Perry Mason Season 1 followed the title character and his allies trying to figure out who really killed the infant Charlie Dodson, a crime for which his mother, Emily, was set up. Season 2 is going a different direction with its murder mystery, as it was confirmed in tonight’s episode that brothers Rafael and Matro Gallardo, respectively played by Fabrizio Guido and Peter Mendoza, did indeed kill Tommy Dewey’s Brooks McCutcheon. While the exact circumstances behind this have yet to be revealed, Michael Begler, one of Perry Mason Season 2’s showrunners, opened up to CinemaBlend on the HBO show’s latest twists, as well as giving the main characters a “learning curve” this season.

Even before Perry Mason Season 1 finished back in summer 2020, HBO decided to renew it for a second season, and by April 2021, Michael Begler and Jack Amiel were tapped to replace exiting showrunners/creators Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald. We’re now at the halfway point with Season 2, and ahead of this latest episode’s airing, I spoke with Begler, with my first inquiry being why he and Amiel decided to do a sharp 180 with this season’s murder mystery compared to what happened in Season 1. He answered:

As if Paul Drake’s life wasn’t already complicated enough in these first few episodes of Season 2, Chris Chalk’s character has been drawn into the Brooks McCutcheon investigation, and he’s made the biggest discovery yet. Paul was able to not only track down the gun used to kill Brooks McCutcheon, but learned that the Gallardos rented that exact firearm from a member of their shantytown community. While Rafael and Mateo had initially proclaimed their innocence, there’s no denying now that they did the deed.

However, Brooks McCutcheon didn’t die because things went south with Rafael and Mateo robbing him, nor because the brothers simply didn’t like him. At the end of “Chapter Twelve” this evening, Sofia, Mateo’s wife, found an envelope full of money, which she only found because he tipped her off to its location. So now we know that Brooks’ murder was instigated by someone else, and here’s what Michael Begler had to say about that development:

But wait, there’s yet another problem this episode delivered! After Paul Drake delivered the gun to Matthew Rhys’ Perry Mason and Juliet Rylance’s Della Street, those two decided to lock it in the law office’s safe as Paul watched. Needless to say hiding a key piece of evidence like that is a big no-no, and after surmising to Michael Begler that the gun will likely come back to upset Perry and Della’s defense of the Gallardos, I asked him about his thought process behind including this particular complication. This is where Begler addressed the “learning curve” for our core trio of protagonists, saying:

There’s no denying that these versions of Perry, Della and Paul are competent adults with unique sets of skills, but Michael Begler has a point noting that they’re a long ways off from becoming the professionals that the earlier versions of these characters were more than half a century ago, and not just because these events take place in the early 1930s vs. the 1950s. We may never even see them reach that level of experience in this show, but as far as the near future goes, they have enough things to worry about with this case as we enter the back half of Season 2. Meanwhile, Eric Lange’s Gene Holcomb, the corrupt LAPD detective who was involved in the Charlie Dodson case and had been in a business partnership with Brooks McCutcheon before his death, has been trying to get to the bottom of Brooks’ other business dealings, specifically the arrangement he had with the also now-late boss of Goldstein’s Finest Produce.

New episodes of Perry Mason premiere Mondays at 9 pm ET on HBO as part of the 2023 TV schedule. There’s no word yet on whether the series will return for Season 3, but you can revisit previous episodes with an HBO Max subscription.

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