The Equalizer (2021) s01e09 – True Believer

This episode has a lot of stones. It’s very modern—a group of disaffected white guys become an alt-right terror cell because one of them’s a cop and really wants to use all his access to explosives for evil (it could potentially age very poorly)—and they all got together on a Parler knockoff.

And it tries really hard to be simple and direct about the stuff. Very empathetic but then there’s the “well, actually, cops kill Black people so we’ll not be doing the cops are okay either” ending and it’s very, very bold all of a sudden. For CBS anyway. I’ve long suspected “Equalizer” filmed before summer 2020 and only now is starting to get to recently filmed material. Queen Latifah and company—including now duplicitous cop Tory Kittles (who’s better this episode than he’s been in a while; he’s quite good)—are trying to stop a white supremacist bombing somewhere in the New York area. Complicating matters are white terrorist cop (oxymoron?) Christopher Cassarino being too smart to get caught being a white terrorist and then Laya DeLeon Hayes really wanting Latifah to do a TikTok even though Latifah can’t let her face get out online.

Even though the episode has the most (and sadly therefor worst) Adam Goldberg in a while, it’s also the most joyous in… ever maybe? The show leans super hard on parenting is the universal bond and it’s cute. Latifah’s cute as the awkward uncool mom who’s less hip than aunt Lorraine Toussaint. It’s predictable because it fits into the trope but also original because it’s Queen Latifah. Though it’d still be nice if Goldberg were better. He gets a bunch of exposition here and butchers most of it, his timing way off.

Excellent direction from Laura Belsey. The terror thrills—potentially too on-the-nose conspiracy plot or not—are excellent. Lots of tension. Belsey does a fine job creating this genre adventure in an existing show. It’s a spy show but also the suburban and urban procedural. I kept waiting to see if they’d be able to fit Chris Noth in (or to afford to be able to fit Chris Noth in). No, but they don’t need him either.

The writing credit goes to Keith Eisner; he and the room get a gold star for credit, because it’s a lot less apolitical than you’d expect. Especially on CBS Sunday night.

I’m all of a sudden very curious how season two’s going to work.

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