Rian Johnson’s show “Poker Face” on Peacock is about a human lie detector named Charlie Cale who possesses the gift of detecting lies made her the best poker player ever. While running from the muscleman Cliff, after leading to the death of the son of a casino owner, Charlie briefly stops at small towns and helps solve murder mysteries that could go unsolved by the legal authorities. Thanks to her keen skills of observation and the ability to find truth from a mountain of lies, Charlie has helped many find justice and sent criminals behind bars. The third episode is no different, here’s how Charlie solves a new case in this episode.
A man named George walks out to a barbecue and slouches down in front of the BBQ pit with tears on his face. When a woman calls out to him, he calls himself a murderer. Elsewhere, a meat dealer named Taffy is chewed out for borrowing a lot of money from people on top of his already increasing loans while he keeps trying to ensure that all the debts will be repaid once he makes good on a beef rub deal he has made. He arrives at a field with a marquee set up where several people are enjoying barbecued meat, and he’s greeted by everyone. Then a woman named Mandy asks him to speak to his brother George. However, the younger brother wants out of the family business of selling barbecued meat because he’s tired of killing animals and has decided that he’s going vegan. When he wants Taffy to buy him out, he says that he doesn’t have the money and gets furious when the younger brother suggests having a local accountant look at the finances. It’s widely evident that Taffy isn’t completely honest with his finances. Outside, he tells Mandy that he doesn’t see a way out of his troubles when she looks at him meaningfully. After wiping his tears inside his car, Taffy records audio about all the great things George has done to make their meat business a success. He later approaches George with two beer bottles, and upon confirming that his brother indeed wants out, he offers him one of the bottles and sits with him at the steps of George’s RV. George lists all the different ways how Taffy has improved the business, like the radio show Taffy and Mandy created, as well as the brand of floss that Taffy came up with that has become a signature item for the company.
At night, Taffy arrives at the radio station for his radio show, and after taking over from the usual host, Austin, he begins his show, BBQ-and-A. George’s wife, Mandy, calls the channel, and the customers start asking questions about meat—Taffy’s specialty. Mandy directs the question to how hot links are made, and Taffy plays a pre-recorded clipping about the same, puts the mic on mute, and sneaks out of the station. He walks into his brother’s RV to find George snoring and quietly washes off the beer bottle, locks every window, uses the signature floss to lock the door from the inside, and pushes in a gas pipe through a crack in the window before sealing the gap. Taffy connects the pipe with the barbecue exhaust and is about to escape when a dog starts barking at him. Failing to quiet the mutt, Taffy hits the dog in the head with a piece of wood and then dumps the limp body a little further out. Interestingly, both Taffy and Mandy keep looking at their watches, and just as Taffy’s timer rings, he sneaks back in and starts speaking until he notices that he’s been on mute. As Mandy calls him up again and they chat over the radio, Taffy wipes the mud off his boots with a handkerchief that he later dumps in the BBQ fire.
The murder has been committed, and it’s time to meet the genius poker player Charlie Cale, who finds the same noisy dog that had been annoying Taffy moments back. Failing to shoo the dog off, Charlie takes him along in her car, but the incessant barking gets on her nerves, so she tunes in to the most white supremacist and toxic radio channel she can find that the dog seems to love. When Charlie finally gets tired of the dog, she lets him out, and co-incidentally it’s at the Boyles’ BBQ, where the dog scares off the customers. Taffy wants compensation, but George offers her the option of working a shift to cancel the debt. George shows her the basics of barbecue making and introduces her to the different kinds of wood that are used and how to recognize the kind by sniffing and tasting it. Later, Charlie asks about the floss and easily calls out George’s lie when he claims to love the idea of the floss. He also shows her the pecan wood he uses to cook animal tongues near the RV, the only place he cooks that organ. Charlie introduces George to her massive movie collection and hands him three Blu-ray DVDs about animals. In the evening, George comes out of his RV with tears on his face, drops the “Okja” DVD, and we shoot back to the first scene to learn it was Charlie who had called out to him. The next morning, Charlie and George sit down to talk, and he says he’s ready to start fresh and is also about to add something when Mandy drags Charlie away. George promises to tell Charlie what he is about to do when they have time.
We meet Charlie again when Taffy comes back from the radio station (and kills his brother), and in the kitchen, Mandy can’t find the paprika and asks Beto, an assistant, to ask George where it is. The lie detector goes off in Charlie’s head, but before she can think about it, Beto is heard screaming about the smoke inside George’s RV. After the funeral, Taffy gives a eulogy, saying he and Mandy are going to keep the meat shop running because that’s what his brother would’ve wanted, and Charlie spots the lie. With George dead, Charlie plans to leave and tells Beto about it, who informs her that George indeed committed suicide, given how the door was locked from the inside. Meanwhile, Taffy and Mandy rush finish drawing up a contract with their lawyer to expand the business as fast as possible. While driving away, Charlie finds the dog lying in a pool of blood but quickly finds out he’s alive, so she brings him to a vet. The vet tells her that the dog wasn’t run over but actually hit in the head with wood, and she has extracted the pieces from the wound. Having learned about wood from George, Charlie first sniffs and then tastes the chippings and is back to Boyle’s, breaking off pieces of wood to find clues. It’s only when she reaches the woodpile near George’s RV and tastes the wood that she realizes that this particular type of wood was used to hit the dog. To further prove her point, she finds a dog tooth inside the pit.
Later, Taffy enters the office, and Mandy tells him that she’ll be handling finances from that point forward, while he says that she planned everything minutely. Strangely, the recently widowed Mandy kisses her brother-in-law, and they head back outside – finally confirming that they were in cahoots for George’s murder. However, Taffy is surprised to see Charlie outside, asking Beto questions about the dog. He brings her inside, and she tries explaining how she came to know that someone attempted to kill the dog, but it doesn’t make much sense. She keeps trying to explain, and Taffy purposefully plays dumb until he says that he’d give up the business to bring his brother back, and Charlie calls him out on his lie. The meat dealer changes his tone and says that Charlie needs to leave town or else things will turn sour for her, making pointed indications at the shotgun hanging from the rack in his office. Charlie is about to give up, but the dog’s whining changes her decision, and she sneaks back inside the RV after sunset. While she’s fidgeting inside the vehicle, Taffy spots light inside it and heads towards the source, gun at hand. Meanwhile, Charlie sniffs the empty beer bottle and spots the red mark the cinnamon floss had left on the door lock when Taffy locks it from the outside but hears footsteps. Taffy enters the RV with his shotgun at the ready, doesn’t find anyone, and leaves as Charlie watches from under the vehicle.
Just as Charlie sneaks out of the vehicle, she’s caught by Mandy. It takes Charlie a while to explain to Mandy the discrepancies that made her believe George’s death wasn’t suicide, and to prove herself; Charlie detects the truth or falsehood in a few random statements by Mandy. The widow says she loved her husband and his passion for meat selling until he changed before adding that Taffy’s alibi is his radio show. With a new clue at hand, Charlie heads out to the radio station only to find the one who hosts the superbly racist podcast, is none other than Austin, who also hosts a handful of other shows, by mimicking different voices. Austin, an expert mimicry artist, informs Charlie that Taffy brought him a brisket for the previous night’s BBQ-and-A and stayed inside the booth for the whole segment. She asks for the entire recording for the segment, and Austin offers to help anytime she needs it. Elsewhere, Mandy alerts Taffy that his beating the dog has put them in a fresh heap of trouble.
Still trusting Mandy to be innocent of the crime, Charlie approaches her and says that she knows how Taffy killed George. She points out the 16-minute duration when taffy talked about the hot links, which must’ve been pre-recorded to be played on the radio while Taffy committed fratricide. She adds that to do that; he must’ve known that he’d receive a call about hot links and looks knowingly at Mandy. Realizing it’s useless to lie to Charlie, Mandy says that Taffy knew about it and passes it off as a business tactic. She then asks if Charlie can prove it and is visibly relieved when she says she can’t. Just as Mandy is leaving, Charlie asks her why she lied about not knowing where the paprika was the previous night. The immensely intelligent Mandy chooses her words carefully by saying she wanted Beto to discover it. A fine play on words—the “it” could be the paprika or George’s body—but unless a lie has been said, Charlie can’t detect it. She then indirectly orders her to leave town by threatening her about what Taffy could do to her. The next morning, Charlie approaches Taffy and calls him out as a murderer, and starts listing the clues, especially the beer bottle that didn’t smell like anything because it’d been washed clean. She also adds that she knew Taffy’s hot-links tape was pre-recorded because the quarter-hour train that passes by during each show couldn’t be heard in that tape, proving that it’d been pre-recorded. However, this wasn’t the final proof either, but the phone call Mandy received that morning where Taffy apparently called her out of fear that Charlie was going to tell the sheriff. Mandy then revealed that, had he not struck the dog, everything would’ve been according to her plan. Unfortunately, it was Austin mimicking Taffy that worked as proof.
Charlie continues talking a lot of nonsense and then finally reveals that she was just stalling for time until the sheriff’s car rolls in, and Mandy points at Taffy and says that he killed George. Mandy joins the sheriff to head to the station for formalities when Austin’s show plays the recording of Mandy confessing that it was her plan all along. Austin rambles on with the injured dog resting at his foot while Charlie drives away with a smile.
‘Poker Face’ Episode 3: Ending Explained
Charlie Cale’s clue-detecting abilities always seem to find the necessary clues that help hand the suspect over to the authorities while she drives away with a smile. In episode 3, Charlie got involved in the case of George’s death only after she learned how the annoying dog was injured. She started piecing together that someone was messing around with the fire pit when the dog caught them, so they attacked the dog and dumped him elsewhere. She questioned Taffy, and upon learning that he lied about how he felt about his brother, she searched the RV. Listening to the tape and questioning Mandy, there were a lot of things she could’ve done, but what actually got Taffy behind bars was a confession from Mandy. When Austin called Mandy by mimicking Taffy, she went into a panic and decided that giving up Taffy would save her skin. So, while Charlie stalled Taffy with nonsensical things, Mandy ran to the sheriff’s to get her brother-in-law arrested. She almost got away with the plan and was set to inherit the entire business for herself, but Charlie must’ve asked Austin to play the tape where Mandy came clean about how Taffy should’ve stuck to her plan instead of hitting the dog. With both conspirators safely behind bars, Charlie handed justice to George—an honest man who didn’t deserve to die the way he did.