[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 1 finale of Perry Mason, “Chapter 8.”]
There’s always a comfort to be found in watching a show’s season finale, when it’s been officially confirmed that there will be more to come. So thank you, HBO, for greenlighting a second season of Perry Mason over three weeks before the final installment of Season 1.
By the end of “Chapter 8,” it’s pretty clear what’s next for the titular private dick-turned-defense attorney — even though those final scenes were produced without the creators knowing if they’d ever get a Season 2. In fact, during an interview with Collider in early June, all that star Matthew Rhys was able to say at that point was “there’s been whispers about a Season 2. But the conception of [the first season] was to be a standalone eight-part miniseries.”
And not just a miniseries, but a full-on origin story for the character of Perry. As Rhys described it, “To a degree, it seems so obvious that if you’re going to do Perry Mason, one of the best places you can start is with the origin story. Because when they said, ‘That’s what we want to do.’ I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea. I’d love to see how he becomes this icon.’ So I was intrigued and the way they went about it, the basis they loaded and the complexities they heaped on all of us, I thought layered this tapestry and presented itself ripe for kickoff.”
According to director Tim Van Patten, his feeling about the final moments of Season 1, which he directed, was that “when Perry’s standing on that bluff, he’s looking at the future. He’s looking at infinity, he’s standing at the edge of the precipice, it’s like, ‘Wow, what’s next?’ That’s what it felt like to me… he’s gone through this full journey and that’s where he’s landed. And he can easily step off the cliff and fall, but no, you can easily step off into the next season from there.”
Executive producer Susan Downey, when asked, said that when it came to further seasons:
Look, we would love the opportunity, if we’re so fortunate, to come back and tell more stories. This was definitely, again, designed as watching Paul and Della and Perry start as these outsiders who take on the system. But really, what they’re doing is they’re finding their place in this world, in this ever changing LA, where the population is booming yet we’re still in a depression, and Prohibition is still happening. But they’re all being challenged through the course of that first season to figure out who are they really, inside. What do they really want?… By the end, they’ve sort of figured out and shed their pasts, or shed things that were holding them back before, so now I’m ready to see these super-friends launch and take on the next thing.
While the staff of Mason and Associates (eventually to become Mason and Street) has been established, there’s one character whose fate is less clear. The end of the season establishes that Sister Alice, having fled the corrupt church she once headlined, has found a new life for herself as a waitress in Carmel. But does that mean Tatiana Maslany would be a part of subsequent seasons? And does Maslany feel like Sister Alice’s story is over at this point?
“I think it’s the first chapter,” she told Collider. “I think she’s finally working to emancipate herself from all of the things that have defined her and controlled her up until this point,” she said. “I feel like Alice’s trajectory kind of goes … she sort of becomes distilled in a way. She’s reimagined by the end of it, similarly to Perry in a very different place, devoid of all the things she knew to be true. All of the markers of her identity, her mother, the church, her faith, her connection to Emily, all of it is stripped away. And she’s in a way, starting again.”
Maslany then joked that “we’re doing a spinoff series. It’s a coming of age series.”
Added Rhys, “Obviously there’s a lot of room for Sister Alice to join the legal team, now that she’s a free agent.”
When asked if Sister Alice would potentially be a part of Season 2, Downey said that “what’s always great is you build these characters in Season 1 — and we have incredible characters, whether it was E.B., John Lithgow‘s character, or what Tatiana brought in and imbued in Sister Alice, or even what Veronica brought to Lupe. There are some of these characters where you come away and you go, ‘We’ve got to find a way to get them into Season 2.'”
As she continued, “Once we dig deeper, if we have the opportunity, I think we’re going to see what remains… There’s going to be new arenas that we want to play with, and whether or not she ends up on this next leg of the journey or maybe comes back even further down the road, I think it remains to be seen. We just have the same instinct and understand why you asked the question, because we’re so in love and fascinated with her, even up to the very, very last moments with her.”
However, Downey wouldn’t confirm Sister Alice’s future one way or the other, saying that “having been part of things that were sequels and stuff, you always leave that first one, because you’re so in love, and say, ‘We’re bringing this person back, we’re bringing this person back.’ And all for the right reasons, because they worked. But you really have to start with what’s the story and journey of our three leads, and what are the themes we want to play with. And then that has to kind of dictate the worlds we go in and the other characters that end up populating it. So that’s sort of a long way of saying, ‘We’ll see.'”
At this point, when it comes to Season 2 no casting has been confirmed and no production date has been set. At this stage, though, it feels like a safe bet to say that Season 2 will find Perry Mason, ably assisted by Della (Juliet Rylance) and Paul (Chris Chalk), back in court and ready to fight for justice.
For more on the show, watch our full video interview with Rhys and Maslany below, and also check out our recaps for Season 1. Perry Mason Season 1 is streaming now on HBO.