Warning: this post contains spoilers for Sunday Perry Mason final season.
We have a verdict in Perry Masonthe big event of the season, and this verdict is… no verdict.
After an emotional turn on the witness stand for Emily Dodson and a moving closing statement from Perry, the Emily murder case ended in a canceled trial when the jury could not reach a verdict . (Pete paid one of the jurors to vote ‘not guilty’, but two others voted that way anyway.) Emily was free to hit the road with Birdy and preach that her baby was resurrected – even though she was. knew the new baby wasn’t. Charlie – While Pete was off to work for Hamilton Burger, Ennis got his desserts just when his partner Holcomb drowned him in a fountain, and Perry and Della started their own business, with Paul Drake as an investigator. Oh, and Perry found Sister Alice working at a seaside restaurant, and they said life doesn’t wrap things up in a pretty arc for you. (Kind of like this show.)
TVLine spoke with creator / executive producer Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, who co-wrote the finale with Kevin J. Hynes, to find out why Emily’s trial ended the way it did, the very real one. chemistry between Perry and Sister Alice (you saw that too, right?) and the process of winning over skeptical fans of the original series – plus they hinted at what we might see in Season 2.
TVLINE | Emily’s case ultimately ends with an overturned trial. Did you play around with different scenarios for the final, maybe even a “not guilty” verdict?
RON FITZGERALD | In.[[[[Laughs]
ROLIN JONES | We weren’t quite ready to think that one man could blow up so much institutional power. The suspended jury seemed to be the one where we thought, “Oh yeah, well, that’s a huge win. And sort of suggesting they’ll never try again… it was about as much popcorn as we could swallow, I think.
TVLINE | Emily ends up traveling the country with Birdy, telling people the baby is hers when we all know it’s not. Is this the closest thing to a happy ending that we would expect to see for her?
JONES | Man, when you say that like that, it sounds like real dark holes, doesn’t it?[[[[Laughs]
FITZGERALD | It’s just sad. The poor girl was so bitten by the system… I guess there is a measure of happiness, but at what cost? The cost of rationality? She’s so lost that she needs so much to believe in something, and someone gave her a chance to believe it was her child, so she jumped on it. I think it relates a little more to the theme of faith that we were in: Sister Alice’s faith, Nathan’s faith, and what you put your belief in.
JONES | What we were thinking is that any viewer is going to have a drastically different opinion of where she ends up in the story, and I think we just wanted … a happy ending or no happy ending, we wanted an ending that would haunt and it would stay with you for a bit. Whether you felt bowled over by this ending or were okay with it, it seemed like you wanted to live in cloudy, ambiguous soup.[[[[Laughs]
TVLINE | Well, speaking of “cloudy and ambiguous soup” you left us with a number of unanswered questions, like what exactly happened to Charlie’s grave and body…
JONES | Ah, life.[[[[Laughs]Isn’t that so? I don’t know if this was done consciously, but the Perry Mason who had such a big hit – and we have a lot of admiration for that – delivered a really good piece of pie to the audience at the end, in minute 59 every week. And I think from the start, in our conversations with everyone involved at HBO, no one wanted that. So something that can stay with you and stay with helps you a bit, because you haven’t gotten all the answers to say, “OK, what’s next?” At the very least, it was a dramatic strategy.
FITZGERALD | And everything that has happened in the last few months has been a crazy time in history… an ending tapping would just sound like a lie. The truth is, people’s religious beliefs are monetized. They’re militarized and monetized, and it’s the same with people’s racial ties. It just seems like the world we are in today, an ending would be so vile.
TVLINE | Perry meets up with Sister Alice at that seaside dinner, and they have this great conversation about faith versus evidence. Did I feel a romantic spark between these two? It made me want to see more scenes between them.
FITZGERALD | Boy, you know, that was something I really wanted to do personally. It’s just kind of never found a landing spot this season. But I always felt like it wanted to happen, you know? And if we had had three more episodes, it probably would have been.
JONES | Yeah, that’s the danger of putting two very charismatic and attractive people together in scenes. They could talk about a fucking phone book or a shoe, and that chemistry could be there.
TVLINE | You’ve made some big, bold choices with this reboot, and some longtime fans of the original were turned off at first. How did you manage to honor the Perry Mason legacy with creating something fresh and new?
FITZGERALD | Yeah, well, once HBO does, you can throw ‘Crime of the Week’ out the window, right? None of their shows do. Certainly we have never sought to destroy anyone’s love for Perry Mason with Raymond Burr. These things still exist. Everyone is free to go and watch them. I don’t think either of us saw the point in trying to just redo them. So it was like: How do you do a 1932 black for a modern world? How do you try to make it relevant? And at the same time if you read the beginning Perry Mason books, he does a lot of detective work and no forensic stuff at all, if at all. He was a very investigative lawyer.
JONES | Yeah, I think one of the first tips for doing an origin story was, “Dude, that guy does a lot of f-king detective work to be a lawyer!” “[[[[Laughs]And we were like, “Oh, I wonder, did he go to law school first?” Or maybe he had another job? There was a lot in these books that led us to some very simple and obvious choices. And when we signed up for the gig, we knew there was nothing we could do that wasn’t going to alienate the hardcore fans. It’s your favorite show, you’re going to sleep with it, it’s been this beautiful thing. I think what’s been encouraging is that for those who stuck with it, once we started grabbing lawyers, I think you might see us convincing some of those people. You can start to see a conversation about, “Oh, maybe that’s a lot more respectful than it first appeared.” And it has been gratifying.
TVLINE | Congratulations on the renewal of Season 2. But you got into that thought that it would be a limited series, right? So did you have to modify anything to create more seasons?
JONES | I mean, we built the story where we got the Super Friends together, you know what I mean? So we’re putting the three core members as far as possible and bringing them together, which may work satisfactorily for a limited series or something to come. But the more you go ahead and direct the story, the more things you’ve thrown in and the more you’re like, “Oh, wouldn’t that be cool if…? This is only part of the fertilizer that happens when you build a story and then around the second half of it you start writing down relationships and little plot points, whatever. ‘one of the two cops that doesn’t die or Hamilton Burger… you start to suggest that there are tentacles ahead.
FITZGERALD | We deliberately wrote the beginnings of the first book, so that it was there. The door is right there. All you have to do is open it.
JONES | Yeah, that penultimate scene is literally the first two pages of the first novel. We did bow down to the throne of [book author] Erle Stanley [Gardner] early on, and want to be incredibly respectful. And Erle Stanley, he was an aggressive guy. He wrote aggressively, at least at the plot level, and I like to think that given the settings and that it’s HBO and stuff, we did something like the kind of thing he would have done, if he had been here and now.
TVLINE | Can we expect Season 2 to follow a long case again? Will it be this client who entered at the end of the final?
FITZGERALD | We usually look at the novels to use them as a starting point… We weren’t sure there would be a second season or anything, but we knew we wanted to start in these books. So it will be in the books. We are looking to use a few books in different ways. I guess I would sort of compare it to [Benedict] Cumberbatch Sherlock thing, where you can kind of see Arthur Conan Doyle DNA in there. It’s not Basil Rathbone![[[[Laughs]
TVLINE | Shea Whigham is as awesome as Pete Strickland, but he ends up working for Hamilton Burger. Will we still see him in Season 2, right across the aisle?
FITZGERALD | Oh yes, Strickland will be back. He’s across the aisle, but he and Mason have that connection, you know. There will be things to chew on.
TVLINE | Are there any other clues you can drop?
FITZGERALD | I’ll tell you this: John Lithgow asked if there was going to be the ghost of EB in season 2. There won’t be.[[[[Laughs]No EB ghost This won’t happen.
JONES | When you die Perry Mason, tumors.
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