Review: Liar (S1 E5/6), Monday 9th October, ITV


This fifth episode of Liar really did threaten to get out of hand and stretch the boundaries of credulity in every which way, but it certainly started in considered fashion. The first 20 minutes or followed Laura’s continuing journey from an unheard survivor of rape to a vengeful survivor of rape, the unveiling of Laura and Tom’s relationship, and the fall-out from Earlham’s abuse of DI Vanessa Harmon, which we saw take place at the end of episode four.

That first 20 minutes were pretty sickening and awful all the way through – and it’s a feeling that has permeated throughout the whole series. The way DI Harmon found out she had been raped was just awful – we know that she’s pregnant and visited the hospital to get checked out after she began to feel pain and had suffered bleeding. The nurse found internal abrasions, most commonly caused by rough intercourse. But, as we know, Harmon is gay and had had no penetrative sex. She immediately thought of Earlham – not sure how – but she did, and asked the nurse to test for GHB. (Her baby was fine, by the way.) GHB, we learned, stays in the system for only six hours, so her blood test came out negative. But Harmon was now convinced Earlham had raped her.

Elsewhere, it was all kicking off round at the Sutcliffes – Katy’s affair with Tom finally came out into the open, which saw both Liam and a shocked Laura storm off in tears. Laura’s plan to plant GHB (given to her by Tom at the end of episode four) in Earlham’s locker at work had now gone by the wayside, and the development of Katy and Tom’s story meant that now she was adrift and on her own. She could trust no one. She was angry, confused and volatile.

I know that suffering and surviving sexual abuse must be extremely tough, and even tougher if your assailant gets away with it Scott-free, but I just didn’t buy that Laura was going to go to the lengths she was about to go to – she suddenly turned into a crazed vigilante, and I just didn’t think that was a great advert for survivors of sexual abuse. Or the legal process of bringing someone to justice. She decided to modify her plan to set Earlham up: she asked to meet him in a bar to discuss ongoing legal shenanigans, acted drunk, drugged him and scratched him, drove him off in his car to some deserted place on the coast, tied him to a chair and threatened to do all sorts. This covered all the appropriate bases: she had met him in a public place, the scratch was full of her DNA (as was his car) and people will have seen them together.

Now, among all this ridiculousness and mayhem, the question of truth, what it is and how we perceive it was discussed in the confrontation scene between Laura and Earlham – she had driven him out to a deserted beach shed, tied him to a chair and began to taunt and wrestle back control. She said that she was wrong to have told the truth because it got her nowhere, and now she was going to lie to get him justice. I couldn’t help but feel, as she waved a knife in his face, that this central theme could and should have been more cleverly explored in this series, instead of giving way to a shock-and-awe handling of a tricky subject. Earlham was beginning to come clean about his dark side, but even he was sneering and lasciviously smiling like a Bond villain. At the end, Earlham managed to escape and Harmon came to the rescue (sort of), but she couldn’t arrest him – the GHB was still in his system, which would have implied foul play on Laura’s part. So what should have been – and indeed was in the beginning – an interesting and well-handled exploration of a sensitive and complex subject, has now really descended into something schlocky.

I’m not sure I really care about these characters and this story anymore. It’s obvious Harmon will team up with Laura, and they will eventually find the shed that Earlham hides his vials of GHB and memory cards containing filmed footage of the abuses he carries out (another thing that beggared belief), but Liar has definitely gone to a place it cannot come back from.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review go here

For our episode two review go here

For our episode three review go here

For our episode four review go here

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pat says:

    Exactly Paul couldn’t agree with you more 😆


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