The Equalizer

Season 2 Episode 13

Beyond Control

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jan 14, 1987 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
9 votes

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Episode Summary

Beyond Control
Control becomes McCall's client when a KGB agent who infiltrated a think tank is murdered.

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  • a very good episode which still shows some weaknesses

    I like this show but it tends to fall short in the writing. Woodward is excellent and really inhabits the role. The recurring figures like Control and Kostmayer are also great. But the scripts often are simplistic and full of holes. I find it hard to believe McCall is physically capable of doing some of the things he does like running upstairs and beating the police to the baddies. Now, this episode deals with the Company and McCall's old job which are always welcome. The cat & mouse game between McCall and a KGB agent are the highlight. Unfortunately, the Russians don't sound much like Russians. Elaine is allowed to tag along to the exchange with Coble? Usually McCall doesn't allow innocents to get into harm's way unless it can't be avoided. She wanders in and is easily taken hostage, McCall stands there like he didn't realize that could happen. Little stuff like this hampers the show. And at the end when we see the building Control uses is empty, how can an empty building be an effective front? Wouldn't people notice only one guy ever goes in there? I like McCall saying the Russians would have 30 years worth of propaganda if they got the files considering the USSR would be gone in just 3 more years. I kinda miss the Cold War, made for great TV.moreless
  • Fearing for his life, Control asks McCall to protect him from the KGB, who infiltrated a Company operation.

    'Beyond Control' is the kind of episode that makes you realize what can happen when all the "pieces" in the visual medium fit. It is in my humble opinion the best Equalizer episode ever, the benchmark that sets the bar not only for the series, but for every spy-driven series before or after.

    While it is a story driven primarily by strong character interaction (of which the series always excelled), additional aspects and particular scenes separate it from the others.

    First, the direction by Alan Metzger is flawless - scenes throughout the episode feature a bevy of smart camera shots that add texture to the presentation. One of these shots is an incredible close-in sequence in the episode's last scene. That one, in which McCall questions Control's motives, is one of the greatest approaches to a scene ever shot for television.

    Another reason why 'Beyond Control' exceeds in its efforts is Coleman Luck's penning of the script. Luck weaves an engaging tale of lies and deceit by placing central characters at philosophical odds with each other. This type of drama was a bedrock of the series, but Luck is hitting all the cylinders here, with McCall and Control uneasy partners throughout the episode. The dialogue is crisp, and the story has enough plot twists to keep anyone on their toes! Listen to the final scene of 'Control' and you'll hear a familiar Equalizer theme: those that are in power lie at all costs to protect themselves. When McCall confronts his former boss as to why he lied about Exden and John Furman, Control's response is cool and premeditated: "It's what I do for a living, Robert..."

    Perhaps the most underrated aspect of successful television encompasses my final reason for elevating 'Control' to the Olympus of episodes. Music in television and film add necessary depth to a scene, round out the visual eye candy, and send strong messages to the viewer about the story's intent, all without using a single word of dialogue. Stewart Copeland delivers a brooding and dark ambiance to the series, and 'Beyond Control' benefits greatly from it. His orchestrations paint the auditory equivalent of the deep grays and dark corners which McCall journeyed through as he attempted to right the wrongs of the world. Replace the musical landscape with another (as was attempted in several episodes with Cameron Allan), and the result is pale at best. Again, watch the final scene to learn how Copeland weaves the music around the story and actors.

    In the end, 'Beyond Control' is a study in great television, when all those potentially problematic pieces come together to form something profound that demands our attention, shapes our understanding, and inspires us to take valuable lessons from its production. Simply put, it is television brilliance.

Brian Bedford

Brian Bedford


Guest Star

Liane Curtis

Liane Curtis


Guest Star

Philip Kraus

Philip Kraus


Guest Star

Keith Szarabajka

Keith Szarabajka

Mickey Kostmayer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions