Pearson Season 1 Episode 1 Review: The Alderman

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Jessica Pearson is back! 

After what has felt like an eternity, the highly-anticipated Suits spin-off is here, and it's darker and grittier than its predecessor.

From what we saw during Pearson Season 1 Episode 1, the series is deeply steeped in the underhanded grimy political game and has mostly strayed from the seedy legal arena.

Making Things Right - Tall - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

As a long-time Gina Torres fan, I'm thrilled to have her leading a series of her own. It could not be more deserved, and of course, groundbreaking as one of the first Afro-Latinx to lead an hour-long, primetime network drama.

Jessica is in new territory, and so are viewers. As a result, Suits Fanatics can tune into the series for those classic witty Pearson lines (the coy, seductive "come on baby, it's our first fight" had me squealing in delight), but they can also find it a change of pace from what is familiar to them.

Related: Pearson Review: Suits Successor Gets Our Vote!

However, it also works as a standalone for newcomers who are not yet familiar with an indomitable Jessica Pearson.

If you don't know yet, you're about to learn.

Making Enemies - Tall  - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

But what makes this series intriguing from the start is despite the years spent on Suits, fans didn't know Jessica Pearson. She was one of Suits' best and most intriguing characters while managing to remain an utter mystery.

Related: Good Trouble Season 2 Episode 5 Review: Happy Heckling 

But what's so appealing about Pearson is how this powerhouse attorney has shifted to the political sphere in a brand new city with strangers and limited power.

Bobby: You don't know anything about politics.
Jessica: But I do know about power, and if you sit around waiting for this thing to blow over, you won't have any.

Jessica Pearson has always been a powerful woman. She had the power and fought to cling to it on Suits, but now as a disbarred corporate lawyer who strong-armed her way into the mayor's office, she's at the bottom.

Gina Torres Stars as Jessica Pearson

After years of being on top, the mighty have fallen, and it's exciting to explore this powerful woman starting over again.

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It's also a refreshing position for a woman who used to be in her prime. It's a reminder of how it's never too late to go after what you want, which is an important message buried beneath the political/criminal intrigue. There is nothing in life set in stone.

A Rock and A Hard Place - Tall  - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

Throughout the hour, it's evident Jessica isn't used to not being a shot caller. She's out of her depth in Chicago, which we're led to believe operates differently from New York, but she refuses to acknowledge it.

She's stubborn and arrogant, and she refuses to cede. It's already one of the best but also most frustrating aspects of her character on the series.

Just stay in your lane. I'm sure she'll stay in hers.


No one is going to tell Jessica that she should know her place or stay in her lane. She's the sort who carves out a space for herself, threats and warnings be damned.

It's commendable, hell, it's awe-inspiring, but it's stupid too. She's jumping headfirst into Chicago politics with all her New Yorker bluster. The problem is she isn't feeling out her surroundings or how things work before making waves.

Making Waves - Tall  - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

And she is making waves. It seems everyone has Jessica's name in their mouths, and no one is pleased with her presence.

Bobby didn't welcome her with open arms. He felt compelled to add her onto his team when she blackmailed him, but while he doesn't trust her and has deluded himself into believing he has the upper hand or her "on a leash," he also recognizes that he needs her.

Related: Chicago PD Books Paul Adelstein to Replace (SPOILER)!

Their partnership, if that is what you want to call it, is fascinating. Bobby has every excuse and justification in the book for why he gave this shark the keys to the kingdom, but whether he was talking to Pat, Nick, or Keri, it's apparent he's in over his head.

Allies or Enemies?

As mayor, he is in too deep. He claims once upon a time he was someone who got into matters for the right reasons, but the political game ate him up alive.

His relationship with the shady Pat is what appears to be the crux of Bobby's issues. He can't get from beneath him. Whatever Pat is holding over Bobby's head (and it has to be more than the Nick cover up), it's big.

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Jessica knows it too. One of the reasons Jessica has everyone quaking in their boots is because of how astute she is. She can read everyone in a room well and figure out all their secrets.

Bobby: I think you're a smart woman who doesn't understand that when shit happens, it's my name on the door, not yours.
Jessica: This is all new to me Mr. Mayor, and it's going to take a little bit of time for me to get used to not calling the shots. But I don't think you want me taking smaller bites.
Bobby: No?
Jessica: No. I think you have a problem. You need solved, and that's why you brought me in. Now you've seen what I can do. Why don't you tell me what Pat McGann has on you

It can make her their biggest enemy, which is why Bobby does come out smarter than most by wanting to keep her in his pocket -- on his side. 

Shady Mayor - Tall  - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

He is guarded, for good reason (that damning file confirms it), but he's impressed by Jessica. He feels the need to assert his authority at every turn out of fear she's going to take it from him, but his lectures and reminders that his name is the one on the door -- his reputation is on the line-- are puzzling.

Jessica, more than anyone, knows what it's like for everything to fall on her as the leader. He spoke to her as if she couldn't possibly fathom his position.

Bobby: This isn't going to work.
Jessica: Oh come on, baby! This is our first fight. Don't be like that!

What stood out about the hour was how none of the characters were likable. There is room for complexity, multi-dimension down the road, but at the moment, they all suck.

Morgan Spector as Mayor Bobby Golec - Pearson

Bobby displays hints of vulnerability, but his shady dealings with Pat will leave you wondering why he bothered getting into this game in the first place. He seems to indulge Keri more than anything else. When he told her he needed her, it was a prelude to sex.

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And his treatment of his half brother showed him at his most manipulative. He hired his father's bastard as his security, but he likes to remind Nick of the opportunities he affords him. He ignores Nick's reasonable assertion that Pat likes to drive a wedge between the two brothers.

Simon Kassianides as Nick D'Amato - Pearson

The relationship between the brothers is one of interest. There is a degrading edge to how Bobby treats Nick as if Nick should be grateful for the opportunity to be within Bobby's world at all and anything the name grants him.

It's the all too familiar nepotism we've come to expect from politics and falls in line with the theme woven throughout the series thus far that in Chicago, it's all about connections and who you know.

Nick is eager for acceptance, but he also resents his brother. I cannot wait for the show to explore their relationship more.

Bobby: I've missed you. It's been weeks. It's killing me.
Keri: I have worked too hard to be seen as that girl.
Bobby: No one sees you as that girl.
Keri: She does. The woman you brought in to keep me clean. She sees me as that. And every time I see her, it's a reminder.
Bobby: So now she's the reason we're not sleeping together?
Keri: It's ironic, isn't it?

Their relationship is more compelling than one between Bobby and Keri. Theirs is the type of salaciousness you'd expect from a political drama, but the trite infidelity plot is annoying.

Must we do this?

It was amusing that one of the main reasons Keri is anti-Jessica was because of Jessica calling her out on her shit. Until that point, few people knew or cared to discuss the affair between Bobby and Keri. It rattled her and left her feeling unsettled when Jessica did it.

Bethany Joy Lenz as Keri Allen - Pearson

It's unfair that Keri worked her ass off to get where she is as State Attorney at a young age only to have her accomplishments dismissed because of her relationship with Bobby.

It's sexism at it's finest, but based on her interactions with Bobby, Keri takes advantage of the relationship.

Keri: You want to come at me? Come at me, but stay the hell away from my department and the lawyers who work for me, or I'll make disbarment feel like jaywalking.
Jessica: Are you threatening me?
Keri: I'm warning you. I've been underestimated my whole life because I don't look like a policeman's daughter, but I'm 33 years old, and I'm the city attorney. I didn't get where I am by being stupid.

Keri doesn't want the label of Bobby's lover. She doesn't want anyone to think she didn't earn her position. However, she needs to stop storming into his office every ten minutes to whine about Jessica.

Hell, even Bobby told her to wield her power instead of coming to him demanding he uses his. She's a big girl, so she needs to go to Jessica directly.

She failed to notice how pleased Bobby was that Jessica was able to get things done. He put her on the transit system project, and she did what Keri could not.

An Ally - Tall  - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

Jessica stopped the hunger strike and saved the high school. She managed to get Debbie, Bobby's ally, to give up her position and pursue something else.

It doesn't matter what Bobby did or didn't ask for, Jessica as his new fixer can get the job done -- she can solve issues he can't even speak about or request. It's what he hired her for; he didn't want Keri to get her hands dirty.

Bobby: Keri, I don't care who has power in the office or what she does. I'm here risking every goddamn thing in my life because you're the person I need.
Keri: Your wife is the person that you-- [interrupted with a kiss]

Keri wants to jump into the fray though, and even though Jessica is the one you would expect to hold a grudge since Keri is who got Jessica disbarred, it's Keri with this massive chip on her shoulder.

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The two women could make a hell of a team if they get on the same page. Keri didn't like how Jessica made a fool out of her during the court incident, and she didn't like how Jessica laid down threats to the transit man Keri was trying to schmooze, but she knew when to play along.

A Rock and A Hard Place - Tall  - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

All of them are emphasizing how the only way to get things done in Chicago is to know people, but from where Jessica is standing, not much is getting done. Her approach has some merit. It makes her effective, but it also puts her in the crosshairs.

I'm worried about how many enemies she's making. So far, she has only made something close to an ally in Derrick. The hour kicked off with someone barreling right toward her, so she has managed to piss off someone enough to want her dead in a matter of weeks.

Jessica: So much for having my back.
Jeff: I do have your back, Jessica. But there are two people in a relationship. Two. And now I have to have my own.

Jeff had reason to be concerned about Jessica stepping into this arena. You hate to see this come between the pair, and Jessica's stubbornness drove him to Miami for a break to clear his thoughts.

In Her Thoughts - Tall - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

Jeff is concerned about her well-being and safety, but I don't know if leaving her alone makes it better or worse.

Perhaps he's hoping her ties to her family will serve her well, but while Lillian is welcoming and giving Jessica the benefit of the doubt, Angela is not. Angela refuses to give Jessica the chance to prove her right, let alone prove her wrong.

Having Doubts - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

She has reservations about her cousin swooping in after all these years. She's wary of Jessica throwing money at problems and making promises. It's understandable, but at the moment, Jessica is more sympathetic here than Angela.

Related: 17 Lies That Destroyed Relationships

She couldn't even appreciate Jessica helping out with the school situation and her patient. She's determined to see the worst in Jessica, but she refuses to see the bigger picture.

Jessica had to drop their lawsuit against the city, and she took the job with Bobby instead, but the payoff could be better in the long run.

Cautious Cousin - Tall  - Pearson Season 1 Episode 1

Overall, I look forward to getting down and dirty with Chicago politics. No one has proven to be particularly trustworthy let alone likable just yet, so we're left 100% backing our girl.

I'm betting on Jessica Pearson. Always have and always will. How about you?

-Related: Get Britbox via Prime Video Channels for the biggest streaming collection of TV from BBC & ITV...ever. -

What was your first impression of Pearson? Will you keep watching it? Did you like the different vibe from Suits?

Let's get down and dirty discussing it in the comments below!

You can watch Pearson online here via TV Fanatic!

The Alderman Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Pearson Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Bobby: You don't know anything about politics.
Jessica: But I do know about power, and if you sit around waiting for this thing to blow over, you won't have any.

Just stay in your lane. I'm sure she'll stay in hers.