Poker Face: The Orpheus Syndrome
February 23, 2023 5:23 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

A special effects artist unearths a past project to find closure from the guilt of a fatal on-set accident; when old demons resurface, Charlie is left to unravel a new deadly plot. [TW: suicide]
posted by ellieBOA (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. They really kicked it up a notch. That last close up on Max and Laura’s faces looked great.
posted by snofoam at 5:26 PM on February 23, 2023 [2 favorites]

Rushed to see who directed this one - Natasha Lyonne herself! Trying to work out who played young Nick Nolte.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 7:50 PM on February 23, 2023 [3 favorites]

Wow, I think this is my new favourite episode.

This article has lots of great behind the scenes details - they got FX legend Phil Tippett to help out, including lending a bunch of props from his own studio. They have an interview with Phil about the episode too.
posted by simonw at 8:21 PM on February 23, 2023 [7 favorites]

Great interview with Cherry Jones in Vanity Fair too.
posted by simonw at 8:42 PM on February 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

There were a couple dolly+crane zooms in this episode that could’ve felt cheesy or weird, but really paid off. Raoul was a great quirky character and the whole story context was really a Raoul was a great quirky character and the whole story context was really engrossing. Way to go, Natasha!
posted by sixswitch at 9:04 PM on February 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

Young Arthur (aka Young Nolte) was played by Jakob Von Eichel! Went back to the credits to check. And picked up that the song used when Charlie drives up to Arthur's is Lonely People by America.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:12 AM on February 24, 2023

Excellent links, thank you simonw! And the Cherry Jones interview is from the Hollywood Report so no paywall issue.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:48 AM on February 24, 2023

Yes, this is my new favourite episode too. Just tons of fun. Luis Guzman is a treasure.
posted by harriet vane at 5:51 AM on February 24, 2023

I feel in the minority here, this was probably my least favorite thus far. Great performances though, and shout out to the RR Hall of Fame in CLEVELAND for the LAM gala location!

Minor nitpick: Max says "I can't feel my hands" as the drug takes effect, then he careens across the room and stops himself with his hands, followed by jumping the glass balcony after firmly gripping it with his hands.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:07 AM on February 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

Glad I just recently binged Light & Magic - really enjoyed the parts with Phil Tippett. He immediately came to mind when the show entered Nolte's studio.
posted by art.bikes at 12:03 PM on February 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

I loved this episode. The acting was fantastic and wow, the props! Incredible. And that damn horse bit- going up the stairs. Gold.
posted by Crystalinne at 5:35 PM on February 24, 2023 [5 favorites]

The Horse!

I'm glad that Charlie's mentor here was just as stupid as she is. At least he spliced out the relevant footage before his murder.

The props were so good. It's not the same vibe at all, but I was just picturing what the crafsman's studio might look like after many years. I loved how weird this was.

I enjoyed the scene where Charlie is questioning our murderer and feeling really good about how she wasn't lying or avoiding her questions until the very last bit and the floor fell out from under her. Natasha Lyonne has a very expressive face!
posted by Acari at 6:25 PM on February 24, 2023 [9 favorites]

I subscribed to Peacock just for this show; Poker Face is worth at least eight bucks per month! The acting, cinematography, and music are all first-rate. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, 'And to think that I saw it on a dinosaur network like NBC!'.
posted by Agave at 8:50 PM on February 24, 2023 [3 favorites]

After the pilot I’d say this is the best one so far.

The eye twitch I didn’t like because it felt like the show doesn’t trust us to pick up on Charlie’s bullshit detector. I mean, at this point all it takes is her staring at someone for an extra beat after they’ve said something.

But the layering of the first half was great — starting in medias res with Max’s suicide before we know the context, so that we can view Laura’s request from Arthur in a more neutral light. We don’t revisit the initial scene until Laura is starting at not-Max’s head.

I loved Charlie and Arthur’s mutual commiserations about loss and guilt.

I also felt like Charlie’s hemming and hawing on Laura’s couch is just about as close as we’ve gotten to true Columbo mannerisms from this show. I really do appreciate that they’ve cribbed the structure and aesthetics from Columbo, but not the dynamic; whereas the Lieutenant is usually three steps ahead of the arrogant culprit, Charlie doesn’t hide the fact that she’s three steps behind. She’s not setting traps; she’s just following her instincts.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:50 PM on February 24, 2023 [5 favorites]

The eye twitch I didn’t like because it felt like the show doesn’t trust us to pick up on Charlie’s bullshit detector.

I feel like that was meant as a comedy bit - Charlie spent so much time around continuous blatant bullshit in the barber shop that she developed a twitch, was so relieved by Arthur's honesty that she finagled her way into a gig on the spot, and then when Laura just throws a bunch of lies at Charlie right in a row the twitch starts up again. It's like when a limb falls asleep or cramps up, and then you think you've got it relieved, and then dammit it's back again.

shout out to the RR Hall of Fame in CLEVELAND for the LAM gala location!

I thought so too, and then went, "Hmmmm, parts of that don't look quite right. (even assuming they got access to areas the public doesn't usually go.)" And I couldn't find anything online about the show shooting in Cleveland, and, believe me, I would have because we like to trumpet that sort of thing in the media around here, but I did find things about how the show did a lot of shooting in the Hudson Valley area of New York, so I strongly suspect those were actually shot in another I.M. Pei building, the former IBM Headquarters in Somers, NY.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:13 AM on February 25, 2023 [6 favorites]

I've been thinking people she helped would be coming back around the season finale, and I was really looking forward to seeing what they'd come up with for Arthur to do, so I was disappointed when he was killed off.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:28 PM on February 25, 2023

Yes, it was that amazing old IBM building according to - they have a list of locations with episode numbers for each.
posted by simonw at 1:56 PM on February 25, 2023 [3 favorites]

I would love to see more of Raoul in a future episode. And the truck driver from the gas station episode.

My favorite part of this one was her finally talking about Natalie’s death. Like all great noir detectives, she is driven to find the truth of others’ deaths in part by her own trauma, and I hope that comes up again.

My other favorite part is when she sees the gravel on Arthur’s tires and has to go to Laura’s house, even though she doesn’t know why. That was a very Columbo moment.
posted by mai at 7:14 AM on February 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

Soundguy99, the IMDb listing for the episode shows the RHOF as a filming location?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:07 AM on February 26, 2023

Hunh. It does, but . . . I think that may be crowd-sourced? As in, not actual official confirmed information from the production company, just someone seeing that it looked like the Rock Hall and assuming that?

At least, there's an "Edit" button at the top right of the Details section, and if I click it it tells me if I sign up for an account I can "contribute". So yeah, I think it's a real possibility that this is from a random IMDb member, not the production.

And again, there's nothing I can find about "poker face filmed in Cleveland" or "at the Rock Hall" or any variations thereof, or searching inside our main paper's website (, and even if the production had wanted to keep the shooting secret while filming, there's just no way there wouldn't be easily findable news or social media bits about how a major popular TV production did a bunch of shooting in town and at one of our most famous buildings after its release. (Yeah, Cleveland still has a bit of an inferiority complex, plus any opportunity to pump money into the local economy via promoting film and TV production would be immediately seized on by various powers that be.)

That front glass pyramid in the show is definitely not the Rock Hall, no matter what angle you might shoot from. As per simonw's link, the show definitely filmed at the iBM complex, and I think it would be much easier and simpler to shoot a short drive from NYC in a complex that is currently undergoing development/repurposing & I don't think is really being actively used much rather than fly 500 miles and shut down a major tourist attraction.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:58 AM on February 26, 2023

Ahh…. This from Reddit: “I'm 100% positive it's the old IBM campus in Somers, NY. I recognized it immediately since I used to work there as an IBM employee.”
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 1:05 PM on February 26, 2023

I loved Cherry Jones in this episode - her satisfaction is so cold blooded after she turns the Max maquette around to unlock the face id. And that scene when Laura and Arthur face off across the fire pit. Her expressions when he tosses the film reel in the fire and leaves, and then as she examines the reel closer and realizes it isn't all there. Just excellent stuff.

Natasha Lyonne on directing the scene: "I was just in seventh heaven watching the monitor, looking at their faces across those wavy flames,” Lyonne said. “It’s just a masterclass in subtlety and nuance. If you’re the real deal, it transmits at such a major level and it was just so much fun.”

And bwahaha, the ridiculous sneaking around the gala prep in the horse, so funny.

I knew going in that this show was going to be a picaresque Americana roadshow kinda deal, but I didn't expect to get from Nevada to NY in so few episodes. Thought we'd spend more time in the southwest. Now I'm hoping we get coastal Maine in the last couple of episodes. So close to Cabot Cove, Charlie, let's do some lobstering. Or a stint in a cranberry bog. Whatever it takes. (Angela Lansbury's last film appearance was in Johnson's Glass Onion, so I don't feel unreasonable in hoping for a little nod to her long running whodunnit.)
posted by the primroses were over at 8:19 PM on February 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

Reading that this was "a Hitchcock episode" made sooo many things fall into place for me. I've seen a lot of Hitchcock but not in like, twenty years, and once it was all swapped back into my memory, it was like, ohhhh. Riiiight. That was what this was. That was how it all hangs together. Very good! Embarrassing not to have immediately pegged it as such though.

Luis Guzman's line delivery when he was rationalizing his attitude with "well, it was time, and I guess she was a murderer, so" was SO FUNNY. This episode was a lot of fun but definitely felt significantly more expensive than some others this season. Maybe the creatures were on loan, but the locations also seemed really spendy.
posted by potrzebie at 11:33 PM on February 27, 2023 [4 favorites]

Oh and it was so funny that the truck full of artifacts was a Trojan horse... but the Trojan hiding inside... was a horse!!! Ahahaha
posted by potrzebie at 11:36 PM on February 27, 2023 [9 favorites]

I liked that the film grain persisted as Laura followed Max out of the gals.

LAM = Light and Motion and Laura Arthur Max, and it's also what Charlie's on.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2023

I just want to give whatever casting director read "nebbishy nerd" as a character description and turned around and hired Luis Guzmán a big high five.
posted by Superilla at 8:31 PM on July 3, 2023 [4 favorites]

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