“Who tells the truth anymore”, said with a sarcastic wit by John Lithgow’s E.B. Jonathan, the resident employer of our down on his luck private investigator Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys), and whose words have a big effect on Mason in this second episode of what is becoming a very intense and gripping piece of television.
Following the sensational and shocking murder of infant child Charlie Dodson, Mason has committed to discovering the truth at what is behind this shocking crime and it’s here with this episode gains its focus. Chapter Two of Perry Mason moves the action forward quickly and deliberately, and both of the parents of Charlie Dodson and Rhys’ Mason is charged with investigating just how each of them could be involved with the death of Charlie. Plenty of shocking twists and turns await with this one, and it’s an episode of television that certainly keeps you edge the entire time.
One of the more interesting parts of this episode is how Mason’s investigation leads him to the Radiant Assembly of God and into the arms of its leading preacher Sister Alice McKeegan (Tatiana Maslany). Sister Alice is a fearsome woman of grand vision and fire, and there’s a fanaticism about her character that gets under your skin and certainly frightens you. She’s a character who claims that God speaks through and her words cut deep at the soul of the tortured Mason. Praise must be given here to actress Tatiana Maslany’s committed performance, and as this series is only likely to dig up even more drama and secrets, I’m fairly certain she’ll have a very large role to play.
Chapter Two is also extremely important to the legacy of Perry Mason in that it introduces us to the very important character of Paul Drake (Chris Chalk), an African-American beat cop who discovers the conspiracy at hand, but who is fighting an unwinnable war against racial prejudice and inequality and who cannot battle the corruption around him alone. Chalk is whip-smart as Drake, and he’s deductive in his reasoning and can see that a larger, more dangerous scheme is at play. While he’s still yet to run into Rhys’ Mason, you can sense that the stage is being set for these two to join forces together as they delve ever deeper into this dangerous conspiracy.
This second episode of Perry Mason very much centres on the nature of truth and Perry’s obsession and drive to find it. We might only be two episodes into this eight-part miniseries, but it’s readily apparent that Mason has a defined moral code and he’s willing to stick to his guns no matter the outcome. Part of this is driven by the trauma he witnessed in the Great War and the lasting consequences of lingering PTSD that he can’t rid himself off, nor of the unspeakable acts he had to commit in the trenches to stay alive. It’s this experience that drives him to do right in this world, but it leaves him with a very heavy conscience.
We’re moving quickly with Perry Mason and ‘Chapter Two’ is a real eye-opener when it comes to the character and motivation of our series’ hard-boiled hero.
Catch Perry Mason on Mondays on Neon and SOHO.