Former attorney Jessica Pearson starts her new job, working for Mayor Bobby Novak of Chicago, and quickly finds herself thrown into a power struggle within the seedy and complex world of Chicago politics. She juggles Novak’s corrupt ways of governing, her ongoing rivalry with colleague Keri who is responsible for taking away her law license, and her strained relationship -- all while attempting to do what is best for the people of Chicago.
Welcome to the Windy City
A flashforward scene from eight weeks in the future shows Jessica shredding police photos and going off to meet an unknown man in the middle of a parking lot at night, before we return to the current time to see Pearson’s first day on the job at City Hall.
She argues with her partner, Jeff, before leaving the apartment. He does not support Jessica taking this job with the mayor because she obtained it by dropping a lawsuit she had against the him in exchange for the position, and therefore Jeff does not trust Novak’s intentions.
Jessica explains that she needs to take the job to be closer to the mayor, if she wants to revitalize her career. She stops at the local hospital to meet with Angela, whose mother’s case is how Jessica negotiated her new job, and promises it is for the greater good and that she will be more help to her mother and everyone else from inside the mayor’s office. Angela is disappointed by this news as Jessica leaves.
Pearson starts her new job
On her way to City Hall, Jessica notices a hunger strike on the side of the road. She learns from the woman leading the strike that the city of Chicago is looking to shut down Franklin Public School, leaving hundreds of kids without a school to attend. When Pearson makes it to City Hall and meets with Novak, she brings up the strike. He tells her to ignore it as there’s nothing he can do about the closure, as that’s a decision that’s up to the alderman, Debby Coates, and to focus instead on an assignment about electric buses.
She ignores what Novak says and goes to meet with the alderman and lies, convincing her that the mayor’s office will not support her if she continues to support the shutting down of Franklin. When she returns home, she catches Jeff just as he is about to leave to go to Miami for a new case. He leaves with their relationship in a rocky place, saying he needs to go and focus on himself for once.
Keri expresses concerns about Jessica
Meanwhile, Keri Allen, an attorney who works for the mayor, expresses her concerns about Jessica working for him. She fears that Jessica is power hungry and a threat. She believes Jessica for various personal reasons. Novak explains that it is better to keep enemies close, and that Jessica is only working for him so that he can keep her in check. Keri begrudgingly accepts this until Jessica undercuts her multiple times, first by going around her on the electric bus case and then, by embarrassing her when she shows up to the court room. When Keri confronts Jessica about this behavior, she admits that she is still bitter about Keri taking her license, and is out to prove herself, reigniting the feud between the two of them.
The End of the Strike
Novak finds out that Jessica approached the alderman and scolds her for going against him. He tells her that she is only allowed to work on assignments he gives her. Pearson states that she is nobody’s student and demands to know the truth as to why she is hired. She suspects Pat McGann, an old associate of both of them, has dirt on Novak and that he is planning on using Pearson to dig himself out of whatever hole he is in. Novak refuses to comment on these accusations and tells her to just do her job. Jessica however continues to defy Novak, pushing the alderman to the point where she publicly addresses the city council, saying she no longer supports the bill to shut down Franklin school and resigns from her position. This embarrasses Novak further as he was unaware she would be changing her opinion so publicly.
Mayor Novak’s secrets start to come out
After the council meeting, Novak goes to Keri’s home and assures her that Pearson will not come in between them and what they have. They have both been embarrassed by her, but he promises they have the upper hand and are in control and that everything he does, he does for her. The two begin to kiss, revitalizing their secret relationship.
Meanwhile, Jessica returns home to find a bouquet of flowers with the note “I always have your back” attached to it, presumably from Jeff. Along with the flowers is an envelope filled with police photographs, perhaps the same photos we see Pearson shred in the flash forward, of what looks to be a murdered man, Novak and his brother in shady places, and various other photographs that imply criminal activity. Novak clearly has a lot that he is hiding…