Martin Carr reviews the seventh episode of Perry Mason…
There is more at stake here than the soul of a dearly departed child. Shocking secrets are being revealed in the past and present as Sister Alice remembers, before taking matters into her own hands. Mason has a meltdown and Officer Drake joins him while Pete Strickland walks away after one balling out too many. Smoke bombs cause chaos, radio broadcasts are interrupted and community faith is tested as embezzlement casts a long shadow on Church business.
In a word Perry Mason is becoming an endless web of deceit, double dealing and sleight of hand which may end up costing Emily Dodson her life. Emotions are running high and as this thriller continues to deliver twist after twist with subtlety and panache it demands your investment. Elsewhere gender politics and matters of orientation are interwoven over dinner and light conversation, before feelings run high on the court room steps.
Inherent shades of grey make this series enthralling because honestly no one is truly innocent. Officer Drake might be fighting societal racism but he operates within a crooked system, Maynard Barnes also manipulates the law for his own ends, while Mason has permanent red on his ledger. Corruption is not only encouraged but expected in a judicial system which is open to bribery, favouritism and political influence, while tradition keeps the progressives in check.
Prohibition is rife, brothels do good business and authorities turn a blind eye with the right amount of financial kickback. Belief is the only thing these characters cling to but even that is tainted with unsavoury acts, barely remembered underage transgressions and eternal damnation for at least one person. This old fashioned hands to Jesus approach and whodunit style of murder mystery is one of many strengths which Perry Mason exploits.
Matthew Rhys and company have breathed life into a story which feels authentic, refined and pitch perfect in period terms. As big business is implicated, Mason punches holes through the prosecution case and others meet an untimely end we are fast approaching a final reckoning. In those final moments bloodied and broken Sister Alice runs from her mother and the public eye, as this series gears up for either a hell fire finale or Saturday matinee cliff hanger. Either way tuning in is no longer a choice; it’s a requirement.