I’m not getting roped into the “maybe ‘The Equalizer’ will actually be good” game again, but this episode’s solid. It improves some things, it maintains some things, it fails at some things.
The fail is Tory Kittles teaming up with Dominic Fumusa for a bit. Kittles has all these buddy cop one-liners he dismissively spouts just before the cut like a “Law & Order” spoof. The one-liners ring particularly hollow because they’re the only interactions Kittles has with Fumusa where the episode doesn’t go out of its way to remind Fumusa is a complete asshole. There’s even a secret origin reveal of his character to further explain the assholery. It’s a bunch.
The improvements are for—almost unbelievably—Liza Lapira and Adam Goldberg. They go out in the world on a mission together, and Goldberg’s a buffoon, and Lapira has to save their bacon, but it’s actually cute. Even with Lapira’s socially conscious expository dump in the first few minutes about prosecutors holding people of color in pretrial detention for years on end. It’s the second time “The Equalizer” has tried this information dump from Lapira, and it works better this time. It also doesn’t end up being very important to the actual plot, which has Queen Latifah getting arrested and having to save the day from jail.
Latifah’s got information about a threat against Karen DA Jennifer Ferrin, but Ferrin doesn’t believe it at first. Once there’s an incident, Ferrin makes Kittles and Fumusa work together to try to stop the would-be assassin—aggrieved father Michael Chenevert—while Goldberg and Lapira are pretty sure it’s a frame-up.
Meanwhile, in jail, Latifah meets a young woman (Imani Lewis) whose stubbornness is stopping her from getting out of a bad situation. So Latifah becomes a mentor, whether Lewis wants one or not.
Then at home, Lorraine Toussaint and Laya DeLeon Hayes are freaking out about Latifah being in jail—as part of the family’s new honesty policies, Latifah discloses her arrest—though no one knows her identity. So lots of good, quick family drama for Toussaint and Hayes.
Combined with the Lapira and Goldberg all of a sudden being charming and an inventive episode setup… maybe “Equalizer” is getting better. Or at least it seems to be raising the bottom.
The script—credited to Joseph C. Wilson—still manages a bunch of awful dialogue.
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