The Equalizer (2021) s02e10 – Legacy

Based on the Legacy title, I thought we might be getting Chris Noth’s character dying offscreen. Sadly no. They also mention him a few times, which is kind of weird. It implies the viewer’s supposed to remember the character, though—presumably—Noth won’t be back.

The episode opens with a flashback to the Tulsa massacre in 1921 when white Oklahomans murdered probably a couple hundred Black people and burned their houses to the ground after stealing all the valuables they could. The flashback shows a couple such white Oklahomans stealing a portrait. It’ll turn out they stole a lot more (basically stealing a profitable Black shipping business), but the portrait’s the Legacy.

Quincy Tyler Bernstine is the great-granddaughter of the portrait subject, and her grandmother’s on her death bed. Can Queen Latifah get the portrait back before Grandma dies? Bernstine knows who’s got the portrait—shipping magnate Ward Horton, who got it from his family, just like he got the shipping business, which they stole from Bernstine’s family back in Tulsa.

Bernstine tried getting the cops to reclaim the stolen property, but they said they couldn’t find it, though no one—including NYPD detective Tory Kittles—thinks they’d have been honest with the Black people when they can suck up to a rich white guy. But it turns out the cops didn’t lie, and Horton really did move the painting before they searched his place. He put it in “The Vault,” where wealthy New Yorkers hide all their valuables from customs. So Latifah’s got to break in and get it, only she can’t do it on her own, so she calls old acquaintance, occasional partner, and very special guest star, Jada Pinkett Smith, to help her.

Pinkett Smith is an infamous thief who can break into anywhere, steal anything. And she annoys the hell out of Latifah.

Meanwhile, at home, one of Laya DeLeon Hayes’s white friends (Cristina Angelica) shows up wanting her help claiming she’s a minority student so she can get a scholarship. Hayes tells her what for, which puts the friendship in turnaround. Lorraine Toussaint eventually offers some sage advice, and Hayes gets to a resolution point. Unfortunately, it’s a resolution with a lot less impact than the subplot initially implies.

The same thing happens in the A-plot. After the startling Tulsa opening, it soon becomes all about Pinkett Smith’s guest spot, with Bernstine mostly disappearing. Though not as much as Kittles, who’s barely in this one, unfortunately.

Horton’s a fairly great villain (especially for “Equalizer”) and makes up for Pinkett Smith being one-note, writing-wise.

I haven’t seen Set It Off, so I’m not sure if there are any direct references to that film—where Latifah and Pinkett Smith also do heists—but they definitely have more chemistry playing off one another than when Pinkett Smith’s hanging around Liza Lapira and Adam Goldberg.

Also, the plotting on the heist execution’s weak (script credit to Talicia Raggs). It’s way too amateurish and haphazard for Latifah, even if Pinkett Smith’s messing her up.

It should’ve been better, not just as a very special guest star episode, but given the first act’s promises.

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