Matthew Rhys is once again Perry Mason in one of the most lucid and well thought out prequels of recent years. From 14 May on Sky Atlantic and NOW with a weekly appointment, he returns after three years with a new case and a new challenge full of current issues, which await the TV lawyer ante litteram.
Justice is just an illusion
This is one of the many phrases that accompany the new episodes of Perry Mason, born as a miniseries and soon became yet another flagship HBO serial product that realized it had another ace up its sleeve, and now back after three years thanks to the pandemic. After taking the quintessential TV lawyer and artfully building a prequel set in the years of the Great Depression around him, he was able to use the characteristics that made his fortune in the two historical series in the 60s and 90s born from the works by Erle Stanley Gardner but re-imagined them once again in the context of the 1930s. The review by Perry Mason 2 will be just as enthusiastic because the serie returns with eight new episodes in which a new great case unfolds just like in the inaugural cycle and new challenges await all the protagonists starting with the title character, and everything seems to fit together perfectly.
New case, same presumption of guilt
The season 2 of Perry Mason resumes six months after the events of the first cycle, with the consequences of the evolution of the characters and their dynamics seen in the previous finale, especially as regards the protagonist played by the Emmy Award Matthew Rhys, once again convincing for the reluctance and distrust he continually demonstrates towards everyone. He has lost what little faith he may have gained in the Law and in himself after the suicide of his previous client, whom he feels he did not save from death row. It thus appears even clearer why, when a new case occurs to him in which two people from the less fortunate social class are accused of a crime they are not guilty of, his memory plays tricks on him and he is terrified of going over everything again. again. Especially since, after the previous events, he has decided to devote himself to civil and not criminal matters, while realizing at the same time how much inheritance and contracts make him even more apathetic towards the world and not stimulated by his profession. Thus, while he finds himself managing the legal affairs of a large supermarket and its despot director (an unprecedented and very successful Sean Astin), he once again questions himself and his own beliefs (legal and human).
Perry Mason, the review: between trials and crimes in the HBO series
You don’t live on Perry Mason alone
The strength of HBO’s Perry Mason, however, lies not only in Rhys but also in his high-level cast, starting with those who will become his historical supporting actors and “partners in crime”. There Della Street lesbian juliet rylance and the Paul Drake black by Chris Chalk are two personalities that go far beyond the quota to be included in a show today: they are multifaceted, honest, sometimes contradictory but always loyal, the first now Perry’s assistant and almost partner while he studies to become a lawyer, the second highly skilled private investigator who tries to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible together to his wife Clara.
Spotlights that will bring Perry Mason’s team back on everyone’s lips, who once again confirms the characteristics that will make the fortune of the character, such as the amusing and witty entr’actes inside and outside the courtroom to prove one’s thesis. Once again the stories of the characters will intertwine with those of the Los Angeles judicial system to create a rare conspiratorial symphony in which every piece is confirmed to be in its place, so much so that we want more. If the central theme of the first season was religion, now that the character of Tatiana Maslany has gone elsewhere (and is named in this sense), the themes of social inequality will emerge in this second cycle, racial discrimination through the two suspected Mexicans and the difficult coexistence between cultures, always under the watchful eyes of a system that does not seem to want to help the weakest but favor the most powerful, or rather those who have the most to lose.
A splendid and refined noir
It will be about the production in hand Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, it will be thanks to the locations for the most part reconstructed without HBO’s massive use of CGI, it will be thanks to the elegant writing and the smoky and dark staging, but Perry Mason 2 confirms itself as a splendid and refined noir, thanks even to the precise pen that does not betray the past of the new showrunners Jack Amiel and Michael Begler (Something extraordinary), to the skilful direction of Coimbra (Narcos), Jessica Lowrey (Halo), Marialy Rivas (The pack), and Nina Lopez-Corrado (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and the precious interpretations of the newfound Shea Whigham and Justin Kirk together with the new entries Katherine Waterston, Hope Davis, Tommy Dewey and Jen Tullock (the sister of the protagonist in Split).
Trust is good…
What we find in this second season is essentially a more disillusioned and cynical Perry Mason, together with the other characters, and the theme that seems to unite everyone is the possible (s) trust in the US legal system of the time (which, however, squeezes the eye also to that of our contemporaneity, if we think about it for a moment). Is it possible to find justice within a corrupt, or rather prejudicial system that has already pronounced its sentence even before crossing the threshold of the court, discussing and deliberating in the courtroom? Or will it remain wishful thinking as extolled by the assistant prosecutor played by Justin Kirk? Existential questions that are also legitimized by an existence terribly at the mercy of events, since the eye through which we experience the story is that of the protagonists, who are all marginalized in their own way and outcasts for different reasons and levels. In short, what to say except “Good second, Mr. Perry Mason!”.
We close the review of Perry Mason 2 happy to find the characteristics that had made the fortune of the inaugural cycle without losing its invective and charm, despite the change of showrunner. The staging continues to give a smoky and noir Los Angeles, while the case that runs through the eight episodes is once again exciting and reiterates old and new themes such as racial discrimination, social inequality and trust in the legal system.
Because we like it
- The new case works and brings new narrative and conspiracy ideas.
- Matthew Rhys convinces but above all Juliet Rylance and Chris Chalk are excellent and multifaceted.
- The new entries and side characters, such as an unprecedented and cruel Sean Astin.
- The noir and elegant atmosphere that permeates the whole staging.
- Even the new season takes a while to get going and get us back in the right mood for viewing.
- The pace remains composed.