“Aftermath” reworks some essential dynamics for this second season, which can hopefully justify itself on the strength of those changes.
This recap of The Equalizer season 2 premiere, “Aftermath”, contains spoilers.
CBS’s part vigilante action thriller, part family drama remake of The Equalizer returns in “Aftermath”, a premiere in which some things are different but most are exactly the same. The few differences include Queen Latifah’s Robyn McCall being on the cusp of giving up equalizing altogether, her daughter, Delilah, being well-aware of her said equalizing, and Dante turning to Robyn for help rather than the other way around. These are some key dynamics that have been turned on their heads somewhat, but no matter, since in every other aspect things are just how they always were: McCall gathers some clues, pulls some serious faces, slaps some dudes around, and the day is – usually, anyway – saved.
The Equalizer season 2 premiere recap
Anyway, the hook of “Aftermath” is that Dante’s partner Paley (Erica Camarano) is shot and killed during an armed robbery committed by people who seemingly don’t exist, so he turns to Robyn for help, guilt-tripping her with all the favors he did for her during the first season. Predictably, the ghostly robber, according to Bishop, whose expertise Robyn is reluctantly forced to request once again, is CIA, working off the books.
Also predictably, given how this show is, a congressman was responsible. The plot is a bit more complicated than it need be, really, involving a roundabout thievery scheme that included sending the robbers to the bank to lift a safe deposit box in the hopes they’d get killed, some files that reveal all, the congressman’s expensive watch, and his ex-military chief of staff. Of course, Robyn and Dante save the day, save each other in the process, look at each other with a lot of barely contained sexual chemistry, and basically agree to work together in the future.
This also keeps Harry and Mel on Robyn’s books, which means that Harry has a problem. He has been “dead”, officially, for five years, living underground like a tech-savvy mole and feeling remarkably threatened any time his whereabouts are potentially at risk. At the end of “Aftermath”, it’s him who asks if he can be Robyn’s next client. He wants resurrection, in the official sense. Whether or not this will be next week’s plot or an ongoing season-long arc remains to be seen, but Robyn’s associates and friends asking her for favors seems to be a recurring theme.
And then there’s Robyn’s home life, the dynamics of which have obviously altered since Aunt Vi and then Delilah became aware of what Robyn actually does when she claims to be away on business. Delilah is a frustrating character, but as the father of two girls, one of whom is a teenager, I can’t say she’s an unrealistic one. She’s combative and surly and doesn’t make anything easy for Robyn, but that’s what our kids are here to do. And besides, she has a point. Being a secret assassin and then a secret vigilante while also preaching about honesty and truth is a bit of a contradiction.
I like this argument a lot. I like Delilah’s smug waterboarding comment, but what I like more is Robyn’s earnest lecture about her having stumbled onto information she wasn’t ready to deal with as a consequence of her own inquisitiveness. Delilah is young, and more importantly, she’s sheltered. She has been able to become so righteous in large part because she has been protected by Robyn; she hasn’t had to see what the world can really be like. While Robyn isn’t blameless here, she’s right, and I’m glad that Delilah recognizes that and the show didn’t contrive a way to make her too antagonistic.
All in all, business as usual. I’ve said many times in the past that this show’s espionage plots aren’t as interesting as its more small-scale, street-level ones, especially those with a social component, but if “Aftermath” was about kicking off Season 2 with a bang then you can’t strictly fault it. With some of the key dynamics upended, there’s potential here for The Equalizer to reinvent itself somewhat, and in some key ways. It might not completely revolutionize the show, but there’s every chance it’ll more than justify this return.