Thursday, January 26, 2023

REVIEW: 'Poker Face' - A Family Refuses to Let One Member's Newfound Morals Disrupt Their Business Aspirations in 'The Stall'

Peacock's Poker Face - Episode 1.03 "The Stall"

Charlie takes a job at a family-run Texas BBQ joint and must use her skills of perception to sniff out the truth behind a shocking death.

"The Stall" was written by Wyatt Cain and directed by Iain B. MacDonald

Charlie senses malfeasance in Texas because she deduces the piece of wood used to attack a fascist dog came from the special pile next to George's trailer. Again, Charlie can reluctantly be convinced to pursue this investigation even though it's potentially dangerous for her to stay. That has quickly become a storytelling pattern. This show isn't reinventing the wheel. It's simply executing these stories at a really high level. Charlie has embraced life on the road. She is at peace with what this affords her to do. That's remarkable as well. It allows a friendship to form between her and George. His family has achieved regional success through their barbecue business. And yet, Taffy and Mandy are looking for ways to build on this financial prosperity. They have to take things to the next level. As such, they are comfortable taking risks because they believe they have to pay off at some point. George knows how dangerous it can be to get into bed with the wrong people. He doesn't want to monetize his skills any more than he already has. That would remove all the passion from it. Of course, it only takes one viewing of Okja for him to completely change his perspective. When Charlie first starts working for this family, he teaches her the importance of using every part of the animal. It's his way of honoring their sacrifice to feed the community. Charlie gifts him with the movie. After that, he's convinced he's a killer. He has to change his ways to atone for that mistake. He too finds peace in becoming a vegan. He can't be convinced to change his mind. Taffy and Mandy rely on him for this business to work. They don't have his skills. They need his partnership to achieve their financial aspirations. They don't have the resources to buy him out of the business. George knows that too. He believes there is some way to resolve this peacefully. That's not what his family wants. They believe killing him is the only sensible option. They craft the scene to make it appear as a suicide. If Charlie wasn't there, then the community would have largely believed that. There was no reason to investigate. The story lined up perfectly. And yet, all the clues are left behind to solve this murder. Charlie has the capacity to do so. She is motivated because she knew George was planning on living long enough to tell her something important. He still passed along a ton of helpful wisdom. He knows how different types of wood alter the final product. He relies on all of his senses to pick what is needed. He carries that perspective. His family doesn't appreciate his eccentricities. They hope to thrive through his ignorance. He doesn't know that Taffy and Mandy are having an affair. They are working this business together. They cut George out because he doesn't share their ambitions.

It's still ultimately convenient whenever Charlie lands in a specific destination and decides to stay for awhile. She is annoyed by a dog that jumps into her car and refuses to leave. It's even more aggravating based on the talk radio the animal enjoys. However, the opening sequence highlights the importance of this dog. He is around to disrupt Taffy's plan as he's committing the murder. He has to think quickly in order to handle this major annoyance. Everyone understands that impulse of being frustrated with this dog. Charlie wants to get rid of him. She ultimately has to take responsibility for his actions. The dog is hers whether she wants it or not. She agrees to that deal the moment she drives off with him. She's fine leaving him behind once her debt is paid. She also sees the reasoning to stay and uncover the truth of this mystery. It's all because the dog was injured. Charlie knew people were lying after George's death. However, she didn't read anything into it. They were nothing more than the little lies every person tells. Charlie detects them. It's a skill to know when to investigate and when to let something go. Mandy lying about the paprika in the kitchen doesn't seem like a big deal. It ultimately reveals her complicity in the scheme. Of course, the audience understood that based on her watch counting down alongside Taffy's. She actually created this plan. Taffy carried it out. They are both responsible for George's death. Now, Charlie can't determine how much Mandy loved her husband. Her powers don't work like that. She instead sees a crime of opportunity. George was tearing this business apart. Taffy and Mandy couldn't allow that. They are beloved figures in this community. They believed they had built enough respect so no one would question their alibis and motives. Charlie is the disruptor. She is new. It's freeing as she embarks on this experience. She enjoys pulling out a map and finding somewhere to go. That's the big choice she gets to make now. She is happy with this life. She still has to examine the darkness that plays out underneath each community she finds. It's never as perfect as it seems. However, no one is quite operating under the illusion that it is. Every episode starts with the murder actually happening. It's only after the first third that Charlie comes into play. She is seen experiencing this story alongside the crucial players involved. She has great timing. It could be unfortunate given how often death happens around her. She still provides answers in a way that the police often cannot. She eventually has to rely on law enforcement. But it's extremely satisfying to see Mandy learn that she too will be exposed for her role in the crime. The duo hoped they could exploit the radio for their benefit in this criminal endeavor. And then, the tables are turned simply because Austin is bored. He's willing to do any job so long as it's interesting. With Charlie, she can always deliver on that promise. Plus, he gets a dog who enjoys his numerous characters.