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SYFY WIRE Poker Face

The 'Poker Face' Season 1 finale explained

Charlie Cale goes from the frying pan into the fire in the Poker Face Season 1 finale. 

By Tara Bennett
Natasha Lyonne in Poker Face

After more than a year of traversing the continental United States in Season 1 of Poker Face, it was the rich, tech-bro psychopath that finally allowed Cliff Legrand (Benjamin Bratt) to catch up with Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) at the end of "Escape from Sh** Mountain."

We know Poker Face has been picked up for a second season, but where does the season finale leave Charlie? Is she free to be her quirky self or is she back on the road running?

(l-r) Natasha Lyonne, Benjamin Bratt in POKER FACE

**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for the Poker Face season finale**

To understand the ending of "The Hook," we need to go back to Cliff impatiently giving Charlie two months to heal in the hospital, per his boss Sterling Frost Sr.'s (Ron Perlman) instruction. But as soon as she gets a clean bill of health, Cliff is literally waiting for her at the entrance to take her to Frost Sr., who she assumes has a big beef with her after his son (Adrien Brody) committed suicide in the pilot episode. The two embark on a tense road trip from Denver to Atlantic City, which reveals Cliff's penchant for Blues Traveler music and Charlie's reluctance to do any harm, even when a gun is placed in her hands. 

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It's at the Hasp Casino in A.C. that Charlie finally has her sit down with Frost Sr. who reveals he's not angry with her at all. In fact, he's got a major summit with the Five Families of gambling organized crime and he wants her with him in the meeting to use her "bullshit" gifts on the room. He even gifts her a gun (though it turns out Cliff planted the gun in the gift box, as Sterling intended to give her back her old casino name tag as a show of trust), which ends up being her undoing as the lights go down. A shot is fired and Frost Sr. ends up dead from a bullet that Cliff immediately blames on Charlie. 

Yes, in the longest of long games, it's then revealed that Cliff hasn't been "employee of the year" for Frost Sr. at all. He hated the Sterlings and was easily convinced to switch sides with a good bribe by the Hasp's matriarch, Beatrix Hasp (Rhea Perlman). And Charlie was the perfect patsy to pin Frost Sr.'s death on. 

Luckily for Charlie, she's wily and escapes in the confusion. Plus, she's got a friend in high FBI places with Agent Luca Clark (Simon Helberg) whom she calls in desperation. She explains what's happened to her and together, they work out a plan for Charlie to turn the tables on Cliff. In a clever opportunity for discovery of evidence, Charlie calls Cliff and agrees to meet him on his fancy pants yacht. Flush with his success and overly confident, Cliff reveals how he set her up and she even finds the black light chips he used when he throws her into the bow of his boat. But she cracks him in the eye with her handy bridesmaid novelty ring and then sprints for the sea showing off her strong swimming stroke. That gives Agent Luca the time to arrive and arrest Cliff for his multitude of sins. Turns out an old recording that Frost, Sr. held onto also was the smoking gun for Cliff's murder of Charlie's friend Natalie (Dascha Polanco) all the way back in the premiere episode.

Luca and Charlie later meet in a local diner where he returns her beloved Barracuda (repaired) and reveals that Cliff flipped on the Hasps and revealed what really happened with Frost, Sr.'s death, which put that dangerous family on the run. Luca even offers Charlie a job, but she declines, but keeps his number for the future. We're sure they'll meet again.

As she preps for the open road, Charlie gets a call from a very peeved Beatrix who gives Charlie one chance to say yes to their job offer, or feel the full wrath of the Five Families who will chase her down more relentlessly than Frost Sr. ever did. Charlie declines and decides to continue as is, just a lady with a special gift and her car. Breaking her phone, Charlie gets back behind the wheel with Neil Young's "Walk On" as her soundtrack, driving into a future with new adventures and mysteries to solve, while still looking over her shoulder. 

Click here to watch the all 10 episodes of Poker Face streaming now. A second season is already in the works.

Looking for more gumshoe work? All seasons of Columbo and Murder She Wrote are now streaming on Peacock!