ET exclusively premieres a sneak peek from Sunday's episode.
On Sunday's episode of The Equalizer, Robyn McCall (Queen Latifah) and the team are called in to investigate the murder of a beloved Chinese American restaurant owner, who was the victim of a hate crime masked to look like an accidental electrical fire. ET exclusively premieres a sneak peek from the episode, which acknowledges the surge in crimes against the Asian community over the past several months.
In the clip, McCall and Mel (Liza Lapira) are getting the download on the context surrounding the restaurant owner's death to gauge potential suspects.
"This is all the greatest hits. Go back to your country. Stop eating dog. Stick to math. You think you would've gotten a little more creative since I was a kid," Mel snarks as they go through hateful messages posted on an online restaurant review site.
Apparently, the slew of one-star reviews came in all at once, leading McCall to believe there is something bigger involved. Mel then reminds her of the real-life attacks against the Asian community
"This is why I do not let my grandmother leave my apartment without me," Mel states, prompting McCall to believe the victim was targeted. Watch ET's exclusive sneak peek above.
The episode is a particularly powerful one for Lapira, whose experiences as an American American woman helped inform the complexities of the story. The actress worked closely with the writing staff, who had separately done extensive research on the recent surge of violence against the Asian American community, and shared personal anecdotes from her life to help color the episode through various characters and specific dialogue.
"The episode centers around a hate crime that happens in Chinatown. A woman is murdered and not only does the crime remain unsolved, but the police in the media do not label it a hate crime. So a loved one of the victim goes to Robyn McCall, and Robyn and her team solve this murder and elevate it to the public as a hate crime -- what it really is," Lapira tells ET exclusively.
“This episode is important because first and foremost, violence towards Asian Americans is happening; it feels like it's daily. Just last week, seven Asian American women were attacked in New York. The week before that, a 61-year-old grandmother was attacked and died as she was cleaning her neighbor's street," she continues. "It's very heartbreaking what's going on and the news is reporting it. The news is supposed to foster empathy and a communal spirit and I believe that it does, but sometimes it can be information overload -- I know I can zone out sometimes. Entertainment can be a fun and sneaky way to continue to foster that empathy and communal spirit, this idea that we're all in this together and if it happens to one, it happens to us all.”
“The other important thing is that this episode touches upon uplifting the Asian American community, which again is a little bit ripped from the headlines in that Asian American leaders and citizens are really stepping up and trying to come up with solutions to protect ourselves, to protect our elderly in particular because that's how this wave of violence started," Lapira adds. “And the last way it's important is the representation. I did a scene with two other Asian American actors, so it was three of us on screen. The more we can normalize what it is, which is that we live in a diverse world, the more we can bring to light that Asian Americans are not a monolith, that there are many different narratives within that group, that there’s many ways to be human in the world… the more true and positive it is.”
The Equalizer airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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