Anti-Semitic hate crimes terrorizing a local community bring Harry (Adam Goldberg) to his old neighborhood on The Equalizer, and not only does he lead the charge in stopping the hate group responsible, but he also learns something key about his own past in the process.
It’s through a rabbi (Saul Rubinek) from the neighborhood that Harry learns the whole story about his mother’s absence from his life. (She had a good heart, the rabbi says.) Though Harry’s initially confused as to why the rabbit keeps talking about her like a perfect specimen when, for him, she abandoned him and didn’t fight for him when she and his dad split up, there’s more he doesn’t know until the end of the episode.
As Harry learns, his mother suffered from horrible bouts of depression, and while coming to synagogue helped, she felt she couldn’t help her son, so she set him free so he could thrive. She made his dad swear not to tell him because she was ashamed. His dad loved his mom very much but didn’t know how to help her either. Mental illness wasn’t discussed much back then (and still isn’t). And so the episode ends with Harry honoring his late mother (like she had for his grandmother) to make sure their memory lives on, with a candle burning bright, with the Mourner’s Kaddish. “This is for you, mom,” Harry says, with Mel (Liza Lapira) at his side.
For Goldberg, who’s used to disseminating information in his role on The Equalizer (which “has kept me very intellectually facile,” he says), he went deep for that scene. “This kind of acting is the reason why you become an actor,” he tells TV Insider. “It’s to explore these different sides of yourself and emotions inside of yourself. And it becomes, frankly, therapeutic. I think any actor would be disingenuous to say otherwise.”
He continues, “so, by the end of the show, when I’m saying this Mourner’s Kaddish, I found myself kind of really struck. I really went kind of deep and let myself just go there. My mother and father are still very much with me, [so] it was more about this idea of just really allowing oneself to get in touch with a part of themselves that maybe they disavowed. And in my case, in some ways, it is this sort of deep history of oppression, frankly.”
The ending was something that co-showrunner Adam Glass had in his head from the beginning, so building to that “was a really fun process of discovery, what had actually happened, even though it’s heartbreaking, with Harry and his mom,” Ora Yashar (who co-wrote the episode with Glass) shares. “We had a lot of discussions around that: what Harry’s pain really is and where that comes from and how that developed and how that’s influenced him. It really has had a lot of influence in who he’s become.”