Actor Tory Kittles and writer Joe Wilson preview Sunday's powerful episode.
On Sunday's episode of The Equalizer, titled "D.W.B.," Detective Dante (Tory Kittles) finds himself the victim of racial profiling and is unlawfully detained, as one of the police officers -- who are on the lookout for a suspect at large accused of aggravated assault -- uses excessive force against him. ET exclusively premieres a sneak peek, which depicts the two cops aggressively confronting Dante at the gas station in the middle of the night. As the clip goes on, and tensions rise between both parties, things escalate and it doesn't end well.
The episode, which was an idea Equalizer executive producer/writer Joe Wilson had at the end of last season, was crafted by an all-male Black team and unapologetically digs into the Black experience in America. (Slovan "Slick" Naim directed the episode.)
“Joe Wilson called me after last season and said, 'I’ve got an idea," Kittles shared over email. "My initial reaction was, 'No way the studio and network are ever going to let us touch that.' But after they heard Joe’s pitch they were as moved as I was, and they said, 'Let’s do it.’ It’s the most challenging episode of television I’ve ever shot, emotionally and physically. I really wanted to get it right. For Joe, for Queen [Latifah], for our audience.”
"When you build stories informed by real experiences there’s a stronger emotional through line that happens naturally. Our jobs are to tell stories, but when you draw from the heart, those tears on the page resonate because they're based in reality. I believe the audience can feel that," Wilson added.
He reflected on his real-life experiences and shared a memory of one particular incident that still sticks with him to this day.
"Growing up in East Cleveland, Ohio, or any impoverished area, part of your life experience is conflict with law enforcement. I’ve seen police brutality firsthand. Everyone I grew up with can tell you a horrific story of an incident that’s gone left, whether it’s personal or someone close to them. Everyone," Wilson said. "There was an incident where me and a few friends were pulled over. The police took my friend for a 'ride.' By the time we found him later that day, he was roughed up pretty bad. That weighs on you. It creates that conditioning, that tense feeling when a cop car gets behind you in traffic and you immediately think of those experiences. Today could be the day. No matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished. It’s a form of PTSD."
Added Kittles, who credits Wilson for being Dante's "character advocate" in the writers' room: "It was very personal to me and brought back vivid images from my childhood of my uncle coming home one night battered and bruised after a run in with the law. Luckily he survived it, but it forever changed him. Hopefully by illuminating more of these stories we can contribute to the cause of empathy.”
As for what Wilson hopes viewers take away from watching the episode, it's having empathy and understanding.
"[After watching this episode, I hope viewers can understand] how we feel. What we deal with. The pent-up anger and frustration that we swallow and move with on a daily basis," Wilson said. "With understanding and clarity we can all be better."
The Equalizer airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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