Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 5 recap: Perry makes a big career change

Stephen Root in Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 5 - Photograph by Merrick Morton/HBO
Stephen Root in Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 5 - Photograph by Merrick Morton/HBO /

Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 5 recap: Perry makes a big career change.

In the opening moments of Perry Mason Episode 5, we discover that E.B. is officially dead. Della is the one who finds his body and before calling the cops, she enlists Perry’s help in staging E.B.’s body so it appears he died of natural causes. It’s a more “insurance-friendly” death.

The attorney’s somber demise is the catalyst for what eventually leads Perry into becoming the lawyer he was always meant to be.

As Collider pointed out, if you aren’t familiar with the original series or the books they were based upon, this somewhat abrupt plot point might be confusing, whereas “pre-established fans” have been waiting for this to happen.

How does Perry Mason get to the point where becoming an attorney?

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It all begins with Perry and Della going through the motions of putting E.B. to rest. Both of them are startled and saddened to discover that he had no relationship with his family. Hardly anyone turns up for his funeral.

Despite this, his death does draw the two closer together as they bond over drinks and we learn more about Della’s past.

She was born into money but ran away when she was only 25, answering an ad in the Examiner for what eventually became her long-running job with E.B. and associates.

Both Della and Perry are feeling the stress of Emily’s impending trial. Without E.B., she gets saddled with a corrupt lawyer named Frank Dillon who is sitting cozy in Maynard Barnes’ pocket. Luckily for Emily, she has Della on her side.

She is savvy enough to remove all of the important evidence they have on the case and stash it away at home, even enlisting her girlfriend to help her hide it. When Dillon asks for the defense plans E.B. was working on, Della feigns giving him everything. Laden with ineligible notes from Perry and case files that lead nowhere, Dillon is led to believe the defense has nothing and the prosecution will have a slam dunk.

Della eavesdrop on a phone call as he dials into Barnes and tells him as much, agreeing to meet up with him at an undisclosed location so Dillon can tell him everything he’s discovered.

Mason then pays Dillon a visit later and delivers a brutal verbal beatdown. He also physically roughs him up by throwing books at him and even choking him with a particularly large volume.

Enraged by the attorney’s duplicity and mishandling of the case, he visits Della and goes on a rant that sounds almost like a closing argument. Maybe Perry was the one who kickstarted the crusade against Emily, but he’s definitely turned a corner now and he’s pissed off by everything that’s happened to her.

His spiel inspires Della with an idea. Suddenly she starts typing away on a typewriter before pulling out a statement that would assign Perry as Emily’s new lawyer. They flub it a little to say he’d formerly been working with E.B. as part of an internship of sorts.

All he has to do now is pass the bar exam and he’s in — Perry is certainly Emily’s best bet since literally no other attorney in town wants to touch her case with a ten-foot pole. They consider it career suicide since everyone thinks she’s guaranteed to lose.

Also of note is Pete proves his merit in Episode 5. He chats with another police officer who doesn’t have nice things to say about Ennis. After doing more digging, Pete even meets with Ennis as the brothel we saw him visiting before.

Pete tries to make Ennis see him through sympathetic eyes by throwing his partner under the bus and attempting to buy him off with a prostitute. Later, Pete assures Perry that Ennis is as crooked as they come and wasn’t impressed by his lack of loyalty. He’s willing to follow Perry to the case’s end, even if he doesn’t get paid.

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Sister Alice steps in to bail Emily out of jail in Perry Mason Episode 5.

After doubling down on her plans to bring Charlie back to life, Alice has split the congregation. Half of them stand outside the Radiant Assembly of God holding baby dolls with stitched eyes and calling Alice a heretic, led by Elder Brown who wants to take the church back from Alice and her mother.

Meanwhile, inside, Alice gives an impassioned sermon and shows off her “healing” powers, pledging a miracle by helping a disabled man in a wheelchair seemingly walk again. It’s obvious he cannot actually walk on his own, as he stumbles across the stage with the crowd helping him along the way, but it doesn’t matter because Alice sounds as energized and manic as ever. Her most loyal constituents are eating it all up, especially Emily.

But why wouldn’t’ she? Thanks to Alice, Emily is out of jail on a $25,000 bond that the church paid for from their donation pool. She also has a cushy place to stay with Alice even giving up her own bed for the woman. Birdy is obviously not pleased, but Alice is the one with all the power. She threatens to fire Birdy if her mother doesn’t do what she wants.

Toward the end of the episode, Alice finally takes Emily to visit Charlie’s grave. Overcome with grief, she pushes aside all the flowers and throws herself on top of the dirt pile, sobbing. Then she asks Alice if they’ll have to dig up Charlie’s body to complete the resurrection. I’m not sure how I feel about the manic look in Alice’s eyes.

Paul Drake and Edwina have a change of heart.

Paul Drake and his pregnant wife Edwina return in this episode, and it seems like he’s going to become increasingly important later in the season. Together, they attend church and listen to an empowering sermon from a civil rights speaker.

Edwina doesn’t necessarily think fighting back against racism and segregation is smart, as she doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to try to change something that will never change. Of course, the opposite argument is that nothing can change if no one ever tries to fight against it.

Later, Paul, Edwina, and some of their friends enjoy a nice day at the beach. But suddenly, a police officer shows up and kicks them all out, saying the beach is closed. It’s an obvious point of disrespect, as she doesn’t even believe Paul is an officer himself when he tells him.

In bed that night, Paul is distraught at the inequality and the way he’s been treated by his own colleagues and the world at large. Seeing his misery, Edwina says she’s changed her mind and thinks he should do what he feels right. Considering what he knows about Emily’s case, if Paul chooses to testify despite Ennis’s warnings, it could make a big difference at trial.

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What did you think about Episode 5 of Perry Mason? Do you think Perry will be able to win Emily’s case in court? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

New episodes of Perry Mason air Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT.