|Season 1, Episode 1|
|Air date||October 21, 2011|
|Written by||Farhad Safinia|
|Directed by||Gus Van Sant|
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Listen is the first episode of the first season of Boss. It is the first episode of the series overall. It was first broadcast on October 21, 2011 and drew 0.66 million viewers. It was written by Farhad Safinia and directed by Gus Van Sant.
After the discovery of a serious medical condition, Mayor Tom Kane must set things in motion for the upcoming gubernatorial primary while attempting to reconnect with his distant wife and estranged daughter.
Mayor of Chicago Tom Kane is devastated when he is diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a progressive degenerative disease that will slowly destroy his mind. He resolves to keep the news secret and to stay in office to secure the legacy of his political career. He backs away from his crony Governor McCall Cullen to support young and ambitious state treasurer Ben Zajac to replace Cullen. He takes Zajac to the City Hall roof gardens, ensuring that their meeting is publicized and sending a message to Cullen.
Kane attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter Emma. She avoids his calls, engrossing herself in work as a priest at her church and volunteering at a free medical clinic. However, she relapses to substance abuse after meeting a sweet young man involved in drug dealing named Darius Morrison.
Work on Kane's redevelopment project for the city's O'Hare Airport is halted when an unpopular cemetery relocation project uncovers ancient Native American paintings. Kane is furious when the construction firm owner Moco Ruiz announces the news on television instead of communicating through his alderman Lalo Mata. Kane hauls Mata over the coals for Moco's mistake, seizing him by the ear and berating him to listen. Mata ensures that the shit rolls down hill and has his men slice off Moco's ears to prove to the mayor that he listens. Kane meets with Native Americans and pledges to preserve the find in a museum.
Kane's wife Meredith has concerns of her own - she controls funds for school improvement with the Mayor's backing and a publicity event goes awry when journalists notice concealed mold at a supposedly much improved inner city school. She warns the corporation responsible to get their act together because the bad publicity reflects poorly on her and the mayor.
Meredith accompanies Kane to a Latino Association dinner where he receives an award. Mata forces Moco to deliver his ears to Kane during the dinner, innocuously gift wrapped. After the dinner Kane's key aide Kitty O'Neill begins an affair with Zajac.
Reporter Sam Miller is tipped off about Kane seeing neurologist Dr. Ella Harris and attempts to question her. He gets nothing but their meeting is noticed by Kane's staff, who have been tailing Miller. Kane authorizes a gentle warning to be delivered to Dr. Harris through his Chief of Staff Ezra Stone. Stone's man uses a neuromuscular blocker to paralyze the doctor as she goes to pick up her son from a little league game and delivers a chilling reminder of her oath, terrifying her.
Kane is troubled by worsening tremors and uses Stone's contacts to obtain anti-Parkinsonian medication illegally. When he returns to his home he opens his gift and attempts to destroy Moco's ears using his garbage disposal but only manages to break it. He has an icy exchange with Meredith and then retires to his (separate) bedroom.
The following named, recurring characters are introduced in this episode:
- Tom Kane - Mayor of Chicago, newly diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia.
- Meredith Kane - Kane's estranged wife. A powerful political force in her own right.
- Emma Kane - The Kane's daughter. A priest, free clinic nurse and recovering addict.
- Ben Zajac - politically ambitious Illinois State Treasurer.
- Kitty O'Neill - Kane's key aide.
- Ezra Stone - Kane's chief of staff.
- Sam Miller - Chicago Sentinel reporter writing a piece on Stone.
- McCall Cullen - coarse Governor of Illinois.
- Darius Morrison - a kindhearted drug dealer.
- Dr. Ella Harris - a neurologist treating Kane.
- Alderman Ross - an influential city council member and frequent opponent of Kane.
- Ronnie Moretti - Kane's press secretary.
- Alderman Lalo Mata - a latino city council member and Kane loyalist.
- Moco Ruiz - a construction firm owner in Mata's district.
- Mike Bosovic - Chief Executive Officer of scientia, a company working with Meredith.
- Ortiz - a latino politician.
- Dilip Singh - Cullen's key aide.
- Max Harris - Dr. Harris's son.
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