Home Entertainment Poker Face Episode 6 Exit Stage Death Review and Recap – Dry Ice, Thruples and the Ghosts of Pensacola

Poker Face Episode 6 Exit Stage Death Review and Recap – Dry Ice, Thruples and the Ghosts of Pensacola

by Ana Lopez
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Poker Face is addictive television for several reasons. Natasha Lyonne is fascinating and the parade of A-list actors never ends. In easily one of the most fun openers to date, Ellen Barkin and Tim Meadows get to camp. Poker Face Episode 6 features Kathleen Townsend and Michael Graves, a pair of old stars who once had a ridiculous buddy cop show called Spooky and the Cop. It was the kind of low-brow series that a certain subset of the population might watch because they couldn’t figure out how to change channels.

Poker face episode 6
POKER FACE — “Exit Stage Death” Episode 106 — Pictured: Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale — (Photo by: Sara Shatz/Peacock)

At first it seems that Kathleen (Barkin) and Michael (Meadows) can’t stand each other. It looks like your typical case of two people who should never have worked together again. They’re both in great shape, playing former colleagues turned enemies. These two have history and secrets left and are not above mutually assured destruction. When Kathleen convinces Michael to take the spotlight with her one more time for a single nighttime recreation of the play that started their career together, it’s the beginning of the end, just not for who you thought.

Kathleen is determined to revive her dying career, and Michael wants nothing more than to get away from her at all costs. There are plenty of ways for these two to kill each other. He has a heart condition and she insists on a dangerous staging device. However, in a dash of Glass Onion genius, Rian Johnson kills Ava (Jameela Jamil), Michael’s wealthy, much younger wife. Kathleen and Michael have been performing all along. They don’t hate each other. In fact, they plotted to kill Ava and get their hands on all of her She-Trade money. As the police take away Ava’s mutilated body, they drop the facade. Enter Charlie to take these two down.

Proving that it’s better to be lucky AND good, Charlie finds herself working at the theater at the right time to get justice for Ava. Charlie’s friend Phil got her the job. He was the director and felt responsible for her death as he was asleep at the time of Ava’s death. Phil doesn’t understand how he managed to fall asleep. He had been drinking, but that shouldn’t have made him pass out. The pair had drugged him with Ambien to ensure he wouldn’t be awake to pull the pin into the hatch and insert a dry ice pin that would vaporize at the right time and kill Ava.

Collecting the clues as she has every week before, she catches the killers and saves Pensacola from a horrible production. Lies always catch up with us, and it’s no different for blowhards Kathleen and Michael. Insufferable people lead insufferable lives, and you can’t hide the truth from Charlie. When Charlie dumps ice cream during tech rehearsal, Kathleen blows her top and yells at Charlie about the truth. It exposes her for the con artist she is. Fairer than safe, Charlie tells Kathleen that Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Christain Slater all deliver truthful performances, while hers is nothing but lies.

Charlie finds out someone tried to kill Kathleen because she finds Phil’s pre-show checklist. That leads her to the previous night’s recording and she sees evidence of dry ice. While trying to convince Kathleen that she’s in trouble, she accidentally sees Michael’s fingers and knows he has dry ice burns. In the rafters, Charlie finds red feathers from Kathleen’s shoes and hears them tell each other in the play that they love each other. Because Charlie can tell truth from lies, she knows they’re not acting. They do love each other. Unfortunately, she goes to their co-star Rebecca who knows all about the ruse and wants to make money off it. Charlie finds the script notes for the fake fight in the pocket of Rebecca’s jacket and realizes they are all in this together.

Thinking she has all the clues, she enters Kathleen’s dressing room and finds her dog’s peanut butter treats. She now knows that they intend to poison their blackmailer. Charlie also knows she’ll never get them to confess to their crimes, so she plants a microphone in Kathleen’s locker room and waits for them to spill the beans to the entire audience, including the sheriff. When they invariably do so and realize they’ve been caught, the couple gives the performance of their lives before the lights go out for the last time.

Noises Off has been a favorite piece of mine for as long as I can remember. The perfectly timed opening and closing of doors never disappoints. Poker Face Episode 6 has the same feel as Michael Frayn’s classic game. Charlie must navigate the audience’s site line as the play continues without disrupting production. With time running out to save Rebecca, she must also explain her appearance at the right time to save Rebecca’s life. It’s all gold delivered with the deadpan dryness only Lyonne can deliver. Played against the campy, over-the-top of Meadows and Barkin, it’s easily the best episode of a great season.

The writing is so super smart on Poker Face; Charlie’s lines never feel forced. When she questions Kathleen and Michael’s co-star, she knows she is lying and wonders aloud if they are an eyesore. Nowhere else do we get such unexpectedly laughable moments of comic genius. Partly due to Lyonne’s trademark sarcasm and hoarse voice, her comedic timing is also perfectly suited to these scripts, which depend as much on the talents of their stars as the words themselves. Rian Johnson’s creation is a match made in heaven.

Poker Face Episode 6 is a highlight of the season and should solidify the series as a cornerstone for Peacock and must-watch television. Find all our Poker Face coverage here.

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