Perry Mason recap: Paul Drake delivers a new clue with some serious bite
Perry Mason's third episode picks up the day after Emily Dodson is arrested at her son's funeral. A confident D.A. Barnes showboats before a crowd of eager press: “Justice for Charlie Dodson, the noose for his mother!” he exclaims while posing for the cameras.
E.B. Jonathan's putting on his own show while getting a clean shave. In a barbershop packed with reporters, the lawyer speaks to his client's innocence: “She was conned by some cons.” Della does need to help him, however, when he forgets some of his rehearsed lines.
Over at the Radiant Assembly of God, Sister Alice spins her latest sermon, the collection plates jingle with the generosity of her faithful congregation, and Perry Mason waits for a meeting with her holiness.
Following the service, Alice, Mason, and mother Birdy discuss former choir boy/deceased kidnapping co-conspirator, George Gannon. Alice — receiving an IV cocktail of “vitamins and saline” — is more interested in helping Mason find God than the kidnapper. “God left me in France,” he responds. The two exchange some playful barbs, but Birdy's all business. Turns out George, who helped the church with bookkeeping, was vetted by the Elders and had great references.
When we catch up with Emily, she's in her cell being coached by E.B. Her arraignment's coming up, and he wants to be certain she and Matthew look like a happy couple in the courtroom. All's going well, under the circumstances, until Mr. Dodson casually chimes in with, “Did you f--- him in our bed?” Things escalate quickly, and Matthew ultimately blames Emily for their son's death. The scene also introduces the prison matron, “Stone-face Barbara,” as E.B. affectionately calls her, who's tasked with staying with Emily at all times.
At the morgue, Perry and Pete bribe their chatty coroner friend for a peek at fedora-hat-man's corpse. Detectives Holcomb and Ennis have already been by to secure the deceased's personal effects, but the private eyes don't leave empty-handed. Upon turning the body on its back, they discover the throat-crushing injury that ultimately killed him. Over lunch, the two can't make sense of this fresh clue: if George was so ruthless, gunning a man down before “making applesauce with his Florsheim,” would he then kill himself?
While Pete looks into George's church-provided references, Perry pays a visit to Officer Paul Drake's commander. Unfriendly and uncooperative, he offers Perry plenty of insults and a single-paragraph report from the crime scene. Mason turns his attention to the secretary, who he butters up to find out where he can track down Drake. But the patrolman, who's busy writing parking tickets, quickly dismisses Mason. In the distance, dirty Detective Ennis watches their brief encounter.
At Emily's arraignment, E.B.'s feeling confident because he's “old friends” with the judge. But when the proceedings begin, he immediately embarrasses himself fumbling through his notes. While he's distracted, a despondent Emily pleads guilty under her breath. The packed courtroom goes wild, order is called, and the judge asks Emily to repeat her plea. E.B. presses her to say, “Not guilty,” but the damage is done and her bail is set at an exorbitant-for-the-time $25,000.
Later that evening, Pete's treating himself to a steak while annoying his fellow restaurant patrons with foul language. He's celebrating the results of his investigation into George's references. Before helping the church with their finances, it seems the god-fearing suspect was lending his accounting skills to the Lucky Lagoon Casino.
Meanwhile, Patrolman Drake's shopping for produce and enjoying a day off with his lovely wife — until Ennis shows up. Adding threatening and creepy to his list of unsavory traits, the corrupt cop touches Mrs. Drake's pregnant belly, insists on paying for their groceries, and suggests the officer not talk to Perry Mason.
Clutching a basket of goodies and traveling with a small choir, Sister Alice visits Emily in prison. She puts a sweater on Mrs. Dodson and assures her she's not alone. In trying to comfort her, she hints at her own troubled past, suggesting Sister Alice has some dark secrets of her own. But Emily still blames herself for Charlie's murder and says as much in the crowded cell. Chaos erupts, leading matron Barbara to accuse Alice of “inciting the populace.”
Mason's having a much better time, enjoying a “date” with his pilot girlfriend at the Lucky Lagoon. While his lady cleans up at the roulette table, he questions the casino owner about his former employee George Gannon. The P.I.'s thinking George may have met his co-conspirators at the casino, but his former boss describes him as “dull as dishwater.” In fact, George wasn't fired but left voluntarily when he found God. A discovery he apparently couldn't stop talking about through his “cheap dentures.”
The next morning E.B.'s prepping for the day, but something's amiss. The episode's already shown him off his game twice, and now he's staring at blood in his sink. He checks his gums for the source. Outside, Della beeps the car horn, then rings the doorbell. The lawyer is clearly distracted, staring at a hummingbird outside, but acts perfectly fine when Della finally lets herself in.
Perry starts the day by taking another crack at Paul Drake. He accuses him of kowtowing to the D.A. and being strong-armed into changing his report. Drake responds by escorting Mason behind a billboard and punching him in the gut, twice.
Ennis doesn't witness this latest encounter between Perry and Paul because he's busy visiting a whore house. Not for pleasure — this time — but to collect his take. Eyeing a light envelope, he threatens the madame with shutting down the operation. But she has her own warning to deliver. Pointing to a picture of George in the paper, she says, “Mr. Wu is not happy.” Ennis tells her Wu needn't worry. He looks worried, however, when she reveals Mason was sniffing around the Lucky Lagoon.
Mason brings his new intel on George to E.B. Perry doesn't peg the dead suspect for a “throat-snapping gunman,” but the lawyer doesn't care. He's only interested in whether or not Emily was involved, and getting her bail reduced. Their individual concerns come to a screeching halt when E.B. opens a letter. “I think we got fired,” he says while staring at the note.
Following his latest meeting with Perry, Drake's back home drinking and feeling guilty; not so much about sucker-punching Mason, but because the P.I. saw right through him. He confesses this to his wife and says he doesn't like Ennis having his claws in them. She balks, telling him not to risk his job, focus on his priorities, and keep his mouth shut.
Alice and Birdy are preparing for the day's service, an elaborate production that will find Alice as a passenger in a prop boat, saving sinners lost at sea. She attempts to convince her mother of Emily's innocence, saying, “God's testing us.” But Birdy wants to keep away from the “murderer among us.”
E.B. is also desperate to help Mrs. Dodson prove her innocence. Seeking financial help in the wake of Baggerly firing him, he meets with a former legal partner. Much like the “old friend” that determined Emily's bail, E.B. has similarly misjudged this acquaintance. Not only will he not loan him money, but he also holds him responsible for nearly getting them both disbarred back in the day. Whatever this shady history involved, it could bring them both trouble if D.A. Barnes does some digging. “I can save this girl,” begs E.B., but the acquaintance suggests he settle with a plea deal and be done with it.
Herman Baggerly is also good with throwing Emily under the bus. At his plush estate, he pushes his recently-cleared son to move on and let his wife take the fall. He lays it on pretty thick: “She laid with the man who murdered your son.” Still, Matthew's feeling his share of guilt, admitting he was “mean” to Emily sometimes. But Herman's looking to the future, recruiting his bastard son to help him build, “A city of faith, far from the corruption of L.A.” He lays blueprints in front of him for, “The Town of Girard.”
At least Emily has Della Street in her corner. E.B.'s determined assistant pays her a visit so she can sign a new retainer. But the officer at the front desk gives her a hard time and refuses to let her in. Street spies matron Barbara in the waiting area — not at her post watching Emily — and quickly does the math. She busts through the officer to find Emily literally having her arm twisted by Holcomb and Ennis behind closed doors. She scolds the two detectives, who look like puppy dogs that have just been caught defecating in the house. “You're all in big f---ing trouble!” she shouts.
After commiserating with Pete over getting fired, Perry exits a bar to find Drake waiting for him. The patrolman tells Mason the truth about the blood trail up to the roof, and how he altered the report at Holcomb and Ennis' strong urging. Paul then tells Perry he'll deny they ever had this conversation, before handing him a handkerchief containing the dental plate portion he discovered in the stairwell. The P.I. stares at the clue, “What is this, teeth?”
Back at the Radiant Assembly of God, Alice is putting on her show, rising from the floor of the fake boat, the “SS HELLSUPONUS.” As her congregation goes wild over her surprise appearance, she begins her sermon. But she has trouble focusing and starts hearing voices before collapsing.
Meanwhile, Perry and Pete race to the morgue, hoping to catch George before he's cremated. They arrive and begin checking toe tags. Pete's squeamish, but Perry threatens to tell his wife about his apparent numerous infidelities if he doesn't help. This spurs his partner into action, and they quickly find George on a slab. Perry fits the denture piece into the corpse's mangled mouth and muses, “Who killed you, George?”
As Birdy tends to her unconscious daughter, the church elders try to distract the audience. The press isn't easily fooled, however, as reporters hover over Alice, snapping photos and scribbling in their notebooks. They get a front-page scoop when Alice comes to. Smiling at her mom, she tells her not to worry about Charlie Dodson. She's received a message from God. As the screen fades to her faux ship floating in a real ocean, she whispers, “I'm going to resurrect him.”