The Equalizer (1989) – Lullaby of Darkness, and 17 Zebra

McCall (Edward Woodward) tries to saves the lives of a young girl, Mindy (Ellen Latzen) and her mother, Rebecca (mary-Joan Negro) from her abusive father, Joseph (Stephen Lang!) and her own imagination in Lullaby of Darkness.

The episode was written by Coleman Luck and originally aired on 30 March, 1989.

McCall is contacted by one of the Morrison’s neighbours in the building, she’s been trying to bring the attention of Child Services and the police that Joseph is beating and abusing his family, but he’s got enough of a reach to turn aside any investigations, and has a doctor in his pocket that will write any report to cover his secrets.

Mindy lives in a world conjured by her imagination in which her dolls and toys speak and interact with her (and it’s hinted that they do so with others as well, which cripples the tale a little), and a new toy provided to her after her father’s latest beating may have darker plans for her and everyone in her family.

McCall is determined to stop the cycle of abuse, even if it means violating a court order to do it.

Some of the imagination stuff is a little off, but the story itself, the abuse and the gaslighting all ring horribly true, and Lang is truly terrifying. The man has a knack.

Not quite as solid as the previous two episodes, but the subject matter is well-presented, and as always, the series doesn’t shy away from the darkness.

On a side note, Mickey (Keith Szarabajka) is once again criminally under-used.

17 Zebra features William Atherton! and he’s a baddie!! Okay, maybe he’s not a complete baddie. He does some horrible things, and the reason why is no excuse, but it also speaks to the strained nature of the healthcare system, those who work it and the incredible pressures they carry.

Atherton is Gideon, a paramedic who, along with his partner, Friedman (Cordelia Gonzalez) drive ambulance 17 Zebra. They get along, they work well together, and they are intent on saving lives. Unless those lives belong to junkies and drunks.

When it comes to those people, Gideon feels they are abusing his time, and taking him away from those who really need him. Something that has happened in the past, and cost a life he thought he could save.

When a social worker, Fossil (Joe Seneca) reaches out to McCall for help, the Equalizer begins to see a connection between certain calls, and a number of dead men, all of them alcoholics or drug addicts, all of them picked up by 17 Zebra.

McCall rides along with the paramedics and with Friedman’s help, may be able to stop Gideon, and maybe, get him the help he needs.

Another solid enough episode, but not quite as strong as it could have been. Eight episodes left to the series, let’s see if it goes out on a high note.

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