The Equalizer (1988) – The Last Campaign, and Sea of Fire

Stanley Tucci guest stars in the season four opener of The Equalizer as the episode’s baddie, Phillip Wingate, an assemblyman who is intent on blackmailing a senator, Virgil Blake (E.G. Marshall), with something from his past.

One of the assemblyman’s staff, Cindy Claussen (Laila Robins) stumbles across Wingate’s plan and reaches out to McCall (Edward Woodward) for help. But when Phillip discovers what she’s done, he will do everything he can to vilify her and get her out of the way for good.

The Last Campaign was written by Lee Batchler and Janet Scott Batchler and launched the fourth and final season on 26 October, 1988.

Wingate gets Cindy locked away in a mental asylum, an asylum that has him sitting on the board of directors. He’s intent on burying her away forever. McCall has contacts and help all over, including a doctor, Wolff (Wendell Pierce) who helps slip McCall into the asylum as a patient.

As he sets up safeguards for Cindy, he returns to the streets to go after Wingate, confronting him while also trying to convince Blake to get ahead of Wingate’s plan to blackmail him.

McCall goes after Wingate with a singular focus and is set on bringing him down. Will Blake do the right thing when the opportunity presents itself? And will McCall’s plan, which includes faking Cindy’s death entrap Wingate and bring him down once and for all?

It’s a solid season opener, and while the story may be a little naive in its look at politics and the way events would actually play out, it can give one hope that the right thing can be done. If the right people will stand up for the truth.

Sea of Fire puts Mccall in the middle of a high school overrun by gangs with a not so subtle story to remind us that gang violence is bad.

Written by Peter McCabe and Coleman Luck from a story by McCabe, this episode first debuted on 2 November, 1988. Chad Redding makes another welcome appearance as Detective Alice Shepard, but the guest cast also includes Keith David, Reginald VelJohnson and David Strathairn.

When a female student is raped by a gang that thinks they run the school, and then murder the student that informed on them McCall goes undercover as a substitute teacher to break the violence and gang mentality.

Sure it glosses over some of the socio-economic problems that lead to the creation of gangs, but it is intent on showing the problems with the violence that they cause, and the lives they destroy, not just theirs but those around them. He confronts the gang members with the fallout of their actions with visits to autopsies and discussions on death brought on by a revelation of a near-death experience by a former hitman played by Strathairn.

It’s definitely a message episode, but it’s executed fairly well, and we don’t only have Woodward’s charm, but a fantastic supporting cast.

There’s more to come next time as I continue my journey with The Equalizer.

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