HBO’s Perry Mason: Chapter Five Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of HBO’s Perry Mason, Chapter 5, Mason (Matthew Rhys) and Della (Juliet Rylance) clean up the mess that E.B. (John Lithgow) made with his fatal choice while Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) deal with the benefits and consequences of her latest outcries.
After shutting all the windows and doors and turning the gas leak all over his house, Della discovers the horrifying truth that we already knew from last week – E.B. has killed himself. In order to not lose the insurance money and keep his name strong, Della calls Mason and the two staged his death to appear more like he died in his sleep rather than committed suicide. It’s an incredibly somber sequence as Della and Mason deal with losing someone so close to them in a pivotal time and see how distant E.B. was from everyone – including his own family. While Della and Mason think that his funeral is going to be filled with support, it ends up barely having a pulse itself. E.B.’s brother Byron (Ian Lithgow) tells them about their lack of connection to him and how they didn’t even want to bring other family members because they didn’t even really know him, or it just plain wasn’t worth it. It makes it even harder to see him go and causes major ripples in Della, Mason, and Emily’s (Gayle Rankin) case.
Mason is silently hurting over the death of his mentor and father-figure and it leads him to return home to visit his ex-wife Linda (Gretchen Mol) and son Teddy (David Nichols Jr.). Although Linda is hesitant to let him in at first because he’s drunk, she lets him see Teddy after hearing that E.B. is dead and seeing how much it is hurting him. The moment of Mason and Teddy hugging is very simple and carries a lot of emotional weight because you can see how much it means to Mason. The good vibes don’t last for long though as he and Linda get into an argument about their failing relationship and Mason being an absentee father. It’s great to get more of Mason’s past in this pivotal turning point for the series and it fleshes out why Mason is so distant – or rather why Linda doesn’t want him around. With Mason being a snoop and getting his nose punched in twice a week, he doesn’t attract the best kind of attention or people. It makes sense that he has to stay his distance and him coming around like this – drunk and unannounced.
Della isn’t holding up much better as she has to deal with new obstacles in the form a new lawyer on Emily’s case named Frank Dillon (Matt Malloy). Frank is really the most replaceable lawyer ever as he just hawks Della for everything E.B. had on the case and is totally incapable of helping Emily – mostly because he’s on Maynard’s (Stephen Root) payroll and is telling him everything about their case. Thus, Della is in some serious need for a new employer and someone to believe in. While it would’ve been cool to see her maybe take the reins of the case and have Mason back her up, the time period simply wouldn’t have it and she doesn’t have the same notoriety in the legal system that Mason, regardless whether its good or bad, has. After a very impassioned speech about how the legal system is screwing Emily over and how Maynard is making a case based on suspicions and doesn’t have a single shred of evidence proving Emily did anything, Della gets an idea.
She hires Maynard’s election rival, Hamilton Burger (Justin Kirk), to coach Mason to pass the bar and become Emily’s defense attorney. With Mason now becoming a defense attorney, like he usually is, we might actually see him turn into the Perry Mason we’re all used to seeing and maybe even grow a stronger relationship with Linda and Teddy in the process. Before he can though, he must get the approval of Emily and her new guardian – Sister Alice. After telling the world that Charlie will be resurrected on Easter, Sister Alice finds both the acclaim and hatred she expected to see. While some still call her a blasphemous whore outside of her church, others have sent money and enough to help Emily make bail. We don’t get much more of it other than some relationship building and Emily having complete faith and worship of Sister Alice as she has another captivating service where she helps a wheelchair bound man walk again. Regardless, what’s important about all of this is that they accept Mason’s help and it sparks a new working relationship between Mason and Sister Alice.
We also get more of Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) this week as he’s still debating about whether or not he should work with Mason to see that justice is served. When we first catch up with him, we see him at church with his wife (Diarra Kilpatrick) as a debater gives a strong sermon about how their community needs to stand up to the abuse and racism that keeps them down and that not doing anything won’t change anything. While her friends seem to be inspired by what the debater said, Drake’s wife isn’t hearing it and believes that it’s better not to rock the boat. Drake reluctantly agrees, but the two experience something that changes their mindsets. While on a casual day on a “Coloreds Only” beach, they are kicked off by a white police officer for no reason other than the color of their skin and Drake’s wife begins to understand her husband’s frustration. Even for Drake being a cop, a damn good one, he is truly powerless and is humiliated when the cop simply waves him off like he’s nothing. Chalk makes the rage and frustration that Drake feels palpable and with his wife’s permission to “do what he’s got to do,” maybe we’ll see him and Mason finally team up.
This week, we see Della and Mason deal with the loss of E.B. as well as find the inspiration to take Emily’s case for themselves and possibly bring us the Perry Mason we’re used to. Not to mention, Drake seems to be ready to take charge and see justice be served, so we could see everything and everyone coming together as Emily’s trial grows near.
I loved so much this episode. I was sorry for EB, of course, John Lithgow is wonderful, but we get to see how Perry becomes a lawyer and it was awesome.