Colombo. Kojak. She wrote the murder. These are the most popular offers when describing new peacock show, poker face. and being who Rian Johnsonthe mastermind behind Take out the knives Movies (Beside last jedi), the comparisons are accurate and logical. poker face It is, at its core, about a woman named Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) who travels the country and solves murders.
But there is a turn. Charlie is a human lie detector. She can tell instinctively, as a matter of fact, if a person is lying about something. So if you go back and describe it differently, you might say that she has an unexplained innate power that makes her superior to others. Or in other words, a superpower.
We here at io9 have been discussing this conclusion for weeks now poker face’January 26th on Peacock — and for a definitive answer as we dive a little more into this mysterious ability of Charlie, we went to the man himself, show creator Rian Johnson.
Germain Lussier, io9: Mr. Johnson, how are you, sir?
Rian Johnson: A great man. how are you?
io9: I’m fine. So io9, as you may or may not know it, is basically a sci-fi website.
Johnson: Check it every day. I read every day.
io9: Oh. Wonderful. Thank you. Well, the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing something about the show, so I want to dig in and ask that question. Do you think Charlie’s ability to detect lies is a superpower?
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Johnson: [Deep inhale] Where do you draw the line? It’s like the Asimov thing for any major scientific advance to be indistinguishable from magic. In which case, I don’t know. What is the difference between simply having something baked in the back of your mind that can pick up on subtle little things that lead to it, and unquoted ESP? So I don’t know how to answer this question. I don’t know. I mean, he’s definitely superhuman. In that, it transcends reality in terms of what humans can do, but it’s also something strangely plausible. So, if that means you’ll cover it on io9, I guess. Yes sure [a superpower].
It’s pure science fiction! It’s pure science fiction [Laughs].
io9: That was my instinct, too, because the show is so cool [and I want to cover it]. So where did the idea behind that powerhouse come from? How did it become the core of the entire show?
Johnson: I mean, this kind of gameplay came about as soon as I realized the character wasn’t a detective and her job wasn’t going to be to solve crimes, and yet this show is a huge throwback, obviously, to a case type. – This week’s riddles grew up watching them on TV. I knew [it] She would have a Jessica Fletcher thing wherever she was, there was a murder. In a sense, you’re just asking the audience to agree with that. In a sense, it’s just, yeah, that’s the show, let’s have fun with this.
Also, though, I felt like it had to be something. There must be something. And so in my opinion, the lie detector thing, it’s going to work a little bit like V.I death zoneLike when Walken touches people’s hands and goes “Bzzzzz”. The idea that if you can spot the little lies, you’ll probably notice a lot more nefarious things happening around you every day. That was a bit of a path to it – we have to give her something that will give her a reason to be so good at it.
io9: Yes. And like I said, I’m diving into this one. Does power have an origin? Will we explore the origin of this power?
Johnson: [Laughs] You know what’s interesting. We thought about doing that– we haven’t done that this season, but we thought about doing an episode that brings back memories of her childhood, or with her dad, or something she kind of sees [where it starts]. It’s hard because I still haven’t quite figured out what it is – maybe I’ll come out, but figuring out what it’s going to be like, this isn’t just the kind of psychological thing that sounds like something we’ve seen before. I don’t know. And I’m still on the fence as to whether that would be interesting to explain where it came from; I don’t know. But it’s something that’s still on the table, I think. Or you got into a gamma ray tank and something went terribly wrong. And for the sake of this site, that’s clearly what happened. I’ll go with that. [Laughs]
io9: Yes! Fully endorsed. And last thing on this one, does the Force have any kind of kryptonite? Are you going to explore it or have you thought about it?
Johnson: That’s an interesting thing. yes. There is one thing. I don’t even know if I should say that because we might use it for a second season. But, in fact, there are several different things where in this situation we thought it would be interesting for her to meet someone who can’t read. And so I’m not going to talk a lot about that because I think it’s something we’ll use in the future. But I’m really excited to explore that, and the fact that we got a full season’s worth of stuff and didn’t put it to good use for me is exciting.
io9: What I love about the show is that it’s not one puzzle. It’s kind of four puzzles in one. It’s who was killed, how Charlie will cope, how she’ll find out, and what she’ll do about it. So, what comes first, and how do you fit into it all?
Johnson: Well, it’s kind of chicken and eggs. I mean, in the writer’s room, we want to introduce some kind of worlds, first and foremost. Like sites. It would be fun to watch an episode in dinner theater, in a snow covered motel in the Rocky Mountains. And then we basically arrange the killing events. Like, what if that kind of kills and you think it’s… So it was kind of like a combination of all of those.
And then once we have those building blocks, what you describe in terms of the structural procedural elements of that kind of stuff comes in as the show-breaker. This is the next step once you know the big concept of it. But the one thing I really like is in the first chapter, which is small Where’s Waldo? Once you know how the thing is structured, figure out, “Oh, that’s a Barracuda back there,” trying to guess where Charlie will fit. And that’s something we’ve tried to hide, little things in every episode.
poker face Debuts on January 26 with the first four episodes. Then you’ll download the top six weekly, all on Peacock.
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