blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Equalizer (2021) s01e10 – Reckoning

Yeah, I knew Joseph C. Wilson credited scripts weren’t good, which is a real bummer because this episode deserves better. Queen Latifah gets a case close to home when daughter Laya DeLeon Hayes and her friends become collateral damage in a drive-by shooting. The episode becomes a race: will Latifah get justice for the victims before Hayes figures out her mom doesn’t work for an international charity. Because now Hayes is entering Latifah’s world, specifically the precinct where detective Tory Kittles works.

It’s kind of fun seeing Kittles and Hayes together. We rarely get to see Kittles in scenes where his personality matters. Usually he’s just acquiescing to Latifah for plot reasons or taking shit from his white superiors for similar plot reasons. This episode he also goes to visit dad Danny Johnson in prison; Johnson is an ex-cop who started stealing because he realized the system’s garbage so why not steal. It’s a really good scene from Kittles. Not the best writing (or even good), but Kittles acts his ass off.

And there’s almost good stuff with Hayes standing up to her classmate’s racist white mom, which Wilson’s script too quickly dismisses as rude Karening. It’s a miss after the episode takes the time for Latifah and aunt Lorraine Toussaint to sit and mourn Hayes being yet another generation of Black child who has to learn what it’s like for their friend to be killed. That scene between Latifah and Toussaint is so good, thanks to the actors, not even Wilson’s hackneyed dialogue can mess it up.

But Wilson can definitely mess up every pointless appearance from Adam Goldberg and Liza Lapira this episode. They’re background, with Lapira occasionally spouting off single expository lines to remind viewers of the plot, while Goldberg’s just… there. Even though part of the plot involves someone calling Hayes’s phone and threatening her, which seems like a very technological angle. Though since Wilson writes Goldberg and Lapira so badly, having more of them wouldn’t really help things.

Also not appearing this episode is Chris Noth, who’s on his second episode away. I can’t remember… Latifah might be mad at him but it just goes to show how little “The Equalizer” needs him. Never good to showcase how little your show needs its “and” credit actor.

It’s an okay season finale if an at best middling episode—Wilson’s dialogue’s real, real bad—with the family stuff for Latifah a lot more engaging than anything else thanks to the actors. Though it’s an incomplete; whereas Kittles gets some resolution to his arc, Latifah’s family troubles is the cliffhanger.

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