Perry Mason recap: Perry gets his feet wet — and hands dirty — in the courtroom
Perry Mason: Season 1
With only three episodes remaining, Perry Mason is wasting no time putting its titular P.I.-turned-lawyer behind the defense table. But far from the seasoned investigator we got to know beneath the fedora, Perry struggles a bit to find his footing in the courtroom. Following a polished, powerful opening statement from D.A. Barnes, Mason stumbles over his words and literally chokes, coughing his way through much of his opening remarks.
Thankfully, the trial's second day goes much better for Perry Mason, Attorney at Law. Matthew Dodson's on the stand, reading one of Emily's lurid love letters to George Gannon aloud. While he plays the sympathetic cuckold during Barnes' well-rehearsed questioning, Perry effortlessly draws out his dark side. He calls Dodson out on everything from his gambling debts to his secret-millionaire-daddy. Matthew loses it on the stand, directing his anger at Emily: “I hope they hang you, you lying whore!”
While Mason's trying to make a case for Emily's innocence in court, Pete Strickland's still hunting for evidence to support it. On top of trying to find a connection between Ennis and the goons the dirty detective executed in episode 1, he's sniffing around George Gannon's residence. Digging through the deceased's mail, he discovers two un-cashed checks — paid by the Radiant Assembly of God to a mystery business coincidentally located at George's address.
Back in the courtroom, Barnes calls a surprise witness, a weaselly gentleman with an equally weaselly mustache. He's a hotel manager, bursting at the seams to tell the tawdry tale of Emily and George doing the deed in one of his rented rooms, while poor baby Dodson cried behind a closed door. The jury looks disgusted, Emily looks guilty, and Perry looks pissed.
But Mason holds his anger until later that evening at Sister Alice's house, where he unleashes it on Emily for neglecting to inform him of her liaison at the Star Hotel. The preacher scolds Perry for his harsh words but complements his performance in court. He responds by telling her not to attend the trial, as her presence and support aren't doing Emily any favors.
Mason returns to his home/makeshift law office to find mountains of evidence boxes, an intentional overkill response from Barnes to ensure Perry's team has “everything” going forward. At least Pete has some good news: He's made that connection to Ennis and Charlie's kidnappers — apparently they crossed paths in Denver, where the detective worked as a Pinkerton. He also shows Perry the suspicious checks, signed by Elder Seidel from the church.
The next day, patrolman Paul Drake takes the stand. He sticks to the detectives' phony report, confirming the crime scene blood trail led outside. He continues to lie, albeit more reluctantly, when Perry questions him. Mason notes the unusual length of the supposed 40-foot blood trail and the lack of pictures chronicling its existence. Per Pete's urging, Perry's also armed with one half of George Gannon's denture plate. He keeps his word to Drake, however, and decides not to reveal the incriminating evidence.
Mason and Della pay Sister Alice's church a visit to snoop through their ledgers and inform them of the checks found at George's house. The duo says Gannon was likely stealing from the church, possibly looking to pay it back with the kidnapping ransom. They also question a suspicious signature, “J.H.,” on the books used to record the finances of the church's many subsidiary businesses. While Perry distracts the defensive Elder, Della slips a ledger into her purse.
Meanwhile, at Drake's precinct, the patrolman's receiving a fat envelope of cash. Happy with how he performed in court, his corrupt commander is rewarding him. But Paul doesn't like feeling “owned,” so he heads to Perry's house with the other half of Gannon's false teeth. He pours his soul out to Mason over the fear he feels every day, then slips the dentures into Barnes' evidence dump. Mason's onboard with the ruse.
While Perry and Paul plot the introduction of this new evidence, Barnes coaches Ennis for his cross-examination. He grills him hard on the blood trail, being first on the scene of Charlie's murder, and — to Ennis' surprise — paying off the watch commander to get assigned the case. Ennis gets defensive, while Holcomb gets mad: “Maybe that's something you should have shared with your partner. Mason's gonna rip you a new a--hole up there!”
Back at Birdy and Alice's place, the mother and daughter are having a disagreement. Alice has secured Emily's permission to exhume Charlie's body for his resurrection, while Birdy has secured six suitcases — presumably filled with more cash than clothes — to make their inevitable escape. She wants to run, but the Sister plans on sticking around and accepting whatever “ruin” might come in the wake of Easter Sunday.
With Perry busy practicing law, Pete and Della have picked up his P.I. duties. The former's in Denver digging up the kidnappers' past relationship with Ennis, while the latter's at the department of city records requesting the church's “articles of incorporation.” As she pores over the documents, she discovers a real estate acquisition prepared by “Jim Hicks” (a.k.a. J.H.) Interestingly enough, Herman Baggerly is also listed as “Chair” for the business. Strickland's making progress too, finding a cranky old man who bears a scar from a scuffle with one of Charlie's kidnappers.
Out of the morgue and on the stand, coroner Virgil's a bit out of his comfort zone. When questioned by Barnes, he confirms the facts of Charlie's autopsy. This is just a formality, however, as the D.A.'s using his testimony as an excuse to disgust the jury with morbid photos of Charlie's corpse. Perry tries to counter this by introducing the dentures, but Barnes quickly calls a sidebar. The lawyers end up in the judge's chambers, where it's decided the new evidence is inadmissible. George Gannon's second autopsy is also tossed out. Perry cries corruption, to which the judge threatens him with disbarment and, perhaps worse, “Wiping his hind parts with his investigator's license.”
Fearing the fallout of his actions, Paul Drake sends his wife out of town. He puts her in a taxi destined for her aunt's house, where she'll be safe while he makes things right. Meanwhile, Mason's sweating the loss of his ace-in-the-hole evidence during a court recess. Thankfully, Della pays him a visit and perks him up big time with the juicy details of what she found at the city records office.
Back in the courtroom, prison matron Barbara is committing perjury, claiming she heard Emily confess to suffocating her son and stitching his eyes open. Barnes enthusiastically dives in and argues Emily is not only a co-conspirator but the murderer. The room erupts in chaos, order is called, and throngs of hungry press follow Emily and Della to their waiting car. Street tries to cheer Emily up, but the accused isn't worried in the least. She's convinced the D.A. will drop all charges once Sister Alice resurrects her son.
We next meet Ennis' lovely wife, who tells the visiting Detective Holcomb his partner can be found in the garage tinkering with his beloved automobile. But this is no social call. Holcomb demands the truth from Ennis, who offers a vague confession: “I got hired to do a thing. That thing went a little off.” Holcomb isn't happy. He shows this by taking a hammer to Ennis' car. He feels betrayed by his corrupt partner but also wants this whole thing squashed. If there's anyone left alive who can finger Ennis, Holcomb wants that rectified.
Back in Denver, Pete's continuing to score the goods. Upon finding the old man who had a run-in with one of the kidnappers, he digs into the city's accounting records. He's looking for the person who would've been responsible for paying this thug, as well as Ennis — in his Pinkerton days — for whatever shady jobs they were doing. With plenty of help from a foulmouthed bookkeeper, he discovers the man with the checkbook is none other than Elder Seidel.
Armed with Della's discovery of the church's dirty real estate deal, Perry gets back to his investigating roots. He hits the road — berating himself in a mock E.B. Jonathan voice while driving — to seek out the mysterious J.H. When he arrives at the address printed on the deed, he knocks on the door and states he's looking for Jim Hicks. Out comes a man in overalls, shotgun at his side: “You that Dodson girl's lawyer? I've been waiting for you to find me.”