show. Instead of the NYPD being the wrench in Queen Latifah’s plans, it’s Laila Robins and the CIA. Robins is playing a variation on her part in “The Boys,” which is fine. Like… Robins never got her due at the start of her career, might as well get some guest star checks.
But given the plot of this episode turns out to be Sneakers—with British unintentional math genius Christian Coulson not Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, or even Ben Kingsley with a ponytail—maybe don’t look exactly like something else if you’re flipping through the channels.
The episode starts with Latifah getting another job from Chris Noth—who’s in the episode a bunch until he needs to be part of the twist ending; it’s kind of fun seeing Noth just doing a supporting part. Though his mercenary-to-the-1% thing is funny given on his street scenes he’s always dressed like a schlub. And of the phoning in he’s done on the show, this episode’s probably the best phoning in.
Also best is Adam Goldberg and Liza Lapira, who are barely in the episode. There’s also the funny bit that Coulson’s obviously the better computer whiz than Goldberg, which no one seems to acknowledge. Goldberg’s supposed to be the best but not at all. A bumbler like Coulson’s better.
There’s not much with the family—Latifah’s missing a spa weekend with aunt Lorraine Toussaint (though it’d be a funnier episode to see her solving a crime at a spa weekend), while daughter Laya DeLeon Hayes is off for a weekend with dad. There’s a really good subplot about Latifah telling Hayes not to lie but Latifah lies to Hayes and Toussaint with every breath (they think she’s an international charity executive).
The end’s bad and Coulson’s not really good so much as amusing opposite Latifah (though the classical music versus hip hop in her car scene is a little… nineties) and he has more fun than the show usually allows.
Credited writer Keith Eisner—who’s got bonafides in his credits—is real bad with the expository dialogue here. Like he was listening to Sneakers play in the other room.
Sadly, no “my voice is my passport verify me” riff. But “The Equalizer” continues to amuse without distinction.