WARNING: CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS. “I’m fighting for a woman’s life!” screams Mason late in episode 7, which is a pretty good indication of the stakes on display for him this week. While last week’s episode hit with a sufficient bang, this week packs on even more surprising twists and turns. What I didn’t expect was exactly how much is packed into this penultimate episode of the season. From Mason’s continued battle in the courtroom, the background on Sister Alice and her battle against her former church elders, Paul Drake’s side investigation and Emily Dodson’s slip on reality deliver on the thrills. Though there is one moment late in the episode that I see as solidifying why this is one of the very best shows on TV right now.
This single episode is a perfect example of something I have discovered ever since I started reviewing television and film. HBO is the pinnacle of what cable programming is and what it can be. With a show like "Perry Mason," it could’ve been incredibly easy for both cast and crew to treat it like a standard “procedural.” Instead, they treat it like an eight hour film putting their audience front and center with all of the drama. Some may consider that essentially as audience manipulation, but in actuality it's a redefinition of what it means to be a show like this. In large part that is due to the talent on display amongst this impressive ensemble of actors.
Even with gushing over this cast in past reviews, I just want to stress how this cast truly makes the most of this material. In this episode there is a lot that’s being juggled, from investigation to business intrigue—we get a lot of pieces filled in with solid set pieces. In particular, there is a rather funny and exciting scene in a brothel that was much more entertaining than I expected. Then moments later, we shift to the tone of Mason struggling with what pressures this case brings in the courtroom. It’s a fascinating dichotomy into the types of struggles these characters are facing. It’s also a huge kudos to the talent behind the camera (directors, writers, producers) as to how seriously they handle the material.
“Perry Mason” has been an interesting thing to recap each week as my first ever weekly television review. It’s a show that most assuredly wants to explore the very different and complex angles of murder mystery, detective story and religious strife that no show like it has explored before. What makes this episode work as well as it does is just how serious and unflinching this case has affected the people around it. From simply becoming better people, to possible ideas of reincarnation, there’s a lot of ideas to latch onto. While it has been renewed for a second season, I can only hope that it is as strong as this second half. Seven episodes in and I can only hope next week’s finale goes out with the bang it's promising.