The Equalizer (1986) – Unpunished Crimes, and Pretenders

John Cullum is the baddie in the penultimate episode of season one of The Equalizer. Unpunished Crimes was written by John Burke and Grenville Case, first airing on 1 April, 1986.

Cullum is Stuart Cane, a brutal CEO with ties to a terrorist organization, and is set on ruining Frank Donahue (Dan Hedaya) and his family. Donahue has proof that Cane’s company stole his invention and has been making money off of it. All Donahue wants is part of the royalties and his name on his creation.

Cane decides to wipe the man and his family off the face of the earth instead. Donahue’s sons turn to Robert McCall (Edward Woodward) for help, and he begins to wage a war of his own on Cane.

He turns to the now ‘respectable’ ‘ex’ leader of the terrorist group, Gianni (Jon Polito) for a little help, and he is able to save the family, and arrange for an assignation with a lovely voice on his answering machine.

There’s a fun b-story that sees the family paying for McCall’s services by helping clean and renovate his kitchen when the professionals he hired to do the job seem intent on messing with his schedule, but you know that isn’t going to end well.

It provides some lighter moments against the grittiness that is very much a now-established trademark of the series. The first season has established the style, the look, and the character incredibly well, setting the series up for success as it plays darker than most of the other shows that aired at a similar time, with the exception of Miami Vice.

Pretenders closes out season one. Scott Shepherd pens this episode which was first broadcast on 8 April, 1986. And while it doesn’t have the impact like a season finale would today, it definitely pulls a couple of story threads to the fore to remind us of McCall’s past, his connections and his continuing work to redeem himself.

A rookie reporter, Beth Mackie (Chad Redding), is convinced that a man in her apartment building, Parker (Tony Musante) is involved in criminal activities, but despite her complaints to the police she has no real proof.

So, she turns to McCall, who is dubious at first about helping a reporter, but soon realizes she may be on to something. When the police warn McCall off, he’s very intrigued, and information from Jimmy (Mark Margolis) leads to the revelation that Control (Robert Lansing) and the Company may be protecting Parker, which means he’s an operative or asset.

Control reveals that Parker isn’t who he appears to be and that he’s being protected as a lead to something bigger. McCall is infuriated as he protects Beth from Parker and deals with the strain on his relationship with Control, which was tenuous at best.

McCall realizes Parker has been playing McCall to get into a position to commit an assassination on American soil and the Equalizer may be the only one who can stop him once and for all.

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