Riding the Bullet is the third episode of the final season, and it’s a helluva entry. Featuring a stellar supporting cast including Mako and James Hong, the episode hints at a bit of McCall’s (Edward Woodward) past as Control (Robert Lansing) reminds him that it’s his birthday, and an enemy from McCall’s past resurfaces.
Written by M.K. Lorens this episode first debuted on 9 November, 1988.
A young man, Narong (Russell Wong) is in love with Manika (Elizabeth Sung), but she is owned by Jimmy Thanarat (Mako) a crimelord who deals in drugs and people, and who McCall confronted during his time in the Far East. Narong is trying to get free of Jimmy and pay off Manika’s family debt to Jimmy by allowing his father’s store, Sirit (Hong), as a holding place for Jimmy’s drug shipments and fighting for him in the ring.
Sirit is initially disgusted to find his son involved in the drug trade and with what he believes is a prostitute, but after she risks her life to get McCall to help him, he begins to see the truth of the situation.
But the situation has more layers than McCall would like when he and Mickey learn that someone in the company, perhaps even Control, himself, is protecting Jimmy and his drug trade.
Oh, and let’s get it out of the way. I didn’t mention it last episode when Keith Szarabajka made his first appearance of the season, but his character Mickey shows in this one too, and his haircut is horrible. Sorry, Mickey.
Except for the haircut, this is a fantastic episode!
Eighteen with a Bullet was written by Bruce A. Taylor and debuted on 16 November, 1988. McCall and Mickey find themselves going after a villainous music producer named Greg Rivers (Bruce Payne) who discovers young woman, cashes in on them, seduces them, blackmails them, and discards them when he’s done with them, and they’ve become addicts.
He’s almost done with Gina Rox (Amy Morton), he’s gotten her to the top, but he’s also gotten her addicted to heroin. He’s discovered his new meal-ticket in eighteen-year-old, Beverly (Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick).
Beverly’s mother, Evelyn (Caroline Lagerfelt) knows that Beverly is a legal adult, and is capable of her own decisions, but she also doesn’t quite trust Rivers and turns to McCall and Mickey for help. Mickey has some contacts that let them know that Rivers is a bad dude, and that helps make the decision for McCall.
They work on getting through to Beverly, temporarily abducting her, even as they work to bring Rivers down by getting him to admit that he killed Gina by giving her an overdose.
It’s not quite as good as the previous episode, and the songs that are performed in the episode are pretty horrible, but it shows that the series can find any number of stories to explore and take on, and usually find something important to comment on, in this case, the preying on young artists hungry to make it big, and taking advantage of them to make a buck.
McCall will be back to Equalize more next time.