‘Pearson’ 1×09 Review: How to Change the World

As Pearson’s “The Rival” so clearly showed us, it’s awfully hard to change the world. In fact, sometimes, it feels almost impossible. Especially coming from the place Angela is coming from, a place of being beaten down so many times, a place of feeling like you’re never enough to provide for your family. A place of desperation, and also, a place of pain.

Sometimes you feel like you need to put yourself out there, to make a big statement. Sometimes it feels like that’s all you can do to get someone to listen. Be big, be bold, go all out.

Is it, though?

Pearson doesn’t really take a side in this dilemma, mostly because Jessica doesn’t really take a side – she’s just there to fix things, one way or another – and we’re seeing everything from Jessica’s point of view, from the point of view of the people inside the Mayor’s office, good people who also want to change the world, they’re just using other tactics to do it.

And yet, at times, it feels Angela is being (and not just in “The Rival” either) – if not uncompromising regarding her beliefs, uncompromising when it comes to Jessica. No matter what she does, no matter what she offers, no matter how she behaves, it’s like Jessica can do no right in Angela’s eyes. And this show is called Pearson, so, at times, that makes Angela come off as a bit harsh, and not as the character you want to root for. Because, well, we all got our allegiances.

Of course, in this particular fight, we’re on Angela’s side anyway.

But probably only because the person on the other side is Mayor Bobby Novak. Maybe that was the whole point of the season. Maybe we were never supposed to like him. The show hasn’t really done much to make us see things from his POV. In fact, at this point, I think I like his wife, Stephanie, more than I like him, and I don’t even like Stephanie.

She should leave him, and so should Keri. Hell, they should run away together. They’d be much better together than either of them were with Bobby.

“The Rival” is proof of that, just as it’s proof of what works, what only mostly works and what absolutely doesn’t work in this show. Bobby and his love life go in the last category, along with every second of Pat McGaan. Angela, and the general existence of Bobby as the Mayor go in the middle ground – sometimes it works, but never completely, and never in a way that makes you want more.

Though I will give Angela this, despite the fact that she seems to hold every opinion that will piss off Jessica, she has much better reasons to be the character she is than Bobby.

As for what works …well, Yoli and Derrick, for one. Do I ship it? Hell, yes, I ship these two adorable, awkward nerds, who will probably take five seasons to admit they actually care for each other in a romantic way. Their characters also work separately, which is a relief, because it’s hard to fall in love with a couple when the characters are bland by themselves.

Keri also mostly works, when she isn’t with Bobby. And Nick, all anger, all repressed rage, all secrets, works because deep down, you believe he isn’t a bad guy. In fact, he works precisely because, from the start, we’ve all been thinking the exact same thing:

Is he covering for Bobby?

And, of course, Jessica Pearson works, as well as she needed to for this show called Pearson to work. She’s tough and she’s calculating and she’s still the biggest, baddest operator around, but she’s also caring, and gentle and so much more real than she ever was on Suits.

Growth, I tell you, growth.

So, the pieces are there. At times – like in the past few episodes – the show has managed to put them together in a way that not just entertains viewers, but touches them. Now let’s hope they can go out on top, and that we get many more seasons to fall in love with these people.

Things I think I think:

  • There were about 7 better titles than “The Rival,” I promise.
  • “Do not expect me to be a prop in your apology tour.”
  • Stephanie Novak didn’t come to play.
  • I really love Derrick calling out the Mayor.
  • “They are children”/”So was I, and your father, when they trained hoses at us in Alabama.”
  • Dang.
  • I mean, I want to agree with Jessica, but I get this. I do.
  • Keri is leaving? I did not see THAT coming.
  • “I figure you don’t need a title. You’re Jessica Pearson.”
  • God, Yoli, it didn’t even take you that long to just get her.
  • Jessica trying to protect Derrick is my aesthetic. They’re all family now. I don’t think that family includes Bobby.
  • Keri and Jessica dynamics might be one of my favorite parts of this season – surprisingly so.
  • The biggest, baddest operator around indeed.
  • Pearson Specter Litt is the ONLY name I recognize, too.
  • We all wished we had someone of Derrick’s integrity on our side.
  • You’re too pure, Derrick.
  • Don’t kid yourself, Yoli, you don’t got instincts, you’ve got opinions.
  • That isn’t a bad thing, though I still believe sometimes you gotta find a better way to express them.
  • You’re super unfair, and you’re make it so hard to like you.
  • “Don’t you dare try to hurt your neighbors because you’re angry with me.”
  • Look, I know I’m biased, but Jessica has a point.
  • But also, WHY is Angela even angry at Jessica? Any specific reason?
  • Oh, God, this is Carlos Salazar.
  • “I’m just gonna say this once: I admire you.”
  • No bigger compliment than that, really.
  • Did they …
  • Was that
  • I would really like Angela more if I didn’t feel she was doing about half of what she’s doing to get back at Jessica.

Agree? Disagree? What did you think about “The Rival”? Share with us in the comments below!

Pearson airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on USA Network.

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