The sequel to the hit 70s legal drama Perry Mason has introduced us to the dark underbelly of a sunny 1930s Los Angeles.
One of the most interesting aspects introduced in the revival has to be Perry Mason’s service in the army and his abrupt discharge.
It came as a shock to many that the esteemed lawyer Perry Mason was actually a war veteran but the fact that he was kicked out was a bigger sizzle.
Upon researching the Internet I found out that the blue ticket is saved for undesirables in the US army like Blacks. I researched more and came to the conclusion that Perry is nor black! Just kidding. Here’s the short answer:
Handed out to the undesirable persons of the American army, usually homosexuals or Blacks, the blue ticket handed out to Perry could have something to do with the mercy killing of his comrades during his time in France.
1. Why is the Blue Ticket important?
The second episode of the revived Perry Mason series on HBO was when we got the first glimpse into the dark past of a very, very dark man.
I mean the man had already fashioned himself courtroom-ready with a tie picked up from a dead body in a morgue, cut off the thread off the eyes of a dead baby that held it open, and smashed a toy truck with a baseball bat – all in just the pilot.
That is one dark character for you and in the second episode, we get the first of many glimpses of his dark past.
In a conversation with his fatherly mentor E.B.J. and a client Herman Baggerly, we find that Mason attacked by Baggerly about hiding the fact that he got the blue ticket during his time in the army.
In so many words, Baggerly accuses Mason of being kicked out of the army and mocks him for lying about being a decorated veteran.
And I was told that you were a decorated servicemanBaggerly says to Mason
But actually you were discharged with a blue ticket. A blue ticket is reserved for undesirable servicemen. Homosexuals and Negroes. You’re not a Negro, are you?
What is a Blue Ticket Discharge?
We shall quickly consult Wikipedia here (Activism alert! Donate to the site if you haven’t already, please!)
So a blue ticket was handed by the US Army to all the personnel it deemed ‘undesirable’. These neither honorable nor dishonorable discharges were printed on a blue paper, hence the name.
One press account from the time had noted the purpose of administrative blue discharges as “discharges which are not dishonorable but are based on habits or traits of the individual that make his continuation in service undesirable”.
One common undesirability was homosexuality, a social taboo at the time.
After the first World War, they were also handed to underage servicemen in order to avoid portraying the government in poor light.
However, the Undesirable No. 1 was still the Black man. Blue discharges were handed out to a disproportionately large number of Black servicemen than their white counterparts.
So you get the idea. It was an official cover-up of the sheer bias of the United States government when dealing with its most prestigious populace.
Those given a blue discharge were stripped of all military benefits—like healthcare and loan applications.
It majorly became a way of separating African-American soldiers from benefits. It remains a stain on America’s military history that was never quite atoned for.
Kudos to the show for even the throwaway touching of the topic in its script!
2. So is Perry Homosexual?
With the most popular reason for handing out the blue ticket out of the picture, the only one left is that Perry was gay.
However, the sharp needle of the show’s explicit portrayal of his bedroom life never once points at queer. (If we ignore the one time he falls of the bed coz that’s not queer per se.)
While the war scenes recreated later in the season also show him with enough creases to give the whole underage spin no hold.
So what exactly was so undesirable about Perry Mason?
Later in the eight-part revival season, we witness a recreation of the France war where Perry had served before he started peaking windows for a living.
It is an unsparing and barbaric German attack and his troops are seen crushed. Perry soon finds himself surrounded by a sea of familiar dead or nearly dead faces.
Buried in the noise of bullets and bombs, we also hear a plea for mercy killing from one of those injured. Soon after, Perry picks up his gun and puts to rest every unsalvageable body around.
While noble in spirit, the act itself could have been horrifying given the value systems of the time. (I am not sure if they aren’t even today, I may add.)
In fact, during the conversation with Baggerly and EBJ from episode 2, we also learn Mason’s street name – The Butcher of Montfaucon. Amazing fact?
Montfaucon was one of the first gallows of the French empire where executions were held.
Perry Mason and PTSD
There is yet another fan theory as to why was Perry given the blue ticket. This one involves both the mercy killing as well as the homosexuality.
Word is Perry could have indulged in sexually divergent behavior after the trauma of what he saw and did in France.
So even if the Army did not wish to discharge him for mercy killing of men who would have died anyway, the act itself made Perry undesirable in other ways.
In the said conversation with E.B. and Baggerly, Perry responds to Baggerly’s attack by joking:
“I’m a quarter Welsh and queer at least once.”
From what we know about HBO’s Perry Mason, he is not the sarcasm kinda guy. It is very possible he could have been honest when he said that.
3. Did Perry Leave The Army on His own?
Meanwhile, there is also the theory that Mason himself decided to leave the Army after the brutality he witnessed in France, and his part in it.
Maybe the truth of war dawned upon him, which is basically agreeing to see your own folks killed too, not unlike what Perry experienced?
Now when he must have decided to leave the army without any legitimate reason to show, like a physical disability, he could have opted for the blue discharge to avoid talking about the REAL reason.
So there you go. Comment below and let me know if you have another crazy theory as to why was Perry BLUED out of the Army. If I missed out on any pre-existing ones, let me know that too!
5. About Perry Mason (2020)
Long before Perry Mason became the legendary lawyer that he was, he was a PTSD-ridden war vet struggling to find his place in the world. His first test as a lawyer was the gruesome killing of a child who was kidnapped and returned with his eyes sewn open. The mother, Emily Dodson (Gayle Rankin), is charged with the crime, in part because had an affair with an accused and in part due to the good old nasty Depression-era sexism.
Perry Mason is an American period drama television series based on the character of the same name created by Erle Stanley Gardner. It focuses on the origin story of famed defense lawyer Perry Mason. The series was developed and written by Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald and stars Matthew Rhys in the title role. In July 2020, HBO renewed the series for a second season.