Now Streaming: POKER FACE Continues to Delight and Surprise
Creator Rian Johnson's murder-mystery series, starring the likably sterling Natasha Lyonne, charts new levels of pleasure.
Good news! The show has been renewed for a second season.
The series premiered January 26, 2023 on Peacock TV. The latest episode, "The Future of the Sport," debuted today. I've seen all seven episodes so far.
Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) always knows when someone is lying.
No matter where she goes, no matter what she does, she always just knows, whenever she sees someone lie. When she does, she can't keep herself from saying "bullshit," whether she's muttering to herself or exclaiming it in a voice and tone that sounds like she's on the witness stand in court: "J'accuse!"
Once she hears a lie, she is compelled to figure out why that person is lying, leading to complications in her life and constant bemusement for viewers.
In my initial review, published shortly before the series premiered, I laid out all the reasons why I enjoyed the first six episodes, which were made available in advance for critical consideration. At the time, I wondered why it was decided to make only six out of the 10 episodes available for advance viewing. In my limited experience, networks have often made a complete season of a series available, which usually helps in terms of understanding what the creators intend to accomplish, even if they set embargo dates for individual episodes.
The remaining four episodes have been available for preview, but the press of time kept me from watching any until last night, when I enjoyed watching Episode 7, "The Future of the Sport." If you haven't sampled the show yet, I recommend a trial subscription, at least, so you can enjoy this stand-alone episode.
Even before I watched any episodes, I was curious that the press notes made it a point to say that the episodes could be watched in any order, but now that I've rewatched Episodes 1 and 6, as well as rewatching Episode 7 this morning, I'm beginning to understand.
In my initial review, I wrote: "Rian Johnson stylishly conjures up sufficient and compelling reasons for her life to be endangered before the conclusion of the first episode, giving her more than sufficient motivation to get out of town toward her ultimate destination. The episodes are individually structured in unpredictable fashion, to the point that whiplash is occasionally induced, but it's so whip-smart that you're left wondering how it was accomplished, and wanting to enjoy the ride over and over again.
"Each episode follows the classic 'mystery of the week' pattern by introducing a new guest star or two or three in a new location, as a major crime is committed in an ingenious fashion, with the criminal convinced that they will get away with their crime. Of course, they are not counting on Charlie Cale showing up out of the blue."
Rewatching individual episodes empowers the viewer, since you already know how it's going to end, and you can play a game of 'spot the clue.' It also allows for the savoring of the performances by guest stars, as with Tim Blake Nelson, giving a marvelous, wonderfully nuanced performance in Episode 7 as a race-car driver whose career is coming to an end.
Directed by Iain MacDonald, the episode is typical of the first six episodes, which, as I've written before, are "individually structured in unpredictable fashion, to the point that whiplash is occasionally induced, but it's so whip-smart that you're left wondering how it was accomplished, and wanting to enjoy the ride over and over again."
This time, the guest characters take a variety of turns that delighted and surprised me, even watching it for a second time. Narratively speaking, Episode 7 also shifts in a clever, sneaky, entirely justified manner that is different from previous episodes, especially about motives, which invites closer attention and also spurred me to watch it twice within 12 hours. That also speaks to the idea that Rian Johnson and company will have something special to share with another season.
The show easily justifies the cost of a one-month subscription on Peacock TV, which features a high-quality 4K HDR version that looks and sounds absolutely splendid, even if you have the ad-supported version of the streaming service. Highly recommended.
Now Streaming covers international and indie genre films and TV shows that are available on legal streaming services.