blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Equalizer (2021) s02e14 – Pulse

The opening recap features Chris Noth, which had me hoping they’d finally resolve his character on the show. They do. In some ways, it’s the biggest episode of “Equalizer” so far; Queen Latifah takes on a Bond villain, Chris Vance, who’s got a Bond weapon of mass destruction to unleash on unsuspecting New York City.

As Latifah’s much-ballyhooed nemesis, Vance is a disappointment. He’s fine in that vague eighties and nineties Euro-trash way, but he’s a Bond henchman at best. And, you know, a James Bond TV show henchman. So it’s concerning if they auditioned him opposite Latifah and picked him, though maybe even more concerning if they didn’t. There’s no pay-off to him.

And since Noth doesn’t come back—even though there are a couple flexes like he might at the last minute—there’s no real pay-off there either. Instead, the pay-off will be Tory Kittles, apparently not leaving the show. It’s entirely unclear what he’s going to be doing on the show going forward, but he’s still around. He gets two scenes. As his ex-wife (even Latifah’s surprised to see guest starring again), Tawny Cypress also gets two scenes. Presumably, the show will reveal what’s going on with Kittles. The team may have room to grow.

Though they’re also auditioning a Noth replacement with Brett Dalton. Dalton’s a CIA guy who proves reliable by the end of the episode; well, trustworthy, but maybe not reliable. Either Dalton tested with Latifah, or he’s better at procedural banter than Vance is at Bond villaining.

The episode’s fairly solid, given the constraints. Noth put the show into a bind with his character, and they’re doing the best they can. It’s an overly complicated plot involving the United Nations, Russian scientists, and Chinese interpreters—plus Latifah’s former CIA protege, Maria Rivera, getting in touch and a bewilderingly pointless subplot for Adam Goldberg. But they get through it. It’s good Kittles is still around. Dalton is fine. Vance seems like a seasonal appearance recurring villain.

The most compelling moments come at the beginning of the episode with Lorraine Toussaint informing Latifah her subplot about rekindling an old relationship is still going on, just not on screen, and Laya DeLeon Hayes curious about Latifah and Kittles’s relationship status. Except then, Toussaint and Hayes leave and don’t have anything else in the episode; those subplots are left for next time (or even later).

Maybe if Paul Holahan’s direction were better… there’s a big action sequence at an oil refinery, and it feels like a generic action show from the eighties. Kind of appropriate because Vance is there, but still. Holahan’s action direction is bad in general, actually; he messes up a fairly standard fight scene at one point.

Anyway. We’ll see what they do really post-Noth. They’ve got four episodes left this season to re-establish the ground situation. After all, it’s not like they’ve got a high bar to clear.

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