It’s a city-in-crisis episode, with a sniper terrorizing New York. Only the show skips the first two attacks, and it doesn’t appear there’s a lot of crisis going on. Even though the expository dialogue makes it sound like everyone’s staying inside when Queen Latifah and Liza Lapira go to the crime scene, there’s a bunch of people loitering around, and the streets behind them are full.
So the danger never seems super imminent.
Lapira’s along because it’s a sniper episode, and she was a sniper in the army. We get some backstory with her shitty misogynist former C.O., Terry Serpico, and then Lapira gets a big standoff scene in the third act. Lapira’s a lot better when she’s not spending all her time mollycoddling Adam Goldberg, who’s barely in the episode.
Tory Kittles also gets a bunch more to do than usual since the city has hired Latifah to find the sniper because they’re incapable. So to keep track—men in the military are at best sexist incompetents, while the NYPD is just incompetent. “Equalizer” doesn’t exactly have politics, but it doesn’t mind casting aspersions on terrible institutions.
Jennifer Ferrin shows up as the DA again; she’s the one who okays hiring Latifah. It’s strange they don’t call the FBI. Or bring in some Army guy to track down their vet-gone-killer.
Of course, given the B-plot is all about Laya DeLeon Hayes having a PTSD panic attack from watching her friend get gunned down in last season’s finale… the show making weird plotting decisions isn’t a surprise. The Hayes arc is fine—though a complete cop-out at a certain point when it stops being about Hayes and is instead about Latifah and Lorraine Toussaint trying to help Hayes—and the ending resolution is strange. Latifah decides Hayes needs professional help to make sure the PTSD doesn’t get any worse but instead brings in… well, there’s that weird plotting thing again.
Because “The Equalizer” knows some things should be taken seriously, except it’s a CBS procedural programmer, so there’s only so much it can do. What if Hayes’s mom wasn’t someone with a very particular set of skills like Latifah, who knew what to do in these situations? The show also doesn’t really address Hayes’s reaction to mom Latifah being out there risking her life in this perilous episode. Bat signal’s up, and Latifah’s got to go, and Hayes is okay with it.
Odd ambitions aside, good acting from Toussaint and Hayes (before she very literally gets put to bed) and probably series-best work from Lapira.
Goldberg’s arc about being recalled-to-life is still treading water, which is again a strange choice. Why introduce a subplot to just immediately stall it out? It’s like they gave Goldberg something to do in one episode and now have to tell him every episode they’re not going to give him more to do.
Nice direction from Milena Govich and some surprisingly solid fight choreography for this CBS show.