WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. Chapter 7 is arguably the show's penultimate episode with the most packed reveals, episode 8 ties up the loose ends. As the Dodson trial comes to its climatic end, this finale did something I did not expect. While the whole season has essentially been an homage to the genre, this episode does one thing I would not expect. This episode essentially subverts the expectations of what we expect for a procedural finale. I won’t go as far to say that there are story surprises in this episode, the way events occurred really surprised me.
The thing that made this episode stand out is how the big reveal of getting detective Ennis on the stand took place. In normal cases, (even the original Mason series) he gets the perpetrator on the stand, boxes him in a corner and wins the case. Here we have that big twist with Mason screaming “I’m not done yet!” as Hamilton Burger (Justin Kirk) reveals to the audience that this is a hypothetical situation. Everything that we just witnessed with Mason and Ennis was merely an idea of how he wants to play it. It’s a clever story choice on parts of creator’s Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald to upend what we expect as an audience. For me personally, this is one of the stand out moments of the season.
I don’t want to necessarily spoil what happens in the Dodson trial, but I will say that it doesn’t play out as expected. In a show that has followed a narratively safe method, this episode takes a lot of chances. I consider this being a finale that shows how the show has modernized itself. By making the finale unpredictable, it changes just how this sort of story becomes fresh and exciting—even in the case of someone like Sister Alice and her supposed “resurrection” of Charlie Dodson last week.
One of the most particularly interesting episode elements is what occurs with Emily Dodson. After the result of the case, which I won’t spoil, her arch is the one that surprised me the most. In her after trial visit to the Radiant assembly plus her later involvement with them, it is something you wouldn’t expect. Gayle Rankin (who plays Dodson) was in my eyes, one of the most underrated performances in the season. There is a humanity to her even when she was accused of the absolute worst crime imaginable. What happens to Emily makes the overall story have a sadness and even a poignant nature to it. That quality is also struck with a rather hopeful ending for Mason and Co.
As this finale hits its closing minutes, the classic version of Perry Mason has become the classic people know. As Mason and Co. take over E.B’s office it could be argued that it is an incredibly euphoric and rewarding moment for fans who've watched from the beginning. Perry Mason is a show that finished a lot stronger than it started but it was never a fault of the cast. The procedural moments were interesting, but it’s getting into the details of these characters that took the cake for me. Since the show is renewed for a season two via HBO, I can’t wait to see what happens next. With its warts and all I would have to give season one of Perry Mason a 4/5.