The Equalizer Star Previews The Cool Way The Winter Premiere Continues Mel's Fall Finale Cliffhanger And Conflict With McCall

Liza Lapira as Mel in The Equalizer Season 3 winter premiere
(Image credit: CBS)

The Equalizer is on the way back to primetime for the first time since November, and the hit CBS drama has a cliffhanger to resolve when it comes to Mel. When last seen, she was fighting her way through a lineup of what looked like some very bad men, searching for answers about her brother. The winter premiere on February 19 will deliver some answers that fans have been waiting for, and actress Liza Lapira opened up about the “cool” way that it’s going to happen as well as Mel's continued conflict with McCall (played by Queen Latifah).

The fall finale (which you can revisit streaming with a Paramount+ subscription) was already stressful for Mel even before she got the news about her brother, with McCall confronting her about secretly training Delilah on how to fight. The winter premiere – called “He Ain’t Heavy” – will involve a family reunion, when Mel meets up with her sister with the clock ticking to save their brother, Edison. When Liza Lapira, who plays Mel, spoke with CinemaBlend about the upcoming episode, she previewed how the show will pick up where it left off:

I can tell you that there's absolutely no time jumping. It picks up the minutes after we ended [the fall finale]… We actually shot it as an overlap. It was pretty cool. The directors overlapped, so they stood side by side. We wrapped that episode and then we picked up minutes after with a new director.

Fans don’t have to worry that The Equalizer is skipping a payoff on the action-packed cliffhanger by jumping ahead in the timeline, which sounds dangerous for Mel but exciting for viewers! The directors overlapping also means that Lapira didn’t have to film the second half of a scene days or even weeks after shooting the first half. When asked if the overlap made fight choreography easier from the end of one episode to the beginning of the next, the actress shared:

It did! Each episode had their own choreography, and I want to say there was very little for the finale. The finale was mostly a chase. There was some fighting, but it was mostly running after the main perpetrator, and then this episode coming up was really heavy in choreography. Very cool. And in fact, the one after that, and a few episodes after that. It's been pretty heavy with Mel as the muscle this season.

While Mel chasing after some bad guys to get information about her missing brother was definitely the most intense cliffhanger from the fall finale, there is still more left to resolve. Mel and McCall are usually solid as friends and on the job, but for McCall, Mel crossed a line when she began secretly training her daughter. 

Even though Mel made some solid points about Delilah wanting training because she didn’t feel safe, Delilah is still McCall’s daughter. That episode (which featured former Destiny’s Child member-turned-solo artist Kelly Rowland) ended in November without any resolution between the women. According to Liza Lapira, that conflict isn’t going to just be forgotten because of the larger crisis with Mel's brother. The actress explained:

We left on a fissure between McCall and Mel. There was a fight and then directly after the argument, Mel gets the call that her brother is in danger, so there's been no time for McCall and Mel to talk about the disagreement. There's been no processing even that it happened, and they just jump into this next case, which obviously is very personal for all of them, especially Mel, because it involves family. It takes them a while to work through it, and takes them a couple episodes, actually. It's not something that will get resolved right away, much to the chagrin of Mel.

It sounds like all hands will be on deck with the kidnapping of Mel’s brother, but that doesn’t mean that the events of the fall finale between Mel and McCall will be brushed aside on the whole. With Liza Lapira’s preview that it will take multiple episodes for the pair to get their resolution, The Equalizer seems on the verge of exploring some uncharted territory between two characters who are usually very close. The actress continued:

I noted that the McCall character has an argument with Dante later on… and they resolve it, I want to say within the episode. I went to the other actors and I said, 'What's up with that? It takes us like three episodes to start talking to each other regularly.' But it was quite a big argument and I think it was the only kind of tumultuous thing that has happened in their friendship, certainly in the life of the series. They've never argued like that before and they both think they're right, which is the problem.

Will they be able to fully resolve their argument if one of them concedes that they were wrong, or fully comes around to the other’s point of view? Only time will tell on that front, but Mel’s brother’s situation sounds like it will be the most urgent problem for all the characters in the winter premiere. Who knows? Maybe they’ll concede that they both made some valid points. Whatever happens, it won’t necessarily be within the show’s first episode of 2023! 

You can find the intense winter premiere of The Equalizer Season 3 on Sunday, February 19 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, and it’s safe to say that this will be an episode that fans won’t want to miss with Mel's family reunion and more!  It’s also safe to say that Liza Lapira will be back in Mel mode after playing a much more festive character for some rom-com Christmas fun, as star of CBS’ Must Love Christmas. You can find some upcoming viewing options on our 2023 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).