The Equalizer season 1, episode 1 recap – Queen Latifah is here to help bow down to the Queen

February 8, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

Queen Latifah’s presence as a hero for those in need lends a great deal of energy and watchability to CBS’s revival of The Equalizer.

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3.5

Summary

Queen Latifah’s presence as a hero for those in need lends a great deal of energy and watchability to CBS’s revival of The Equalizer.

This The Equalizer season 1, episode 1 recap contains spoilers.


The Equalizer is rare among media properties in that remakes of it tend to actually be worthwhile. It started as a series in the ‘80s fronted by Edward Woodward – on CBS, as it happens – and then was turned into two action blockbusters in 2014 and 2018 (both were directed by Antoine Fuqua and starred Denzel Washington.) All of this was good stuff, as such things go, and it brings me great pleasure to report that the new revival, which has gender-flipped aging ex-CIA wrong-righting badass Robert McCall, is good stuff too!

It certainly helps that Robyn McCall is played by Queen Latifah with an air of weathered gravitas that is quite similar to what Washington brought to the role and a great fit for the domestic drama that is shackled to the procedural vigilantism. See, Robyn, after being steered off the wrong tracks into the Army and then into a career of hush-hush spec ops wetwork, has recently retired from a position at the head of a global non-profit to spend more time with her incredibly difficult 14-year-old Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes), who has been raised mostly by her Aunt Vi (Lorraine Toussaint) and isn’t about to let Robyn forget it.

But the first order of business in The Equalizer episode 1 is establishing Robyn’s badass bonafides by embroiling her in the case of a waitress who accidentally witnesses a professional killing and suddenly finds herself, thanks to some highly advanced CCTV trickery, framed for the crime. Thanks to some dialogue from Robyn’s old CIA buddy William Bishop (Chris Noth), who tries to lure her back to the Agency, we know that she’s the right person for the job, and a slightly over-edited fight scene later confirms it. With help from old Army colleague Melody Bayani (Liza Lapira) and her hacker husband Harry Keshegian (Adam Goldberg), as well as a seemingly sympathetic cop, Det. Marcus Dante (Tory Kittles), Robyn is able to save the day and take down an Elon Musk-style tech bro in the process.

The fact that The Equalizer season 1, episode 1 ends with Robyn leaving a message on a dark web message board that she can help those with problems and the odds against them, it’s obvious that this premiere is laying out its procedural stall. The case of the week is over and done with easily enough, but the development of the regular cast is what will persist, especially Robyn’s fraught relationship with her daughter. When she acts out here, Robyn drives her to a juvenile detention center and points out how many of the young women are Black. There’s an awareness here of a wider world than a lot of network procedurals are willing to acknowledge. Latifah brings empathy to the role of an atypical action heroine, and with some beefier cases, there’s a good chance that The Equalizer could become one of the network’s better shows.

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