Poker Face EPs Answer All Our Burning Finale Questions, Like: Whose Voice Was That on the Phone With Charlie? (2023)

Post Mortems

ByDave Nemetz /

Poker Face EPs Answer All Our Burning Finale Questions, Like: Whose Voice Was That on the Phone With Charlie? (1)

Courtesy of Peacock

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Thursday’s Poker Face finale.

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The more things change for Poker Face‘s Charlie Cale, the more they stay the same.

In Thursday’s season finale, Charlie was finally tracked down by Cliff and brought back to face vengeful casino owner Sterling Frost Senior (played by Ron Perlman). But of course, there was a twist: Sterling actually wanted to recruit Charlie to use her lie-detecting skills in a meeting with rival casino boss Beatrix Hasp, but before she could, Sterling was shot dead — by Cliff, who had struck a side deal with Beatrix and framed Charlie for the murder. Charlie hid out for a while, reconnecting with her sister Emily (played by Clea DuVall), before piecing together that Cliff did it (thanks to a fateful poker chip) and managed to get him arrested for Natalie’s murder. Her FBI pal Luca returned to lend a hand and even offered Charlie a job, but she decided to hit the road instead when she got an ominous call from Beatrix Hasp, threatening to find her and kill her unless she puts her lie-detecting powers to work for her.

Charlie rejected the offer and went back on the run again… just how she started out Season 1. TVLine tracked down Poker Face showrunners Nora and Lilla Zuckerman to get a clue about whose voice we heard talking to Charlie at the end (it sounded familiar, right?), Cliff’s love of Blues Traveler and where Charlie may be heading in Season 2 —and which guest stars she might run into out there.

TVLINE | So Charlie ends the season in pretty much the same situation as she began it: on the lam with a scary mob boss on her trail. Was that always the way you wanted to end it, even if you weren’t renewed? Or did you play around with different ideas?
Well, I think we always knew that she wasn’t going to be settling down and laying down roots, starting a family and getting a day job at the end of Season 1. But I don’t think we had settled on the idea of Beatrix Hasp, of the five families or any of that. It just started to feel like Charlie belongs on the road, and I love that we end with this iconic image of her climbing back in the Barracuda and jetting across the country again. It just kind of felt right as a bookend to our season, but also the promise of what could come.

NORA | And she’s kind of figured out how to do this, right? As she says to Beatrix, she’s good at it, so let’s find out together how long this can last. It’s a fun promise, whether or not we had had a second season. I think of Charlie Cale always being out there getting justice for somebody. I feel like sometimes those are the best endpoints when you just can imagine that person is still out getting justice.

TVLINE | Who was the voice of Beatrix Hasp at the end there?
That’s Rhea Perlman.

TVLINE | Oh, excellent! I thought I recognized it. So she will be playing her in Season 2?
That is the hope, certainly. We wanted to cast somebody with a really iconic voice, but in true Poker Face form, we also wanted to cast somebody that is this wonderful character actor and give them an opportunity to play against type. So I cannot wait to see what Rhea can bring to being a villainous, murderous mob boss. I can’t wait to see that.

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  • Poker Face EPs Answer All Our Burning Finale Questions, Like: Whose Voice Was That on the Phone With Charlie? (2)

    TVLINE | Charlie went back home to see her sister Emily, played by Clea DuVall, which was a great little But I’m a Cheerleader reunion. Did you guys have that in mind when you cast her?
    NORA |
    I don’t know if we had her in mind, but the second that her name came up, we were like, “Natasha, call in your favors. Start texting.” In some ways, it’s a bit of a cheat because Clea and Natasha have such a history and a friendship that you immediately read them as sisters. There’s just this lovely history between the two of them, and watching them act together was seriously one of the highlights of the season for me. It’s such a wonderful, bittersweet scene that suggests a lot of history and things also unsaid about what happened in that family and the burden of Charlie’s ability and how that affects others around her, and we really lucked out having Clea come in and do it. She’s also extremely busy. She’s a director and an actor, and she has her own projects and her own shows. So having her take the time to come out and become Charlie’s sister was just such a get for us.

    TVLINE | Plus, it was really the biggest look into Charlie’s past that we’ve gotten all season. Will we see more of her family or people from her past in Season 2 to help fill in that backstory?
    LILLA |
    I think we will. But like in Season 1, we’re always going to use a very light touch when it comes to Charlie’s backstory. I feel like Charlie’s a character that’s always living in the present and always pushing forward. So when we do get these little glimpses, I think it does feel incredibly special and really unique. We talk a lot about where Charlie came from and who was in her life before we meet her in the series. But I think what’s really great is that we haven’t landed on anything concrete, except for what we’ve shown you, and we can kind of fill in and shape in her past bit by bit. But she’s always going to be moving forwards.

  • Poker Face EPs Answer All Our Burning Finale Questions, Like: Whose Voice Was That on the Phone With Charlie? (3)

    TVLINE | I want to talk about Cliff’s love of Burn Notice and Blues Traveler, these very middlebrow tastes of his. How did you hit upon those as examples of who he is as a person?
    NORA |
    Well, the Burn Notice reference, that line was in the pilot. But there was something so lovable about his unabashed affection for Burn Notice. When we saw the montage of him in this episode and what he went through in that year… you know, you keep the things closest to you that you love when you’re going through a tough time. So the fact that he would be in a motel watching Burn Notice to try to make himself feel better, to get through it, I thought was really wonderful. And it really humanizes somebody who could be like the Terminator, just going after his prey. But also the fact that somewhere in Cliff Legrand’s brain is the full John Popper rap from “Hook” is just so weirdly endearing.

    LILLA | Endearing and spooky at the same time. I feel like that sequence where he’s monologue-ing “Hook” to her? It’s just indicative of the tone we’re trying to hit all the time in Poker Face where it’s funny, but it’s also frightening, and we’re not sure how to feel about it. It’s kind of subverting these moments and these expectations in such an unexpected way.

    NORA | And Benjamin [Bratt] did a wonderful job. He had to do that so many times. When you’re driving and shooting at the same time, you just do takes over and over and over again. I should find out the actual count of how many times he performed “Hook,” but deadly serious. I think he really only screwed up maybe once or twice, in at least a dozen times that he did it. It was really something to witness.

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  • Poker Face EPs Answer All Our Burning Finale Questions, Like: Whose Voice Was That on the Phone With Charlie? (4)

    TVLINE | Simon Helberg also came back in the finale as Luca. He ended up offering Charlie a job, and they seem to have formed a kind of friendship. Could we see him popping in at all in Season 2?
    NORA |
    Well, I hope so, because I think Simon did such an amazing job.

    LILLA | Simon also just made such interesting choices. He really brought Agent Clark to life. I’m a huge fan of Agent Luca Clark. I hope we get to see more of him. I love the connection that he has with Charlie. I love him trying to actively make out what she is and what’s going on with her in real time. He’s drawn to her, and kind of perplexed by her, and I definitely think that if Simon wants to come back and play on Poker Face, I would love to see those two together again.

    NORA | There’s something wonderful about how he basically gives her credit for his career. He’s kind of like, “I am here because of you.” So there’s something really self-deprecating and self-aware about that that makes your heart go out to him. So yeah, I hope so.

    TVLINE | It’s funny: Charlie’s lie-detecting skills didn’t really play that big of a role in the finale. Is she becoming a better detective, outside of her unique gift?
    LILLA |
    I think so. I think that she is picking up skills along the way. We always like to have her learn something new in every episode. For instance, after the barbecue episode, where she uses her sense of smell that’s been highly attuned and the taste of the wood… it’s not like we spend the rest of the season with her sniffing things and hearing music in her head. We’re always going to be innovating ways that she can discover and detect the foul play that’s going on around her. But yes, obviously the boring version of this show is her always relying on her lie-detecting skills. So we always want to give her a fresh approach for each episode that isn’t her marching up to the murderer and saying, “Did you kill them?”

    NORA | We joked about it, and now it’s not that much of a joke: Because Charlie doesn’t have a cell phone, she’s not staring into her phone like all of the rest of us are. She’s more observant, and she detects the lie because she’s listening because she’s not buried in a screen all day. So I think in some ways, maybe if we all got rid of our phones, we might be better detectives.

  • Poker Face EPs Answer All Our Burning Finale Questions, Like: Whose Voice Was That on the Phone With Charlie? (5)

    TVLINE | I love how each episode is basically its own mini movie, its own self-contained case with different guest stars and everything. Did you guys have a personal favorite case from Season 1 that stood out to you? I know it’s hard to choose.
    NORA |
    Yeah, [Episode] 9 was special to us because it was very much our baby. It was the first episode that we shot, actually. We shot it first because it was set in winter, so we wanted to take advantage of the fact that the buds hadn’t sprouted on the trees in New York yet. It was so early in the spring, it was weeks away, but we knew the clock was ticking. So that became the first episode we shot, so there was something really special about [Episode] 9. But we had a blast with all the episodes.

    LILLA | My favorite episode to break in the room was probably “Exit Stage Death,” the dinner theater episode, because it was the most intricate and complex in terms of having this crime being solved as the play was running in real time. For me, that was fun because it was the scariest one. As soon as we threw down the challenge to ourselves, can she solve this mystery while the players running on stage? Can we do it? And we wound up doing it, and I just feel like the ingenuity that was involved in breaking that episode, that’s my favorite memory in terms of breaking something.

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    NORA | Yeah, I think we had kind of, at that point, figured out how to break the show in a good way and use everybody in the room in the best way. So that became sort of like, “OK, now we know the path. Let’s hit the ground running.”

  • Poker Face EPs Answer All Our Burning Finale Questions, Like: Whose Voice Was That on the Phone With Charlie? (6)

    TVLINE | Well, speaking of the path ahead: We know the show is returning for Season 2. Can you tease anything about where Charlie is headed from here?
    NORA |
    I think Charlie is always going to be on the move. I don’t necessarily see her settling in a small village in Maine, a la Jessica Fletcher. We haven’t begun those discussions yet, because we haven’t started the room yet. But yeah, I think she’s always going to be on the move. We love the shark-like nature that Charlie has, always moving forward.

    LILLA | I’m excited for Season 2 because I feel like now we’ve really got the rhythm of this show in our bones. We know the format, we know the character, we know the rhythm of it, and so how do we innovate on it every week moving forward? We’re going to continue to challenge ourselves and continue to push ourselves. Like, I have so many episode ideas boiling inside of me right now. I can’t wait to get back into the room and start breaking.

    NORA | Yeah, there was a lot of stuff we wanted to do in Season 1 that we were like, “OK, keep the notes. Put it on the backburner. Let’s figure out a way to do it again.”

    TVLINE | Are there any potential guest stars you have on your wish list?
    NORA |
    You know, when we had all our guests in Season 1, we always would talk to them about the show in the tradition of Columbo that had these recurring guest stars like Robert Culp and Patrick McGoohan, and they would come back and play villains multiple times as totally different characters. So we’ve always kept the door open to the idea that we could certainly use some of our actors that are already in the Poker Face Players and bring them back. I mean, Rian [Johnson] has such an amazing Rolodex of people that he’s worked with on his films. As long as he keeps making ensemble films outside of Poker Face, we’ll always have a list of guest stars.

    LILLA | It was just pointed out to me that we’ve already had two people from Cheers, so if we could get the rest of the cast of Cheers in there… I’m just putting it out there into the universe.

    Alright, now it’s your turn: Give the Poker Face finale — and Season 1 as a whole — a grade in our polls, and then hit the comments to share your own Season 2 guest star wish list.

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