[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Perry Mason, Season 1, Episode 1, “Chapter 1”]
There’s a superb probability you discovered your manner right here as a result of HBO’s prequel collection Perry Mason simply debuted on the premium channel, and you’ve got questions. Rest assured that we do, too. But so far as the premiere episode “Chapter 1” is worried, we will a minimum of present some solutions. So whether or not you want a rundown of the key characters, the actors who play them, and their half to play within the story thus far, or in the event you simply need to know what’s up with that child, you’re in the fitting place.
Perry Mason, the brand new prequel collection from Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones, takes viewers again to early 1930s Los Angeles. Based on characters created by writer Erle Stanley Gardner, the collection follows the origins of American fiction’s most legendary legal protection lawyer. But when the case of the last decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the reality reveals a fractured metropolis and, simply perhaps, a pathway to redemption for himself.
When we meet Mason (Matthew Rhys), he’s not a sophisticated legal professional, however relatively a low-rent personal investigator who resides check-to-check, haunted by his WWI experiences in France and struggling the consequences of a damaged marriage. His solely pal on the earth seems to be Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham) who’s employed by Mason as an additional set of eyes on his varied investigations. But that’s not the place this story begins.
Perry Mason kicks off with a high-stakes ransom case: The Dodsons — Matthew (Nate Corddry) and Emily (Gayle Rankin) — discover themselves the victims of kidnappers who’ve taken their one-year-old child Charlie hostage. Despite Matthew being a grocery retailer proprietor of modest means, with Emily as a stay-at-home mom, they’re in a position to put collectively the $100,000 ransom in alternate for Charlie’s secure return. Except that once they rush to the streetcar the place child Charlie has been left, they discover him fairly lifeless… together with his eyes stitched open to look, from a distance, as if he’s alive. And that’s the place Perry Mason really begins.
We get an excellent shot of LA icon Ptomaine Tommy’s restaurant, possible placing us within the Lincoln Heights neighborhood (the place you may pay 40 cents for two coffees and toast in 1931). Mason meets up with Pete, who’s busy studying a pulpy serial within the newspaper. They’re trailing a relatively massive film star, Chubby Carmichael (Bobby Gutierrez), on the orders of a film studio boss. Chubby’s solely transgression seems to be popping right into a theater to observe one among his personal films, however Mason and Strickland, tailing him in Mason’s household dairy truck, quickly observe him to a home crammed with sick reputation.
Turns out Chubby is into getting utterly bare, masking a girl in meals, and consuming it off of her. This is HBO, in any case. (Or maybe he reserves this explicit therapy for his co-star and up-and-coming Hollywood starlet, billed merely as “Red.”) What sort of meals? As Mason places it later: “Pumpkin pie, I understand.” Mason snaps just a few covert photos but it surely’s not lengthy earlier than a unadorned, long-donged Chubby will get smart and chases after him down the road. Later, Mason tries to extort the studio boss for extra money than they agreed upon since now he additionally has lewd photos of their up-and-coming actress, too. However, the person who employed him should run the request up the chain to his way more highly effective employer.
We quickly get to pay a go to to Mason’s household dwelling, an outdated dairy farm that’s been cut up in two by an airplane runway. He’s pressured to recite a password (in Spanish) to the gate guard who blocks his manner, a recurring gag between the 2. Once he’s dwelling, the more and more raveled Mason is visited by Elias Birchard “E.B.” Jonathan (John Lithgow). E.B. is a struggling legal professional and a semi-regular employer of Mason who presents the chance of a lifetime to the Private Eye, but it surely stays to be seen if he’ll take it (and if he’ll put on a pleasant go well with and a tie with out an egg stain on it).
The subsequent day, Mason heads into city for a court docket appointment and in addition to examine in on E.B.’s alternative, after a quick stopover on the metropolis morgue. Mason chats with Virgil Sheets (Jefferson Mays), a morgue attendant who’s envious of the lifetime of a personal detective and, as such, recurrently provides Mason entry to our bodies (and their private results, like a brand new tie). Stowed in Virgil’s chilly storage cabinets is a closeted cross-dressing man who drowned whereas carrying girls’s underwear, and, after all, lifeless child Charlie.
Decked out in a brand new tie, Mason takes the stand in a court docket case, through which an legal professional brings up his “blue ticket” discharge from the navy and his prior costs of assault in different instances; that is about all we get of Mason in a courtroom this episode. Soon after, he joins Della Street (Juliet Rylance), E.B. Jonathan’s artistic and pushed authorized secretary; collectively they head out to fulfill with E.B. and the person who employed him, Mr. Herman Baggerly (Robert Patrick). A significant participant in quite a lot of Southern California industries, he’s a member of the identical Pentecostal church because the Dodson household and hires E.B. Jonathan and Mason to run a parallel investigation to the LAPD’s personal look into the kidnapping and homicide case.
After their assembly with Baggerly, the trio heads to the Dodsons the place the LAPD detectives are interrogating Matthew. Mason leaves the illustration of their purchasers to E.B. and Della whereas he explores the remainder of the home, taking covert photos, and gathering intel from Emily Dodson. Back on the places of work of E.B. Jonathan & Associates, the trio breaks down what they know in regards to the case thus far. But Mason has extra essential plans on his thoughts.
We subsequent meet Lupe Gibbs (Veronica Falcón), a pilot and hard-drinking proprietor of a speakeasy who engages in a marathon intercourse session with Mason in his brother’s mattress in his household dwelling. They get pleasure from some Mezcal collectively. Lupe makes him a suggestion to purchase the property, and it’s not the primary time she’s completed so. Mason declines, and he or she declines to remain the night time.
The subsequent day, Mason roams town and continues his investigation, speaking to native cops and folks on the road, taking photos all of the whereas. He learns that the Dodsons waited in a close-by resort room on the orders of the abductors, so he breaks into it to search out proof, solely to search out Detective Ennis (Andrew Howard) and Detective Holcomb (Eric Lange) there as a substitute. They tough him up slightly bit, however half amicably sufficient, every sharing slightly info with the opposite. Mason’s investigation continues again on the morgue as he pays Virgil (and the native corrupt cop within the facility) for entry to Charlie’s physique; he retains a bit of the thread that was used to stitch the child’s eyes shut as proof.
It’s now New Year’s Eve, and Mason and Strickland are attending a Hollywood social gathering partially in order that Mason can get his payout from the studio boss. We be taught right here that he’s desirous about the vacation that he may have been spending together with his younger son Theodore “Teddy”, who presently lives together with his mom after her separation from Mason. While the social gathering rolls on, Mason palms over his photographs to the studio boss, who admits to as soon as being a type of bandit. However, as a substitute of the promised $600, Mason solely will get $1, together with a burning gun barrel to his chest for his hassle… Strickland is probably much more upset than Mason at this flip of occasions, as his accomplice clearly overplayed his hand and underplayed his toughness, robbing them each of a major payday.
Meanwhile, at an undisclosed meet-up room, a trio of criminals await their very own promised payout. Among them is the tall, fedora-wearing man with a mustache whose likeness has been displayed on the entrance web page of all native newspapers as a serial little one killer. Before lengthy, Detective Ennis reveals up with the briefcase stuffed with the ransom cash. However, the briefcase is empty, which Ennis makes use of to distract the trio lengthy sufficient to shoot all of them. But whereas Ennis is brutally crushing the throat of the fedora-wearing man together with his boot, one other injured legal escapes to the roof. Ennis follows him, solely to observe the person try to leap to the following constructing over, miss the ledge, and fall to his demise on the steps far beneath…
Back at Mason’s dwelling, he’s feeling sorry for himself, and Lupe isn’t into it, so she leaves him to wallow in his distress. He drunkenly destroys the toy hearth truck he purchased for Teddy earlier than sinking to the ground to look over the proof gathered to be able to resolve the case of child Charlie’s kidnapping and homicide.
Drunk Perry Mason: “There’s a Black Angel out there … with long fingers…”