Did I say that the core crew of Perry Mason had already assembled? How could I overlook HAMILTON BURGER (Justin Kirk)?? No worries. As of “Chapter Five,” the gang really is all here. 

RELATED: Missed last week’s episode? Catch up here!

So, Della Street (Juliet Rylance) does not get to E.B. (John Lithgow) in time to save him. As one might have guessed, he killed himself with the expectation that she would be the one to find him and to do something about it. After collecting herself, she does the only thing she can do in good conscience: call Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys). Together, Della and Perry stage E.B.’s death to look natural, putting him back to bed, ensuring that his insurance policy will pay out.

Next, Perry Mason and Della Street, soon-to-be dynamic duo, travel by train with E.B.’s body to have it interred in the family mausoleum near Salinas, CA. They’re met with a chilly welcome graveside by E.B.’s estranged son (played beautifully by John Lithgow’s actual son, Ian Lithgow). E.B. may have shined as a lawyer in his day, but he was a distant and disinterested father. 

The confrontation with a son who barely cares about his father’s passing inspires Perry to make a detour to Salinas proper, where his ex-wife, Linda (Gretchen Mol), is living with her sister’s family and their son. He spends a pleasant enough afternoon with his boy, but his dereliction of fatherly and financial duties makes him unwelcome at the dinner table. He also discovers that Linda is so embarrassed of his career as a P.I. that she’s told their son he’s a farmer. 

When Della returns to Los Angeles, she finds that Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) has posted Emily Dodson’s (Gayle Rankin) bail with $25,000 from the church’s funds, and that Emily is in the custody of Alice and her mother (Lili Taylor). Della visits to help them find a new lawyer, and she’s appalled to discover that they’ve been appointed a lawyer by the court– Frank Dillon (Matt Malloy), an untrustworthy fellow who is definitely in D.A. Barnes’ (Stephen Root) pocket.

Della springs into action, calling more than 50 lawyers in an attempt to secure someone competent to save Emily. She also hides all of the best evidence from their case so Dillon can’t pass it along to Barnes. When she finally gets Perry to meet her to find a solution, he is so eloquent in his passionate (and drunken) assessment of the case that she quickly forges an apprenticeship agreement between Perry and E.B., retroactively dated more than two years earlier. With this agreement and passing the CA bar exam in two weeks, as well as Emily asking him to represent her, Perry Mason will step into the courtroom as a defense lawyer for the first time. 

Perry doubts that his legal knowledge is up to this sudden career change, but Della has an ace up her sleeve: Hamilton Burger. Burger is only an A.D.A. at this point, but he’s interested in a promotion. Seeing his corrupt superior eviscerated in court by a righteous everyman like Perry should clear the way for that. With Burger’s tutelage, based on the fact that the bar hasn’t changed in ages, Perry sails smoothly through the process and finds his true calling. 

We can trust that Perry will save Emily from the noose, but will Sister Alice really be able to resurrect baby Charlie on Easter Sunday? If she can make it through the intervening weeks full of death threats by mail and her former elder trying to turn the media on her… probably not. What can possibly go right there??

Meanwhile, Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) is losing patience with white men holding him back. After attending a debate in which a black man advocates for fighting for their rights and dignity, wife Clara (Diarra Kilpatrick) quotes the Bible in support of their keeping their heads down. Not long after, the Drakes are enjoying a day on Santa Monica beach when a white policeman tells them and the other black beachgoers that the beach is closed and they need to leave. Paul’s being an officer carries no weight with the man, and when Clara witnesses the indignity her husband suffers she reverses her stance and pledges to support him if he wants to fight. 

Unfortunately, she does this after they’ve had some tender moments and commented on the strength of their growing baby, so I still predict HBO-level tragedy for the Drake family before the season ends. If they get to enjoy their life together on an HBO show, it will be a bigger miracle than Sister Alice resurrecting Charlie. 

Lastly, Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham) has been trailing Ennis (Andrew Howard)– and he gets caught. Ennis says all the right things about how he’s just a puppet for Holcomb (Eric Lange), but Pete smells a rat. He’s determined that Ennis has been moments away from the crime scene three times on the Dodson case so far, and learned that he paid cash money to be assigned the case in the first place. Something isn’t right, and Pete is going to find out what– even if Perry can’t pay him. 

RELATED: Read all of our Perry Mason Season 1 recaps HERE!

 

 

Leona Laurie