Queen Latifah Helps a Teen Accused of Murder in The Equalizer's Post-Super Bowl Premiere

This post contains spoilers from Sunday's premiere of The Equalizer on CBS.

The premiere of The Equalizer opens at The Classic Diner, where Jewel chats on the phone to her mother about an upcoming interview for a scholarship while closing up the restaurant. When Jewel goes outside to throw out the trash, a man comes towards her and tells her to "run." Moments later, two men open fire at the man and he dies.

When the police chat with Jewel, they suggest she leave town for a while to avoid being targeted by the bad guys. Unfortunately, Jewel doesn't have anywhere to go. But upon reviewing the security footage of the shooting, the video makes it look like, somehow, Jewel pulled the trigger.

We meet Robyn McCall (Queen Latifah) when she wakes up from a nightmare of being on the battlefield. Later, McCall reveals she entered the Army after a judge gave her the choice to join the military or go to jail as the consequence for stealing a car at 17.

McCall lives with her Aunt Vi (Lorraine Toussaint) and her 15-year-old daughter Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes) and recently inexplicably quit her job running a nonprofit. "Let somebody else run that charity for a while," McCall tells Vi.

While taking her daughter to pick out a dress for her ex-husband's upcoming wedding — and nixing a short, sparkly option — McCall passes William Bishop (Chris Noth), who wordlessly hands her a note reading: "Wonder Wheel 10 p.m."

McCall meets him at the Coney Island attraction and Bishop reveals that the CIA wants her back at any cost. "You can't buy back trust," McCall says, jokingly adding that she'll get a job at Starbucks and join the PTA. "Because you're such a people person, right?" Bishop retorts.

Bishop offers her a position working with him in private security, but McCall says she doesn't want a job "babysitting billionaires and oil companies." So Bishop accepts her rejection. "When I can't sleep at night, it's not the things I've done that keep me up, it's the people I couldn't save," McCall concludes before they part ways.

But McCall's work on Coney Island isn't done, as she notices a young woman being led by a man behind a locked gate. It's Jewel trying to procure a fake passport and ID to escape her legal troubles. The man brings Jewel under the Ferris wheel to a group of guys playing cards. Jewel understandably finds the situation sketchy and tries to flee — and that's when McCall shows up.

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"I just came to make sure the girl was alright," McCall says. "She doesn't look alright."

The fake ID guy pulls out a gun and challenges McCall's authority and it quickly turns into an all-out brawl underneath the Wonder Wheel. McCall holds them all off and gets Jewel out of there. Once they're safely situated, Jewel explains her predicament and swears to McCall that she didn't commit the crime despite the police having a video of her firing the gun. McCall understands the feeling of not having anyone to turn to. "Who do you go to when you can't go to the cops?" Jewel wonders.

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McCall brings her to those people: her friend from her time in Afghanistan Melody (Liza Lapira), who runs a high-tech hacking operation under the bar she owns, and Harry (Adam Goldberg), who does the hacking and previously faked his own death with help from McCall. "I heard you lost the company," Melody says to McCall.

McCall doesn't engage about quitting her job but asks Melody to put up Jewel for a while. She agrees and Melody explains the three house rules at her apartment: no looking out the window, no phone calls and only use the landline.

Meanwhile, Harry tracks down the victim — Chance, a first-year law associate and active social media user — and assesses the faked security footage of the crime. He concludes that the job must've been done by a top-of-the-line expert.

McCall uses Jewel's cell phone to lure the bad guys and then follows them to an abandoned warehouse. Upon arrival, McCall finds some credit cards and a series of letters and numbers on a piece of paper and takes a picture of everything. She also discovers an explosive and escapes the building before it blows up. (What's a post-Super Bowl episode without an explosion or two?) One of Chance's notes appears to be from a private dining club in midtown Manhattan, which McCall finds to be an unlikely hangout for a first-year associate. So she calls the club, pretending to be a doctor tracking a measles outbreak, and ascertains that Chance met with bigwig tech entrepreneur Reese Pruitt (Michael Rady) — and the meeting didn't go well.  

McCall tracks down Pruitt at a demo of his company's self-driving cars and he assures her the encounter with Chance meant nothing. "The kid was a fan. He said he liked my vision for the future. He said he hoped to work for me someday, so I gave him a few minutes at lunch," Pruitt claims.

McCall clones his phone and leaves to pose as Jewel's public defender because the teen left the safehouse to attend her scholarship interview, only to get picked up there by the cops. Through his sleuthing skills, Harry learns the bad guys' plan to intercept Jewel when she gets transported to prison, but McCall doesn't let that happen. She breaks Jewel out of the van herself and brings Jewel to safety.

Harry also found out that Chance consulted his former ethics professor at Columbia after going to the dining club. While reprimanding her daughter for going to a party instead of her friend's house for a sleepover, McCall notices call letters on a library book and thinks the letter and number combo she saw on one of Chace's papers could be a library book. So she heads to the Columbia library, tracks down the corresponding code and discovers a memory card inside the book. Unfortunately, the bad guys also discover her and drag McCall to a shady place where they begin to waterboard her and find out what she knows. McCall doesn't give up any info, only telling them that she activated her tracker, which brings Bishop and his crew to the scene to arrest them.

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That only leaves Pruitt. McCall arrives at his house and tells the tech guru she figured it all out. When Chance came across a study that said the self-driving car technology already killed 87 people, he confronted Pruitt. "You figured you'd crunch the numbers — 87 lives, what's one more?" McCall tells Pruitt over the phone, from inside his house. "Then when the girl saw what happened, you went after her too. Framed her for murder with that video."

Pruitt offers McCall any amount of money to stand down. "I could make you rich beyond your wildest dreams," he says. "Everyone has a price."

But McCall only wants justice. She handcuffs Pruitt to his self-driving car and the police take it from there. She also ensures Jewel receives another shot at the scholarship interview and that her own daughter pays her back for the cost of the dress Delilah stole to wear to the party. McCall volunteers Delilah at a local juvenile detention center and in the parking lot of the facility asks her daughter to observe what the girls behind bars have in common.

"The world is just looking for a reason to put a young Black girl like you on the other side of that fence," McCall says. "Don't help them along."

While McCall decides she wants to help people — putting up an online ad reading, "Got a problem? Odds against you? I can help." — the cops realize she isn't the public defender she claimed to be, so doing good might not come easy.

The Equalizer airs Sundays (8 p.m.) on CBS.

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