Pearson (S01E09) “The Rival”

The Rival


The penultimate episode of Pearson’s season 1 pushed the characters to the limit fans expected they would eventually reach. Keri is in search of a job that would distance her from the mayor. Nick is ready to come forward with the murder haunting him. Angela proved she could never stand on the side and let her community suffer on its own. Whether you agree with the choices of these characters or not, the fact that they have made them, doesn’t come as a surprise, but rather as the most logical accumulation of everything that has happened throughout this first season.

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

While the mayor made a deal with a corporation much unwelcomed in Chicago, for the sole purpose of making up to Mcgann, the people Angela and her family used to share their building with were now forced to live on the street. The previous episode showed Jessica alone in her apartment again, and this one dealt with the aftermath of that loss. As I continue to find Angela’s blatant dismissal of Jessica’s willingness to help rather obnoxious, not gonna lie, it was her mom, Jessica’s aunt who agreed to meet up and discuss why they had left in such a hurry. They were now indeed living in front of the city hall building, in order to get the attention of the mayor, whom simultaneously just agreed to have a big corporation build on the grounds of their previous homes. This is where Jessica comes in, and the ultimate Jessica vs Angela begins. While there were a million chances for these two throughout the course of the season to work together and find a solution that would ensure the people now on the street had a home, this episode showed why It would have probably never worked out. As well intentioned as Jessica is, and her fight for them this season showed as much, she still works for the mayor, and thus: comprises have to be made.

While Angela sided with an outside politician aiming to run for the mayor in the next election, and use this tragedy to give himself a voice, Jessica and Keri (Truly love how this duo developed) tried to find a middle ground for everyone. What I enjoyed most about that, was the way their collaboration showed the level of respect these two have acquired for each other, considering the rocky start they had. While their work amounted to a temporary, but effective solution for Angela’s community, she was not willing to accept it, and in the end, took the ultimate step of distancing herself from Jessica. They aren’t going anywhere and they aren’t going to compromise. Full stop. This sort of committed activism is something that was clearly part of who Angela is since the first episode. While I have found her character to be complex, and in many ways inspiring, I do wonder just how much, in the world of dirty Chicago politics, this unwillingness to work with the one person on the inside that had her back will pay off. My bet is, if Pearson wants to preserve its aura of realism and truth, the ending for this community in season 1 won’t be one that Angela, and ultimately Jessica too, hope for.

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

While I have stated in many reviews for this show so far, that my thoughts on Bobby and Keri were conflicted and I couldn’t decide where I stood on their relationship, whether it be the complexity of this “stereotype” or the well executed chemistry between the two, I think the show now pushed me in the right direction. Sometimes it is the fact that you can create a very strong one sided stance on a situation that makes good writing, other times it is the ability of the writing to stir you there at the right moment. And this was for sure the case here. It is clear that Bobby is caught in the middle of a toxic, unfair situation, where not only is he stringing along Keri, he is also blatantly disrespecting his wife. While his moral compass clearly isn’t strong enough to put an end to both, it was Keri then who started to reconsider her choice and search for a job outside. Which really, if you think about it, is a shame because she has proven to be nothing if not a forceful city attorney. However, it is also the reality of such relationships, where regardless of who holds the power within it, Bobby is the mayor and if one was ever going to have to give up everything and pay the price, it would be her. Sigh. Keri’s dilemma then becomes a very human one: going from public service to working for a corporate law firm is not just changing jobs, it is changing a state of mind and a purpose. From the second she started contemplating this decision, I felt as though it was time for her to seek out Jessica and get her advice… so I am really glad she did. And everything Jessica told her is exactly what I thought. Letting go of a job, could ultimately always fall short of letting go of a person you love. While there is no doubt that the feelings Keri has for Bobby are real, I think I felt confident in saying that regardless of what her professional choice will be, it is time she lets go of that relationship. Keri deserves better, and maybe that consists of her staying at this job and letting go of the man. Realistic? Who knows.

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

The major overarching sentiment of this season, despite the push to the extreme remains: “It is not about the job or winning, it is about doing the right thing”. While it remains to be seen whether Nick will come forward in the final episode, and risk everything for not just himself and Mcgann, but also Bobby, there are other aspects of the show that have been tied well together in this installment. Joli and Jessica are as precious as ever (“You don’t need a title”), Derek and Joli are now the most non-problematic and soft ship on the show (still don’t know how I feel about it tho, I had major brotp vibes…) and Jessica comes out on top as the biggest, baddest operator in town indeed. Regardless of how the season finale ends, I hope that the show gets a chance to say even more. The characters have now become people you can love,  hate, relate to and question. The plot is original and reflective of the real world. And the questions they reserve for the finale (and probably season 2 if the show will get it) are important ones to answer. Here is hoping next week is just a season finale.


Pearson returns for the season 1 finale next Wednesday at 10/9c on USA Network in the States. In Africa, you can catch it  at 21pm on TGE.