Sunday, June 28, 2020

REVIEW: 'Perry Mason' - Perry Remains Haunted by His Past While Suspicion Surrounds Emily and Matthew in 'Chapter Two'

HBO's Perry Mason - Episode 1.02 "Chapter Two"

Following one of her sermons, Evangelical preacher Sister Alice offers the Dodsons the church's full moral and financial support. During a routine domestic intervention, beat cop Paul Drake is rerouted to a gruesome crime scene, where he follows a confounding trail of evidence. Perry is left incensed by a jaw-dropping admission from Baggerly and, after pressing Emily on her husband's alibi, finds himself confronted by an outraged Della. Detectives Holcomb and Ennis use Drake's findings to their own advantage.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Perry Mason.

"Chapter Two" was written by Rolin Jones & Ron Fitzgerald and directed by Tim Van Patten

After two episodes, it's clear that the narrative has foregrounded the suffering and misery of these characters. It paints a bleak world so that it can potentially end in a more fulfilling and rewarding place for them. Right now though, it's a lot of grim overtones. Some of the big twists aren't all that surprising. Matthew is arrested for conspiracy to commit kidnapping because a witness comes forward to say that he was home when his son was abducted. And yet, it seemed fairly obvious that Emily was keeping a secret. It turned out to be an affair with the man who successfully ran away from Detective Ennis when he decided to take out his fellow co-conspirators. He survived a jump from a building only to then put a shotgun in his mouth when he got home. It was an action taken out of remorse. It's clear that Charlie was never suppose to die. All of this may have just been an elaborate way to extort money out of Baggerly. He is also revealed to be Matthew's father. That explains why this family was targeted in the first place even though it wouldn't be reasonable to assume they could get their hands on this kind of money. It's easy to look at both Emily and Matthew with suspicion. They kept secrets. But they aren't the most vicious people in this world. They were desperate and sought out pleasures outside of the home. Della notes that Emily having an affair doesn't mean she is automatically capable of murder. In the moment, Perry doesn't want to listen to her. Afterwards though, those words do fill his mind as he starts to look at every angle of this case. He has the right instincts to follow Emily around and uncover the secrets she has been keeping. The legal team makes the decision that Baggerly is the client and protecting his son has to be the priority. E.B. also figures that the case against Emily is thin. He can easily win just like he did in proving Matthew's innocence. He operates with that certainty. He isn't the one leading the narrative though. The cops are the ones who push whenever they feel like it. They don't think they have to properly notify E.B. of the charges against his clients. He is pushed out of the process because Maynard Barnes is the district attorney hoping to make a splash quickly with this case. It's all about these personal agendas and the need to present as commanding in maintaining order in this town. Perry can't make that argument. He is simply a private investigator trying to get the details E.B. can use to manage this case. The narrative is careful in depicting who is allowed to wield power in this world. E.B. and Maynard spar for control. Meanwhile, beat cop Paul Drake is forced to go along with a cover-up simply because his opinion and expertise is dismissed because of the color of his skin. He is the first officer alerted to the murders in the hotel room. It's a gruesome scene. He puts the pieces together and knows he has to continue investigating. That may only create further drama though because the people in command don't want their power to be challenged by someone they don't believe deserves it. It's horrifying because it highlights how some people are trusted even though they are inherently corrupt. Ennis controls every aspect of this investigation. Perry is angry that Baggerly kept secrets from him. Perry does the exact same thing. He is traumatized by what happened during the war. The action depicts him killing his fellow soldiers out of mercy. He wanted to give them a quick death instead of the agony of their likely fatal injuries. That haunts him. His actions carry real consequences in the outcome of this case. However, he isn't the one blowing it up into a major display of community suffering and a need for justice. The media plays a significant role in that. The police force and district attorney's office put their value in embracing a harsh and swift punishment. And Sister Alice swells the emotion of her congregation to ensure the public is just as invested in what happens next. These forces attack and influence one another. All of that hopes to create a satisfying outcome. The truth is much more murky than that. Della sees the humanity within Emily. She has complete clarity that she isn't a killer. Someone sowed Charlie's eyes shut though. The pursuit of those answers needs to be at the forefront of the action. That is the passion that should fuel everyone. But it's unlikely that pursuit will be consistent and respected amongst this ensemble that largely looks at each other with skepticism because of the societal pressure of needing to look down at others and only see the possible motivation for the worst humanity has to offer. It's complicated while still trying to find common ground of compelling mystery and engaging personal drama.