SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details from the HBO season 1 finale episode Perry Mason.
It’s a mystery and the court goes wild.
As rich and exciting as this Noir series of the Great Depression was with sublime acting all around – especially the twist of Matthew Rhys as the lawyer back from PI who overcomes many for his demons and mediocrity with his “eureka”! discoveries – Perry Mason the case which killed child Charlie Dodson was very long.
Of course, we were not entirely convinced that Emily Dodson (Gayle Rankin) was completely innocent.
However, through the various holes of the Byzantine rabbits explored by Mason, his way Friday Della Street (Juliet Rylance), and his investigator sidekick Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham), our title character revealed that the Radiant Assembly of God was to blame. for the kidnapping of Charlie, with Detective Ennis (Andrew Howard) orchestrating all the murders, considering Elder Seidel (Taylor Nichols) of the church. The church was in debt for $ 100K, a perfect ton to redeem baby Charlie with; his father Matthew Dodson (Nate Corddry) son of Herman Baggerly (Robert Patrick), a wealthy benefactor of the Radiant Assembly.
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While the late 5050s-early ’60s Perry Mason The TV series was known for the cases of the characters winning the title by inciting stories from the witnesses on the stand, at the beginning of tonight’s episode we learn that there will be no such thing in this HBO reprint. Mason imagines overthrowing Ennis and connecting him with all the players in God’s radiant Assembly. We think it’s a real court scene, but it’s just Mason training Della and Hamilton Burger (Justin Kirk; a character in the original series is the lamination of DA and Mason). Burger breaks the course of Mason’s upset day, sternly advising “no one ever confesses on foot”.
The best course of action, according to Della, is to let Emily take a stand and hopefully let her sympathies penetrate the jury. Emily tells them a tale of how George Gannon snatched her legs from a horrible marriage. However George dismissed her by calling Emily the night Charlie was abducted. Sadly, she would never kill her baby. “I have only had one love in my life, and it was not Matthew, it was not George, it was my son. He was my heart,” she tells Mason and the jury while he was standing.
Mason settled the case, telling the jury that he also wanted revenge for Charlie’s death when he began his investigation.
“If I were to think for a second that Emily Dodson was guilty, I would walk her to the gallbladder myself,” Mason tells the jury. A trowel ensues, but as we learn later, it helps when Strickland has paid one of the lawyers.
Too often with HBO drama series, whether by David Milch, Terry Winter, or David Chase (Perry Mason is co-created by Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones, ex Westworld co-EP, the latter a Empire of the Board co-EP with Timothy Van Patten serving as mason EP and the director of two episodes), the tendency, and consequently the surprise, is to deliberately not play what the audience wants and wants in resolving a season. Anyway, tonight’s season finale serves us a nice piece of red meat and dessert, and that’s when we see the bad guy, Ennis (Andrew Howard), come down. While Mason is able to get a good kick at Ennis out of court, after all, it is the latter’s partner Detective Holcomb (Eric Lange) who has strangled him at the source of a mission in California.
Meanwhile, Emily joins the remaining members of the Lord Radiation Assembly, now led by Sister Alice McKeegan (Tatiana Maslany)’s mother Birdy (Lili Taylor). Emily drinks their juice, playing along with their shame that they really raised Charlie from the dead, even though she knows it’s not hers.
And in tying everything up in a perfect bow, tonight’s season finale went so far as to tell us what happened to Sister Alice after she escaped the clumsy stunt to lift Charlie from the dead (his empty coffin during reopening its). Mason, thanks to the findings of Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) (who has left the police force and is now working for Perry), traces sister Alice down to the coastal mission town, where she is working as a waitress. Just as suffocating on occasions as was the case with Charlie Dodson last season, what gave Perry Mason a greater dynamic was the scene of the Sister Alice story and as a church based on the faith of supposed healers shook the city. The whole plot of Sister Alice was inspired by Sister Aimee Semple McPherson, a Canadian Pentecostal evangelist in the early 20th century who pioneered the use of religious service radio and even used stage techniques in her weekly sermons at Angelus Temple. Sister Aimee even disappeared, claiming she had been abducted. Just as the temple was preparing a memorial service for her, Sister Aimee returned, and her return to LA then attracted 30k-50k people, larger than President Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 visit to the city.
Mason tells Sister Alice that he knows what came down: that the church was involved in the kidnapping of Charlie Dodson, that Ennis joined a crew. Mason still has questions about how the baby’s body was removed from his grave.
“A child was killed to support your church … can you see this and still believe?” Mason asked Sister Alice. She still believes in the power of God, while Mason lost all hope of this when he fought in the Great War.
“Did you really think you could bring Charlie back?” he asks him.
“I did, right?” replies Sister Alice running away.
While some critics have complained that the HBO series does not pay much homage to the original Raymond Burr show, it capitalizes where it can on some iconic characters and cases in the IP created by Erle Stanley Gardner. Therefore, for anyone wondering where season 2 is going (HBO just got it thanks to the fantastic ratings), the creators of the series do not let us guess. A new client, Eva Griffin, went to Mason’s office tonight. Says Della about her “She is a woman who claims to be Mrs. Eva Griffin. She looks weak to me. I looked at all the Griffins in the city directory. There are many Griffins, but not Eva.”
The character is from Mason’s first mystery in Gardner The case of velvet claws, in which Eva Belter (aka Griffin) is captured in a photo leaving an illegal gambling club with a politician. Fearing that she will be blackmailed, she asks Mason for help, but it seems dishonest and tries to incriminate him. Her murdered husband is blackmail. In the book, Della calls it “all velvet and claws.”
Cue Fred Steiner’s Perry Mason themed song.