It’s more of the same from Poker Face, as “The Stall” finds the crime series easing into its winning formula. This installment is just as cleverly constructed as the other entries, yet with more comedy elements from Lyonne and a cute sidekick dog to adore.
We recap the Peacock series Poker Face Season 1 Episode 3, “The Stall,” which contains spoilers.
Poker Face isn’t a whodunit-style murder mystery but more a howcatchem, inverted detective story, where the murderer and the murder itself are shown to viewers, and Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) has to solve the case for herself. This subversion in the genre is popularized by Columbo, but Rian Johnson and his creative team use the same technique here in a more modern setting. In “The Stall”, Charlie continues her road trip to nowhere and stops off at a barbecue joint to find herself caught up in yet another murder case.
Poker Face Season 1 Episode 3 Recap
The episode starts with cook George Boyle confessing to murder, but this isn’t a cold-blooded killing, it’s more of a personal assessment of his vocation in life. George is the co-owner of a popular barbecue joint and he’s had the realization that meat is murder. He tells his brother and co-owner Taffy (played by Get Out star Lil Rel Howery) that he wants to sell his share of the business and that he is now becoming a vegan. Taffy is shocked by this news and tries to talk his brother around, but already he is planning his sibling’s murder.
Taffy pre-records a large segment of his radio show and orchestrates his calculated scheme. While the radio show is broadcasting and his pre-recorded speech is being delivered, Taffy sneaks into his brother’s home. He’s already drugged George, who is passed out on the floor. Taffy then cleans the drugged bottle and locks the door from the outside with his famous floss. He tapes up the windows and pipes smoke into the room. A dog attacks Taffy as he flees and he beats the pest to death with a log of wood. This wasn’t part of the plan, but Taffy manages to return just in time anyway.
We revert back to a few days previously and Charlie is still out on the road. The man who wants her dead, Cliff, is heading in the complete opposite direction, so Charlie has a little more time on her side. She stops off for gas and begrudgingly picks up a stray dog. This violent creature bites her, then refuses to leave her car. The only radio station that seems to quieten the barking dog is a racist talk show. Angered by the situation, Charlie kicks the dog out at the next stop, which happens to be the Boyle BBQ joint.
The dog jumps onto the picnic tables and ransacks the place. Taffy demands compensation for the chaos caused and George offers Charlie a chance to pay her debt by working a shift. George shows her the business and talks enthusiastically about the whole process. He’s obsessed with using different wood for different meats and compares the process to orchestrating a symphony. In return for his hospitality, Charlie offers George some animal-related DVDs to watch.
George spends the day watching Okja, which causes him to rethink his entire diet and life’s work. Funnily enough, Okja was the film that made me become a vegetarian, but George takes it a step further and decides to become a vegan. He tells Charlie that he is a murderer before his meeting with Taffy, where he gets out of the family business. George seems optimistic about the future but is found dead that fateful night. Once again, Charlie cannot believe her cursed ways and decides to leave. Death seems to follow her wherever she goes, much like Armand Gamache in Three Pines.
Once again though, Charlie finds herself drawn back to the murder case. This time she finds the dog she was caring for dead by the side of the road, well it appears dead at first. The dog barks back to life and is whisked off to the vets. They patch up the dog and inform Charlie that the poor creature was hit by a piece of wood. Charlie investigates the wood and compares it back at the barbecue joint. It matches the pecan found outside George’s place. The dog’s missing tooth is found inside his burner as well.
Taffy and Mandy (George’s wife) finalize the paperwork and celebrate their earnings. It soon becomes clear that Mandy was in on the murder. She kisses Taffy in private too. They’ve gotten away with murder, but Charlie won’t let the dog attack go. She questions the workers and then Taffy himself. She sniffs out Taffy’s lies and he aggressively tells her to leave. Charlie tries to leave again, but can’t let it go. The human lie detector investigates George’s place again and sniffs out issues with the bottle and the door handle. There’s something off with the bottle and she can smell cinnamon floss on the handle. Ironically, Charlie reveals all these theories to the murderers again, she really needs to stop telling everyone her theories.
Next, Charlie heads to the local radio station and questions the DJ, Austin. He demonstrates all his different accents and personalities, proving that he is the sole person instigating all the radio shows, including the racist one. He passes Charlie a copy of Taffy’s radio show from the night George was murdered. Charlie surmises that Taffy pre-recorded the long section so he had an alibi. She even tests out if sixteen minutes is long enough to commit the killing, which she discovers it is. Here, the show pushes the more comical side of the narrative. Charlie then asks Mandy about her lies. Now it’s Mandy’s turn to ask Charlie to hit the road.
Charlie has all the proof she needs and goes to confront Taffy in person. She explains the dog tooth and the floss and the fact the beer bottle was cleaned of evidence. She talks about the radio show and the pre-recording, mentioning the cleverest section of the episode so far – you can’t hear the train in the background of the show, because the pre-recording was playing instead. Charlie admits that she has her confession and is just stalling for time. Taffy is confused, but the viewers have been shown exactly what Charlie is on about. Austin pretended to be Taffy and manipulated Mandy into confessing. The DJ plays the recording of Mandy’s confession on the radio. The police arrest both culprits. As the episode comes to an end, we see the DJ looking after the dog and Charlie hitting the road once again.
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