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Poker Face's Rian Johnson Provides Further Clarification On How Charlie's Abilities Work

Hot off another surprising murder mystery, Rian Johnson is back again with the super sleuth series "Poker Face" starring Natasha Lyonne. After his divisive "Star Wars" entry "The Last Jedi," the notable writer/director became renowned for his wildly unpredictable whodunit "Knives Out" featuring an all-star cast. Following the stellar sequel, Johnson goes a different route and takes a stab at television with Lyonne's Charlie, who has a proclivity for sussing out the truth. 

Rather than utilize a supernatural gift or other far-fetched techniques, Charlie's talent for the truth has a more believable reason that keeps the series grounded in reality. It also allows "Poker Face" to have room to grow without diminishing the complexity of her character. After her dear friend is murdered, she embarks on a dangerous investigation to find the deadly culprit. These dark elements usher in plenty of recognizable guest stars, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cherry Jones, recent Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu, and Lyonne's "Orange Is the New Black" co-star Dascha Polanco.

After the mini-marathon four-episode premiere, Johnson elaborated on Charlie's unique abilities. He explained not only how they work, but how the gray area between truth and fiction blurs her skills and sometimes stumps even the talented investigator. 

Charlie's truth telling skills are reliable but realistically limited

To avoid a quick ending with Charlie immediately figuring out who the killer is, Johnson had to hammer out the specifics of her lie-detecting skill. We see this unfold in the series premiere when Adrien Brody's Sterling questions her. She explains that she gets a feeling when someone is lying that "feels off." He, and the audience, are a bit skeptical, but after she proves her talents, we both go with the flow and accept it. 

Luckily, the creator himself broke down the mechanics of Charlie's process with Variety. "We had to define this really clearly for ourselves and the rules that we landed are, she can tell if someone says something out loud that they know is an intentional lie," he said. He further explained, "If someone says something that's untrue, but they think that it's the truth, that will read as truth to her. It's entirely just if someone says something that's a lie. The interesting obstruction with that is, how do you do a mystery series where someone has that gift and the show isn't over in five minutes?" This allows Charlie's method to sometimes be imperfect, which keeps the mystery alive with complicated variables. 

Johnson's hilarious and gripping series is a welcome addition to Peacock's growing library. After her unconventional hit "Russian Doll" on Netflix, "Poker Face" is a worthy follow-up that's the perfect vehicle for Lyonne's exceptional comedic chops.