Thursday, February 2, 2023

REVIEW: 'Poker Face' - Joyce and Irene Can't Forgive the Man Who Betrayed Them Decades Ago in 'Time of the Monkey'

Peacock's Poker Face - Episode 1.05 "Time of the Monkey"

Working at a retirement home, Charlie makes friends with two rebellious old ladies who may have taken matters into their own hands.

"Time of the Monkey" was written by Wyatt Cain & Charlie Peppers and directed by Lucky McKee

Whenever Charlie lands in a new place and takes a new job, she's not looking for a murder that needs to be solved. They just seem to always happen around her. It shows how universal the impulse can be. Moreover, it highlights the skills every person has to investigate and engage with the world. Sure, Charlie is special because of her lie detecting abilities. She still has the courage to act on her instincts even though they frequently put her in danger. Joyce and Irene spent decades of their lives in prison for attempting to blow up a Model U.N. meeting. They are self-righteous hippies who have never lost their edge or perspective. Joyce introduced Irene to Gabriel. She never thought the same way ever again. That's in sharp contrast to Gabriel, who realized when things went too far. He sold his group out to the police. He accepted a deal in witness protection. That's how he has spent the decades since this radical time in the 1970s. He has remorse for what happened to Joyce and Irene. However, they were all in on this plan. That can't be glossed over even though Charlie views them as fun and charismatic people at this retirement home. Joyce and Irene have always been together ready to fight against the system. In the past, that meant sticking it to the man as represented by Richard Nixon's government. In the present, it's a battle against the retirement community management trying to monitor their vitals and one resident wanting to organize fun trips. They stand out. And yet, they still require this specific care. Irene lost her ability to walk because of that raid. Joyce has always been willing to push her around. They are united on all fronts. They scheme to kill Gabriel together after he suddenly reappears. That betrayal changed everything. Moreover, murder immediately comes across as their solution to every problem. It's how they plan to continue getting away with this crime despite the FBI's vested interest in the case. They are even certain that Charlie is an undercover cop. She's not. She hates the police just as much as they do. She just sees the power in getting justice for victims of heinous crimes. She has her own sense of accountability. Luca knows Joyce and Irene are guilty. He lacks the investigative skills to actually prove it. He takes their alibi at face value. Charlie is the one who truly investigates. It's actually quite simple for her to piece together the clues that incriminate her friends. Joyce and Irene wanted to believe they fought for a righteous cause. In the end, they are simply radicals who haven't been reformed. They haven't changed despite their years in prison. Charlie holds them accountable. It's still a drawn out battle. One that doesn't end even when Joyce and Irene are in the back of a police car. They are still just as dangerous. They plotted against Charlie even before she revealed how much she actually knew about their crime.

This entire endeavor provides Charlie with a contact within the FBI. That could be a valuable resource. She could tell Luca everything she knows about Sterling Frost and his vendetta against her. She's on the run. Her enemies have framed her for murder. That's not a detail Luca picks up on. That further highlights how he isn't a smart or insightful agent. He hoped for so much more. He thought he would be on the frontline fighting terrorists. Instead, he's assigned to protective details for criminals who made deals with the government. That's all he can handle. Even then, he makes mistakes that don't inspire a ton of confidence. Gabriel requested this transfer. Luca approved it without doing any research. He knew it would be dangerous if Gabriel had any contact with people from his former life. And yet, he was shocked to learn Joyce and Irene lived in this community. Gabriel clearly wanted to apologize. He agonized over what he did. It's weighed on him. Joyce and Irene don't forgive though. Charlie understood that. She didn't need her special skills to know they were lying. She saw their motive for killing Gabriel. Luca only had his suspicions. Charlie brought him the proof. She even used the trick with the medical alert bracelet against Joyce and Irene. She needed to be saved by the staff and the FBI. After Charlie gets to know people, she is actually quite skilled at knowing what they are capable of. She knew Joyce and Irene wouldn't back down during this confrontation. She knew not to underestimate them simply because they are old. They are still strong and full of conviction. They have a message to deliver. It's one of personal vengeance. Charlie survives. She earns Luca's respect. She could use that connection to ensure she doesn't have to always be looking over her shoulder. She obviously cares about punishing people who deserve it. She wants resolution for the high roller who conducted illegal business from Sterling Frost's hotel. Natalie was killed because she reported that. Charlie is still trying her best to honor her former friend. She doesn't know the proper way to contact the FBI. She now has an inside connection. That's a huge deal. And yet, Luca's overall behavior only reinforces her belief of law enforcement being incompetent. She doesn't trust them. Nor does she want to join them. She is phenomenal at solving murders. She closes cases at a remarkable rate. Sure, so much of the drama follows her. She isn't responsible for every death that happens. She's still an active part of the story. That's good for exposing the truth. It's not always beneficial for her well-being afterwards. She can only trust herself. She strikes up friendships everywhere she goes. And yet, those only last for a few fleeting moments. That's good enough to provide her with the connection humanity so desperately needs all the time. She maintains that quest for life. It's just never something that can last. That's sad in a number of ways. It's also a life that is happy and fulfilling for her. She could end it now. That would be healthy. It would also require her trusting someone to help her without her first having to line up every piece of evidence to prove her side of the story.