Poker Face: Rest in Metal
January 29, 2023 3:53 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Charlie goes on tour with has-been metal band Doxxxology, a motley crew of dejected rockers who've spent decades trying to write a new hit; Charlie suspects foul play when one musician winds up dead.

Rian Johnson and Natasha Lyonne Missed Classic TV-Detective Shows. So They Made One [Rolling Stone / Archive]
Natasha Lyonne on That Accent and How Acid Made Her See Things Clearer [Rolling Stone / Archive]
Poker Face Shows Its Hand [Vulture / Archive]
Poker Face review: Natasha Lyonne is magnetic in whodunnit series [Guardian / Archive]
“Poker Face” Is a Delightfully Absurdist Murder Show With the Best Guest Stars [Autostraddle]
posted by ellieBOA (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I really liked this one- mainly because the performances were just great, especially Nicholas Cirillo as gonzo metal drummer Gavin. He jumped off the screen with a freshness and energy that was just fantastic. The Mountain Goats' founder, writer, composer, guitarist, pianist, and vocalist John Darnielle was hilarious as guitarist Al, with facial hair for the ages, in his acting debut, no less. He was great! Should act more!!! John Hodgman has a small role that is just as satisfyingly oddball. The casting is the best part of this series.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:38 AM on January 29, 2023 [11 favorites]


Also the RS article where Lyonne's discusses her accent is so very worth reading.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:42 AM on January 29, 2023 [2 favorites]


One thing that I find interesting about this show, w/r/t comparisons to Columbo, is that Columbo likes to emphasize how perfect each of its killers' crimes are. They're not just rich, entitled pricks: they're rich, entitled pricks who can afford to devise brilliant alibis, none of which matter because Columbo immediately knows who's likeliest to have done this.

Every murderer on this show so far has been... sort of a dipshit? That's not a criticism. I love these dipshit murderers and I love Charlie popping in to casually dismantle everything about their dipshit plans.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 6:40 AM on January 29, 2023 [9 favorites]


The performance scenes were filmed at the Towne Crier in Beacon, N.Y., and the alley exteriors were down the street from there a bit.
posted by gubo at 8:30 AM on January 29, 2023 [2 favorites]


One thing that took me out of this episode: The supposedly perfect, destined-to-be-a-hit song that the band murdered for … doesn’t seem to be particularly metal? If anything, it’s pop/country.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 10:52 AM on January 29, 2023 [3 favorites]




MFing Chloë Sevigny.
posted by porpoise at 8:44 PM on January 29, 2023 [6 favorites]


Poker Face’s John Darnielle Wants to Hear the Rest of ‘Merch Girl’ Too [Vulture / Archive]

Just different enough questions and answers from the Pitchfork interview!
posted by ellieBOA at 5:26 AM on January 30, 2023 [3 favorites]


One thing that took me out of this episode: The supposedly perfect, destined-to-be-a-hit song that the band murdered for … doesn’t seem to be particularly metal? If anything, it’s pop/country.

IIRC, I don't necessarily think they needed a metal hit... they just needed a hit. Ruby describes how hearing a hit made her feel, and Gavin's song does that to her. (too bad it was the Benson theme)
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:18 AM on January 30, 2023 [1 favorite]


Wow praemunire that Pitchfork article is great! Thanks!!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2023 [1 favorite]


I mean, how many metal bands really had metal hits, though? Usually if a metal band has a hit all the metalheads say it's shitty fake sellout metal. I think it tracks.

Yeah I also love that they're not by any means perfect crimes. They mostly seem pretty impulsive - people backed into a corner doing something desperate and opportunistic. I think they can't be too complex because Charlie doesn't have any of the tools of the legal or criminal justice system at her disposal, right? Just her weird superpower and her sunny disposition. So she can't be dusting for fingerprints or running DNA tests or doing autopsies. She typically has to sneak into crime scenes. It limits the level of criminal masterminds she can foil, a bit.

I loved the murder confession song so much. God
posted by potrzebie at 11:06 PM on January 30, 2023 [2 favorites]


This episode. Is perfect. Down to the little wisp of steam curling out of the dead drummer’s mouth. The song, crafted from candy wrappers and the tv theme (I’ve never seen that show, did anyone pick up on it before the reveal?) was beautifully revealed. But she’s got to get more than four hours away!
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:21 AM on January 31, 2023 [5 favorites]


I didn't immediately peg it as the Benson theme, but knew it was something like that; with Rian Johnson, no detail is unimportant, so it was a done deal that the drummer's obsession with old sitcoms was going to matter at some point. Love that the outing of the plagiarism A. took as long as it did; and B. was presented by a couple of kids whose PARENTS were probably even too young to have watched Benson in situ ("some of our older viewers pointed this out...")
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:40 AM on January 31, 2023 [4 favorites]


We're up to half of the victims basically being Charlie's fault.
posted by Etrigan at 5:06 AM on February 2, 2023 [4 favorites]


It's bananas that Charlie didn't even show up until 18 or so minutes into the episode. And it still worked!

I do love that Rian figured out a way to do a police procedural without spotlighting any actual police. Having the detective be a interested civilian who is just trying to help people deftly sidesteps a lot of the problematic aspects of your Law & Orders, etc.
posted by joelhunt at 7:21 AM on February 2, 2023 [12 favorites]


We're up to half of the victims basically being Charlie's fault.

My bad — 2/5 of the victims. I forgot about the abusive partner in the first one, but fuck that guy anyway.
posted by Etrigan at 11:01 AM on February 2, 2023


> and the tv theme (I’ve never seen that show, did anyone pick up on it before the reveal?)

Haha yes. At 49, I am exactly the right age to have grown up watching it. It was a favorite in my house.
posted by desuetude at 5:23 PM on February 2, 2023 [2 favorites]


and the tv theme (I’ve never seen that show, did anyone pick up on it before the reveal?)

I am 50 and apparently also the right age; it was one of the TV shows that my parents let me watch when I was a kid, and that theme song is tattooed on my brain. As soon as Sucker Punch started playing, I turned to Mr. creepygirl and said, "Oh god, they're going to kill this poor kid over a song that isn't even commercially viable because it used the theme from Benson."

(And now I have the theme from Benson stuck in my head.)

Other things I liked:

Charlie making a Spinal Tap reference shortly before a drummer died.

Charlie handing off a highly circumstantial case to Murder Girl to podcast it since her attempt to find a cop didn't work, and podcasts have a way of prodding cops/the justice system into action.

John Hodgman's character isn't a narc, he's just really bad at buying drugs (Mr. creepygirl predicted this before the reveal, and it was still delightful).
posted by creepygirl at 9:57 AM on February 3, 2023 [12 favorites]


I didn’t recognize John Darnielle, since I only have a passing familiarity with the Mountain Goats, but it makes so much sense that I recognized his voice! But I did get the Hodgman cameo and loved it.

It’s a weird shift going from the semi-movie feel of the first two installments to the more typically episodic feel of the second two. I definitely wasn’t as tense watching this one as I was during previous episodes.

Something I love is how Charlie is present but not on screen during the first act of each story. I should expect it by now, and yet I didnt have the thought that Charlie was probably the merch girl. The writing is just great.
posted by itesser at 7:49 PM on February 3, 2023 [3 favorites]


It's bananas that Charlie didn't even show up until 18 or so minutes into the episode. And it still worked!

That is the Columbo! That's what I love. Columbo was an hour and 40 or so and he wouldn't show up until a half hour or so into it. The first part was world building. You get into this world and you meet the characters and adjust to the situation. Then the detective comes into it and does detectiving and the murder is solved. It's why I don't like so many modern movies and tv shows. They just jump right in. You may get 10 minutes of setup. Those types of shows let you get invested first. You wanted to see the rest play out.
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:54 PM on February 3, 2023 [1 favorite]


I am really enjoying all the retro Columbo-ness of this show, as well as the new material it's brought to the formula like the aforementioned having-Charlie-already-present off-screen-for-the-entire-first-act plot device.

Charlie casually talking with the roadie was just a delight. Columbo always got his evidence by just being friendly and stopping to chat with everyday people about their jobs and what they've been doing. It always leads to important details like the roadie having been let go instead of quitting. Ditto Charlie being friendly with Gavin, even if he was especially difficult.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:16 AM on February 6, 2023 [4 favorites]


Bratt's character tracking Charlie down because she went viral for punching a krampus is much more entertaining than her bank account being monitored.

My favorite line this episode was Mr. Online MLS's "just don't sing it under oath."

Waiting for Charlie to comment on the number of murders she's been coming across. She is too self aware to Jessica Fletcher her way across the country and not notice the trend.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:16 PM on February 8, 2023 [8 favorites]


I guess this show really isn't for me. I've liked each episode a little less, as characters that I've been made to care for in the short vignette leading to the murder, are offed by awful stupid people.
I didn't even make it to the Charlie part in this one. They show the murder, they make the clues incredibly obvious, the only mystery is whether the stupid murderer can plausibly endanger the character with absolute plot armor.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:12 AM on February 9, 2023


Bratt's character tracking Charlie down because she went viral for punching a krampus is much more entertaining than her bank account being monitored.

In exactly 4 hours, per Marge the Trucker's sage advice.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:37 PM on February 13, 2023 [1 favorite]


Charlie making a Spinal Tap reference shortly before a drummer died.

I enjoyed Chloë Sevigny picking the green ones out of a bowl of M&Ms shortly after the "accident."

(For those who don't know, Van Halen famously had a rider in the contracts with venues that there needed to be a bowl of M&Ms in their green room with all the brown ones picked out, and that if that bowl wasn't there, and the brown ones picked out, they wouldn't play. This gained some notoriety at the time as a signal of silly preening rock star entitlement. But the reason for it was that they were playing at venues not used to the kind of big touring act they were doing, their contracts were way longer than average and full of important technical requirements which, if not followed, could lead to things like electrocution, and the M&Ms in the green room with the brown ones removed were a good quick way to check that the venue had actually read through and followed the contract.)
posted by Navelgazer at 3:33 PM on February 18, 2023 [8 favorites]


I enjoyed Chloë Sevigny picking the green ones out of a bowl of M&Ms shortly after the "accident."

I actually said out loud, "oh no, that's so sad!" It's like she knew the story about the M&Ms and she didn't know why it happened, just that it was something that rock stars asked for. Her dream is so sad and whittled down that this is what it has become.

Ditto Charlie being friendly with Gavin, even if he was especially difficult.

I think this was pointed out in an earlier thread, but Charlie genuinely likes people, and I think it's what keeps her sane, meeting interesting people wherever she goes. It's a really lovely trait for her to have.
posted by gc at 6:03 AM on February 22, 2023 [5 favorites]


Still laughing at the drummer saying “No, Juilliard” when Charlie asks if he’s self-taught. The perfect callback to Ruby “jokingly” saying she had found him from Juilliard before admitting she found him on Craigslist.
posted by jimw at 8:55 AM on February 22, 2023 [7 favorites]


Easter egg: "You Must Remember This" was the second podcast shown on the screen in the boardroom final scene. Well done, Rian.
posted by maudlin at 3:04 PM on March 9, 2023 [2 favorites]


Lol, this episode was hilarious and goofy. So goofy. I'm afraid a lot of the humor was lost on my partner, who did not grow up in metal culture and for whom the horns and tongue sticking out mean nothing. I laughed every time.

But it was Chloë Sevigny who was so fantastic in this. What a performance! I always admire middle aged actresses willing to play unappealing characters. Her makeup was such a disaster here. As was her whole desperate murderous demeanor. Just delicious watching such a talented actor play such an awful person so effectively.

(Turns out Sevigny has a history of working with Natasha Lyonne. She was on Russian Doll, also the 2016 horror film Antibirth.)
posted by Nelson at 8:06 AM on April 2, 2023 [1 favorite]


Ditto Charlie being friendly with Gavin, even if he was especially difficult.

> I think this was pointed out in an earlier thread, but Charlie genuinely likes people, and I think it's what keeps her sane, meeting interesting people wherever she goes. It's a really lovely trait for her to have.


It broke my heart when she called him a "magpie." <3 So perfect, both in the way he picked up sounds / rhythms / Benson theme songs and repeated them, and him assembling song lyrics out of all the random brightly-colored trash wrappers he collected.

the problematic aspects of your Law & Orders

Laws & Order, surely.

(I nearly lost my mind at the Hodgman appearance.)
posted by BrashTech at 2:14 PM on June 13, 2023 [1 favorite]


My wife and I are watching the show slowly and this was one of my favorite episodes. I worked (as the Merch Girl!) for just about that tier of band and this really captured the feel - the absolute rock-bottom despair of playing a set no one is watching, the griminess of tour life, the ever-dangling bait that is "the big hit" that still somehow vanishes if you get too close. Chloe Sevigny was fantastic, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to find John Darnielle had a lot of influence over the details from his personal experience (although I assume the Mountain Goats, these days, don't play a lot of shitty local bars.)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:49 PM on July 3, 2023 [1 favorite]


I was stuck by how much this plot is like a mountain goats song, yet still so removed from anyone's expectations about the music business in 2023... The whole idea of a metal 'hit' changing everything for a one-hit legacy band is pretty laughable, which adds to the pathetic space the band inhabits.

And the mountain goats have at least a full album worth of material on this theme: Goths! Not too mention the classic 'Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton': "When you punish a person for dreaming his dreams don't expect him to thank or forgive you."

I'm also curious whether Staplehead was plagiarized from some 1950s tv theme, but predated exhaustive Internet research.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:06 PM on September 2, 2023


This episode is Renwood Messenger, the Kenosha, WI, recording studio, erasure and I will not stand for it!

Except that I suppose the indie murder podcast crowd doesn’t hang out there, so the cowork space was somewhat necessary for the plot
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:07 PM on September 16, 2023 [1 favorite]


The opening shot, introducing Chloë Sevigny's character is a masterclass. We get the very un-metal Christopher Cross playing in the background, we can see a woman doing some very tedious stock keeping in a purgatorial looking warehouse, and finally we zoom in her badge reading "Hello I'm Ruby". In one shot we know who she is and what she does; however grim the near empty tour venues may be, we have to be assured that her job is even more dead end.

I do love that Rian figured out a way to do a police procedural without spotlighting any actual police. Having the detective be a interested civilian who is just trying to help people deftly sidesteps a lot of the problematic aspects of your Law & Orders, etc.

There is also some meticulously crafted, and cliche defying dialogue built around Charlie's stellar BS detecting prowess. In a normal detective show the murderer implicates themselves with a line about some small detail the audience is supposed to miss. Here a smart, cautious and meticulous Ruby gives herself away to Charlie not with any such arcane detail but with the final throwaway line "I'm sorry about the kid, really!"

Finally: are Doxxxology touring in the same Winnebago Walter and Jessie used to cook meth in the desert?
posted by rongorongo at 5:40 AM on December 29, 2023 [1 favorite]


Poor Gavin...given his personality, it feels like it would have been trivially easy for the rest of the band to just con him into signing over the non-commercially-viable song credit, no murders required.

I did love the scene of Charlie slinking around the van searching for the esoteric prong plug that would prove he was murdered, only to have John Darnielle start literally belting out a confession. (And that also makes me wonder how Charlie's bullshit detector interferes with her ability to enjoy songs, acting, etc. Does it ping as a lie if an actor is playing a character who's lying?)
posted by eponym at 8:28 PM on January 5


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