Poker Face (Season 1 Finale), Episode 10 Recap & Ending Explained: Charlie Cale’s adventurous ride started when she ran away from a murder scene. Since then, she has used her unique lie-detecting skills to hustle her way through town after town. During this time, Cliff Legrand was constantly on the lookout for her. However, he only appeared in brief flashes because the focus was on the cases Charlie encountered along the way.

The season finale takes many surprising twists and turns to answer our question – how would Charlie escape the charges for Sterling Jr.’s murder? In a fitting conclusion to her journey, the script unearths some parts of Charlie’s past besides showing her run for life.

If you’re reading further, please be aware that there are spoilers ahead.

Poker Face (Season 1 Finale), Episode 10 Recap

Episode 10: The Hook

Does Cliff take Charlie back to the casino?

At the end of ‘Escape from Shit Mountain,’ Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) is at a hospital, celebrating the fact that she has been declared dead. You might remember that Stephany Hsu’s character’s corpse was considered to be Charlie. Meanwhile, Cliff (Benjamin Bratt) was sitting right outside her hospital, waiting for her discharge. Before following her journey back to the casino, the episode delves into Cliff’s search for her, spanning over a year.

Right after Charlie started her journey, she received a call from Sterling Sr. (Ron Perlman). Even then, he had a reverence for her skills. However, he could not forgive her for what she did. So, he threatened her to return with the usual ‘we’ll find you no matter where you hide.’ She cut that call leaving Cliff to follow her trail. From one small town to another, living in one crappy motel to the next, Cliff continued his journey because of Sterling Sr’s orders

In the end, when he finally got hold of her, he was told to wait for even more time, just because Sterling Sr. wanted to see Charlie return without the use of force. After over two months of rest, Charlie finally recovered from the hospital. At the time of her discharge, she learned that a party had paid her hospital charges. Right outside, she saw Cliff waiting for her to take her back to their casino.

During the journey, he keeps her under his watch all the time. He even locks her hands on the bed she sleeps on. Since all of this started with Natalie’s death (Remember Kazimir Caine’s case?), she sees their journey as a chance to confront Brett about it. He suddenly stops the car, tells her to open the glove compartment to get the gun, and entices her with a chance to kill him. She does not have the heart to do it. So the discussion ends just there, even if she feels betrayed by him, who knows that she did not kill Sterling Jr. (Adrian Brody)

Does Sterling Sr. kill Charlie?

The two finally reach the casino. Cliff takes Charlie to a room, tells her to wear a floral sequin dress, and parades her to Sterling Sr’s chair. The old man questions her about her journey. She gets surprised. ‘Just be done with the murder,’ her face almost screams that! She is restless after all this running for life. But apparently, Sterling Sr needed her for something else. Like his son, he wants her to use her bullshit meter for a task. A voice tape clarified that their casino’s owner, Beatrix Hasp (Rhea Pearlman), was up to something unflattering with Sterling Jr. He wants Charlie to find out the secret of the ‘five families’ (that were trying to make a deal with Sterling Jr behind Sterling Sr’s back) and get a ticket of freedom as a reward, besides a lofty amount of $500k.

What other option does Charlie have at this point in time? She accepts Sterling Sr’s proposal and goes up to open a gift box that he just gave. Under a pile of gift fillers, she finds a gun and holds it in her hand – still trembling due to this turn of events. Isn’t she just at the place at the right time to hold Sterling Sr (the one who made her run for over a year) at gunpoint? We wonder. The very next moment, lights go off, two shots get fired, and back when they are on, Sterling Sr lies on the floor, dead.

Does Charlie kill Sterling Sr?

Charlie is bewildered even more due to this sudden death. But wait. She is certain that she did not pull the trigger. But does that really matter? She is at the right place at the right time, and so she looks like the perfect accomplice for the murder. That’s when the story opens up to the murder masterminds. It is not Charlie, but Cliff, who kills Sterling Sr. Why?

Poker Face Season 1 Finale Episode 10

Because he was tired of being treated like a servant by the old man. He was annoyed for riding around the country when he could have overseen the operations at the casino and enjoyed a cozy job after Sterling Jr’s death. Right when he found Charlie, he spoke with Beatrix and decided to use her as his patsy in this orchestrated murder. He planned the casino blackout and the perfectly timed murder of his old boss to implicate Charlie.

Right before Charlie starts running away, she drops the gifted gun on the ground. Cliff switches it with an identical one, showing the signs of two shots having been fired. So, it implicates her. But how does he have a gun with her fingerprints? Remember the gun he told her to hold from his gun compartment? That’s how!

Charlie runs back to her room and calls the first person she can think of as someone who would help her – Luca (Simon Helberg), the FBI officer she helped to get two rebellious old ladies convicted (in Episode 5: Time of the Monkey). He felt indebted to her for this reason (and also because she sent him Kazimir Caine’s email, which helped him get another solved case under his belt). When she calls, he initially advises her to turn herself in. Within a few moments, he calls her back not to do so. No shit! You end up repeating what Charlie says.

Does Luca help Charlie get out of murder suspicion?

Coincidently, Luca is appointed to this murder case and is in the casino when Charlie calls him. While he is empathetic toward her, he sees all the evidence pointing at her. So, until he can establish that she is not the culprit, he wants her to leave the city at the earliest. She escapes the casino with a group of bachelorettes and travels to another part of the town in a limousine. She eventually gets out with a dildo ring on her finger and sees police still on the lookout (which she assumes to be for her).

Does Emily help Charlie to hide from the police?

As her next option for safety, Charlie decides to show up at her sister’s place. Emily (Clea DuVall) is clearly not happy with Charlie’s sudden return since she has a history of abandoning her family as per her whims. While Charlie may have thought of asking her sister for a temporary hideout, she senses the pain she has caused and decides to only ask for their father’s boat. Besides getting keys to its engine, she also gets a lecture from Emily, who makes her see her vagabond life as not borne out of external factors but because of her nature. The sisters part ways, yet again, without getting a sense of closure.

Poker Face (Season 1 Finale), Episode 10 Ending Explained

Does Charlie get arrested for Sterling Sr’s murder?

After leaving her sister’s place, Charlie goes to the harbor. She sees the dilapidated state of her father’s boat and feels that there is no other option but to call Cliff. At the time, he is also at the harbor, standing on a luxurious boat. She tries to clarify how she has no motive for killing Sterling Sr and to prove her innocence. Maybe Cliff would help her get out of it, she hopes. He tells her to meet in person to sort out this issue. Then he calls the police to alert them about their meeting.

Charlie shows up at his boat in no time. Before the police arrive, she has a heart-to-heart with Cliff about every detail that she witnessed at the time of the murder. She saw a shining object like one of the glowing casino chips. Cliff justifies it as something that may have helped the shooter. Charlie keeps pushing him for more details, trying to manipulate him for his years of loyalty to Sterling Sr. But he does not budge.

In the end, Cliff even locks Charlie inside the cabin, where she learns he is the shooter. He understands that she knows. So, he pushes her in when she struggles to find a way out. During his attempt to do so, she hurts his eye with her dildo ring (Chekhov’s gun got shot in the end!). On her way out, she hears the police sirens and jumps into the water. Cliff runs out with a wounded eye and keeps pointing in Charlie’s direction. However, Luca wants to arrest him for Natalie and Jerry’s murder. Thanks to Charlie, who insisted Luca listen to the hotel recording tape intently, Cliff is behind the bars.

Is Charlie finally safe from any danger to her life?

In the end, Luca meets Charlie in a diner and thanks her for giving him his third huge case. Apparently, during his questioning, Cliff also turned on Beatrix, leaving Charlie to be free of guilt. After this, he once again offers her a job offer. She refuses and leaves. On the outside, Beatrix calls her. This mob lady now threatens Charlie to turn herself in if she wants a safe life (eerily similar to Sterling Sr’s statement). Once again, her lie-detecting skills were supposed to save her life from danger. However, instead of being a tool for Beatrix, she wants to stay free. Probably owing to her experience of over a year, she does not mind putting her life back on the road.

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Poker Face (Season 1 Finale) Episode 10 Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Poker Face (Season 1 Finale) Episode 10 Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Ron Perlman, Benjamin Bratt, Simon Helberg, Clea DuVall, Rhea Pearlman
Where to watch Poker Face

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