DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Poker Face episode, “The Night Shift,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.

Welcome, drifters! Episode two of Poker Face is another exciting installment in this fun murder-mystery world. Rian Johnson directs from Alice Ju’s script, and it’s a consistently entertaining affair. “The Night Shift” propels the overarching narrative while giving our charismatic, bullsh*t-detecting lead Charlie room to play. Another cast of intriguing, fleshed-out characters supports her. 

Ready to delve into “The Night Shift”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with Jed (Colton Ryan) spying on Sara (Megan Suri) via binoculars. Jed works at his uncle Abe’s mechanic shop, while Sara works at the mini-mart across the street. Meanwhile, Damian (Brandon Michael Hall) records a TikTok behind the counter at Subway, making a sandwich for all the world to see. Then, he visits Sara and purchases a scratcher from her. She hands him her Hawaii quarter to use. He vows to take Sara to Hawaii someday if he wins the lottery. Jed enters the mart and invites them to watch the meteor shower on the roof of the mechanic shop. Of course, we know he only wants to spend time with Sara. Both Damian and Sara decline his offer.

Jed sits in a chair outside the mechanic shop on a sunny day in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 2, "The Night Shift."

POKER FACE — “The Night Shift” Season 1 Episode 2 — Pictured: Colton Ryan as Jed — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Next, Damian slips a paring knife into his pocket before joining Jed on the roof. We hear him tell Sara earlier that folks like Jed are usually dangerous. He believes Jed might be bothering Sara. While the pair chat on the roof, Jed points out a semi-truck nearby with a large star on the side. He wonders what’s inside of it. Damian talks to Jed about luck and getting out of New Mexico. Damian kindly urges Jed to steer clear of Sara. 

During their conversation, Damian pulls out his scratcher and discovers he won $25,000. Suddenly, Jed pushes him off the roof. Then, he steals Damian’s scratcher. Damian, who’s still alive, reaches for his paring knife and slashes Jed’s calf. Jed whirls around and bludgeons Damian to death. He stores the body in the nearby semi-truck.  

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Later, Jed peers through his binoculars to find the truck driver discovering Damian’s body in their truck. They dispose of the corpse near the dumpster in front of the mechanic shop. Jed calls the police to report that he witnessed a murder. Yeah, you did … the one you committed. 

Then, we see Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) pull into the mechanic shop after the hood of her car starts emitting smoke. Abe (John Ratzenberger), a.k.a. Cliff from Cheers, informs Charlie that it’ll cost $400 to fix the issue. He allows her to keep the car in the shop overnight and tells her there are a few motels outside the area. Charlie meets Jed. She’s instantly irked by his presence (Aren’t we all?). 

Charlie stands outside the mechanic shop on a sunny day while smiling in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 2, "The Night Shift."

POKER FACE — “The Night Shift” Season 1 Episode 2 — Pictured: Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Charlie stops by Subway for a sandwich, where she meets Damian (pre-murder, obviously). She heads inside the bathroom of the mini-mart to clean the blood off her shirt. She is, after all, in the same shirt in which Cliff (not from Cheers) shot her. Marge (Hong Chau), a trucker, stands next to her in front of the bathroom sink. Marge offers advice regarding Charlie’s gunshot wound. Initially, Charlie is hesitant to accept advice from a stranger. Then, she passes out. 

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Charlie wakes in Marge’s semi-truck. Yes, she has the truck with the star emblazoned on the side, a.k.a. the body dumping site. Marge applies super glue to Charlie’s wound. She’s good as new! They chat about living off the radar and that Marge hasn’t talked to another human in 270 days. The pair head into the diner for some grub. Chau and Lyonne have excellent onscreen chemistry. I want Marge to be Charlie’s road trip sidekick. They can solve crimes together. 

Sara stands behind the cash register in the mini mart while looking focused in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 2, "The Night Shift."

POKER FACE — “The Night Shift” Season 1 Episode 2 — Pictured: Megan Suri as Sara — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Anyway, Marge leaves to fetch medication to alleviate Charlie’s pain. Some time passes, and we see Charlie preoccupy herself with a kid’s coloring page. The waitress, Dana (Chelsea Frei), informs her that it’s closing time. But where’s Marge? Charlie sleeps outside on a table parked in the middle of a field. She wakes next to what she believes is a buzzard. I hate to be that guy, but it looks like a turkey vulture. Charlie returns to the diner and reunites with Dana. Dana reveals she never left the night before because someone was murdered. According to the police, Marge is the perpetrator. They found Damian’s body in her truck. 

Now, she refuses to accept that as the truth. We see the crime-solving gears turning in her head. She withdraws $400 from the ATM (and now has zero dollars in her bank account) and sets the timer for four hours on her watch. According to Marge, you have four hours after withdrawing funds from an ATM until someone can find you. Charlie knows Sterling Frost, Sr. is on the hunt for her. Charlie pays Abe and prepares to depart. 

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Meanwhile, Jed purchases a lottery ticket from Sara. He claims it’s in honor of Damian. While she’s not looking, he switches out the ticket he bought for Damian’s winning scratcher. He excitedly tells her he won $25,000. Charlie barely leaves the sleepy, desolate New Mexico truck stop before turning around and deciding to solve the mystery at hand. She’s on a time crunch, but that’s okay. She returns to the mechanic shop and asks Abe if she can watch the footage from the night before. Charlie spots Marge depositing Damian’s body near the dumpster in said footage. 

Abe and Jed stand in the open garage of the mechanic shop on a sunny day in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 2, "The Night Shift."

POKER FACE — “The Night Shift” Season 1 Episode 2 — Pictured: (l-r) John Ratzenberger as Abe, Colton Ryan as Jed — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Charlie meets Sara outside the mini-mart. They start discussing Damian and his murder. Sara reveals the police claimed Damian was breaking into Marge’s truck. That spurs Charlie to ask to see the camera footage in the mini-mart. They talk about the last time Sara saw Damian. It was like every other night — Damian would visit her during his shift at Subway and buy a scratcher. She confirms what Jed told Charlie, that Damian bought a ticket every day but never won. 

However, Charlie believes Sara when she says this. Her bullsh*t detector went off when Jed stated it. Charlie stops by Subway and interacts with one of the employees behind the counter. She tries to sneak a peek at their security cameras, but alas. She finds Damian’s apron and pulls a beer bottle cap from its pocket. Hm…

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Next, Charlie visits Jed. She applies super glue to the gash on his calf. Charlie asks about Jed’s lottery winnings and what he plans to do with his life. He claims he might escape to Hawaii. Of course, Charlie draws the parallel to Sara saying she gave Damian her Hawaii quarter. Charlie asks Jed if he was alone on the roof during the meteor shower. Jed asserts he was. Liar, liar, pants on fire

Charlie and Sara stand outside the mini mart while looking at something on Sara's phone in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 2, "The Night Shift."

POKER FACE — “The Night Shift” Season 1 Episode 2 — Pictured: (l-r) Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale, Megan Suri as Sara — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Then, Charlie and Abe observe a different angle from the security camera. They notice a chunk of time is missing, which Abe claims is because of the wind. Well, that’s Jed’s half-assed excuse, anyway. Meanwhile, Jed visits Sara and invites her on his Hawaii trip. She promptly rejects him. Charlie climbs onto the mechanic shop roof to find a plethora of beer bottle caps matching the one in Damian’s apron pocket. Jed discovers her there, and they continue their conversation from earlier. 

Charlie finally confronts Jed regarding Damian. She knows he wasn’t alone that night. While Jed rants about leaving Sara behind to make something of his life, Charlie surreptitiously slips Sara’s Hawaii quarter she finds on the roof in her pocket. She returns to the mini-mart and purchases a slew of lottery scratchers from Sara. Jed cuts a brake line in Charlie’s car because murder is like Pringles, apparently: once you slash, you can’t stop. Later, Sara visits Jed at the mechanic shop and asks to see his winning ticket. He hands it to her, which she slips to Charlie. 

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Charlie reveals her findings to Jed after buying several tickets. They all have serial numbers. Funnily enough, one man earlier in the day who seemingly purchased his scratcher before Jed had a higher serial number. Jed’s number would indicate it was bought the night before, not earlier that day. Look at my little detective go! Jed scoffs at Charlie because he knows she found him out. Abe finds the duo in a heated argument and offers to start Charlie’s car. While his uncle’s out of earshot, Jed admits to killing Damian. 

Abe stands in his mechanic shop on a sunny day while wearing denim overalls and a tan shirt in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 2, "The Night Shift."

POKER FACE — “The Night Shift” Season 1 Episode 2 — Pictured: John Ratzenberger as Abe — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Charlie drives away after her confrontation with Jed. I love that she hears a radio commercial for a “hidden camera show” called Prank Yankers. What year is this, 2002? Unwilling to admit defeat, Charlie turns around again. This time, she asks a sleeping trucker about his dashcam. When he shoos her away, Charlie returns to the diner. She asks Dana and the patrons if they remember a particular trucker from the previous day. Unfortunately, they all boast a similar dress code. 

Charlie partakes in a game of impromptu Pictionary by drawing the design on the side of this trucker’s semi. Throughout the episode, we hear Charlie humming a particular song. She realizes it’s “Fox on the Run” by Sweet, which everyone in the diner starts singing. This makes me happy. So, the man had a fox on the side of his truck. Charlie asks Dana and the others to check his dashcam footage. It’ll be enough to exonerate Marge and get Jed behind bars. 

Then, we see Cliff (Benjamin Bratt) ask Sara at the mini-mart if she’s seen Charlie. She spots Cliff’s gun holster and lies about Charlie’s destination, claiming the latter is driving to LA. Cliff informs Sterling Sr. regarding Charlie’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, Abe tells Jed he fixed Charlie’s brake line. He also knows Jed’s guilty of murder. Charlie drives further away from New Mexico while Jed sets fire to Damian’s lottery ticket. Lastly, we see police cruisers pull into the mechanic shop. Bye, Felicia! 

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Natasha Lyonne always delivers on the performance front. She’s a big draw for me. That said, the supporting players in “The Night Shift” also dole out compelling work, notably Colton Ryan as Jed. He injects Jed with messiness and nuance. Truth be told, Jed makes my skin crawl, and not only because he’s a loathsome murderer. Ryan knocks it out of the park. 

Do you think Cliff will catch up with Charlie? Did you notice Charlie is wearing Natalie’s (RIP) sunglasses? When will we get a Marge trucker spin-off series? As for that last one — I sure hope soon. 

The first four episodes of Poker Face are currently streaming on Peacock, with new episodes dropping every Thursday.


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