Perry Mason episode 7: The riot, the breakup, and the resurrection

Perry Mason descended into mayhem in Chapter Seven.

If you thought HBO‘s version of Perry Mason needed more excitement, you got it in the latest, and next-to-last, episode of the season.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the latest Perry Mason episode.

“Chapter Seven” catapulted the TV crime drama to a whole new level, ensuring that its titular hero will have plenty to figure out in next week’s season finale.

The man Perry (Matthew Rhys) tracked down was Jim Hicks, who explained everything that Perry needed to know about the Radiant Assembly’s financial woes—and its wrongdoings. He even had the evidence buried in his yard. (At least it wasn’t a body.)

But that was before the trial was interrupted by a bunch of screaming protesters, dressed up like a gaggle of Sister Alices, who set off a smoke bomb in the courtroom.

And that ridiculous scene wasn’t even the strangest thing that happened in the episode.

The real Sister Alice (Tatiana Maslany) continued to be attacked by her former allies, who showed her that a man she’d purportedly healed had in fact declined even further. And when it was time to allegedly resurrect Charlie Dodson, the scene broke out into a riot that led to Alice realizing that her mother Birdy (Lili Taylor) was full of it, and literally going on the run.

Elsewhere, Perry Mason had our hero realizing that his sort-of girlfriend Lupe (Veronica Falcón) was neither his girlfriend nor his friend, when she declared that she was still taking his family’s farm—and threw in some cold comments about their relationship. Ouch. So why did the show spend so much time on them?

And in another scene that will certainly be discussed by Perry Mason purists, Della Street (Juliet Rylance) turned to Hamilton Burger (a fantastic Justin Kirk) for more help. But their conversation also revealed that Burger is gay, and keeping his sexuality a secret so as to avoid jeopardizing his goal of becoming the next District Attorney. That’s two main characters whose sexual orientation has been changed in the HBO version, and the switch doesn’t seem to have added anything to the show.

That being said, “Chapter Seven” did an excellent job of raising the stakes, as every penultimate episode of every TV show strives to do. It also put the period on the sentence as far as pulling the church and murder trial storylines together; previous episodes had started down that path but now, like Mason, we’re pretty clear about the church’s involvement in Charlie Dodson’s death and it seems like Sister Alice has caught on to something, too.

Perry Mason still hasn’t overcome some of its bigger flaws, but it’s found some momentum, and its great cast has more material to work with now. The big question is, will the finale leave enough on the table for the second season that HBO is now going forward with?

Perry Mason airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. on HBO. The season finale airs next Sunday, Aug. 9.