Sunday, February 7, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Equalizer' - Robyn McCall Establishes a New Identity to Help the Defenseless in the World in 'The Equalizer'

CBS' The Equalizer - Episode 1.01 "The Equalizer"

Robyn McCall is an enigmatic former CIA operative who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. As McCall acclimates to civilian life, she is compelled to use her considerable resources to help Jewel, a teenager accused of murder and on the run from the criminals who framed her for the crime.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS' The Equalizer.

"The Equalizer" was written by Andrew W. Marlowe & Terri Edda Miller and directed by Liz Friedlander

Something happened in Venezuela that necessitated Robyn McCall's resignation from the CIA. She dedicated her life to this profession. It was her calling. She was trained by the best. She then became the best in the field. She is tormented by this life. However, that comes from the agony over the lives she failed to save instead of remorse and guilt for the actions she had done. And now, her life is changing. She has the resources to apply these skills to a new job. She has friends who are willing and able to help her in this endeavor. She also keeps her family far away from this part of her life. That could be distracting. Delilah and Aunt Vi believe that she worked as the head of a nonprofit that cared for impoverished people around the world. It was a convenient cover story. They never had to worry too much about her. They still don't see the work she is now doing in retirement. Robyn is able to carefully balance all of it as well. The various parts of her life don't actually clash with one another all that much. That provides the show with a sense of simplicity that is a little too easy. It will more than likely grow more complicated in the future. Right now, it's just meant to highlight the stability she could have at home even though she isn't actually earning any money. Instead, it's simply more important for her to do right by those who can't trust anyone else to provide justice for them when they need it the most. Robyn just stumbles into this premise as well. She just happens to be at the precise place where Jewel hopes that she can get the tools to go on the run after being framed for murder. Robyn chooses to investigate. That immediately establishes that she feels compelled to protect those who are often victimized by the world. She is doing everything to protect Jewel's life so that she can do something with it. Jewel has worked so hard. And now, she is being punished by someone who doesn't care about the collateral damage of covering up his various crimes. Wealthy and influential people have the luxury of being perceived as revolutionary despite the secrets they keep. A tech billionaire can be seen as vital to the development of the world because of the inventions he is quick to market. He covers up several deaths though. His technology isn't perfect. He's opening the door to the future with the same extent inequities that define the present. As such, Robyn must make things right. She does so through extralegal manners. She doesn't trust the police system to do things right. Detective Dante essentially proves her wrong about what motivates him in this world. She still doesn't trust him to offer Jewel the protection she needs right now. Robyn is the only person who can expose this grand scheme because she has a history of doing so and a conviction to succeed. Dante only has a hunch. He is often just waiting around for something big and dramatic to happen. That is the tragedy of the system. It has to follow the rules to ensure the laws of the land are treated fairly. Sure, some government agencies absolutely break those protections. Robyn has received that training from the CIA. Her friends have also gotten into trouble because of the skills they use outside the realm of what's legal. And yet, it's all in service of ensuring Jewel has a future. It's a complex take on a procedural. Robyn serves as the guardian for people who can't trust the system to offer justice for them. Communities of color are targeted. That's the sad reality of the world. All it takes is the perception of a mistake in order for life to completely change through imprisonment. Robyn feels lucky and grateful for those who saw her humanity at a young age. She always tries her best to see that in others. She still has to be a badass in order to bring about change and justice. That's how she operates. Her actions could come back to haunt her at some point. Right now, the audience is asked not to dig too deeply into the morality of the premise. It's just important to have fun seeing Queen Latifah doing all of these things in service of a just cause. That's probably enough to keep viewers engaged and intrigued to come back for more as Robyn gets this new clandestine business up and running. Hopefully, the show will provide more nuanced material for the supporting ensemble as well. Sure, it's important for all of them to be defined through their dynamics with Robyn. However, the caliber of the cast is too rich and deep to completely deny them their own stories of ongoing interest.