Thursday, March 9, 2023

REVIEW: 'Poker Face' - An Inevitable Confrontation Occurs With Charlie Finding a Way for Justice to Prevail in 'The Hook'

Peacock's Poker Face - Episode 1.10 "The Hook"

Charlie faces her greatest challenge yet when she is caught in the crossfire of a deadly power play that puts her in the sights of two ruthless crime syndicates and the FBI.

"The Hook" was written by Rian Johnson and directed by Janicza Bravo

Sterling Frost has a job for Charlie. It's a serious case of deja vu. Sterling Frost Jr. thought his father always looked down on him as a screwup. He needed to do something massive in order to leave his mark on the world. He saw Charlie as the golden opportunity to help him expose the damage being down to his family's hotel empire and profit from it. Sterling Frost Sr. similarly wants to exploit Charlie's gifts for his own personal gain. The father is exactly like the son. However, the finale's story isn't the same as the premiere's. The parallels are certainly there. That was unavoidable. Charlie and Cliff agree that all of this was inevitable. Charlie could only be on the run for so long. She was motivated to do so because of Sterling Frost Sr.'s menacing threat following his son's death. And yet, motivations change during the year Charlie evaded capture. Charlie's life was different. As such, it's easy to understand why things have shifted for Sterling and Cliff too. Sterling made his threat in the immediate aftermath of his son dying from suicide instead of facing the reality of once again destroying another endeavor. However, his father had the entire hotel wired up with surveillance. It's fairly low-tech. That's the way he operates. Listening back, he hears Charlie showing reverence to him. She went along with the scheme because she thought he was okay with it. Ultimately, Sterling Frost Sr. would have done the exact same thing she did. He understands. He sent Cliff to chase her because he wanted her to know this. He still sees her as useful. She isn't fated for death like she has thought all season long. Sterling is completely genuine too. He's more aggrieved by his son making a secret deal with Beatrix Hasp, a member of the Five Families. That was one of three things he told him not to do when he took over the hotel. He did it anyway. That revenge is much more personal. Charlie is expendable in his mind. He loves the idea of her working for him. It's a way to keep her close and her talents in check. If she's working for him, then she won't be causing problems elsewhere. It's the same rationalization Sterling Frost Jr. made about Charlie. She doesn't care about that. She still sees a business she is trapped in. Cliff is as well. He was relegated to this one task for over a year. He had to find Charlie. He got close on several occasions. However, that time on the road broke him. It made him desire a yacht. He would make a deal with whomever would provide that. He isn't loyal to the Frost family. It's simply a working relationship that has thrived for many years. That all changed. And so, he kills his boss to get what he wants. And yet, he can't just walk away after the murder is done. Charlie never allows any of the criminals to do that once she's involved in a case.

All of this is insanely personal to Charlie because she's delivered to Atlantic City. Sterling sees the poetic justice of bringing her to her hometown where she still has family. It's also conveniently where Hasp conducts her business. Sterling understands his limitations in life and where he thrives. That's on the casino floor. He knows how to conduct this business. He exerts pressure to obtain more. It doesn't work out. Charlie spent this season in fear of him. And now, he's dispatched to make way for a new, more daunting threat. But again, this adventure reunites her with her sister, Emily. Charlie would love to have a better relationship with her family. And yet, Emily only sees Charlie's gifts as a burden that destroyed their family once. She doesn't want that to happen again. She sees how plenty of people could love Charlie. In fact, she appreciates how Charlie helps them because she has a genuinely good soul. However, she isn't a good influence on her family. She drifts in and out of their lives without consideration for the damage she causes. She is free on the road and the various places she settles down for a bit. Charlie is at peace with that life. Others don't understand how she possibly could. It essentially cuts her out of her family for good. No matter how good her intentions are, she still hurts them. Charlie sees that. She doesn't fight back. She's at peace with who she is. That also makes her desperate enough to reach out to Cliff hoping their interests are aligned. They aren't because he's the one who set her up as the prime suspect of Sterling's murder. The truth inevitably comes out. It's inescapable. That was true when it came to Cliff finding Charlie and bringing her to Sterling. It's also true when it comes to Cliff getting arrested for killing Natalie. Charlie never forgot about the murder that started this whole adventure. It's the one thing she wants clarity on when she is Cliff's prisoner. She doesn't have the capacity to kill. She's frequently surrounded by people who don't have such inhibitions. It's a dangerous life. One that's pledged to be even more precarious. Charlie has a key ally at the FBI. Luca has quickly risen through the ranks by being the beneficiary of Charlie's hard work. He would still arrest her if he thought she committed a crime. She doesn't want to join the FBI either. She doesn't trust the bureau. She appreciates the arrests they make that hold criminal enterprises accountable. Hasp is a wanted woman now for ordering Sterling's murder. And yet, she still delivers a threat to Charlie that's eerily similar to the one Sterling made at the start of the series. Powerful people have the resources to find Charlie wherever she goes. She can't hide from them. That's not important. Instead, it's all about Charlie embracing the life she excels at. She hits the road knowing she can help people. In that regard, it's her choice when to use her skills. She's not beholden to anyone who wishes to exploit her to further enrich themselves. Charlie has morals and so many don't like that. She survives because she's seemingly invincible. It's a hard life. It's the only one she's got. She's adapted accordingly because there is no other way.