If you thought that Aaron Korsh’s Pearson was going to be anything like his dramedy, Suits, then you were wrong.
Pearson is a departure from Korsh’s typical comedy writing such as Everybody Loves Raymond and Love, Inc.; dark, political, and intense, it is a welcomed change from Suits. Opening the episode with the former lawyer, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), shredding photographs of a dead body, both new fans of Pearson and the old audiences of Suits are left curious. What is Jessica doing shredding these photos which look like evidence? Apparently, it’s just regular work, as she easily brushes off a security guard who asks her if she needs any help.
After her “regular” day at the office, the viewers are taken to a shady location, poorly lit and the suspense is in the air. Jessica stands alone, clearly irritated, as she was supposed to meet up with the mayor, Bobby Novak (Morgan Spector), but he doesn’t show up. Then, a van comes charging at Jessica and the camera cuts to a flashback, eight weeks in the past.
Jessica lays in bed, with her partner Jeff Malone (D.B. Woodside). Fans of Suits can recognize Jeff easily, as he was one of the reasons why Jessica decides to leave the city that never sleeps for the windy one. They have an argument that matches the conversations the couple has in season seven of Suits; Jessica should not work for Bobby. He’s corrupt and people end up dead when they work for him.
She doesn’t care, obviously- otherwise, Pearson wouldn’t exist. Ignoring her boyfriend’s comments, she snaps, “I won’t have the same conversation every morning.” Later, she goes to visit her cousin, Angela Cook (Chantel Riley), who is a nurse’s assistant to tell her about her new position at the mayor’s office. Unexpectedly, Angela responds bitterly, but it turns out it’s because Jessica has sacrificed her lawsuit against the city, a lawsuit she filed for Angela’s family to keep their housing, in order to get the job. This gives audiences a little glimpse into her life before the show, as it carries on from where the Pearson preview left off in season seven of Suits.
The episode moves on, with Jessica becoming the right-hand woman for Bobby Novak. Her job? Solving problems for the mayor that the city attorney, Keri Allen (Bethany Joy Lenz), can’t seem to solve.
Of course, this causes some friction between Allen and Pearson, later illustrated in the episode by a confrontation in the bathroom. The city attorney tells the mayor that she feels threatened by Jessica because she had taken away Jessica’s ability to practice law in Chicago, but Novak brushes her off. He tells her not to worry, and that Allen just needs to “stay in her lane.” Although that sounds well and good, the truth is, Keri also feels threatened because she sleeps with the mayor who is married. There’s also the fact that there’s no way Jessica would have gotten a job unless she had something on Novak, which Allen knows. The only problem is, she doesn’t know what Jessica has on her lover.
Unfortunately, the audiences don’t know what this dirt is either, but we do get to see the mayor’s scandalous side. In addition to his infidelity, Bobby’s security detail, Nick D’amato (Simon Kassianides), is his secret half-brother and city developer, Pat McGann (Wayne Duvall), apparently has him linked to some dirty money. So, Bobby Novak is screwed over if anything gets leaked.
Regardless, Bobby doesn’t fire her. So, she does her job of solving problems, like the failure of a bus company to deliver on their products. Despite its positive sound, she helps Novak while also harming him by challenging his authority. She also resolves problems she feels are unaddressed, like the shutting down of a Southside school. This causes some anger on his part, but Jessica merely shrugs it off, saying that she made him “look good” and fixed what he needed to be fixed, so he should be thankful. She also asks him what Pat McGann has on him, but he ignores her and leaves the room.
The episode then closes with Jessica coming home and there are a bunch of flowers on her kitchen table. Jeff has sent her a present in a Tiffany blue gift box. She opens it and there is a folder from the Department of Justice. Inside the folder? The same photographs of a murdered body seen in the opening of the episode. The only other detail to note is that it looks like Nick is in some of the photos.
Overall, Pearson’s pilot is captivating; however, this only holds true for audiences that enjoyed Suits. Without prior knowledge of Jessica’s character, this episode is too heavy and, quite honestly, far too confusing to enjoy. There are too many details that come from the pseudo-pilot of Pearson from the seventh season of Suits. Without having seen some episodes of Jessica kicking ass and the final episodes she appears in on her old show, there’s no way you can fully understand where she comes from.
While, for me, a Suitor (Suits fan), the show was enjoyable, I can’t say the same for someone who has never watched Suits. The show opens and the characters feel familiar to me, even if I’ve only seen them in one episode on a different TV show. For someone who’s never watched the show, you don’t get a chance to be familiarized with the characters- it’s jammed pack with a story line that had no introduction.My suggestion if you really want to enjoy Pearson? Watch the seventh season finale of Suits. Then, come back to this episode. Otherwise, you won’t like it. While I think it’s the next big show, I know someone who has never met Jessica Pearson will feel otherwise.
Watch Pearson live with me at 10/9c on USA Network or catch up on the Pearson website.