The Equalizer (1986) – Torn, and Unnatural Causes

Robert McCall (Edward Woodward) is Torn in this episode written by Carleton Eastlake from a story by Maurice Hurley and Joel Surnow. It first aired on 5 February, 1986.

McCall is asked by a young girl, Laura (Melissa Joan Hart) to help her and her mother, Jessie (Caitlin Clarke) from her abusive father, O’Toole (Robert John Burke), who is being released from prison and is threatening to return to their lives.

Intercut with that is a storyline that sees Jason (Saul Rubinek) coming to McCall with an offer of vengeance against a former operative, Brian (Charles Robinson). McCall holds Brian responsible for a botched mission he was involved in.

Is Jason manipulating him in an effort to get McCall to do his dirty work?

I like the continuity we’re seeing with the Jason character, his work with the Agency, and how he and McCall butt heads. Unfortunately, this is the character’s final appearance.

We also see that Lettie (Yvonne Wilder) is still working as McCall’s housekeeper, so despite the episodic nature, some throughlines of ongoing characters and situations are being maintained. That doesn’t stop the episode from introducing yet another police contact for McCall, Lt. Smalls (Ron O’Neal).

I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognize Hart or Clarke, though Clarke still very much has a haircut that put me in mind of her performance in Dragonslayer, which I couldn’t quite place as I watched the episode. And Patricia Richardson shows up in the episode as well!

I liked this episode because it shows that McCall continues to be haunted by his past, and despite the things he’s done, he’s very human.

Unnatural Causes was written by Susan Woollen, Coleman Luck, and Scott Shepherd from a story by Woollen. It first debuted on 12 February, 1986.

McCall is hanging out in the library, researching and writing an article for a military magazine when he’s drawn into two cases. The first is brought to him by Sally Ann Carter (Kim Delaney).

Sally Ann is a naive young actress looking to make her way in the world but has run afoul of a would-be pimp, Serrato (Bobby Di Cicco) who is working at pushing her into the business and beats her when she doesn’t do what he wants.

McCall takes the case, and finds the perfect pressure point to exploit on Serrato, but may have to indulge in one last final confrontation with him to make his point.

The other case McCall finds himself involved in is a serial killer case that Lt. Smalls is working. A lonely hearts killer, McCall is shocked to find that the librarian he knows because of his research is the latest victim.

McCall is determined to bring the man in and turns to an older retired female operative, Kelly Sterling (Gwen Verdon) to help bring the killer to justice.

Both episodes this week were solid entries for the series, and continue to embrace the darkness and grit of the storylines. Amazingly, we finish up season one next week!

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