So much for the snapshot of the “Perry Mason” hearing confessions of yesteryear. In this climactic episode of the show’s first season, showrunners, Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, have permanently abandoned the definitive convention of the old “Perry Mason” series; it’s as if a remake of “Columbo” removed the whole track “One more thing …”.
What’s amazing is that the new “Perry Mason” doesn’t need those dramaturgical training wheels. Just watch this courtroom opening sequence, with its intense direction by Tim Van Patten, his passionate performance by Matthew Rhys – once again allowed to burst into rage – and his fantastic dismantling intervention by Hamilton Justin Kirk’s Burger. Attempting a bait and switch like this takes courage. To be successful, you need talent.
A strange thing to say, perhaps, about an episode that hinges on the relative lack of talent of its main character. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad lawyer; his closing argument moves his partner Della Street to tears, and he manages to get the lawsuit annulled for his client, Emily, whom he put at the helm (at Della’s request) at great risk to the case .
But quashing the trial is not the same as being found not guilty, let alone fully exonerated when the real killer is brought to justice. (Ennis meets his end at the hands of his partner and their vengeful associates, one last end to be tied up.) [expletive] about that lawyer thing, ”Perry tells his ex-partner, Pete Strickland. “You can have all the truths on your side, but if you can’t prove, if you can’t hold it in your hand, it doesn’t exist.
And while two of the jurors who suspended the jury came to their posts honestly, a third was bribed by Perry via his now former partner, Pete. Strickland ends up working for Burger, helping him bring down the surviving hierarchy of the Radiant Assembly of God rather than joining new Perry Mason & Associates with Della and their new investigator, Paul Drake, who is leaving the police in what is undoubtedly the best moment of well-being of the season.