written by Brady Langmann, Esquire
"Tis the season to be Mason!" cheers Matthew Rhys, who sounds markedly happier—downright gleeful, really—than he did on my last phone call with him. It was August 2020, AKA the season finale of Perry Mason, AKA the second wave of the pandemic. I'm pretty sure we talked about burgers through the brain fog, both of us, delirious as we celebrated our six-month anniversary inside. So, strangely, hearing Rhys and his damn good mood feels like a milestone. Is it true? Are we allowed to peek behind the wall, and dare to get excited about something again?
Well Rhys, along with Perry Mason showrunner Michael Begler, certainly seem to think so. And what are we getting excited about today, the reason for good tidings and cheer on a Monday afternoon phone call? We're here to talk Perry Mason Season Two. It's coming. In March. To HBO. When we last saw the drama series, where Rhys plays a private-investigator-turned-lawyer in Depression-era Los Angeles, Mason finally had something to hang that spiffy fedora on. The man wrapped a brutal case. Had his big moment in court. At the end of it all, he even had what Rhys calls a "Charlie's Angels" moment, forming a team with Paul Drake and Della Street. Season Two should be a breeze, right?
Nope. There's another murder. Here's the official logline, from HBO: "Months after the Dodson case has come to an end, the scion of a powerful oil family is brutally murdered. When the DA goes to the city's Hoovervilles to pinpoint the most obvious of suspects, Perry, Della, and Paul find themselves at the center of a case that will uncover far reaching conspiracies and force them to reckon with what it truly means to be guilty." This time around, the cast includes includes Rhys, Juliet Rylance, Chris Chalk, Diarra Kilpatrick, Eric Lange, Justin Kirk, Katherine Waterston, Hope Davis, Fabrizio Guido, Peter Mendoza, Mark O’Brien, Paul Raci, Jen Tullock, Jon Chaffin, Onahoua Rodriguez, Jee Young Han, Sean Astin, Tommy Dewey, Shea Whigham, and Wallace Langham.
'Tis the season to be Mason indeed. Let's get to it. Rhys and Begler are here with your first look of Perry Mason Season Two, which includes, but certainly isn't limited to: a vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle, a murder case, and a new team that's already "very much drifting apart."
When we last see Perry, he says goodbye to Alice, has his big moment in court, and wraps this incredibly traumatic case. What does Perry want when we see him again?
MR: I think when we next see him in the season—you kind of touched on something there—what you see is a Perry who doesn't quite know what he wants. I think he has found himself in a position where he went into the judicial system, the legal system, with a lot of, well, possibly…
MB: Trepidation, would you say?
MR: Trepidation. I don't think there was a big gameplan. He just saw someone being railroaded and went, “This is wrong.” Then he finds himself in this position where, I think, the reality of the legal and judicial system came crashing down around him somewhat. He goes, “This is a very flawed way of trying to decipher between right and wrong.” I think the Emily Dodson case took a great toll.
I think you find him treading water—but I think it's beyond that. He's slightly just trying to keep his head and figure out what it is he wants in his life. He's a little bit lost, which is true I think, in Season One. He's always the outsider. He's always never quite fitting in anywhere, and I think that's true in Season Two again. You find him trying to figure out whether this is really something he not only wants to do, but can actually do.
You're right. Perry, at the end of the season, gets more structure to his life, comes together with this core team of Della and Paul in the office. But he also seems to be asking more questions of himself as the credits roll.
MR: Yeah, yeah. Very much so. It's these big life changes that give him those big questions and make him look inward at times.
MB: He's faced with this theory by Hamilton Burger, which is that there is no real justice. There's only the illusion of justice. I think that weighs on Perry's mind throughout the entire season. Like, what is this all about? Through this case, exploring that, and trying to find the answer to that.
Can you tell me anything about the new case?
MB: What I will say is that it really deals with, like I said earlier: what does justice look like for the people with the means and the power, versus those who have nothing? It's a murder case, but the circumstances of... I just don't want to give too much away.
No, that’s perfect. What’s the team of Perry, Della, Paul going to look like?
MR: I think what's great dramaturgically is that you imagine that—especially given the end of Season One, just forming this Charlie's Angels moment—where you actually find them again in Season Two is they are very much drifting apart. The work that I think Perry did not promise, but certainly hoped that Paul could do, isn't proving fruitful. It builds resentment from Paul, because he gave up a lot in order to join Perry's team. Perry's feeling very disillusioned with what it is he's doing. I think that frustrates Della a great deal. She's trying to remain the driving force within this, trying to keep them all not only afloat—but to keep her own ambitions buoyant, as Perry seemingly drifts a little from the mandate.
Looking at these pictures, I do have to ask you, Matthew: is that you riding a vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle?
MR: It is me! It is me that is doing stunts. My own emotional work. But that was a very, very easy motorcycle to ride. There was an introduction to the original Harley Davidson, which the stunt coordinator was like, "OK, so you have to press this lever, then engage the clutch there at this moment in time." Everyone quickly realized there was no way on God's green Earth that was ever going to happen, so they modified it and turned it to a very expensive electrical motorbike.
Costume Design by Catherine Adair