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"You went behind my back, Ms. Pearson."
"I made you look good, Mr. Mayor. You just ended a 23 day hunger strike."
"Did I? I mean, the strike only ended because a greedy alderman took a cush VP job.
"

Bobby Novak and Jessica Pearson

The Alderman is the first episode of the first season of Pearson and the first overall. It first aired on July 17, 2019.

Synopsis

Jessica starts her new job in the mayor's office; it's a new world, and a whole new power struggle.

Plot

The episode starts with Jessica shredding documents and images at City Hall. She is briefly interrupted by Oscar, a security guard, which startles her, although she manages to avoid suspicion. As she exits the building, a driver asks her to take her home, although she refuses, claiming that she would walk home instead. As she walks out of sight, she takes a cab to Calumet and 81st Street. When she gets there, she notices there's no one there. She calls Keri Allen to ask her if Bobby Novak is with her, as he is not where Jessica is despite having agreed to meet there. Jessica then hears music and tells Keri to stay on the line, and as she walks forward, a subway train heads her way.

The scene then cuts to eight weeks earlier, with Nick D'Amato picking up Novak outside of his house. Novak mentions that his wife Stephanie told Nick to come inside, although Nick claims he likes the fresh air. As Novak prepares to enter the car, Nick tells him not to get involved with "the Pearson woman." However, Novak tells him that he hired her due to the way she handled Pat McGann. Back at Jessica's apartment, she is kissed awake by Jeff Malone, who suggests they stay at home using their sick days. Jessica replies that she hasn't earned any sick days and leaves the bed to get dressed. Jeff is upset that she is actually going to work for the mayor instead of helping her family, with Jessica replying that doing this would help her family and that she spent years making money and keeping her name on a wall and that she wants more out of life. Jeff attempts to explain that he just wishes to discuss it, although Jessica retorts that he must be looking for a fight since he had the whole weekend to discuss it. Jeff mentions the friend he has at the Justice Department who informed him that a man who went up against the mayor's office turned up dead; additionally, he feels involved in the situation since he lives with Jessica, who has agreed to work for the mayor. Jessica states that Jeff is allowed to look out for his own self-preservation but tells him that he must decide whether or not he wants to have a relationship with her.

Jessica gets dressed and leaves her apartment as her driver asks whether she wishes to go to City Hall, although Jessica tells him to just drive. At the hospital, Angela Cook is checking on a patient, a young woman named Imani. Imani mentions that the lady watching her is creeping her out, and Angela turns out swiftly to see Jessica standing there. Jessica asks to speak to Angela for a minute, and as Angela heads outside, Jessica informs her that she is dropping her mother Lillian's lawsuit since the mayor offered her a job if she did so and that she took the job. Angela is vexed at Jessica selling out her family to further her career and states that she has to find herself and her family a new place to live. Jessica replies that Lillian's lawsuit would've taken months but that the end result was going to be them losing, whereas with her new job, she would be able to save more than just one housing project. Angela refuses to believe her, claiming that Jessica is not even aware of the issues that happen in the street, as she was unaware of a hunger strike that is currently happening, and adds that while she herself did not put any stock in Jessica, Lillian had put her hopes in her niece, only to realize that Jessica hadn't broken the news to Lillian yet, and retorts that she would not do Jessica's dirty work and tell Lillian the truth on Jessica's behalf.

Back at City Hall, Derrick Mayes has a conversation with Novak about upgrading the ports, although Novak decides to tell the longshoremen they would upgrade the ports without actually doing it in order to buy them time, much to Derrick's dismay. Derrick also informs Novak that the press is aware Novak's buses have been late again and are asking him for a statement, as Novak had promised that the buses would be fully electric by the end of the previous year and that nearly half of the old fleet is broken down or off the road. Novak tells Derrick to just write a statement on his behalf that doesn't make him look stupid before dismissing him, asking to have a minute alone with Keri. As they step inside the office, Novak asks Keri about the buses, and she replies that a man named Dennis Nivens is obstructing them as Novak did not give him the Lansing contract. Keri then assures Novak that she would handle the matter as she handles everything else for him, although Novak suggests that Jessica would be a better fit, as she ran a huge New York firm, has skills, free time and wants to be back in the field. Keri wonders how Jessica would be able to work for Novak if she has a lawsuit against the city, only for Novak to tell her that there is no longer a lawsuit. Keri is against it, mentioning that she was the one who had Jessica's license to practice law in Chicago removed and that Jessica had accused her of sleeping with him, although Novak merely replies that she should stay in her lane while Jessica stays in hers.

Jessica is in a car driving past a protest for the closing of Franklin, a Chicago public school whose closure has caused the residents to initiate a hunger strike, and tells her driver to let her out. She speaks with a woman, who informs her that twenty schools from other low-income neighborhoods are slated to close. Jessica asks why the local alderman has not fought to save the schools, although the woman replies that the alderman is a sell out who wishes to privatize. Jessica states that her protests will not cause her to get a seat at the table, prompting the woman to wonder who Jessica is, adding that she knows Jessica is not local. Jessica asks her what she would do if she said she worked for the mayor, and she replies that if she did, she would say Jessica and the mayor could both go to hell, stating that the mayor's child has a school to go to whereas if City Council has the low-income schools shut down, her child would not.

Jessica goes to City Hall, where Novak presents her with her own office. Novak tells her that she is late, to which she responds that it was because she was at a school that he was shutting down, only to have Novak respond that City Council is shutting down Franklin due to budgetary concerns. Jessica reveals that she has discovered that the alderman is Deborah Coates, whose allegiance Novak needs as Coats has very wealthy financial donors. Novak replies that Coates is an ally and a friend, and tells Jessica to instead handle the electric buses issues, stating that the lack of buses affects more people than whether Franklin High School remains open. As he leaves, he welcomes Jessica to City Hall, asking her not to be late again.

Novak then heads to a bowling alley to meet Pat McGann. He hands McGann the lawsuit, telling him he could rip it up, although McGann realizes the deal Novak made, adding that he hoped Novak made better ones during his time as a public defender, claiming that he had just given away the store. McGann berates Novak for bringing Jessica into City Hall, although Novak claims that if he hadn't, Jessica would have dug into McGann's finances and discovered that his dirty money came from the mayor's office. McGann adds that Jessica could find out more stuff about the two of them, only for Novak to claim that is why he hired Jessica and that he is merely keeping his enemies close.

Despite having agreed to handle the electric buses issue, Jessica waits for Alderman Deborah Coates outside of a restaurant, telling her that she should serve her community, explaining that she works on behalf of those on hunger strike to prevent the closure of the school. Coates explains that as a child, she grew up down the street from Franklin High School, but that her parents forced her to take a 21-mile bus trip to attend a magnet school, and that while she hated it as a child, it benefited her life, and that she is doing the same for her ward. Coates then adds that she is aware of every community organizer in the area and once again asks who Jessica is, and Jessica replies that she works for Novak and that Novak would not keep her in office.

Back at the mayor's office, Novak berates Jessica for ignoring her electric bus assignment and alienating one his closest allies. He explains that he wishes he could keep every public school open but that he has to make choices, and informs Jessica that if she can't do that, he'd be willing to sever ties with her instantly. Jessica then returns to her apartment, where she notices luggage. She asks Jeff if he is moving out, although he replies he is attending a RICO trial in Miami, despite the fact that he had initially declined the offer earlier. Jeff admits that he had volunteered and claims that he has to leave as he is cutting it close. As he walks out, Jessica states that she thought Jeff supported her; Jeff replies that he does support her, but that there are two people in a relationship, and that he had to look after himself right now.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Angela prepares for Imani's dismissal, explaining that she is not a nurse yet but rather a Certified Nursing Assistant, as she couldn't attain the education needed. Imani explains that Jessica paid her a visit the night before and is using her power to help keep the schools open, much to Angela's displeasure. At City Hall, Jessica visits Keri at her office, telling her that she drafted a lawsuit for the city to file against the bus manufacturer, although Keri explains that they have a relationship with the CEO lasting over a decade and that suing would bring attention to the fact that Novak's statement to have the buses working is failing. Jessica retorts that the way the office would deal with it would be to have endless lunches on the taxpayer's dime, to which Keri responds that it's a business relationship and that Jessica had much to learn how things worked at the mayor's office, prompting Jessica to wryly reply that Keri had much to learn about being a lawyer.

As Jessica leaves Keri's office, she encounters Derrick, who admires her work with the hunger strikers and offers his support. Jessica inquires as to who Derrick is, and he reveals that is Novak's press secretary. Derrick admits that Novak straddles the line on too many issues and that he is glad Jessica is here to push him in the right direction. Jessica tells Derrick that he shouldn't go behind Novak's back only for Derrick to reply that it would be good for Novak. When Jessica states that Novak would not see it that way, Derrick retorts that Jessica did the exact same thing with Alderman Coates, and that they should fight for the hunger strikers.

Keri, on the other hand, heads to Novak's office, complaining about Jessica's actions. Novak gives his support for Jessica, saying that he is glad Jessica is actually listening to the assignment he had given. Keri demands to know why he had hired Jessica, and he replies that there is a lot of dirty stuff he has to do and that it made Keri sick to kick out the people of the North Park neighborhood into the street just so McGann could construct a building, and that he values Keri too much to have her involved in the dirty side of things. He then approaches her, stroking her hair while admitting that it has been weeks since they've been together and that he misses her. However, Keri states that she has worked too hard to be seen as the girl who has slept her way to her position, and that since Jessica views her as such, she is reminded of that every time she sees Jessica. She then walks out of Novak's office, claiming it is ironic that Jessica is the reason they can no longer sleep together.

Meanwhile, Nick meets up with McGann in a secluded location. McGann hands Nick with the money he owed him to intimidate Jessica, even though Nick failed. Nick refuses the money, and McGann tells him to consider it as a retainer, telling him to do his job and inform McGann on what Novak is doing with Jessica. Nick refuses to spy and inform on Novak since they are brothers, only for McGann to retort that they are half-brothers and that Nick is the bastard half-brother that Novak would never publicly acknowledge as he cares more about his political future. McGann adds that while Novak does care for Nick, because Nick is not publicly part of the Novak family, if Jessica exposed them all, Nick would not be taken care of. McGann tells Nick that if he does not want to spy on her for Novak, to at least do it for himself, and gives him the money before departing.

Keri attends a charity event with Dennis Nivens, where he admits he was behind the bus mishaps. Keri inquires as to whether he was being petty as Mayor Novak did not get him to the Lansing deal, although Nivens claims that it was due to the supply chains. Jessica mentions a possible settlement, and Keri intercedes that she was merely discussing a possible expedition on the buses. Jessica then serves Nivens with a lawsuit, and while Keri attempts to salvage the situation by claiming that the mayor's office is not suing him, Nivens sees it as a good cop/bad cop deal and informs Keri that he still has many pending deals with her office. Realizing that she is trapped, Keri allies with Jessica's stance and tells Nivens that unless he starts honoring his contract with them, she would reconsider the deals her office has in place with him. As he walks away, Jessica commends Keri on her turn around; Keri asks whether Jessica is trying to humiliate her, although Jessica replies that she made Keri look better as Nivens now sees her as someone with a spine.

At the Cook residence, Angela returns home from work and talks to Lillian about Jessica giving false promises to the children in the ER about keeping their school open. When Lillian defends Jessica, Angela snaps at her mother, claiming that Jessica is all talk and that the sooner she realizes it, the better. At City Hall, Jessica pays a visit to Derrick, telling him that if he wishes to make a difference and help the hunger strikes, he would give her Alderman Coates' last three tax returns as well as her home address. Derrick asks if it's legal, as he does not wish to do anything illegal, although Jessica merely states that they are putting their money where their mouth is.

As Nick drives Novak back home, he notifies his brother that he met up with McGann earlier in the day. Novak insults McGann, claiming that McGann is trying to divide them, although Nick replies that he needs an ally and asks where he would be if the truth were to ever come out. Novak replies that he has looked out for Nick ever since he found out they were brothers and that Nick, as a cop, has received the detail every other cop in the city wants because they are family, adding that Nick is the one who chooses not to enter Novak's family home. As Nick remains silent, Novak informs his brother that he loves him before walking into his house.

As Keri heads to court, Jessica meets up with Nivens. Inside the courtroom, Keri is stunned to discover that she is no longer on the docket; when she inquires into the matter, the judge replies that someone from the mayor's office had settled the matter. Realizing it was Jessica, Keri ambushes her, claiming that her actions made her look incompetent in court and affected her reputation, only for Jessica to reply that she should have thought of that before having Jessica's license to practice law taken away. Keri replies that had Jessica disbarred because Jessica referred to cops as animals, which affected her as her father was a police officer. Jessica replies that she did not refer to cops in general as anything, but rather specific men who had done specific things. Keri tells Jessica that if she wants to come at her, she is more than welcome to, but that if Jessica goes after her department or any of the lawyer she works with, she would make Jessica's disbarment look like jaywalking in comparison to what she would do next.

At the City Council meeting, Coates rescinds her support for the dismantling of Franklin High School and announces her resignation as Alderman of the 54th Ward, much to the joy of those in attendance. Derrick reveals to Novak he was aware of this and gives Novak a statement to read. Returning back to Jessica's office, Novak mentions how Jessica went behind his back, and how Coates is now Vice President at Midwest Portage, the bus company. Jessica explains how Coates would make sure the buses went into production on time, thereby solving both the hunger strike and the electric bus issues, making Novak look good in the public eye. Novak reveals that he was the youngest alderman ever elected, at the age of 26, after having served for one year as a public defender. He explains that in his first month, he had tried to raise minimum wage to $7.25, admitting that it was half of what the minimum wage should be. After succeeding in his endeavor, he was warned by the oldest alderman what would happen if he bit off too much too soon. He adds that while Jessica is a smart woman, her antics affect his name and not hers, to which Jessica replies that this is new to her and that it would take her a little time to acclimate to the fact that she isn't the one calling the shots. She also adds that she believes Novak doesn't want her taking smaller bites, but that he had hired her as he needs problems solved. She asks him what McGann has on her, only for Novak to smile and tell her that she should paint the office walls blue before leaving.

Jessica heads to the Cook apartment, where she discloses to Lillian that she dropped her lawsuit in exchange for a job with the mayor, only for Lillian to inform Jessica that she had thought as much after Angela had lashed out about Jessica. Lillian, who has forgiven Jessica, invites her inside, although Jessica politely declines and leaves. Novak pays Keri a visit at her apartment, claiming to be worried about her as she had left work early. Keri states that she is not Novak's girl and that she is not sticking around to fight out whether Jessica would be replacing her or not, prompting Novak to reply that he doesn't care about who has power in the office, adding that Keri is the woman he needs. As Keri begins to say that his wife is the one he needs, he kisses her, and she responds by kissing her back. The pair then begin to take each other's clothes off as they continue kissing, while outside her apartment, Nick waits for Novak in the vehicle. Jessica returns to her apartment, where she smiles as she sees a bouquet of flowers with a message from Jeff that reads "I got your back." As she opens the box next to it thinking it is a present, her smile falters as she sees a folder from the Department of Justice containing the file and photos of the man who had gone up against Novak's office and ended up murdered. As she peruses through the photos, she sees one of Nick.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Major/Highlighted Events

  • Jessica Pearson begins working for Chicago mayor Bobby Novak and successfully ends a twenty-three day hunger strike as well as a public transportation issue.
  • Pat McGann implies that he, Novak and Nick D'Amato were revealed in something they are fearful that Jessica may find out about. Jessica receives a file from Jeff Malone belonging to the Department of Justice regarding the murder of a man who attempted to go up against Novak, which contains a police photo of Nick.

Cultural References

Trivia

  • Goddamn Counter: 4
  • The role of Keri Allen is recast, with Bethany Joy Lenz taking over for Rebecca Rittenhouse, who portrayed Keri in the Suits episode "Good-Bye".

Goofs/Inconsistencies

  • The City Attorney's office shown in this episode is not the same one shown in the "Good-Bye", which takes place the night before this episode.

Quotes

Jessica: I spent years doing nothing but making money and fighting to keep my name up on a wall. My life needs to be about more.
Keri: "Stay in her lane." She's not only out of her lane, she's swerving into oncoming traffic.
Novak: What happened?
Keri: What happened is that she waltzed into my office like Marie fucking Antoinette, telling me who and what to sue as though I were an associate at her law firm.
Keri: Think you know me so well.
Novak: I do, and it's not like you to run from a fight.
Novak: Oh, fuck you.
Novak: There's my girl.
Keri: No, I'm not your girl and I don't need you coming around here checking on me.

Gallery

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