How does “The Equalizer” deal with Chris Noth’s permanent absence? It’s like he was never there. He’s heavily featured in the recap because he got Adam Goldberg out of federal prison, then nothing. He was also supposed to be mentoring teenage Laya DeLeon Hayes, who was conspicuously absent from Noth’s last episode. I kind of thought they’d kill him off offscreen somehow, though I suppose they still can.
It’s just weird to have Goldberg, Liza Lapira, and Queen Latifah standing around talking about Goldberg’s release and the conditions and never mentioning Noth’s character’s involvement.
The A-plot this episode is Latifah and Tory Kittles investigating a rap war. It’s not really a very “Equalizer” plot, more a whodunit procedural. Rick Ross is in prison for killing his rival, then a track drops with details only the killer could know. The acting on the arc is fine; it’s just really rote. The episode’s script credit goes to Jamila Daniel, her first on the series (she started as a producer for Noth’s recent showcase episode), and it feels more like a cop show’s drawer script.
There is a relatively neat little scene with Latifah talking to a teenage female rapper, Lucky Ray, about the craft. It’s cute and hits a little bit more sincerely than the rest of the episode. Even if Latifah’s character here is not, you know, Queen Latifah. I’m still bummed she’s not Edward Woodward’s daughter from the original.
There’s a connected subplot about how Lapira needs to do the computer stuff because they’re going to Guantanamo Goldberg if he ever touches a keyboard again. Except she hates taking his directions, and he thinks she’s incapable of taking them. It’s a new facet to their relationship and seems to be there so someone can turn them into a “the straights aren’t okay” meme. They spend the whole time hating each other, with weird details like Lapira’s bar—on top of Goldberg’s now-off limits underground lair—has bad Wi-Fi, which seems completely unbelievable.
The family plot is Hayes bringing home a boy, Nathaniel Logan McIntyre, who’s appropriate in all the ways—even if he’s from a poor family (straight-A student)—he just doesn’t want to go to college. It’s a peculiar arc, with some cringe “student debt is worth it” monologuing from both Hayes and Lorraine Toussaint, but when McIntyre gets to soapbox to present his side, it’s mostly well-done.
Eric Laneuville directs. It’s way too classy direction for what the episode needs. Most of the actors can keep up, and Laneuville does really well with Ross’s family on the outside, wife Narci Regina, sons Maxwell Whittington-Cooper, and Jordan Aaron Hall. Whittington-Cooper is probably the best performance in the procedural arc. The character development just doesn’t go anyway since it’s a whodunit.
The finale presses a reset on the series. Not sure they Thanos snap Noth out of continuity, but they definitely are done with the Goldberg in jeopardy plot. Hopefully, they do something with the refresh besides more bland cop show scripts.
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