(This article contains spoilers for HBO’s “Perry Mason” through the episode that aired July 5)
Being a noir thriller, “Perry Mason” on HBO tells the story not just of a murder mystery — but of a conspiracy as well. Having seen only three of the eight episodes thus far, we still know very little about the big picture. But we finally started to get a glimpse behind the curtain this week, and Perry and co. started to dig into the story of one George Gannon.
Now, George is very dead, and his face is basically destroyed, so you’ll be forgiven for not realizing this dead body was once a live human being who we met already. But we’ll come back to that in a momen.
So right now George is pretty much all anybody on the show wants to talk about, and Perry Mason himself (Matthew Rhys) spends the episode trying to figure out what his role was in this whole situation — and, honestly, whether he was even really involves and whether his affair with Charlie’s mother implicates her as well. And at the end of the episode, we finally got a big chunk of the answer.
But “Perry Mason” is not a show that holds your hand through these things, so you might not quite grasp how these pieces all fit together. But that’s what we’re here for.
So, George Gannon was officially introduced last week. We found out that he was having an affair with Emily Dodson (Gayle Rankin), the mother of the murdered baby Charlie. And we found out he’s dead, allegedly a suicide by shotgun, complete with a note expressing some vague remorse and a bunch of cash burned in the fireplace. This, of course, implicated George in Charlie’s murder, and that in turn implicated Emily.
What we learned this week, though, is that we actually had met George back in the first episode. In the “Perry Mason” premiere, there was a scene in which a trio of men, seemingly the kidnappers, are gunned down by Detective Ennis (Andrew Howard). The three men were hiding out in the wake of the murder. And Ennis, apparently involved in the murder, was cleaning up loose ends. This is George:
Of course, Ennis’ efforts weren’t perfect — a wounded George Gannon (Aaron Stanford) managed to make it to the roof, but his escape was cut short when he tried, and failed, to jump to the next rooftop.
During this sequence, none of the three fugitives were named, so we couldn’t have known any of them was George. We only made the connection this week because of Paul Drake’s own investigation. Drake (Chris Chalk) found the bodies in the apartment the three were hiding in and followed George’s blood trail to the roof. The body was gone but when Drake investigated where George fell, he found a set of false teeth that belonged to George.
Of course, those findings never went into the record because Ennis strong-armed Drake into changing his report. But Drake, fed up with the eternal brazen corruption and racism of the LAPD, spoke with Perry Mason privately, filled him in on the details that were left out of his report, and gave him the denture plate. Perry then broke into a morgue to see if the teeth fit George. And they did.
So the gist here is that George Gannon was involved in the kidnapping, but he and his compatriots were killed by an LAPD detective whose role in the whole thing isn’t so clear yet. It’s worth noting that in George’s scene in the first episode, the three men all indicated that none of them were the ones who killed Charlie — they were just talking to each other, so there’s no real reason for them to lie about it.
So we still don’t know much of anything about what really happened with baby Charlie; we just know that Detective Ennis had something to do with it. But, hey, there’s still five more episodes of “Perry Mason” to go, and probably a lot more complications to go with them.