Review: Liar (S1 E3/6), Monday 25th September, ITV


You watch enough crime dramas to know that by episode three or four in a series of six something is going to happen. Perhaps a new character will emerge that will put a spanner in the works, or a reveal will take place that will propel the story into new territory. So it proved with episode three of Liar. Up until now, the two episodes we’ve seen have very much been playing along the lines of he said/she said. But there’s only so long this idea can be played out until it starts to feel repetitious – something needs to happen that develops the story. And something did happen.

We saw at the end of episode two that Andrew Earlham, the accused, had received a telephone call from someone claiming that Laura Nielsen had gone to the police before with a made-up story of sexual abuse. This person turned out to be a schoolteacher who, he claimed, had been reported by Laura for sexual harassment, claims she later withdrew. Earlham was eager to take this man, Denis Walters, to the police so they could hear his statement. With Walters’ testimony, we were now firmly back in the ‘Earlham is innocent’ camp.

Except things didn’t quite work out that way. There was something fishy Walters – a little too eager to incriminate and a little on the sociopathic side – and, in a pub chat with Earlham, he matter-of-factly told him that he had indeed inappropriately touched Lisa during a staff room hugging session, except he didn’t see it as inappropriate. Suddenly we were back in a situation where we didn’t know who was telling the truth.

Elsewhere, the concept of truth was being played out across the whole cast of characters – Laura’s sister Katy and husband Liam were asking themselves what truth meant, young school girl Sema and Earlham’s son Luke (who had, it was revealed, an affair resulting a terrified Sema trying to home-terminate their baby) had to decide whether to tell her strict, African father the truth or not (this bought Laura and Earlham into contact with each other, almost in a truce), and Tom was still wrestling with the affair he had conducted with Katy. So all of these characters were trying to get out of a hole, the ideas of trust and truth explored in each of them. And then the question: what happens if you tell a lie?

It gave the whole piece significant ethical weight and intrigue, but, of course, the two main players – Laura and Earlham – were really and ultimately where these explorations were being conducted through, and, sure enough, a huge twist in the plot came our way towards the end of the episode.

Investigating officer DI Harmon (Shelley Conn) had heard from the CPS that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute, so she went around to Earlham’s to tell him. He was understandably delighted and relieved, but Harmon sarcastically gave him a leaflet on consent (revealing her own personal views on the case) and his masked slipped. He slimily asked her in for a drink – a mightily inappropriate gesture that seemed to be mocking the detective – and sarcastically sneered, “Goodnight, detective” when she rebuffed his offer. Alarm bells began to ring, and then in flashbacks – the Williams brothers do love a flashback, although they’ve been reined in in this series – we saw the whole story flooding to the fore: Earlham had indeed slipped drugs into Lisa’s drink on the night in question. He was a skilled predator of women.

With Harmon warning Laura that Earlham was a dangerous man – the riddle of what happened to his wife was still yet to be solved – it was down to Laura to decide what she wanted to do. Liar suddenly switched from a he said/she said story, to one woman intent on bringing her abuser to justice. The episode finished with an empowered Earlham leaving the earring she had left at his place on her favourite stuffed toy in her bedroom as if to say: I know what you’re trying to do but I have all the power in this relationship and I will hurt you again.

To reveal the truth (although I’m expecting twists and turns in the remaining half of the series) this early is a bold move, but it was the right move. It’s just a case of now following Lisa in a full-blown noir story. Good stuff.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review go here

For our episode two review go here

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Sara Latham says:

    Of course it’s a very tricky and complex subject to deal with, but. I think it’s been pretty well handled on the whole. The main thing that struck me in this episode was that everyone seemed to be lying at some point or other, even Katy’s husband seemed to be lying to himself…..

    For me the crucial point came when Earlham asked the detective out for a drink, it made my skin crawl. Great scene.


  2. Sara Latham says:

    Btw, is it me, or is anyone else seeing dodgy dating ads within the reviews?? rathter disconcerting!!!


  3. malcolm says:

    so,who´s Lisa?


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