‘Poker Face’ Episode 9: Recap And Ending, Explained: Charlie Cale And The Killings At The Desolate Motel

Human lie detector Charlie Cale faced mortal danger in this week’s episode of Peacock’s “Poker Face” when she got stuck in a mountainous area shut in for the snow. We also got to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt drop by for a guest appearance, though—spoiler warning—he’s not too wholesome in here. What’s with the showrunners taking actors known for their good-guy roles and making them into detestable villains? Also, it’s been quite a while since Charlie faced the threat of Sterling Sr.’s henchman Cliff, too, so did he finally catch up to her? Anyway, with a lot happening in this week’s episode, let’s get right into it.

Near the snow-capped peaks of a mountain, in an expensive home with large swinging metal doors, a man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) stares at the vast emptiness of scenery ahead of him before cycling along with a virtual coach and drinking water. Later, he drinks a veggie slushy, plays virtual golf, plays a racing game on his VR headset, receives food from a delivery kid (who he doesn’t leave a tip for), and relaxes with a glass of scotch. The same routine keeps repeating for a while, and with each passing day, he continues to get impatient until one day, he just loses it. Annoyed at not receiving a tip for several days in a row, the delivery kid leaves the man’s food in the middle of the road, and the lonely man has to stretch his arms to pick up the food without having his leg activate the tracker. However, it still gets activated, and soon after, his parole officer calls Trey Nelson, the parolee, to say that the snowstorm has taken out the monitoring system, so his tracker won’t work through the night, but his house arrest conditions will not change. The officer also adds that he’ll be dropping by the following morning to check up on Trey at 7 a.m. He goes into his garage, adorned with expensive snowboards, skating shoes, and a beautiful Lamborghini Urus.

Moments later, Trey Nelson is speeding through the desolate streets while gulping down his favorite coconut-flavored rum as the snow keeps falling heavily, making the most of his one night of freedom. He has to swerve at the last moment to avoid hitting a massive stag in the middle of the road and narrowly avoids a collision. He’s reveling in the lucky escape he just had when he looked ahead and had zero time to react before he hit a person with his car. Trey gingerly approaches the drowned body when he finds another car coming his way, so he has to rush to shove the body in his trunk, along with the broken side mirror. He then proceeds to call someone with obviously forced enthusiasm to ask a huge favor, and the person on the other end of the call, at the receptionist’s table in a lonely motel, isn’t thrilled. Trey arrives outside the motel and tries buttering the guy up, but he asks the rash driver to get to the point, so he asks to use the ‘spot.’ Trey and the guy drag the body to an isolated location and dump the body inside the hollow shoot of a tree. Coming back to the motel, Trey says he needs to leave, but he promises to hash out the unresolved issues between the two men later. On second thought, he decides to talk immediately. Trey starts by saying how sorry he is that he didn’t call his friend the moment he came back to town and proceeds to show him the tracker installed on his leg because he was the fall guy for some corporate fraud that happened at his workplace. Currently, he’s serving a 14-month house arrest period, but his friend is annoyed to learn that six months into Trey’s sentence, the reason he contacted him was to dump a body. The friend is really upset that Trey’s generational wealth sent him to a big college while he stayed stuck managing a motel in the middle of nowhere and that he was the only one left to deal with seeing the face of some woman everywhere he looked. There’s a power cut because of the storm, and the friend spots Trey looking at his watch, which sparks a whole new argument that stops because of the banging at the door. Trey approaches the door and notes that the roads leading into the area are closed off while the other guy grabs his revolver. They open the door to find the woman’s body they had dumped at their ‘spot’ has come back at their front door and she’s still breathing. The guy points his revolver at the woman when Trey asks him to lower the gun because he sees a car approaching. Someone steps out of a very familiar-looking Barracuda, and the two guys ask for help.

Back in the autumn, probably, Charlie Cale arrived in the area and was trying to make sense of the location amidst all the pine trees and greenery when a handsome guy approached her and invited her to show her something. Charlie doesn’t need much more convincing when he takes his shirt off, and she follows him to a beautiful view of the Magic Mountains on the other side of a gorgeous lake. For the next minute-long montage, we see Charlie enjoying warmth, happiness, and love in the arms of this unnamed man, and the last thing she says before they kiss is that she’ll never leave Magic Mountain. It’s February now, and she’s having to dust the snow off people’s windshields for gas money for Denver. The petrol station manager wants her gone at the earliest or else he’ll call the cops, and soon after, Charlie slips on the sleet and falls on her back. A girl hurries out of the store and offers Charlie every possible addictive drug, including cocaine, before offering to fill up her car if Charlie can give the helper a ride. She definitely agrees and asks for her wallet, which the girl had just nicked. Inside the shop, while filling up on gas, Charlie spots the missing poster for a girl who’s apparently been up for a decade, while the credit card the girl offers bears the name of someone called Mortimer Bernstein—clearly stolen. While driving through the heavily snowing streets, Charlie and the kleptomaniac hitchhiker ‘Mortimer’ talk about their hobbies before a deer on the road makes them skid into a ditch. Mortimer asks Charlie to head back to the gas station and get a tow truck, but Charlie clears and calls her co-passenger out on her plans to steal the car, so Mortimer agrees to head back. Charlie makes her give back the wallet yet again.

By the time Charlie wakes up inside her car, it’s evening, and her car is heavily covered in snow. Charlie tries to signal down an oncoming car that narrowly misses a stag and proceeds to bump into her. Charlie wakes up in a place she doesn’t recognize and can only see the light coming through some branches. She forces herself out of the tree with a pointy stick and crawls towards the lights coming from a motel nearby. She bangs on the door with the stick but loses consciousness soon after. She gasps awake one more time to find her Barracuda arriving, and Mortimer steps out of the car, but Charlie doesn’t recognize her. When she comes to, Trey and his friend are peering at her and asking her what she remembers, but she’s too concussed to have her sentences make any sense. She says that she was on the road when she was hit by a car (she doesn’t know which car), and while drifting away for pearly gates, she saw her 8-year-old self on a family trip they had taken to a beach and she found herself inside a tree. Mortimer steps out of the washroom, her phone at 7% charge and catches up with Charlie when Trey and his friend head to the storage area to discuss.

Trey is way too happy that Charlie is concussed and is gleeful at the fact that she might even have permanent brain damage when his friend says that they should keep the women at the motel for the night and send them away in the morning. Trey learns that the phone lines are down, so he deliberately pretends to contact the police station when Charlie asks him not to call the cops, while Mortimer adds that the roads down to Denver have been shut down. She does say that she was heading to Denver to look for Charlie, but it’s pretty obvious that she was fleeing in Charlie’s car. Trey agrees to set the ladies up in a room for the night, but Charlie can’t walk—her leg’s probably fractured—so she asks Mortimer to use the stick she was using as a splint. However, Charlie’s co-passenger freaks out and drops the stick the moment she picks it up because it’s a human bone that Charlie found inside the tree shoot. Morty finds metal pins on the bone that are used for surgery, while Charlie suggests it might be linked to the missing girl whose posters they saw all over town while the two guys exchange glances. She asks the motel owner if they have a poster of the girl, which he denies—Charlie immediately catches the lie and asks why he would choose to lie about that. Morty figures that since the reward for finding the woman was $75,000, Jim, the motel owner, wants the money for himself, which is why he’d lied. While Morty is overjoyed at the prospect of the prize money, Charlie realizes that they might’ve found Chloe Jones; when Trey suggests that they should sleep in the motel for the night and look into the matter in the morning.

As the guys step out to get the rooms ready, Charlie notices the tracker on Trey’s leg and asks Morty to stop stealing and focus on the fact that the two men are rather shady. Charlie considers the odds of being hit by a car and being dumped in a hard-to-find spot next to another body, which means the same person who hit Charlie was the one who buried Chloe. They couldn’t have escaped this desolate place because the roads are shut, and Charlie asks for the phone to call the cops but finds the phone lines to be down. They realize they need to leave, and Morty leaves suddenly, apparently to look in Charlie’s trunk to see if there’s anything useful—but doesn’t take the car keys. Meanwhile, Trey is raging about the odds of the situation when Jimmy asks him to offer the woman money, something he always does, and Trey turns on the guy, saying he did take the money, so now he needs to stop complaining. He then considers ‘taking care’ of the women, but Jimmy suggests slipping them some blue pills that’ll knock them out for the night, and Trey can pay them in the morning and send them away. Trey says this plan better work because he can’t deal with another woman losing it on him, and before Jimmy has time to react, the parolee notices Mortimer walking through the snow. Using her phone’s flashlight, Morty has traced her way back to the place Charlie crawled out of and started clicking pictures, including a snap of Chloe’s skull. Trey sneaks up on her and reaches for the revolver, only for Morty to turn around, gun in hand, and list off all the ways she has got Trey dead to rights as the one who buried Chloe Jones, hit Charlie, and buried her in the same spot, and did so with shoes that leave obvious prints. Out of options, Trey agrees to offer her a deal, and she takes him up on it. Charlie is dragging her body towards the door to grab the car keys when she finds an old photograph of Jimmy, Chloe, and Trey as part of a group, all smiling. Jimmy walks in and takes a photograph away, and Charlie says that he did know Chloe.

Morty, meanwhile, accepts Trey’s $300k Lamborghini as a bribe to stay quiet and notices the missing side mirror. Trey hands her the keys, and she warns him that if he tries calling the cops when she leaves, she’ll use the photos she clicked and also tell them about Trey’s secret spot. He proceeds to smash her head on the steering wheel, resets her iPhone, and rolls the Lamborghini off a cliff with Mortimer inside—thereby ending any threat she might have posed. Considering how she was about to leave Charlie at the hands of a potential killer over an expensive car because she was a thief, she might’ve gotten her just desserts then. At the motel, Jimmy talks about how Trey and Chloe shared an on-off relationship, but she was Jimmy’s friend, and ever since the snowboarding big-shot’s death, he misses her. Charlie doesn’t spot any lies in the sentences, which means Jimmy never harbored any ill will toward Chloe. He offers her two blue pills, calling them ibuprofen, and she asks if it’s possible that it’s the same girl inside the tree shoot, but Jimmy doesn’t want to think about it. He asks her if the pain ever leaves someone and wishes he had been strong enough to protect Chloe from the misfortune that befell her. Charlie talks about how the past year has been horrible for her, and Jimmy promises that he won’t let anything bad happen to her this night. She pops the two pills and is about to swig the contents of the cup when she’s transported back to the beach she visited at 8 and is reminded of the coconut cream someone was applying and that it’s the same smell she got from Trey when he lifted her body off the street. Jimmy says it’s his coconut rum, and she decides to leave, but the pills kick in, and she loses consciousness.

Trey is seen walking to the motel, and Jimmy goes out to meet him when Charlie sits upright and dumps the two pills into the cup. The two men argue outside about why Trey had to get rid of Morty, and he once again brings up that he couldn’t deal with another woman losing it on him. Jimmy says it’s the second time he has mentioned that tonight, and if he meant Chloe. Charlie’s attempts to retrieve her car keys make the entire wall rack collapse, along with a hunting knife. Trey runs in and takes her car keys, and she tells Jimmy that Trey killed Chloe and how he’ll bail out again and leave him stuck in this motel. Trey sees through her ruse, but Jimmy has caught on and asks him if he pushed Chloe instead of what he had claimed—a bad reaction to the coke Jimmy sold that made her fall. Trey tries emotionally manipulating Jimmy while Charlie begs for her life, so the motel owner picks up the knife and stands between Trey and her. Trey asks him to move, but he refuses and says he won’t take orders from him anymore, so he takes a bullet in the head from Trey. He tries shooting Charlie next, but the gun’s out of bullets, so he tries rummaging for something else when she slashes his leg with the knife; however, he overpowers her and stabs her in the chest. He spends a while shoving Jimmy and Charlie into the ‘spot,’ returns, cleans the motel, gulps down the coconut rum from the cup, and leaves—Jimmy’s blue pills had dissolved into the rum by then.

Trey takes Charlie’s car and drives it close to his home, and he is making his way back when the pills kick in, and he loses consciousness. However, he manages to wake up a while later, and with only 2 minutes left to 7, he hobbles back inside and celebrates his getaway. Like clockwork, his parole officer shows up at 7, and before opening the door to him, Trey tries wiping down the blood, only to find his tracker missing. The said tracker is in the hands of Charlie (who’s still breathing), whom he dumped in the ‘spot’ along with Jimmy—it’s over. We find Charlie covered in bandages and casts in a hospital room as the news report says that a decade-long search ended when a parole officer found the remains of Chloe Jones as well as the body of a local man, James Silva, who had been killed by Trey Nelson. Additionally, the body of one ‘Charlie Cale’ was found in a vehicle crash near the Deerfield Motel, while our very own Charlie looks at her armband that reads Jane Doe. Outside the hospital, Cliff answers Sterling Sr.’s call and says they’ve found Charlie and just need to dig the hole to bury her.

‘Poker Face’ Episode 9: Ending Explained

In an episode that majorly differs from the rest of “Poker Face” that we’re used to, it’s Charlie who’s almost killed this week. After being run over by a cold-blooded killer, she has to make her way out of the tree shoot and correctly deduce the way Trey Nelson murdered Chloe, but she didn’t have much to do with his arrest. She’d have bled to death had it not been for the pure stroke of luck that managed to save her at the nick of time, and she was found by the officer because of the tracker she had taken off Trey. In the end, Mortimer had yet again nicked Charlie’s wallet, and the vehicle crash probably destroyed her face, which is why the police declared her as Charlie Cale, while the lie-detecting sleuth was brought in as Jane Doe. Since she had no wallet or identity on her person when the police found her, she was an anonymous body. We finally see Cliff again, and he knows where his target is. Now that she can’t move for a while, the following week may be the last time we see Charlie Cale – so make sure to tune in!

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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