Thursday, January 26, 2023

REVIEW: 'Poker Face' - Charlie Receives Help on the Road and Repays the Favor After a False Arrest in 'The Night Shift'

Peacock's Poker Face - Episode 1.02 "The Night Shift"

Wounded and on the run, Charlie is forced to make a pit stop in desolate New Mexico where she tries to clear the name of a trucker framed for the murder of a local.

"The Night Shift" was written by Alice Ju and directed by Rian Johnson

Charlie only has four hours to solve Damian's murder and she can't remember the word "fox." Across these first two episodes, it's become apparent that Charlie forgets words. They just don't come to her even though they would be really helpful in her current situation. That allows the creative team to be a bit more comedic. Those circumstances allow the quirky nature of the storytelling to take over. It may only last for a few beats. It's still noticeable. It produces a musical moment in the diner after all. Charlie needs that breakthrough to come. She has already hit her deadline for when she needs to leave this small town in New Mexico. She can't stick around to see the resolution of Jed being arrested and Marge being released from police custody. That's the outcome she knows is coming though. Once that becomes certain, she has the freedom to prioritize her own needs again. She was grateful for the kindness of a stranger. At first, Charlie and Marge just shared looks in the rest stop bathroom. They weren't hoping to engage with one another. And then, it became obvious that Charlie needed help. Marge just so happens to be an expert at living on the road. Like Charlie, she is running from a traumatic and dangerous past. She stole from a family member who wants to exact revenge. Marge doubts Charlie could find anything about her online. She has built a life in this isolation. She has found peace and happiness as well. She is fulfilled by her work as a trucker. She knows how to survive and defend herself. She can pass that wisdom onto Charlie who really needs it right now. It can be something as simple as super glue. Charlie takes that piece of wisdom and immediately applies it to her life. This whole endeavor also highlights just how quickly Cliff can track her down the moment she uses her credit card. Charlie sets her watch for that specific reason. She knows she can't abandon Marge when she has been arrested for a murder she didn't commit. Of course, Charlie doesn't know Marge well enough to believe this is something she would never do. However, she understands exactly what she would have done in order to defend herself. The logistics just don't line up with Charlie's expectations. As such, she must investigate. She can't help herself. She is startled by people who just pop up and decide to briefly interact with her. However, she also pushes her way into this world expecting to be completely trusted. Sara doesn't need to understand Charlie's ability to detect lies. She simply recognizes her as someone who is actually willing to get to the truth of what happened to her friend. The motivation is completely different from the case in the premiere. The situation is different. Charlie's expertise is still needed.

Jed blames the world for his problems. He believes he's deserving of more. Everyone around him is lucky because they have been blessed with possibilities they don't deserve. He obsesses over Sara. He spies on her from the roof of the auto shop. That's his own little nest. His uncle knows cars. He proclaims himself as the last honest mechanic in the world. Charlie appreciates that frankness. He loves his nephew. However, he can only tolerate the noise of his excuses for so long. Jed pushes Damian off the roof because he wins the lottery. Damian was in the middle of a speech about creating his own opportunities and prosperity in the world. It seemed completely ironic. Jed was incredulous and furious. He saw that as the latest example of the world conspiring against him. If he wanted to reverse his fate, he needed to kill. Damian made Jed out to be nothing more than a creepy stalker. Jed professes himself as much more than that. However, Damian's instincts were right. He was smart to be concerned about Jed's behavior. He knew Jed was capable of some heinous things. The push from the roof doesn't kill Damian either. Instead, Jed has to bludgeon him to death. That's the first clue to Charlie that Marge was innocent. After that, it's all about assembling the pieces Jed failed to clean during his cover-up. That includes the quarter Damian used to scratch the lottery ticket and the bottle cap from the beer he had with Jed on the roof. Charlie also understands that the serial numbers for the lottery tickets occur in sequential order. The winning ticket lines up with the one Damian purchased not when Jed tried to cash in on the reward. Of course, this investigation still endangers Charlie's life. Jed has reason to disrupt her investigation and ensure she doesn't threaten his newfound prosperity. In the end, Charlie is lucky because her brake line is fixed before an inevitable accident occurs. That shows just how different this family of mechanics truly is. One is honest and makes a living off of that. The other is jaded and angry over people refusing to give him what he wants. His needs aren't more important. As such, he gets exactly what he deserves. Moreover, Sara helps Charlie by pointing Cliff in the wrong direction. Charlie doesn't like the beach. That's the one bit of personal information she gives out. That's just enough for the careful art of misdirection. It may only help for a short bit. Charlie only takes out enough money she needs for the current situation. However, that's the way she lives. She has enough to handle what the world is currently throwing at her. She deals with that and then moves on to whatever comes next. She is lucky and prosperous though because she makes these honest and genuine connections with people. Her motives are pure and that allows her to be seen as a shining light despite being wrongly wanted for murder.