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‘Perry Mason’ season 2 premiere review: “Chapter Nine” maintains the show’s enigmatic tone

By March 9, 2023No Comments3 min read

It’s been nearly three years since Matthew Rhys uttered the iconic line, “I’m a quarter Welsh and a queer only once,” a reference that only really makes sense if you know anything about him and his previous roles. The first season of Perry Mason premiered on HBO in June 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after a long hiatus, the series is finally back for Season 2. Based on the fictional character of the same name from detective fiction stories written by Erle Stanley Gardner, the show stars Matthew Rhys in the titular role alongside Juliet Rylance, Chris Chalk, Tatiana Maslany, and Justin Kirk. Perry Mason is a period drama set in Los Angeles during the Great Depression and centers around the troubled private detective Perry Mason (Rhys). 

 Season 1 focuses on the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of a young boy named Charlie Dodson, his mother, Emily Dodson’s possible role in his murder, and Mason’s transition from a private investigator to a lawyer. It also covers his own personal problems, such as alcoholism and his estranged relationship with his son and his ex-wife. Season 2 opens six months after the conclusion of the first season’s events, and Mason and Della Street (Rylance) are now law partners.

Merrick Morton/HBO

Despite having received recognition and respect for his role in clearing Emily Dodson’s name, it’s clear that Mason is still adjusting to his new life as an attorney, as he is reluctant to take on more criminal cases and has been strictly taking on civil cases. He becomes disillusioned with the law and the reality of the job. It is also revealed that Emily Dodson’s story from Season 1 didn’t end there.

After encountering her in a dream, Mason discovers that Dodson committed suicide by drowning. This haunts Mason, and it is implied that Dodson’s suicide will follow him and continue to impact his new career as an attorney because despite clearing her name and helping her achieve some sort of closure after the death of her son, it still wasn’t enough. 

The Season 2 premiere seamlessly transitions from the conclusion of Season 1 into a new chapter while still maintaining the same obscure and enigmatic tone that made Season 1 so captivating. The pace isn’t rushed and flows naturally while still maintaining a layer of obscurity. The episode also does a good job of balancing Mason’s personal dilemmas and demons while giving time for the other major storyline: the impending murder investigation.

A corrupt businessman named Brooks is introduced in the premiere, and it is revealed that he is involved in many sketchy business schemes and even goes as far as to burn down a boat filled with passengers at the behest of his father. The episode ends with his dead body being discovered in his car, which indicates that the rest of the season will be dedicated to solving his murder.  

With Perry Mason’s nostalgic homage to 1930s’ noir mysteries, outstanding cinematography, and engaging score, the second season premiere offers a more promising start with an even more promising cast. 

Feature image courtesy of Merrick Morton/HBO

Perry Mason Season 2 airs on HBO Mondays at 8 p.m. CST.

  • 'Perry Mason' Season 2 Premiere - 8/10
Alexa Brown

I am a pop-culture and television criticism writer as well as an (aspiring) copywriter. I suffer from imposter syndrome and self-doubt, which may or may not be evident in my work. Anyways, I hope you enjoy some of my thoughts <3

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