Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 3 Recap – Who is Noreen Lawson?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: March 21, 2023 (Last updated: March 18, 2024)
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Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 3 Recap - Who is Noreen Lawson?
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Summary

Perry Mason really gets the season’s ball rolling with a gorgeous-looking hour sporting a few surprising turns.

This recap of Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 3, “Chapter Eleven,” contains spoilers.


Perry Mason, as with most prominent shows on HBO, might be considered “prestige” TV, a rather loose moniker that nobody really understands or can provide a solid definition of. But there’s an instinctual you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it quality to this kind of entertainment that is hard to put a finger on but is also undeniably there. It might be the casts – since all prestige shows must have great casts – or a specific tone or lofty writing style. With Perry Mason, it’s all or at least most of these things, but in the third episode of the second season, uncreatively titled “Chapter Eleven”, it’s the lighting.

Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 3 Recap

Honestly, this show looks very nice. The lighting contributes to the show’s “feeling” – another nebulous blob of a term – in an indescribably important way, not that anybody would ever cite it as a contributing factor to their enjoyment. Like that whole prestige label, how beams of light filter through a window or illuminate a little grove isn’t poetic and striking in any way you can describe – you just simply intuit it. For all Perry Mason’s noir-ish conventions, it definitely sees the value in a bit of light here and there.

Often, though, it’s less subtle. “At some point, Mr. Mason, you must find all of your righteousness just a bit exhausting,” a judge says to our intrepid hero at one point this week, and he’s probably right. Perry’s dealing with a system that considers non-white Americans like the Gallardo brothers less than human, and the idea of their right to a fair trial and not to have glass put in their food as some kind of adorable bleeding-heart nonsense. There’s no wonder Perry always looks so fed up.

What happened to Emily Dodson?

With this kind of thing going on, and going on so obviously, it’s easy to understand why Perry would have been compelled by the brothers’ case in the first place. Also this week, though, Della learns why Perry has been deliberately swerving off such cases in the form of a stack of letters and postcards from a suicidal Emily Dodson that Perry dumps on her without much warning. Feeling increasingly isolated and despairing, she eventually took her own life. Even when Perry does stand up against the system, even when he wins, he still loses, and so do the people he’s trying to help.

This kind of thing undoubtedly informs Perry’s relationship with his son, which we see a bit more of this week. Hilariously, he allows the lad to skip his homework to go out and see King Kong instead, which gives him nightmares and makes him late for school – and he still has to do the homework the next day. When every well-intentioned decision you make turns out to be the wrong one, it’s a wonder that Perry continues trying to do the right thing for anyone.

At least, though, keeping his kid out all night gives Perry an opportunity to flirt with the boy’s rather fetching teacher; his efforts elsewhere lead him straight into the shark-like glare of Lydell McCutcheon, who spares time from disfiguring men with the wheels of oil derricks to threaten Perry directly. Perry also insults Camilla Nygaard and the aforementioned case judge, just to complete the set.

Who is Noreen Lawson?

But he’s getting somewhere. He traces that mysterious phone number planted in Brooks’s wallet to a catatonic woman named Noreen Lawson who is being housed in a sanitorium. Noreen, we come to learn, is one of Brooks’s former flings. Given what we’ve already learned about McCutcheon Junior’s sexual peccadilloes, I don’t think it takes a genius to work out what the implication here is, though we’re not only no closer to identifying the anonymous tipster but are now assuming that he was further incriminating Brooks, not the other way around.

However, Paul’s investigation doesn’t go quite so well, and an impromptu ballistics experiment tracing the murder weapon back to the Gallardo brothers after all, so even if they didn’t carry out the murder – and, for what it’s worth, there’s no reason other than this to assume they did – they’re certainly not giving away everything they know.

You can stream Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 3, “Chapter Eleven”, exclusively on HBO and HBO Max.


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