In this week’s episode of USA Network’s newest show, Pearson, both new fans of Jessica (Gina Torres) and old fans of Suits get to experience Jessica’s brilliance once more. Throughout this episode, audiences watch as Jessica weaves her way through Chicago, using the people around her, along with her wits, to solve the mayor’s toughest problems.
The most notable thing about this episode is Jessica’s introduction to the rest of the cast. Although introduced in the pilot episode, it was implied that Jessica already knew Mayor Bobby Novak (Morgan Spector), City Attorney Keri Allen (Bethany Joy Lenz), and her cousin, Angela Cook (Chantel Riley). The only new character she meets is Press Secretary Derrick Mayes (Eli Goree) because he was not mentioned in Pearson’s pseudo-pilot (or better known as the seventh season finale of Suits). In episode two, Jessica collides with Yoli Castillo (Isabel Arraiza) and is formally introduced to Nick D’amato (Simon Kassianides).
Yoli’s introduction into the Pearson universe is quick, and she plays a very small role in the episode. Jessica is late to work due to the breakfast she shared with her aunt, and she rushes into City Hall, looking to get past security quickly. However, Yoli blocks her path by talking to the security guard. Jessica makes a snarky comment that she is trying to get through the metal detectors, and Yoli rolls her eyes while making a remark that Jessica is a “bougie bitch,” in Spanish, to the security guard. Much to Yoli’s surprise, Jessica responds in perfect Spanish and puts Yoli in her place. She struts past the girl, after telling her that her name is Jessica Pearson and she works for her “boss upstairs,” the mayor. Later, Yoli is fired for inflammatory tweets about City Hall and Jessica Pearson, but Jessica then rehires her for her bravery to speak out.
Upstairs in City Hall, Mayor Novak is in a great mood because of Jessica’s problem-solving skills in the previous episode, where she fired a self-absorbed Alderman and helped fix Chicago’s bus issues. For the first time, he decides to make comments on a whim. Derrick suggests against this, but Bobby is in such a good mood that he does it anyway. Unfortunately, his day quickly sours when the press asks him about Jessica Pearson and her hiring—specifically referencing her crooked behavior in New York City. He knows the news was leaked from the inside, and so he accuses Keri, whom he knows has bad blood with Jessica. Keri, of course, is too damn good for this world. She didn’t do it and is very hurt that her lover would even accuse her of doing so. At the end, the audience learns that Jessica actually leaked the information herself so she could get ahead of the press.
Meanwhile, Keri deals with the Chicago Police Department. In this episode, we learn that Pearson’s Chicago has a “Blue Flu,” or a police strike where officers call in sick day after day. This causes crime rates to skyrocket, especially in the South Side, where Jessica’s family lives. Unfortunately, the police department refuses to work with City Hall because Jessica Pearson works with them.
In the pseudo-pilot of Pearson, Suits fans watched as Jessica called the Chicago Police Department animals, so it’s not surprising to see Chicago PD protest her hiring. This makes Keri angry, and she blames Jessica for making the negotiations go awry. Of course, Jessica being Jessica, she takes matters into her own hands and fixes them in her own way.
The episode closes with a sentimental moment between Angela and Jessica, where Angela repays Jessica for dinner. While Jessica accepts the money from Angela with clear reluctance, the audience watches this scene through the lens of a clicking camera. Someone is taking photographs of Jessica, although it is unclear who and why.Pearson’s second episode, for me, was a massive step up from its pilot. Although not essential to the plot, we get to see Jessica’s struggle in adjusting to life in Chicago. As a corporate lawyer in New York City, she was used to all the perks, like functioning desks. Forced to accommodate creaky chairs and jammed drawers, we get to see some of Korsh’s classic humor peek through the cracks of this serious show. I also especially enjoyed the pacing of this episode; it felt a lot less packed. In the previous episode, there were too many details thrown at new audiences. Although there were definitely points in this episode where I felt like you had to watch the seventh season of Suits to understand it, many more details were made clear. If the show consistently improves like this, I have high hopes for upcoming episodes.