The Equalizer is a new CBS series set in New York City that tells the story of Robyn McCall (Queen Latifah), an ex-CIA agent and single mother to 14-year old Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes). Her last mission with the agency resulted in a lot of collateral damage, hence the reason for leaving the agency. The agency ceaselessly tries to get her back as “she is the best at what she does.” In the first episode, the agency sends her old friend, William Bishop (Chris Noth) to persuade her, which she refuses yet again.
Bishop, however, offers her a job as a private security in his firm— a means of making the CIA stay off her back. At the rendezvous place with Bishop, she notices a girl entering a room with a guy. Her instinct makes her feel something is off, so she follows the girl. Apparently, the girl needs a new passport to get out of town because she witnessed the murder of a young man but the security footage has been distorted to frame her for the crime. Robyn saves the girl from the guys who wanted to hurt her instead of giving her a new identity. The rest of the first episode is how Robyn helps the girl out of her dilemma and clears her name.
With the help of her buddy, Melody Bayani (Liza Lapira) and her funny hacker husband, Harry Keshegian (Adam Goldberg), Robyn takes up the role of a “hero” who helps people out of their problems (a way of redeeming herself for all the dirty jobs she did for the agency). The first episode of the CBS show ends with Robyn posting a message on the dark web saying “got a problem? Odds against you? I can help.” Episode two follows the same process. Someone requests her service and she delivers—helping a woman whose son was kidnapped by a kingpin.
The second episode ends with Robyn agreeing to help Bishop out at his private firm.
Just as expected from a spy, Robyn fooled her daughter and sister into thinking she works for a charity organisation, which supposedly means she has to travel a lot for work. They both believed she quit her job to be more involved in her daughter’s life but her newly found “redemption project” might make that nearly impossible. Robyn juggles between trying to be a mother to her daughter and being a messiah for people who find themselves boxed to a corner.
The format of showing one case per episode might be a major problem for the show. The Equalizer is a work in progress and might get better as the series goes on. However, it will be good for the showrunners to introduce an antagonist who will bring chaos in order to make the show worthwhile to watch. For now, everything seems so easy for Robyn, which is not a bad thing since she is presumed to “be the best”, but this might also be the show’s downfall. I mean she is fighting against hardened criminals not Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
Robyn is fun to watch because of Queen Latifah. Her confidence at each scene and the way she carries herself shows she is a badass. The show has a considerable level of humour and the writers achieved balance with the action and drama. A change from a white male character to a single black mother is a good move from the show’s creators. It promotes diversity and brings an unexpected change which might pique people’s interest.
Since this is a review of the first and second episode, the fight sequences have been subpar so far, with too many cuts in the editing. An example is the fight scene at the Wonder Wheel in the first episode which I had to rewind about three times to actually grasp how the fight unfolds. Then in the second episode, the ending is a bit rushed in what might have been a race to finish the episode with another closed case. But like I said—it is a work in progress and can only be improved upon. Fans of The Equalizer movie starring Denzel Washington or the 1985 series shouldn’t see the series as a chance to pine over Denzel’s absence or lack of other elements from the older series.
Our Verdict: Watch