Thursday, March 2, 2023

REVIEW: 'Poker Face' - A Snowstorm Traps Charlie in More Physical Danger Than Ever Before in 'Escape From Shit Mountain'

Peacock's Poker Face - Episode 1.09 "Escape From Shit Mountain"

Charlie finds herself stranded in a motel during a blizzard. In order to survive the night, Charlie must decipher the deadly tension between her questionable companions.

"Escape From Shit Mountain" was written by Nora Zuckerman & Lilla Zuckerman and directed by Rian Johnson

Charlie has endured a lot during her year on the run. She has been shot, stabbed, threatened, fought and chased. She has survived all of that. She has gotten justice for victims of heinous crimes too. She is very giving of herself because she's very curious by nature. She has also survived several near-death experiences. It happens twice in the span of this episode. Both times she wakes up believing she has died. The first time, it's likely due to the concussion she's suffered after Trey ran her over with his car. It takes awhile for her to remember precisely what happened. The second time, she had the wherewithal to snatch Trey's ankle monitor knowing that will direct the authorities to the victims of his many vicious murders. She still survived. Upon seeing the news report though, she acknowledges she has died. She knows it's not literally true. Cliff knows precisely where she is now. She no longer has the physical ability to run away. Time has run out for her. She's still alive. A ton can still happen. Charlie can never be underestimated. However, her recent brush with death forces her to look inward. She has been happy with her nomadic life. She has found purpose. She never stays in one place for long. In fact, she even gets caught up in a sweet romance with Luke. He introduces her to this magical landscape. Of course, it's only picturesque during a certain time of year. When the snow falls, Luke's gone and Charlie is stuck desperately trying to escape. She wants to venture onward to Denver. The environment has other plans for her. It flings her into more physical danger than ever before. At first, it's unclear who Trey actually injured with his car. It reasonably could have been either Charlie or her new traveling companion Morty. It's ultimately revealed to be Charlie. That places much more emphasis on this story because it's a fight for personal survival. She has never been injured in this way previously. She is working under a limited capacity. She dreads how the memory of her childhood could possibly be the happiest moment in her life. She receives clarity later on upon realizing it's just the coconut rum Trey enjoys that's bringing her back to that moment specifically. Because she makes that connection, she sees Trey as the ultimate culprit for every bad thing that happens throughout the night. She knew it was unwise to trust him. She got a bad vibe from him before seeing his ankle monitor. Trey doesn't care about people. He's only interested in himself. He just wants to know if people have the capacity to hurt him. If they do, he will take any action to eliminate the threat. That was true a decade ago when his on-again/off-again girlfriend did something he didn't like. He hasn't been burdened by that death like his friend Jimmy has. It's simply something he had to do because she stood in the way of his path towards greatness.

Trey is always trying to blame others for why things don't easily work out for him. He's under house arrest because a whistleblower came forward at his company and he was singled out as the convenient scapegoat. He expects this town to provide him with everything he needs. And yet, he's seemingly embarrassed to tell Jimmy that he's back. He only reaches out to his friend when he needs something. Jimmy never escaped this community. He never had that opportunity even though Trey paid for his silence. That wasn't enough. Jimmy is still haunted by Chloe's death. He knows exactly what happened to her. Even then, it was all built on a lie. He thought it was a tragic accident Trey caused. It was better to cover it up then come forward with the truth. It's been more painful to live the other way. And now, history is repeating itself. Jimmy helps Trey discard a body. This time the person wasn't actually dead. Charlie clings to life. They can't get rid of her so easily. Morty stumbles upon the scene offering help. Of course, she is also a con artist looking to steal whatever valuable possessions people might have. Charlie is never fooled when Morty takes her wallet. However, Morty is willing to cut Charlie out of a deal if it means she gets a sizable payoff. That's more important to her. She ultimately dies as a result of that selfish greed. That's how Trey operates. When his survival is threatened, he kills to maintain it. That pattern has gone unchanged. He concocts a better story to explain Morty's death. She stole his car and lost control during the storm. That resulted in her plummeting off a cliff. It's absolutely horrifying. It provides Charlie and Jimmy with the time to better understand each other. Jimmy doesn't want anything bad to happen to Charlie during the night. He believes a reasonable solution can still be found. Charlie forces Jimmy to confront the truth that has haunted him all these years. He's killed because he stands up for himself. He takes the sole bullet loaded in the gun. That hinders Trey's ability to commit every brutal act he imagines. And yet, he still gets away believing he has covered up all of these crimes without anyone being any wiser. He would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for the ankle monitor. It's because the system malfunctioned that he decided to go for a reckless drive. He forced all of this into happening. He has no one to blame but himself. Charlie truly happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. She couldn't escape fast enough even though that was always her desire. And now, she's found by the one person she has been trying to avoid all season. She finally has to face Sterling for causing his son's death. Cliff awaits instructions for what to do next. That's the immediate thought on Charlie's mind. She mourns Morty. However, this is no time to rest and accept whatever fate awaits her. She has to continue to fight in order to survive in a world that wants to kill her for the crimes she has exposed from many influential people.