“Chapter Thirteen” is easily Perry Mason’s best episode so far.
This recap of Perry Mason Season 2, Episode 5, “Chapter Thirteen”, contains spoilers.
“Chapter Thirteen” is the best episode of Perry Mason yet by such a margin that it almost morphs into a different show. Not that it was bad before – far from it! But the swaggering feeling of all the pieces falling neatly together is so prevalent here, in everything from the courtroom cross-examination to the investigation to the character drama, that it’s safe to say we’ve at the very least reached a new phase of the show.
And all it seems to have taken was Perry reaching his lowest ebb professionally while also turning over a new leaf personally. He still doesn’t know how to defend two men who are guilty, but at least the sultry Miss Aimes is waiting for him at home.
Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 5 Recap
Why did the Gallardo brothers kill Brooks McCutcheon?
In Episode 4, we learned definitively that the Gallardos did indeed kill Brooks McCutcheon. However, the question remains: Why? We know they received a hefty amount of cash. We know they had their marksmanship training paid for, and that they were left to take the fall in as open-and-shut a manner as possible. Guilty or not, it still reeks of a setup.
“Chapter Thirteen” reveals why the Gallardos had such legitimate ire towards Brooks. The construction of his stadium meant the forcible displacing of their entire community. The police, presumably paid off, rode into town and set the neighborhood alight to encourage compliance. In all that chaos, the Gallardos’ sister was killed.
The brothers wanted to kill Brooks already. That someone was willing to pay them to do it was just a bonus.
How does Perry win over the jury?
Perry is facing basically the impossible in court. Thanks at least in part to Fightin’ Frank stoking up the conservative citizenry, the Gallardos would be in trouble even if they were innocent. But, as we know, they’re not. So, Perry has his work cut out.
But the thing about bigoted ire is that people tend to get carried away with it. Perry’s very public reputation as a bleeding heart makes him a ripe target for mockery, even on the stand. Witnesses for the prosecution have no problem calling him “Mr. Maggot”, and it even gets a laugh from the gallery. Perry doesn’t mind, though. The more he’s personally attacked and belittled, the more the entire case looks like a hatchet job.
And he has a trump card. Perry has noticed that the numbers on the photo negatives of Mateo’s fingerprints are backward. Do you recall how, in Chernobyl, Jared Harris walked the audience through the ins and outs of nuclear fission in such a way that it made for riveting television? Well, it’s basically the same thing. The whole sequence is perfectly pitched to communicate the importance of the evidence without seeming patronizing and the cleverness of Perry’s deduction without making him seem unreasonably smart.
The implication is clear: Mateo’s fingerprint was placed at the crime scene. Perhaps by the police? The judge tells the jury to disregard that last statement, but as Perry quips to Della when he sits back down, they won’t.
Perry Mason Season 1 Episode 5 Ending Explained
Despite all the fist-pumping hurrah moments of this episode, it ends on a series of unpleasant and ultimately ominous notes.
For one thing, Paul is forced to really question who he is after being forced by Perkins to beat the brakes off of Ozzie Jackson, the guy who paid the Gallardos to off Brooks (on someone else’s orders.) When he crawls into bed with Clara that night he asks, timidly, “Am I good?”
Likewise, Della is confronted by Hazel about playing away from home and is too cowardly to own up to the truth, even if Hazel already knows it.
And finally, Perry returns home to discover his son’s train set lazily chugging around a lit cigarette, proving that someone had only recently been inside to send him a message.
You can stream Perry Mason Season 2, Episode 5, “Chapter Thirteen” exclusively on HBO and HBO Max.