The Equalizer season 1, episode 5 recap – “The Milk Run”

March 29, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
2.5

Summary

“The Milk Run” goes too wide and ridiculous with its plotting, shelving the more interesting personal and social commentary than the show has done well so far.

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2.5

Summary

“The Milk Run” goes too wide and ridiculous with its plotting, shelving the more interesting personal and social commentary than the show has done well so far.

This recap of The Equalizer season 1, episode 5, “The Milk Run”, contains spoilers. 


After a lengthy hiatus, The Equalizer returns with “The Milk Run”, a very solid episode with one big, obvious problem. In some ways, this is a crystallization of all the themes that the show has been toying with thus far: the personal and ethical consequences of Robyn’s vigilantism; the general untrustworthiness of institutions foreign and domestic; and so on, and so forth. But then there’s that problem. By agreeing to take on a job for the CIA at the top of the episode in a classic “I’ll scratch your back, you’ll pretend I’m not cavorting around the neighborhood sticking my nose in everyone’s business” arrangement, Robyn inadvertently makes the show a lot less interesting and more generic.

I know people lament the heavy-handedness with which network shows address matters like race, judicial bias, and gentrification, but The Equalizer episode 5 proves that it’s just as on-the-nose when it’s concerned with international espionage. The British doctoral candidate that Robyn is tasked with finding is called Dorian Endicott, an insufferably smug Sherlock Holmes type who spends almost the entire episode being Generically British™ and complaining about the peasantry and such. At one point, Bishop meets with a British Intelligence contact on a bench in the snow – he’s even reading a paper and smoking a cigar. It’s ridiculous, and it builds to a bait-and-switch finale that is so all-knowing in its supposed cleverness that it would have required at least two characters to read the script in order to pull off.

If you’re going to be this obvious, you might as well address important topics from an interesting, personal angle, since all the clandestine muckety-muck business just feels generic, and a waste of such a compelling premise. It’s no bother to sweep a bit of questionable acting under the rug when you’re dealing with local issues and ostensibly normal people, but as soon as computer geniuses, Chinese Triads, Russian intelligence agents, and the Director of the CIA start getting involved, it all seems a bit daft.

Endicott is of concern to all the world’s governments since he has developed a foolproof piece of software that allows anyone – even a troglodyte, in his own words – to instantly hack any security system in the world, which is obviously bonkers, and the gravity of which is established in a scene in which Harry gives him a couple of impossible targets – the Federal Reserve System and NORAD – and then acts dumbfounded when he pulls it off with no effort. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this scene in theory, but the desired effect is achieved after the first example, and yet the second one plays out in exactly the same way as if the first never happened. It’s just bizarre.

Side note: In a couple of early scenes, Harry wears literally the worst sweater I’ve ever seen in my life and nobody calls him out on it. Any more blunders like that and I’m going to require Robyn to shoot him on sight.

Anyway, “The Milk Run” weaves a totally out-of-place family subplot into Endicott’s predicament, even though his having a family makes no sense according to his established characterization or indeed any of the personality he displays all throughout the episode. His son is also called Titus, which just seems unacceptable to me. Either way, because he’s ostensibly a family man, Robyn takes a weird liking to him and cooks up a scheme with Bishop to hoodwink Director Nash into believing she has killed Endicott during a snatch-and-grab. She hooks Endicott and his family up with passage to Canada (she seems to have “friends” everywhere) and everyone lives happily ever after. But should they?

To me, not allowing Robyn and Bishop to “win” this round would have been a more interesting dramatic decision. It would have portrayed the CIA as dangerous and self-serving, as intended, but it also wouldn’t have made the Director look like a moron and would have forced Robyn to grapple with the implications of working for them. Because she got one up on the Agency, she also didn’t have to live with the guilt of Endicott’s death and her participation in that, however reluctant she might have been about it. The Director’s threat that they intend to keep calling in favors would have meant something more, and the personal moral implications would have justified the show getting wide-scale with its doomsday device plotting.

As things stand, The Equalizer season 1, episode 5 feels a bit like the show wanting to have its cake and eat it – it wants the complicated morality of international espionage but can’t quite bring itself to not have Robyn come out on top in every situation. This is believable when she’s reliably outsmarting local goons and cops (Dante was noticeably absent in “The Milk Run”) but a bit more of a stretch when she’s running rings around every government agency and trained criminal she encounters. The stuff here about Robyn’s relationships with Vi and Delilah was actually pretty good, and brought her closer than ever to being rumbled – this is the stuff that The Equalizer should be focusing on, and which it keeps inexplicably sweeping under the rug. Now it’s back on the air, though, at least I can say maybe next week that’ll change.

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