DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Poker Face episode “Rest in Metal” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, drifters! Episode four blesses us with a Russian Doll reunion between Natasha Lyonne and guest star Chloë Sevigny. Helmed by Tiffany Johnson with a script by Christine Boylan, “Rest in Metal” brings Lyonne’s Columbo-inspired Charlie Cale (well, let’s be honest, Columbo heavily influences Poker Face‘s narrative style) on tour with a has-been metal band. She connects with an energetic young drummer who meets his demise when the other band members electrocute him. 

“Rest in Metal” takes less time to unfold than its predecessors, and the concept of the murder is a bit silly, but it’s brimming with verve and good ole-fashioned fun, with Lyonne doling out her best performance thus far. On another note, I love that Lyonne’s real-life love for vintage pop culture has influenced her character. Most folks wouldn’t reference Felix Unger or call someone a magpie, and I dig it. It lends itself to that Columbo feel. 

Ready to delve into “Rest in Metal”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open on a messy employee breakroom in a Home Depot-esque store. Ruby Ruin (Sevigny) wanders listlessly through the aisles while at work. We learn she’s the lead singer of a metal band called Doxxxology, who has one hit song titled “Staple Head” from the ’90s. However, they’re struggling to stay afloat in the ever-changing musical landscape. Ruby approaches one man and asks him if he’ll join Doxxxology on their upcoming tour as a roadie. He declines. 

Al, Gavin, Ruby and Eskie stand on stage with instruments and microphones in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 4, "Rest in Metal."

POKER FACE — “Rest in Metal” Season 1 Episode 4 — Pictured: (l-r) John Darnielle as Al, Chloë Sevigny as Ruby Ruin as Ruby, G.K. Umeh as Eskie — (Photo by: Peacock)

But not all is lost. Ruby meets Gavin (Nicholas Cirillo), an overly enthusiastic drummer who found out about the band’s need for a drummer on Craigslist. He eagerly gushes about how he was headbanging to “Staple Head” when he was two years old. After meeting the requirements, Ruby hires him to drum for Doxxxology. Next, we see Ruby, guitarist Al (John Darnielle), bassist Eskie (G.K. Umeh) and driver Deuteronomy (Chuck Cooper) on the road. Ruby, Al and Eskie are attempting to create a fresh single that’ll blow “Staple Head” out of the water. Meanwhile, Gavin watches an old-school sitcom Benson on his bed while laughing hysterically.

Then, a montage plays out featuring Doxxxology performing at various venues. There are hardly any music lovers in the audience. A tumbleweed could roll across the floor at any of these places. The band relies on “Staple Head” to elicit a reaction from those in attendance. Play “Free Bird”!

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Later, Ruby sings a new tune, “Merch Girl,” while Al and Eskie play their instruments. All three seem to dig it. Gavin offers advice: simply write a single as good as “Staple Head.” We learn Doxxxology’s former drummer penned that song before bouncing, and she still receives royalties from it while the current band members get squat. Next, the band plays one venue with a patron who demands to hear “Staple Head.” Once they start performing it, said patron lugs a stapler, which smacks Gavin on the head. 

Charlie looks at a photo with a magnifying glass in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 4, "Rest in Metal."

POKER FACE — “Rest in Metal” Season 1 Episode 4 — Pictured: (l-r) Chuck Cooper as Deuteronomy, Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale — (Photo by: Sara Shatz/Peacock)

To make matters worse, Gavin steals Ruby’s big scream at the song’s end. She punches him and orders him never to do that again. Oh, the drama. That evening, Al snaps a photo of the bloody stapler that hit Gavin’s head to sell it on eBay. He also shows Eskie a TikTok of the metal band Krampus as the lead singer dons a Krampus outfit and scares people. Ruby feels bad for punching Gavin, so she invites him to hang with the band in their hotel room. She also apologizes for her violent outburst. 

Gavin busts out a song he scribbled on paper and performs it for the band, complete with a backing track he created. Ruby gives him positive notes, encouraging him to keep chipping away. After he departs, Ruby tells the guys it’ll become a bona fide hit. It’s that good. So, they have to do something about that (and that something is murder). 

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Ruby fires Deuteronomy, who was the band’s jack of all trades. He would also check the equipment before Doxxxology would take the stage. Then, they replace Gavin’s amp and tamper with it. That night, Ruby informs Gavin he can take her final scream at the end of “Staple Head.” Lil Gav’s over the moon. All goes well until the last moments of “Staple Head.” Gavin lets out a primal scream while Ruby presses a button with her foot. He’s electrocuted. The lights go out. When they flicker back on, we see Gavin is dead. Dun-dun-DUN! 

After that shocking murder (I’ll see myself out), the gang rewrites the lyrics to “Sucker Punch,” Gavin’s song. They all sign it and burn his copy. 

Gavin sits in a restaurant booth while looking alarmed in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 4, "Rest in Metal."

POKER FACE — “Rest in Metal” Season 1 Episode 4 — Pictured: Nicholas Cirillo as Gavin — (Photo by: Peacock)

Now, let’s take it back to the beginning. Ruby approaches Charlie (Lyonne) and asks the latter if she’ll sell merch for Doxxxology’s tour. She agrees to join them and follows the tour bus in her car. Charlie witnesses the man throwing the stapler at Gavin. That evening, Charlie applies super glue (Shout out to Marge the trucker!) to Gavin’s forehead gash. Charlie and Gavin bond. While riding in Charlie’s car, Gavin explains his life philosophy and aversion to shoes. You need to be grounded. I like this kid. He lets things roll off his back. I could stand to take a page out of his book. Charlie affectionately calls him a “holistic magpie motherf*cker.”

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Later, Charlie urges Ruby to cut Gavin some slack. The following evening, Gavin thanks Charlie for working her magic with Ruby. Now he has the memorable “Staple Head” scream. Then, Charlie watches Gavin die onstage, utterly aghast. After the incident, the police conclude that Gavin’s death was an accident. A technical malfunction. Ruby states they’re all lucky to be alive. The wheels turn in Charlie’s head. 

Al stands in front of a drum set with his guitar in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 4, "Rest in Metal."

POKER FACE — “Rest in Metal” Season 1 Episode 4 — Pictured: John Darnielle as Al — (Photo by: Sara Shatz/Peacock)

Then, the gang puts “Sucker Punch” on its feet by practicing it in a workspace. While cleaning out her domicile, Charlie finds some of Gavin’s trash. A lightbulb switches on in her head. She pieces it together, noting that the various wrappers and papers spell out the lyrics to “Sucker Punch.” That’s where he got the idea for the song. When she learns Doxxxology plans on performing “Sucker Punch,” Charlie confronts Ruby, asking why she doesn’t give him credit. 

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Ruby admits that it is his tune, and she’s merely trying to create something positive out of a tragedy. Charlie becomes the victim of a Krampus jumpscare video, so naturally, she punches the guy in the Krampus suit. She’ll be an internet celebrity in no time. After that, Charlie spots Deuteronomy, who now tours with Krampus, the band. Charlie asks Deuteronomy about Gavin’s amp and whether deaths like his are possible in this industry. Deuteronomy confirms this and explains death capacitors and how older amps only had two prongs instead of three. Gavin had three prongs with his amp. 

Deuteronomy shows Charlie a pic of the same model Gavin had on eBay. In fact, it is Gavin’s amp. Charlie sneaks into the tour bus while Al plays a song about “un-murdering” someone. Charlie realizes Al is selling the band’s stuff on eBay, including that bloody stapler and Gavin’s amp (even though his amp is evidence of a crime). Charlie finds the amp in question and that the plug has three prongs. 

Ruby wears a black and red corset while standing with her hands on her hips in front of a drum set in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 4, "Rest in Metal."

POKER FACE — “Rest in Metal” Season 1 Episode 4 — Pictured: (l-r) John Darnielle as Al, Chloë Sevigny as Ruby Ruin, G.K. Umeh as Eskie — (Photo by: Sara Shatz/Peacock)

Later, Charlie approaches Ruby, who’s picking out the green M&M’s from her bowl like a certified, Grade A celebrity. She reveals she overheard Al singing his un-murder tune. Charlie theorizes that Al killed Gavin, which would explain why he’s selling the amp on eBay. When Charlie leaves, Ruby orders Al and Eskie to keep it together. They only have one shot at making their big comeback. 

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Meanwhile, Charlie borrows a magnifying glass from Deuteronomy to examine a photo she took when Gavin was still alive. She notes how Al is standing straighter than usual even though he complains about his sciatica and is adamant about keeping his mic at a certain height. Charlie searches for the recorder Gavin always kept under his seat so he could examine his footwork after a show. She procures a chip and places it in a camera. Charlie notices Al’s wearing Doc Martens, and so is Ruby. Side note: It’s June 2022 in the timeline of the show. 

Next, Charlie confronts the whole band and gives them hell. She knows the truth: they killed Gavin for his song. Ruby refuses to admit to anything, but the guys look pretty remorseful. Ruby yanks off Charlie’s merch badge and shouts for security to escort her outside. Charlie calls Ruby a has-been and flips her off. She praises Gavin for being real metal while Ruby’s “f*cking talc.” God, I love Natasha Lyonne. This monologue is gold. 

Cliff leans against the side of a truck at night while looking smug in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 4, "Rest in Metal."

POKER FACE — “Rest in Metal” Season 1 Episode 4 — Pictured: Benjamin Bratt as Cliff Legrand — (Photo by: Peacock)

Once outside, Charlie encounters a man everyone calls a narc (John Hodgman), under the impression he’s a cop. She presents evidence that Doxxxology murdered Gavin. She hopes the narc can send this to his boss. Unfortunately, he’s not a cop; he’s simply terrible at asking for drugs. Suddenly, Cliff (Benjamin Bratt) appears. The Krampus video with Charlie went viral, so she was easy to track. Uh-oh. 

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Charlie flees, running inside the bar where Doxxxology performs “Sucker Punch” onstage. Charlie weaves through the headbanging crowd while Cliff pursues her. She even crowd-surfs at one point. Thankfully, Charlie evades capture, and Cliff gets a punch in the face by a concertgoer. Then, Doxxxology sits in a meeting with a record label. “Sucker Punch” is a certifiable banger. Unfortunately, their dreams come crashing down when one agent plays a YouTube video of someone pointing out a bit of copyright infringement. The melody for “Sucker Punch” sounds like the theme song for Benson, Gavin’s favorite sitcom. 

But that’s not all — Charlie dropped off the evidence to a podcaster who has a show called Murder Girl. She unravels the case of the band who murdered their tour drummer via electrocution for a song. I hope you like orange, folks! Charlie drives away from that mess, preparing to barrel headfirst into another adventure (with another murder case to crack). 

Charlie stands outside at night with her hands in her jacket pockets in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 4, "Rest in Metal."

POKER FACE — “Rest in Metal” Season 1 Episode 4 — Pictured: Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale — (Photo by: Peacock)

“Rest in Metal” pushes the seasonal narrative forward, with Cliff finally catching up to Charlie (only to lose her again) while giving us an entertaining episodic story. The writers for Poker Face take great care in crafting multifaceted, nuanced guest characters compelling enough to invest in, even for only one episode. At the same time, they also continue cultivating Charlie as our lead protagonist. It’s fascinating and engaging all around. 

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

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Melody McCune
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