Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7 recap: Chapter 7
In a sun-scorched field, a young Alice picks flowers and listens to unseen voices whisper. The penultimate episode of Perry Mason Season 1 opens with a flashback to her and her mother, Birdy, before they became installed at the Radiant Assembly of God church. Back then, they had nothing to their name, not even enough money to get gas, which is how they came to be parked by the side of the dirt road in the first place.
A man pulls up, eager to help because it’s the “good Christian thing to do.” He refills Birdy’s gas tank. She’ll need to go to Lawton if she hopes to find proper lodgings and enough gas to get them wherever else they plan to travel, but Lawton is farther than one tank will allow, especially when you have no cash.
Suddenly this good Christian man is willing to help, for a steep price. We see Birdy realize what he’s asking as his eyes flicker toward Alice. Birdy asks her daughter to “thank” the man for his kindness, and suddenly it becomes clear the ways Birdy has been using Alice all these years, even before she took the pulpit. A sinister light is cast across their relationship.
Back in the present, Emily, Birdy, and Alice say their prayers and eat a subdued dinner together.
Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7 recap: The truth about the church’s finances
Elsewhere, Jim Hicks leads Perry into a dark and desolate patch of land, without much to it beyond a sagging scarecrow. He says the land was bought up by Herman Baggerly and Eric Siedel through a shell company, Sunroot Services, Perry surmises.
They wanted to use it for the Olympics village in the hopes they’d make a killing. He then mentions the ledger Perry found from the church. While Jim won’t say a word against Sister Alice, who he claims saved his life, he does start digging into the ground beneath the scarecrow.
“What are you doing?” Perry asks.
“Showing you what you came for,” Jim replies.
Cut to Paul Drake out at a club, meeting with Nina, the precinct secretary. She manages to get him the internal file on Emily Dodson, under the assurance, it will be locked up tight once again by the next day.
At the KRA Studios, Alice reads out one of her Gospel Hour sermons, but is interrupted by Elder Brown and Robert, the man she supposedly “healed.” He’s back in a wheelchair again and Brown wants to know why that is. He tries to humiliate Alice on-air as she grapples for reasoning. Alice then accuses Robert of not being faithful enough to make it stick.
Approaching the courthouse, Della expresses her frustration with Perry for not filling her in on everything concerning Hicks and Sunroot Services. He tells her it’s not that complicated, he plans to hammer Baggerly and Siedel by using Hicks on the stand.
Della tells him to be careful and not get bogged down by numbers. She also questions why he doesn’t want to pursue the matron who committed perjury on the stand, he thinks that’s what Maynard Barnes expects of him and doesn’t want to go down a rabbit hole.
Just before entering the doors, Perry is hassled for an autograph by a man obsessed with big cases like this one while another woman comes forward and throws a pan full garbage at him, staining his suit. It’s the complete spectrum of people who are obsessed with the scintillating nature of the case and those who believe in Emily’s guilt and want anyone defending her to pay.
Regardless of the unfortunate entrance, court goes very well for the defense with Hicks on the stand. Initially, it’s easy to see Della’s point about not getting too caught up in the numbers.
The jury’s attention starts to wander as Hicks details the minutiae of his time at the Radiant Assembly and how Elder Siedel used him to move around the debt under the shell company Sunroot Services. When Hicks became weary of his task, they brought in George Gannon and gave Hicks a parcel of land to buy his silence.
Then Barnes questions Hicks and tries to make it seem as if his testimony is invalid since all they have is that one ledger and no further proof. Well, that’s not exactly true as Della smartly had her girlfriend Hazel carry all the books and records Hicks copied out of precaution years ago in a separate bag.
Perry presents them to the court and gets his witness to tell the court the church was at least $100,000 in debt between 1925 and 1930. It’s a strong break in the case, as it starts to give motive to other key players who could have reason to want Charlie’s ransom money.
Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7 recap: Perry makes a powerful case in court
In the restroom, Pete fills Perry in on everything he found in Denver, which it turns out, was a lot. He can connect Ennis, Siedel, and the kidnapper named Nowack together thanks to all three working on a job for Colorado Fuel and Iron at the same time in 1914. Perry needs Pete to keep his eye on Siedel until he can get him served and on the stand.
With Baggerly on the stand, Perry manages to get to the crux of the defense’s argument for Emily’s innocence. Baggerly was the key investor in the church and over the years, he began tightening the belt, particularly when his investment in the land Hicks showed Perry went belly-up and did not bear fruit.
The last time Siedel asked him for a “donation” was around Thanksgiving and Baggerly denied him. Just three weeks later, Charlie Dodson, Baggerly’s grandson, gets kidnapped and ransomed for exactly $100,000, the amount of the church’s debt.
Before Barnes can cross-examine the witness, several disruptors burst into the room dressed as Sister Alice and toss a smoke bomb, causing chaos to erupt.
As instructed, Pete follows Siedel and overhears him in conversation at the bank, being rejected for another loan on the church’s finances.
In the aftermath of the smoke bomb, Perry and Della try to convince Emily to put distance between herself and the church, since they likely don’t have her best interests at heart. But she remains adamant in her trust for them and Alice, especially in light of the resurrection which she is confident will happen. Della and Perry briefly consider getting her committed.
Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7 recap: Perry loses his house and a key witness
Pete then flubs his tail job when he gets to close to Siedel and spooks him, sending him running directly into a congested street filled with protestors marching for veterans’ rights. He loses sight of the church elder in the crowd.
Perry’s tough day gets even worse when he goes by the bar and finds Lupe there. She tells him she bought his house at an auction and will give him a month to get his affairs in order. Perry is, understandably, pissed, and accuses her of being a snake.
To be fair, Lupe did warn him of her plans repeatedly and he hasn’t paid his property taxes in five years, but it still comes as a huge blow to him. At least she says she’ll leave his folks alone, although that doesn’t do much for Perry’s pride.
Over a fancy dinner, Della confers with her fiancé Hamilton (and mutual beard) and asks him for a big favor. She wants him to file a court order to get the Easter Sunday resurrection canceled because she fears the repercussions it will have on Emily’s case.
Elsewhere, Pete and Perry get into it over losing Siedel. Perry can’t seem to catch a break and he vents his frustrations on Pete, who honestly, deserves better after everything he’s done for the case.
The strain of Emily’s life hanging in his hands is also convalescing over Perry’s head like a storm cloud swollen with despair, coupled with the recent loss of his family estate. It’s the straw that breaks the camels back for Pete, though, and he quits, telling Perry to hire Paul Drake instead.
Speaking of Paul, he’s doing some investigating of his own and visits a motel where he thinks the kidnappers may have stayed with baby Charlie. The manager doesn’t want to give him any info, but a maid winds up being of help.
As for Elder Siedel, he gets picked up by Ennis in the middle of nowhere and told to take off for San Diego so Perry can’t call him to the stand. Too bad for him, Ennis is doing as his partner instructed and cleaning up loose ends. Brutally stabbing him on the side of the road, Ennis kills the elder and takes his valuables, I’m guessing to make it look like a robbery gone wrong.
However, we do get further confirmation that Siedel and Ennis were responsible for everything that happened to Charlie, as he says, “What we did to that baby…” and Ennis replies, “Yeah, no one wanted that.”
Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7 recap: Paul Drake comes through with valuable intel
While visiting his parents’ graves, Paul arrives to tell Perry what he found at the motor court. Nowack and Salecki were holed up there at the end of December with a baby that everyone could hear crying. No one saw the kid but they did see a third man arrive with his Chinese wife, and after that, no more sobs. Perry realizes Ennis has been frequenting Madame Jin’s.
After some quick banter between Paul and Perry (which I love and hope we see them team-up more in Season 2), Perry selects a woman he thinks could be pregnant or lactating and goes into a back room with her. I’m guessing Ennis brought her to the hotel to keep Charlie happy, which is why he turned from a sad baby to a happy one.
In the room, Perry questions her and she tells him the woman Ennis took is already dead. He returned the day before to kill her. Before Perry can get any more intel, security busts open the door and throw him out.
At Alice’s, she catches Emily smoking a cigarette outside and decides to join her. She confesses that Gold Tobacco offered her $5,000 for a radio endorsement and if she took it, then there would probably be more opportunities down the line.
Then she asks Emily to tell her a secret in turn, and Emily says the night Charlie was taken she talked to George on the phone and he told her how much he loved her and Charlie. She said it felt like a miracle, it felt like he was bringing her back to life.
From that, Alice questions if Emily is doubting her, and Emily says she isn’t. But Alice’s own self-doubt and internal crisis start to show as she talks about how revolutionary it would be for her to resurrect Charlie.
“Are you lying to me?” Emily asks.
“After tomorrow, nothing will ever be the same,” Alice responds rather ominously, which could mean any number of things.
Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7 recap: How did Charlie Dodson die?
Perry, once more, returns to the morgue to visit with Virgil. He shows Perry the body of the working girl Ennis took to the hotel. Considering what the other girl said and the track marks on her arms, it’s obvious she was loaded on heroin and Perry realizes the somber truth of Charlie’s death. He nursed from a drug user, which according to Virgil, will make most infants suffocate.
Now it seems like we’ve got all the pieces of the puzzle, but as Collider pointed out, the finale will hopefully let us see justice done to those who deserve it.
Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7 recap: Does Alice achieve her resurrection goal?
A true shock happens at the Easter Sunday session. Alice prepares to do her ritual over the tiny coffin allegedly containing Charlie Dodson, but when she opens it, the baby is gone.
The entire crowd, which was already pulsing with anger and frenetic energy, devolves into a mob scene. Perry barely manages to get Emily, who falls toward the hole, wholly giving up, into the car driven by Della. Birdy and Alice also escape in a car, both of them a little bloodied by the crowd.
Birdy tells the driver to go off-course, away from the motorcade. They come upon another crowd of people all huddles around something. Birdy gets out of the car to inspect it and finds, miraculously, a newborn crying in the road. She tells the press and everyone there that it is Charlie Dodson reborn, and Alice achieved her goal!
But I think we all know that Birdy staged the entire thing and has yet again taken advantage of her daughter and her strife. Alice starts to crumble under the weight of it all and as her mother tries to get her to hold the “miracle baby” she starts sprinting away and the camera follows her in a close-up.
What did you think about Perry Mason Season 1, Episode 7? How do you expect the season finale to close out next week? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
New episodes of Perry Mason air Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on HBO.