The Equalizer (1986) – Counterfire, and The Line

Counterfire is packed with familiar faces, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Hickey, Leonardo Cimino and another appearance by Robert Lansing as Control. Written by Scott Shepherd and Coleman Luck, this episode was first broadcast on 19 November, 1986.

McCall (Edward Woodward) finds himself on the back foot when he finds himself on the run, as someone frames him for assault and murder. As a trained agent, perhaps he’s getting a little rusty, not seeing that he’s being set up from the get-go.

What he thinks is a routine assignment, helping Anne Fitgerald (Lisa Pelikan) takes a dangerous turn, when Thomas Marley Jr. (D’Onofrio) uses Tom Clark (Hickey) as a pawn to get McCall arrested for murder. When Control helps facilitate an escape, McCall is on the run as he tries to find out who has set him up and why.

It seems everything has to do with Junior’s father, Marley Sr. (Cimino). McCall is supposed to testify against Marley in a month’s time and father and son are working to discredit McCall before then, no matter the cost to other lives. They just want McCall out of the picture once and for all, and if they can do it by painting him as a villain, so much the better.

But once McCall figures things out, the tables get turned, and the Marleys may be up against something bigger than they can handle when they take on the Equalizer.

It’s odd that McCall gets caught up in this frame job, but once he figures it out, he’s ready to be as vicious as he needs to be to prove his innocence.

The Line was written by Steven Volpe and debuted on 26 November, 1986. McCall is called by Miriam (Novella Nelson) to prove her son’s innocence when a neighbourhood watch group (all white men) mistakenly cause the death of her young, black son.

The group realized they were at fault, but they sure weren’t going to take the fall for it, so they all told a story of the young man breaking into a warehouse to steal, instead of being on his way home from a concert.

McCall starts to dig into the group, and their vigilante actions (which is funny because McCall is a bit of a vigilante as well), and starts tugging at the threads that tie the group, and their story together.

He just needs one weak link. When he finds it, he makes sure that all of them answer for the things they’ve done, and Miriam’s son’s innocence is restored.

There’s social commentary here on race, vigilantism and the way society then (and now) can look at young black men.

It may not be the best episode I’ve seen this season, but it sure as hell has an important message.

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