Charles Melton and Natasha Lyonne in Poker Face

I’m a huge fan of Rian Johnson. BRICK. LOOPER. THE LAST JEDI. And, of course, the KNIVES OUT films. When I heard he created a new TV show with Natasha Lyonne starring, I was really anticipating something fantastic and unique. Unfortunately, seven episodes into POKERF ACE and each episode has been so similar I’ve lost almost all of my excitement. 

I totally get that the show wants to stick to a format, and that’s fine. It’s meant to be episodic, with one storyline revolving around Charlie (Lyonne) and the fallout with the Frosts (Ron Perlman and Adrien Brody) from E1. But we haven’t revisited that since E2 (I think), so now it’s just the weekly Charlie solves a crime show. Except when it isn’t. E6 featured a character who solved that story’s mystery before Charlie. She didn’t even really need to be in the episode, but since Lyonne is the star, she did add some needed comic relief.

Lyonne is very talented and likable in almost everything, and POKER FACE is no different. And Johnson is a prolific enough director that he can get some great weekly guest stars. Tim Blake Nelson shows up this week as an older race car driver who is jealous of his young competitor, played by RIVERDALE’S Charles Melton. They all give good performances, but the story falls flat. To put it in gambling terms, poker isn’t interesting when we can all see everyone’s cards. 

POKER FACE shouldn’t let the viewer in on too many secrets before Charlie figures them out. If we already know what’s happening and we’re just waiting for her to put the clues together, it feels very duplicative. Yes, I know so & so did the thing because you just showed them doing it. There’s no “aha” moment. I guess that’s the point, but it really steals the momentum away when we see it play out the same exact way, week to week.

POKER FACE streams on Peacock with a new episode every Thursday. 

Jami Losurdo

When not writing film and tv reviews, Jami is expanding her collection of colorful sunglasses, lifting weights, and working her day job as a Digital Advertising Director. An alumnus of NYU Tisch for Film/TV, Jami made Los Angeles her home in the early 2000s and continues her quest to find the very BEST tacos of all time.

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