Perry Mason season finale recap: The end of Emily's trial is just the beginning
Perry Mason: Season 1
With just over an hour remaining to wrap up the season, Perry Mason's final episode hits the ground running. Following baby Dodson's botched resurrection, mother Birdy is mobilizing the troops at her estate. As a doctor stitches up a wound she sustained at the cemetery, she orders multiple men in suits to scour the city for Alice, Elder Seidel, and Emily. Without missing a beat, she cradles and quiets the crying “miracle baby.”
Meanwhile, Emily's in Della's bedroom nursing the shiner she got for her troubles at the cemetery. No longer consumed or distracted by the possibility of Charlie rising from the grave, she seems more focused and level-headed. She's made peace with the fact she'll likely be found guilty. The mourning mother just misses her baby and wants to know where his body has disappeared to.
Her trial is also hurtling toward its conclusion...or so it seems. Ennis is on the stand, getting grilled by Perry. We see flashbacks of all the dirty detective's misdeeds, from grabbing Charlie's ransom money to staging Gannon's suicide. But it's all a fake-out. We're only seeing what could happen in the courtroom, as Perry and his team are actually rehearsing the cross-examination in his living room. Paul Drake's role-playing as Ennis, but Hamilton Burger is insisting Mason will never get a confession out of the crooked cop.
The savvy deputy D.A. suggests that Perry not call Ennis to the stand at all, but rather rest the case on the proof that the church's debt equaled the requested ransom. This safe strategy wouldn't put Ennis behind bars, but it would raise enough reasonable doubt to free Emily. Della has a different idea. She wants Perry to put his client on the stand, arguing that Mrs. Dodson's in a better place, mentally. Mason tears into Street, attacking her personally and coming off like a real a-hole.
The next day, Perry meets up with Pete Strickland. He brings the foulmouthed P.I. up to speed on the case, detailing how Charlie overdosed on the prostitute's tainted breast milk. They also conclude that Elder Seidel is likely face down in a ditch somewhere. Mason informs Strickland that he's just about out of moves but has one play left that could save Emily. He offers his disgruntled former partner a sorta-apology, then asks him to carry out this mysterious job for him.
Flashing back to the day after Christmas, we're given a look at what happened the evening Charlie was kidnapped. Emily's holding her son, waiting for her husband to come to the dinner table. But Matthew Dodson's got business/gambling to attend to. He storms out behind a slammed door, while she smashes his dinner plate on the floor. She then gives Charlie a bath before reading him a bedtime story. As the baby drifts off, the phone rings.
It turns out Emily is recounting this story from the stand, telling Mason what unfolded that night. The call was from George Gannon, who phoned to distract her while the kidnappers abducted Charlie. She also paints an unflattering picture of Matthew, claiming he was an unkind, absentee husband and father. In her affair with George, she claims she found the love and affection that was missing from her marriage. She tells the jury she had nothing to do with the kidnapping or death of her son.
But that doesn't stop Barnes from trying to convince them otherwise. He digs into the defendant, discounting her sympathetic story as desperate lies. He focuses on her affair with Gannon, reminding the court the two had sex in a motel while her baby cried from an adjacent room. He ultimately gets her to admit Charlie would still be alive had she not gotten involved with George, who hatched the misbegotten kidnapping when he realized her father-in-law was Herman Baggerly.
On the courthouse steps, a well-dressed man cuts through the swarming press to slip Emily a note. Meanwhile, Mason's being taunted by Ennis for not catching baby Dodson's killer. Perry slugs the detective's very punchable face, leading Holcomb to come to his partner's rescue. The detective threatens Perry, then tells him he'll see him at Emily's hanging. Ennis flicks a lit cigarette at Perry for good measure.
Mason's evening doesn't get any better. While preparing his closing, his former girlfriend brings him a bottle of booze and $7,000 to close the deal on his house. Perry threatens to slow the sale with litigation, then offers her a kind “f--- off.” At Della's place, Emily is enjoying dinner and opening the letter she received from the mysterious man outside the courthouse. Inside the envelope is a card with a baby's footprint stamped on it.
The next morning, Perry's delivering his impassioned closing argument. He puts himself in the jury's shoes, saying he wants justice — and vengeance — as much as they do. He's empathetic, stressing he'd be the first one to hang Emily if she were guilty. Ultimately, he stresses that her having an affair does not make her a murderer. Surprisingly, Barnes keeps his closing short and sweet, spinning the same old broken record about Emily's infidelity.
While waiting for the jury's decision, Della brings Perry a sandwich. He apologizes for being a jerk to her earlier. On top of making up, the two playfully discuss the possibility of working together after Emily's case concludes. The jury finishes for the night without reaching a verdict. Paul Drake, on the other hand, is making some definitive moves. Specifically, he marches into his corrupt commander's office — after missing his last five shifts — and puts his badge, gun, and bribe money on his boss' desk. 'Nuff said.
After five days of deliberation, the jury comes to a decision. They're deadlocked. A mistrial is called.
As a satisfied smile stretches across Mason's mug, Barnes scowls. But the D.A. lets out more than a grimace outside, where a member of the press questions him about losing the trial. He gets in the man's face and says he intends to retry the case. He also claims the outcome won't affect his possible mayoral candidacy. Mason, meanwhile, plays faux disappointment for the press, preaching the unnecessary abuse his client was subjected to.
We next catch up with Strickland, who's finishing up that errand Perry sent him on. He's meeting with one of the jurors, delivering the second installment of an agreed-upon payoff. To Pete's surprise, though, it was all for naught, as two other members of the jury were also holding out.
That night, Perry and crew are celebrating their victory with cake at Della's place. But Pete passes on the sweets in favor of a serious sit-down with Mason. He informs Perry he's going to work for Hamilton Burger as the deputy D.A.'s lead investigator. His first case will involve the Radiant Assembly of God's shady finances. Perry is not pleased.
Emily ditches her own party to visit Birdy. Turns out the infant-footprint note is an invitation to meet the “miracle baby.” Mrs. Dodson cradles the child while commenting that his size and eye color are different than her boy's. She knows it's not Charlie, but her maternal instincts still kick in. With tears in her eyes, she gives the baby her deceased son's plush turtle toy.
Emily may be free and moving on, but Perry Mason's not done with us yet. The episode's final 20 minutes offer a satisfying montage, tying up pretty much everything else. We see Strickland on the stand, testifying about the “crooks” at the Radiant Assembly of God. We also find Perry's former flame entering his house, discovering a note in the now-empty bottle she'd gifted him: “The price was fair. Look after the cows." Then we see Birdy — apparent leader of the new “Holy Church of the Reborn Babe” — preaching from a small, outdoor stage. Emily, wearing a snow-white dress and flowers in her hair, sits beside Birdy, cradling the baby. “I knew that he was my son, delivered from death,” she says to the believers stuffing contributions into pails being passed around.
At E.B. Jonathan's old office, “Perry Mason” is being painted on the door. Inside, Della is negotiating with her boss. She agrees to continue handling secretarial duties until they get on their feet, but she wants to become a lawyer — with Perry footing the bill. She envisions “Mason and Associates” becoming “Mason and Street.” While a client waits outside, Perry also receives intel from his new investigator, Paul Drake. It's an address for a diner in Carmel, Calif. When they finally invite the client in, she introduces herself as Eva Griffin. “I'm in trouble,” she says. With a grin, Perry replies, “You've come to the right place.”
We next see Detectives Holcomb and Ennis on the grounds of the Lucky Lagoon. They're bantering with the casino boss and collecting their take. As Holcomb divvies up the cash, he tells his partner that his family will be taken care of if anything ever happens to him. Then a man forcefully pulls a sack over Ennis' head and drags him into a fountain. It ultimately takes three men to drown him. Holcomb takes Ennis' badge and cash off his dead body, then offers him an apology, “Sorry, Joe.”
Finally, we catch up with Mason, who's made his way to that diner in Carmel. While he sits at the counter, a waitress with short, dark hair comes in to begin her shift. It's Alice. The two lock eyes before heading outside. He hands her a pamphlet for her mom's new church, which is apparently gaining quite the following down south. But he's really there to satisfy his own nagging curiosities. He wants to know what happened to baby Dodson's body, and if Alice truly believed she could bring him back. She offers no straight answers.
Instead, she speaks of how they're both lonely and destined to remain that way. It's an almost-but-not-quite romantic exchange, concluding with Alice giving him a tender kiss on the cheek. They bid each other farewell with half-smiles.
Now all alone, staring at the stretching, blue sea before him, Perry reaches into his coat pocket. He pulls out the matchbox box containing the thread used to stitch Charlie's eyes open. He pinches the thread between his fingers, gives it one last look, then blows it into the ocean.