Thursday, January 26, 2023

REVIEW: 'Poker Face' - Aging Rockers Will Do Whatever It Takes to Regain the Public Adoration They Once Had in 'Rest in Metal'

Peacock's Poker Face - Episode 1.04 "Rest in Metal"

Charlie goes on tour with has-been metal band Doxxxology, a motley crew of dejected rockers who've spent decades trying to write a new hit. Charlie suspects foul play when one musician winds up dead.

"Rest in Metal" was written by Christine Boylan and directed by Tiffany Johnson

This show rewards viewers who diligently pay attention to every single detail. The camera always calls out various clues that will be important later on. Such an emphasis is placed on Gavin's feet. He has his feet up on a table when he first meets Ruby. The rhythm of his feet play a crucial element in his skills as a drummer. He records himself from that vantage point to relive the moments onstage as well as to learn from his mistakes. Most importantly, he is never wearing shoes. It allows him to remain grounded. He can't tolerate that barrier between his body and the floor. It's how he feels connected with the world. Of course, that connection is then taken advantage of when the aging members of this heavy metal band decide to kill him. Doxxxology hates their number one song. They only ever produced one hit back in the 1990s. They are asked to perform it at every gig they take. However, they don't receive any money from it because they didn't write it. Their former drummer collects all the royalties from this success. The band members don't want history to repeat itself. Everyone sees Gavin as the real deal. That's an honor they can bestow upon him simply because they are already in the business. Ruby, Al and Eskie lead as people who have already proven themselves. Of course, they are all hacks. None of them are any good at writing songs. They have three weeks to come up with another hit. That's the self-imposed timetable they must meet in order for their dreams to come true once more. They need this career to work out. They can't survive working ordinary jobs. They can't accept that. They refuse to deal with reality. It's not going to happen for them. They continue to chase the dream. They refuse to give up. That can be admirable from a certain perspective. It's largely destructive though. Gavin is killed simply because Doxxxology is jealous of his talent. He just copied other people's creativity though. He brought it together and packaged it as something new and exciting. And yes, no one in the band is any wiser to that fact. In fact, it's a great punchline when the record label planning to sign Doxxxology pulls the plug after internet sleuths realize they just copied the theme song from Benson. That's a detail that even Charlie didn't pick up on. She is the largest reason this group won't achieve the success they crave the most. She ensures their story of killing Gavin to obtain success is heard far and wide. Some people believe she has enough evidence to make a convincing case. She doesn't know everything. That makes her human. That can be a tall order given her special lie-detecting abilities. She has faults too. But she always does her best to honor people in death when so many selfish people exist trying to exploit these circumstances to their benefit.

Charlie has her own drama going on too. It's legitimately terrifying when Cliff suddenly shows up behind her. She didn't realize a video with her in it was posted online. That tipped him off to her current location. Of course, she evades capture simply by being better at navigating a crowd. She is helped because she fosters these meaningful connections. Ruby fired Deuteronomy because he could potentially disrupt her scheme to kill Gavin. She needed the story to be their safety being compromised onstage because the person in charge quit. It wasn't because he got some better opportunity though. He was eventually able to land on his feet. That enhances Charlie's overall sentiment of there always being something for her to do and a place to belong for a little bit. It can still be incredibly convenient that someone dies no matter where she goes. It's always a mystery to see how she factors into each of these stories. The first twenty minutes always showcase how and why the murder happens. Charlie isn't even seen in those sequences. It's only later revealed that she has been close by the entire time no matter how improbable it may seem. She was selling the merch on this tour. She was driving behind the tour bus in the car she now lives in. That connection seems perfectly reasonable. She gets invested in the lives of the people who depend on her for some menial job. It's never beneath her either. She is simply looking for work no matter where she goes. This band has aspirations for stardom. The jobs they have elsewhere aren't good enough. They look down on people who are content with those circumstances. Charlie didn't expect tour life to devolve into cliques. That behavior is annoying. Charlie inspires Ruby to let Gavin in. When he gets that invitation, he shows off his genius. That's when the idea to kill him ignites. It's not Charlie's fault. She wants people to always look beyond themselves to appreciate and respect those around them. That's not difficult. Charlie does it all the time. She investigates and engages with humanity even though she knows people will always lie. That hasn't broken her spirit. She still experiences fear from time to time. She has yet to deal with any of those real consequences. Sure, it's annoying that Cliff may only pop up for a few brief moments every few episodes to tease this ongoing drama. That' doesn't really add anything compelling. It's not driven by telling some overarching story across the season. It remains relevant. However, the true appeal of the show comes from the episodic mysteries. It hopes to present these actors in situations that seem completely atypical while showcasing the true depth of the American landscape. Those are some lofty ambitions. It works in some instances better than others. This episode doesn't necessarily pop as well as the previous three do. It's still entertaining while telling a complete story. The characters along the way simply come across as more one-note which makes Charlie's ultimate victory over them less rewarding. Instead, it's simply inevitable.