Pearson: ‘The Union Leader’ Recap & Review

It seems like Jessica’s (Gina Torres) sly moves in ‘The Alderman’ have come back to bite her.

In this week’s episode of Pearson, Jessica struggles with Pat McGann (Wayne Duvall), Keri (Bethany Joy Lenz) deals with her relationship problems, and Yoli (Isabel Arraiza) learns the ropes of the fifth floor of City Hall. A very female-centric episode, ‘The Union Leader’ does all of its women justice.

Opening with Keri calling Mayor Bobby Novak (Morgan Spector), audiences find out that Bobby is not coming to work. This causes problems on everyone’s end, but especially Keri’s. Acting dodgy and weird around her, Bobby clearly has an issue but won’t tell her what it is—and she needs him. Although he is her lover, he’s also the Mayor of Chicago—a pretty important counterpart to the City Attorney.

Pearson The Union Leader
Jessica speaks to McGann. (Courtesy of USA Network)

Moving over to Jessica, the viewers also find that she has a problem with Novak’s absence. Pat McGann, known to be corrupt and dirty, has proposed that a woman named Betsy Sullivan be the replacement alderman. From the pilot episode, we watched as Jessica got the previous alderman out due to her self-serving nature. Of course, irritated by a corrupt man trying to tell her what to do, Jessica complains to Novak. Unfortunately, he’s not in and she’s dragged out to a park to speak with Bobby, who is watching his kids play. Jessica learns that he’s practically McGann’s servant, willing to do whatever Pat says because of the blackmail material that he has on him. Realizing she has to do things herself if she wants to get anything done, she meets up with Sullivan, only to discover that not only is she another self-serving woman, but she’s also a racist.

Sadly, McGann won’t step down from backing Sullivan because she knows loopholes for hiring non-unionized workers at cheaper rates. Unless Jessica can find a way to hire these workers without recruiting Betsy, there was no way she could have that alderman seat. Using tactics that worked in New York, she tries to bribe the union leader to no avail. Her attempts make McGann feel threatened, and he reduces the moving time that Jessica’s family has from their apartment. This causes her to take a more drastic, shady method to close the deal and get what she wants. In the end, her family has ninety days to move out again, Betsy Sullivan is not the new alderman, and the union allows non-union workers to be hired.

By the end of the episode, viewers learn what Mayor Novak’s problem is: his wife has fallen ill again. When Keri, frustrated after being questioned by people left and right about her relationship status, confronts Bobby at his house, light is shed on his situation. Despite the loneliness, lack of guidance, and confusion she feels, she accepts that it is a bad time to confront her lover about their relationship and leaves. Her final scene is going on a date with another man in an attempt to move on.

This episode was excellent and had great flow, execution, and story. A massive step up from the pilot, and a drastic improvement from the second episode, there is a lot of potential for the rest of the show’s season. Episodes continue to improve, and I am impressed with its development. I’m especially excited to learn more about the final scene of the episode, where we see the photos taken of Jessica in episode two being hung up on an FBI bulletin board. What does that mean for Jessica?

Finally, I found two scenes particularly jaw-dropping: Keri’s confrontation with Novak, and Jessica’s phone call to her boyfriend, Jeff (D.B. Woodside). Throughout the show, Keri and Jessica’s lives have contrasted each other—Jessica lives the high life and Keri is often miserable. However, this time both of them unite in an unexpected way: their relationships. Experiencing loneliness, they talk to their lovers, but both of them are rejected. Keri is rejected due to Bobby’s wife, and Jessica is rejected because Jeff does not pick up. Evidently, both miss their partners; however, their paths split with how they are left standing. At the end of the episode, Jessica is by herself—seemingly powerless as she chokes up after shadily closing a deal with the union leader. On the other hand, Keri is drinking with another man. One buries her feelings and the other has no choice but to let it all out.

This episode was incredibly promising, and I can’t believe I have to wait another week to see more.

Watch Pearson live with me at 10/9c on USA Network or catch up on the Pearson website.

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