In my review of the first episode of Liar, I was quite firm in my belief that narratives like this told in the mainstream without proper vetting by victims and experts can do unimaginable damage. I still believe that, but episode two of the ITV drama furthers my opinion on both sides of the fence.
On the one hand, the characters are saying all the right things and raising the right points. Should it matter if Laura didn’t physically fight back if the sex was not consensual? Why are victims treated like criminals in the lead up to getting justice (or not, as the case often is)? And, of course, if Andrew is being falsely accused, then how can he ever redeem his shattered reputation once all of this is over?
But this is still a primetime thriller, and so we must endure the increasingly silly plot twists and obvious cliffhangers. The premiere’s main culprit was the reveal of Katy and Tom’s affair – given the same dramatic weight as the central plotline even though the audience neither knows these people well or cares why they committed such a massive betrayal.
Katy’s husband fits into the increasingly stereotypical house husband mold – because he doesn’t work and stays home to look after the kids, he is stripped of his masculinity and must endure the humiliation of a wife with a wandering eye. The whole thing feels like it’s here to fill time.
This week, however, it’s the lost earring that leaves us on edge until next week. Of course Laura left behind evidence when she broke into Andrew’s home, and of course he immediately found it without even looking.
Otherwise, however, there’s still plenty to like about Liar as a whole. Now that the reporting and police interrogation has been dealt with, we’re left with the rather mundane and frustrating part of the process we rarely get to see. Laura feels powerless because of the detectives’ reluctance to break protocol, and Andrew is forced to leave work because of the stares and whispers from colleagues and the general public.
Laura’s social media post may have done harm to her case, but it’s also ensured that Andrew can’t get away from the allegations. If he’s telling the truth (which, again, I doubt), then the scene between him and his son is heartbreaking. A parent’s worst nightmare, having to explain what kind of man you are to a teenager who is just figuring out this stuff.
The revelation that Andrew may have been an abuser of his wife, and that she may have been murdered, is almost definitely a red herring, as we’re still only two hours into a six-hour story. Even so, it doesn’t look good, and certainly doesn’t fit into the ‘nice guy’ image he’s cultivated for himself.
There’s no going back now, and Laura is certainly traumatised about something. The obvious answer is that she is reacting to her rape and being reckless because she’s truly unsatisfied with how quickly the police are moving. She’s a woman possessed, even compromising Tom in her mission to pin something – anything – concrete to Andrew.
Her behaviour doesn’t make much sense should she be lying, unless of course she has convinced herself that it is true to suit her own narrative. I hope that’s not the case, but we’re certainly let to believe it is from the call with a wild Peter Davison at the episode’s end. She’s lied about something like this before, he says, and he wants to help Andrew prove his innocence.
Crucially, we see Laura when she’s on her own and, aside from the one slightly-suspicious moment in the bathroom mirror last week, you can’t say the same for Andrew.
It feels increasingly likely that Liar will turn into a ‘girl who cried wolf’ scenario, with Laura revealed to be telling the truth this time after having lied before. It’s a potentially interesting conundrum for the audience, and one I’m tentatively looking forward to seeing play out.