‘Perry Mason’ Season 2 Finale: Showrunner Michael Begler on this twist
“Perry Mason” showrunner Michael Begler told IndieWire how he and his writing partners worked on the shocking reveal of the show’s true villain.
Just before the end of the seventh episode of “Perry Mason” Season 2, the writers reveal the mastermind behind the murder, which was paid for by Mason’s accusers, a poor Mexican brother and sister. It’s the perfect reveal in that the villain’s identity feels shocking yet inevitable given how intricately it’s intertwined with everything that’s gone before. However, according to Michael Begler, who took over “Perry Mason” showrunner duties this season with writing partner Jack Amiel, the identity of the antagonist was revealed quite late in the process. “I think the last part (we figured out) was who did it,” Begler said on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “When I really think about how we broke the season, we rewrote and rewrote. It was constantly changing.”
Begler’s desire was to expand the series’ Los Angeles vision. It was one thing to give “Perry Mason” a wider range; Figuring out how to solve a murder mystery was another. “Jack and I have done The Knick and a few other pilots in between, but we’ve never done a courtroom drama or a mystery before,” Begler said. “It was definitely scary.” Instead of starting the plot, the writers asked themselves what kind of story they would like to see Mason in. “We just started from there, what is the most interesting story that we can tell and what haven’t we seen before? And when you think of Perry Mason, you think of protecting the innocent.
That’s why Mason defends guilty clients this season — but the true motivations behind the murder remain obscure until the end of the season. “We thought, what if you protect the guilty, and what does that look like?” Begler said. “That was our seed, and then we added the layer of historical research that we did—it was so engaging to think of LA as an oil town and go down that rabbit hole. From there, we started to build this idea of the very rich and the people in the Hoovervilles and how they met each other.” It wasn’t until later that Begler and Amiel figured out who their primary villain was, and the details kept changing. – We rewrote until they called the wrap.
The reveal of the villain was further tweaked in the editing room, leading to the unusual decision to reveal the killer’s identity in episode 7 instead of the season finale. “There are a lot of shows where you wait until the last possible moment, and that’s what we did,” Begler said. “We persisted and held back, but it didn’t work.” Begler realized that even after the reveal, there was plenty at stake for Perry and his clients, and those issues could drive the final episode.
The Filmmaker Toolkit podcast is available here Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Cloudyand Lacing machine. Music used in the podcast is from the score ‘Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present’, courtesy of the composer Nathan Halpern.
“For me, that was what was so interesting about the last episode. It was not the great “Scooby-Doo” who took off the mask. It was (Perry said), ‘Now what do we do with this information and how do I use it to my advantage?’ This led to a hugely satisfying finale in which Mason fell for his clients and for justice. “It took a long time to find that combination of cynicism and honor,” Begler concluded. “And it’s a great moment for Perry.”
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