Peacock’s crime comedy “Poker Face” has quickly established the formula of featuring episodic murder mysteries that are carried out with a lot of thought, but in the end, Charlie Cale and her keen observation powers always manage to catch the culprits. Charlie, a brilliant poker player, thanks to her gift of being able to detect lies, is now a wanted woman because her actions led to the suicide of the son of the infamous casino owner, Sterling Frost Sr. While escaping from Frost’s muscleman, Cliff, Charlie solves murder mysteries and brings justice to people even after the cops jump to conclusions in a hurry to close cases. In “Poker Face” Episode 4, Charlie befriends a metal drummer named Gavin, and when he dies in a mysterious accident, she goes to work to uncover the truth behind his strange death.
The fourth episode of “Poker Face” begins with a woman named Ruby Ruin working in a departmental store and, on her break time, getting a lot of cheers from her colleagues for her hit song “Staplehead” by her band Doxxxology. Stuck at a dead-end job in her 40s, the metal band has Ruby looking to recruit someone to man the merchandise table when her band goes on a three-week tour, but she’s refused. Later, Ruby meets a young man while looking for drummers to recruit to the band, and the guy gives off high-on-crack energy in his dirty grey T-shirt and manic excitement at meeting Ruby. At desperate times, she recruits Gavin to be the drummer for the three-week tour, and the RV heads out with an older guy called Deuteronomy on the wheels and Ruby, guitarist Al, and bassist Eskie racking their brains trying to write a new song before they open for the band Krampus at the end of their tour. Doxxxology had one hit 20 years ago, and ever since then, “Staplehead” is the only song anyone wants to hear whenever they see the band. The band members aren’t doing very well for themselves—Ruby is a store worker, Al is going through a bad divorce, and Eskie has moved in with his mother while trying to prepare for the bar exam. Only Gavin is living the high life, watching “Benson” in the RV and being the most excited member at each gig. Whichever cheap pub Doxxxology goes to, they receive a tepid response, and Al keeps complaining about the mic height because of his sciatica and being unable to hunch.
Ruby tries singing a song called “Merch Girl,” and any half-hearted metal fan can tell it’s a soulless, gaudy travesty, but that’s all they have besides Staplehead. Gavin suggests writing another song like Doxxxology’s Holy Grail, but Ruby says it’s impossible to write another song like Staplehead because the band’s drummer, Belinda, was the one who wrote the song, and she’s the only one who gets all the credits for the song. The other band members don’t earn a penny from the song, but that’s the only song they’re made to sing everywhere. At the next gig, “Merch Girl” falls flat, and one guy asks for Staplehead again, and while Ruby begins to refuse, Gavin starts the intro, so they’re forced to. The fan gets too hyped and throws a stapler at Gavin, and the hard-core metal drummer that he is, he keeps playing with blood dripping from his face. Unable to contain his excitement, he sings the bridge of the song reserved for Judy, who punches him in the face and threatens him never to do that again.
At night, Ruby sees Gavin working on something when she calls him to the motel the band is staying. Inside, Al is taking pictures of the bloody stapler to sell it on E-bay to make some extra cash on the side. Gavin enters and brings a breath of fresh, albeit manic, energy into the room and then offers to sing a song named “Sucker Punch” that he has written. After it’s over, Ruby sends him away with a few compliments and then confesses to the other two that this song might be the next “Staplehead” because it is the best thing they’ve heard in years. When they realize that the drummer will once again hog all the credit for the song, Ruby decides they won’t let that happen. The members make tweaks to Gavin’s amp box at night, and then Ruby fires Deuteronomy in the morning with some excuse of dragging the band down with his negative energy. Before the next performance, Ruby approaches Gavin and asks him to do the special scream that he got punched for doing the last time while Al messes around with the wiring. During the performance, the band starts with Staplehead, the cue for the scream arrives, and just when Gavin starts with the falsetto, Al presses a switch with his foot, and Gavin is electrocuted to death. Inside the RV, the talentless hack Ruby and her two stooges note down the lyrics of “Sucker Punch,” sign at the end of the song and burn the original copy.
Staying true to Poker Face’s storytelling, after the murder is committed, it is revealed that it was Charlie Cale who Ruby had approached and hired to run the merchandise table before the band had kicked off its tour. We then see Charlie being present at each gig that Doxxxology did, and the stapler that the fan threw at Gavin was taken off the table she was sitting at. Charlie applies the super glue she got off Marge in “Poker Face” Episode 2 to Gavin’s forehead and gives her honest opinion on Ruby—how she’s basically a mean and petty person who punched a kid in the face for singing her part. Gavin doesn’t complain but asks Charlie to let him tag along in her car the next day. In the morning, his incessant drumming annoys her, but she also learns about the little video recorder he keeps under his stool to record the footwork. Gavin also casually answers that he studied music at The Julliard School, one of the most prestigious colleges for arts and music. While riding shotgun in Charlie’s car, Gavin introduces his thoughtful side, and Charlie sees him for all the philosophy that he carries while looking like James Franco from “The Pineapple Express.” Outside the motel room where the band stayed before Gavin’s final performance, Charlie tells Ruby that the lead singer was nothing like she had expected and the experience has changed her view about the band.
The next time we see Gavin, he’s ecstatic that Ruby has given him a chance to sing the main part, and he requests Charlie to take his picture and thanks her for all that she did to change Ruby’s mind. The performance begins, and this time we watch from Charlie’s perspective. Her expression changes from happiness for the kid to horror as electricity crackles and his body thuds to the floor. While docking the faulty amp box, a cop tells the band that Gavin died by electrocution because his amp hadn’t been grounded and touching the mic had been a death sentence for him. He concludes that faulty equipment caused an accident and that it could’ve killed any one of the other members as well, and Ruby says that they must’ve been lucky, as the lie detector goes off in Ruby’s head. Inside the RV, after burning away Gavin’s lyrics, the band members decide to record the song before performing at the Krampus show, while Al thinks of selling Gavin’s boots on E-bay. Doxxxology records “Sucker Punch” at a recording studio, and everyone from the employees to Charlie agrees that the song is great. Outside the booth, Charlie meets a podcaster who goes by the name “Murder Girl” because she solves murder mysteries, she had booked the booth, but the band is using up her time to record the song.
The band reaches the Krampus show, and Charlie finds a guy who looks like an undercover narc looking for drugs. She decides to clean up the mess that Gavin left in her car when something catches her eye. She dumps all the trash from the car onto her motel bed and notices that each part of the trash carries a phrase or two that was used to write the “Sucker Punch” song. Thus, it becomes abundantly clear that Gavin had written the song, and Doxxxology stole it from him. Charlie finds Ruby and tells her to look Charlie in the eyes and admit that Gavin didn’t write the song, but Ruby says that he did. Charlie says that Gavin deserves credit, and Ruby goes on a rant, saying that a lot of things could’ve led to his death and that she needs something to turn her pathetic life around. Later, the Krampus mascot tries jumping Charlie—a prank that the band had been doing for views for a while—and she clocks the mascot in the face to the cheers of the audience. She meets Deuteronomy, who’s now working with Krampus, and finds out that he didn’t actually quit like Ruby told her, but was fired. She knew Ruby had lied but couldn’t figure out why until now. Upon asking Deuteronomy, Charlie learnt that Gavin’s accident wasn’t a lone incident and it has precedence, which is why old amp boxes have death capacitors that ensure that even if you reverse the prongs in old boxes, you won’t be electrocuted. He adds that Gavin had changed his to three prongs, else Deuteronomy wouldn’t let him play in the first place, and he also shows an identical amp box being sold on E-bay. Eagle-eyed Charlie notices the blood that she had wiped off Gavin’s forehead on the box and realizes that Al the vulture has put it up for sale, along with the bloody staplers. It’s the one that Gavin was supposed to use, but Al switched it out for the faulty box.
Charlie sneaks inside the trailer to gather clues when she finds the faulty amp box while Al is strumming the guitar and singing about how they electrocuted an innocent for glory, and now it can’t be undone. She meets Ruby and mentions Al’s guilty conscience and his E-bay products before baring her suspicion that Al got Gavin killed by using faulty equipment, but Ruby argues that Al wouldn’t put himself, Eskie, or her in harm’s way trying to kill Gavin. Charlie realizes Ruby isn’t lying, so she’s confused. She borrows magnifying glasses from Deuteronomy to check out the picture she took of Gavin and finds that Al looks taller. Deuteronomy suggests that Al used different shoes, but Charlie doesn’t understand why a sciatica patient would get new shoes to appear taller until the experienced RV driver points out that Al’s shoes are not visible in the photo. She sneaks into the place where Doxxxology has arranged a farcical tribute to Gavin, and beneath his stool, she finds his video recorder with the memory card inside. Charlie borrows the camera from the Krampus mascot, installs the card, and finds that every member other than Gavin wore rubber-soled boots to protect themselves from being electrocuted, and she finally realizes how this was a planned murder. Charlie barges in and confronts the three conspirators, calling them out on the murder, but Ruby calls in security to have Charlie thrown out. Meanwhile, she notices the undercover narc agent and takes him outside to explain her theory to him, and he agrees that Charlie might be on to something here. However, he actually is no narc, but he informs her that the video of her punching the Krampus mascot went viral four hours previously. Like clockwork, Cliff shows up and chases Charlie through the arena.
Charlie escapes through the crowd while Doxxxology uses Gavin’s borrowed song, and the crowd loves it. The next morning, the band is a hit and is on the way to sign multiple deals when a lawyer shows up and says that a YouTube channel has analyzed the music and found that the band ripped off the “Benson” theme song, so using it was copyright infringement. To make matters worse, Murder Girl from before starts her podcast with all the clues that Charlie had collected to present the case to the public at large and expose Ruby and her crew as the mooching, murderous hacks that they are. Elsewhere, Charlie drives away with a smile on her face.
‘Poker Face’ Episode 4: Ending Explained
Legendary songs in the world of metal are like double-edged swords: audiences love a band for their most successful song, and they never give a chance to any other song. Although Doxxxology as a group was utterly devoid of talent, even their most famous song was written by their drummer. When they realized that the young drummer they were looking down upon had written a song better than anything they could ever come up with, they chose to steal his creation. A graduate of Julliard, Gavin might have been the most talented temporary member in Doxology, and they killed him for it. However, Charlie, the lie-detecting genius, happened to have struck up a friendship with the metal drummer, and his death sent her on a mission to excavate clues about his death. It begins with a lie she hears from Ruby about luckily surviving the accident that killed Gavin; she finds trash that shows how Gavin came up with the song; information about amp boxes from Deuteronomy; pictures of the actual amp box on E-bay; the video camera exposing the rubber soles; and a lot of affection for the kid. Charlie actually cared for the talented drummer, who wore his heart on his sleeve and loved life.
Although Doxxxology loses the claim to “Sucker Punch” and their crime starts getting broken down by the podcaster Murder Girl, we can’t say for sure if the cops throw Ruby and her stooges behind bars, although that’s what they deserved all along. What’s worse was that Al might write songs from a guilty conscience, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to sell the shoes that Gavin died in for a few bucks. Is he any better than a vulture? As Cliff catches up to Charlie and almost grabs her, she has to run again, but the next time he shows up, she might not be so lucky.