Thursday, February 16, 2023

REVIEW: 'Poker Face' - A Bitter Feud Reveals the Killer Instincts Needed to Prevail as a Race Car Driver in 'The Future of the Sport'

Peacock's Poker Face - Episode 1.07 "The Future of the Sport"

While working at a go-kart complex, Charlie becomes involved in a bitter feud between an aging race car driver and a hotheaded young upstart, whose rivalry has explosive consequences.

"The Future of the Sport" was directed by Iain B. MacDonald with story by Joe Lawson & CS Fischer and teleplay by Joe Lawson

Kyle Owens and Davis McDowell have killer instincts. They both have the capacity to do whatever it takes to prevail in racing. That's what makes them the best. However, they are both aware that it's only another season before Katy leaves them in the dust. She has the gift. She has the same spark that Kyle's father had. Racing is a talent within this family. Kyle felt the pressure to live up to those expectations. He refuses to step aside. That's not in his nature. He needs to be the best. It takes a lot of effort for him to prevail. He understands the mechanics. Victory is possible. He's pleased when it appears his biggest competition has died in a fiery crash. He's responsible for the vehicle no longer functioning. And then, everything pivots the moment he realizes his daughter was actually behind the wheel. The show plays with those expectations. At first, it presents as a typical battle between the generations. Kyle is the veteran racer while Davis is the hotshot newcomer. They both have something to prove. Their differences should be settled on the racetrack. And yet, the drama carries on beyond that. Instead, they engage in sabotage to purposefully injure lives. That's how to achieve greatness. Kyle has lost his mojo. With that gone, he can't win another race. He doesn't have the confidence anymore. That should be his signal to retire. He had a solid run. It's time to pass the glory to the next generation. Davis may be great now but that isn't destined to last. Kyle can't seek solace in acknowledging his daughter's natural gifts. He still selfishly wants it for himself. He's an honorable man at the end of the day though. When Charlie confronts him with the truth, he makes a full confession to the world. He does the right thing. He saw the error of his ways. He wasn't as covert as he thought he was when sabotaging Davis' vehicle either. Davis heard him in the garage. He saw his competitor leaving. Under the hood, Davis knew exactly what happened. He didn't remove the fish hook. Instead, he needed to add to the tragedy. That's the only way Kyle would learn his lesson. To Davis, Kyle is an arrogant and entitled asshole. Everything was given to him. The same is true of Katy. She's the collateral damage Davis is willing to accept. He wants to injure her just to infect psychological torture on her father. It's all because Davis knows Katy is better than him. Kyle is infuriating as well with his superiority complex. He still does the right thing. That quality can't be found in Davis. He didn't inherit greatness from his grandfather. He holds that family connection close. It matters to him. However, he does nothing to honor his grandfather's legacy. Instead, he ends up being the one losing everything because of the guilt over what he's done.

Katy survives the crash. She will make a full recovery. She will eventually get behind the wheel again and defeat Davis. She did so easily on the go-kart track. That enraged Davis. He had to settle scores simply from that defeat. He was willing to fight when Kyle said he was ruining the sport. The embarrassment at his mother's place of business was even more humiliating. He lost sight of people's humanity. He didn't care who got hurt so long as he came out on top. He knows about Charlie's gift as well. He knows she can detect lies. Sure, he understands it through a "cancer dog" metaphor. Charlie doesn't like that after awhile. However, it only takes one slip-up to reveal everything. She believed she uncovered the truth simply when it was Kyle sabotaging the vehicle. The story actually doubled down on that twist. Davis amplified it. He needed to be held responsible too. He's not the first person to hunt Charlie down the moment she reveals how much she actually knows. She survives all of those encounters. That's impressive. Part of it comes from the many skills she has learned along this adventure. She doesn't actually get racing. It's just cars driving around in circles. However, she ultimately has to listen to Davis' advice and trust her car. That's the only way she can outmaneuver him on the highway. She has to escape to freedom. But she's also willing to put her life in danger to expose killers. That has been a constant throughout this season. Charlie knows precisely when to make those confrontations. She arms herself with information as well as an exit strategy. This story doesn't end with Charlie getting the police to arrest Davis. Instead, it's about joining Donna and Katy at the hospital. She lifts their spirits up and leads with the certainty the family legacy will remain intact. Davis refused to do the right and honorable thing. He has to forever live with what he did. That may be punishment enough. He views racing as his ticket to a better life. He's chasing after a sponsorship that can help provide for his family. He wants the opportunities that are already present for Kyle and Katy. He pursued things the wrong way. That's costly to everything he holds dear. No one dies. That's new. The punishment is still just as severe. It's psychological torture. Charlie knows how to inflict that. She simply has to take Davis' mojo away. His career may be done before Katy ever returns to the driver's seat. Davis' confidence is shattered. He was cocky and so certain of his skills. He didn't accomplish his goal. Instead, he only provided his biggest competitor with a way to channel her energy against him in the one sport he cares about. He trusted his instincts. They carried him in the wrong direction. Charlie caught him. He refused to give up. And so, Charlie delivers the final blow knowing that's what truly matters. She hurts him where he hurts; the precise lesson she learned at the start of the series.