“The Former City Attorney”
Politics are about compromise, and even more often, they are about the other side think that they aren’t compromising, but rather, simply doing what is best for everyone. “The Deputy Major”, episode 1×04, introduced that notion, when Novak was out of office for a few days, leaving Keri in charge. In his absence, the Deputy Mayor saw an opportunity to push for a project he has been wishing to do for a while: get a street named after Fred Hampton, a known fighter for the rights of people of color. While that idea sounds perfectly noble and achievable in theory, it was due to police brutality that Hampton was killed, and thus, moving forward with this project would cause problems with the police department. After forcing Derek to string the deputy mayor along and give him false hopes about the project, Keri finally spoke to him face to face, and made him realize that in this situation, there was no scenario in which the mayor and him would both get what they want… and shut his efforts down. A great way to shed light on how even the simplest of projects may be hard to actualize, when they are about the rights of those marginalized. Before Keri walked away, the deputy mayor left her with some food for thought: which side she wants to play for, long term? Those harming or those being caused harm to?
This appears to be the big question for everyone this season, not just Jessica, as the fifth installment showed, also for Yoli and Keri. With the already iconic flashbacks (some of the best Suits episodes) we got to learn more about the inner conflict Novak had on his path to becoming the mayor, his relationship with Keri and further understand the role they had in each other’s present-day success. 5 years ago, the now successful city attorney took on a case, under the wing of her mentor, where a mother was suing the city for faulty trains which caused her son’s injury. At first, Keri was sure that she was taking care of the situation with best interests of everyone in mind, but soon she realized that the city was not willing to compromise, when the mother revealed to her that she asked for inspections that never happened. Suspicious of the situation, Keri approached her mentor, who brushed it off, further alarming her about the circumstances of this case. Still trying to pave her way towards success in the public service, Keri was conflicted about whether she should stay shut or intervene. This is where Bobby comes in, the flashbacks showing that their flirtatious, complicated relationship actually goes way back, and it was ultimately the role of the other in their professional life that brought them to where they are today. Bobby was the one to bring forth the issue Keri discovered, and in the process also became the mayor of Chicago (with the endorsement of Pat McGan and other white riches of the city, politics at its peak). As one of his first moves, in order to repay her for her hard work and the diligence in the aforementioned case, Keri was named the city attorney. Her mentor, as consequence, was fired, after years of public service.
What I most appreciated about the flashbacks, is that they showed both character’s moral conflict and the way pure compromise brought them to their positions today. Neither got there simply by following all the text book steps, they both got to the top by making hard choices, together nonetheless. While I am personally still unclear as to where exactly I stand with their relationship (it is just soo… complicated and Keri deserves the world, amen), I do think that the complexity it continues to receive makes it interesting to follow.
Now flash forward to present day, the said case was back to haunt them, when the mentor came back to seek revenge and be compensated for the hit in his reputation. Keri came to Jessica and asked for help (I love how this relationship is growing), which then promebted the latter to learn about all the above – further deepening her understanding, not just of Keri or the mayor, but their relationship with each other. What the case brought up was the insinuation about the typical political office romance usually seen on TV. Keri was accused of sleeping her way to the top, because of Bobby’s implication in the case and the way she was trying to make sure to protect him. However, the truth we were privy to seeing through flashbacks was perfectly summed up by Jessica herself. After calling up an old friend (The Harvey and Jessica bromance is still so real, and where is my petition to rename ANY city to “Pearson” ??) and ensuring Keri’s old mentor will get a second chance (away from Chicago and mayor’s office), she said: “I never should have questioned how you got your job. Truth is Bobby is major because of you and nobody knows it. I wish they did”. Don’t we all? While people (and I bet some viewers too) were fast to assume that Bobby helped Keri get to the top, it was, as this episode showed, more like the other way around. And there comes what makes this relationship more interesting to watch, and NOT your typical political office romance.
The flashback episodes, when good, serve the viewers to create a more wholesome and well-rounded understanding of the characters and their relationships. For its firs episode of such kind, Pearson did a great job. Not only did the flashbacks connect directly with the present day conflict facing Bobby and Keri, but they also parallel well with the compromises Yoli and Derek, for example, and in many ways Jessica too, are still learning to accept and work within. If Pearson is renewed (and I really hope it is), I am looking forward to seeing more of these glimpses into all their pasts.
Pearson returns for 1×06 this Wednesday at 10/9c on USA Network in the States. In Africa, you can catch it starting August 8th at 21pm on TGE.