Who killed Andrew Earlham? Does DI Karen Renton really think Laura Nielson is a killer? And what is the bloody deal with that shady Oliver Graham character? Fair warning: this article contains Liar season two spoilers, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the crime show…
Just as we saw in the nail-biting season one finale all those years ago (can you believe it aired back in 2017?), someone has murdered Ioan Gruffudd’s Andrew Earlham. But which character slit the serial rapist’s throat? And was it the same person who dumped his body in the marshes?
Well, Laura Nielson (Froggatt) is currently top of the police’s list of suspects, due to her obvious motive and… well, some pretty damning evidence. However, armchair detectives watching the crime drama unfold on their TV screens refused to believe that Laura was the killer. Indeed, social media was soon filled with viewers insisting DI Karen Renton (Kelly) should never have arrested the teacher. To paraphrase Pretty Woman’s Vivian: it was a big mistake. Big. Huge.
But if Laura isn’t the one behind Andrew’s murder, then who was it? Well, naturally, Liar’s season two premiere has left us with a lot of questions.
Here, Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray does her best to unravel them all.
What happened in the first series of Liar?
It has been a very long time since the season one finale, so you can forgive viewers for forgetting the finer details of the plot.
“This is all well and good @ITV showing series 2 of Liar,” tweeted one. “But waiting 3 years to release it means I have absolutely no fucking memory of what happened in the last series!”
Is Andrew Earlham really dead?
Quite a few people on Twitter think Andrew is still alive.
“Spoiler theory: Andrew’s not dead,” tweeted one. “He got his pal the plastic surgeon (whose boat he was hiding on) to make the body look like him. Then planted evidence in Laura’s house.”
“He’s not going to be dead and the whole of series 2 will be Andrew trying to frame Laura,” added another.
Our favourite response to all of this?
Well, yes. Obviously. We’ve seen his cold corpse being handled by police officers, and his body has clearly been identified, as his death is headline news.
Plus, there’s the fact that Froggatt has promised fans that, while Andrew does appear in the upcoming drama, “he’s definitely dead”.
“Andrew is definitely dead. The series goes over the last three weeks between him disappearing and turning up dead,” she told Metro.
“‘We see who killed him and who’s the liar now. Laura is under suspicion. She feels angry the injustice has carried on and she is now a suspect. Andrew is still haunting her.”
Fine, Andrew’s dead. But could he have arranged his own murder?
Well, this Liar fan certainly thinks so.
At the end of the episode, Laura is arrested when police locate Andrew’s car keys in her flat. She repeatedly claims she has no idea how they got there – and asks DI Renton if the detective really believes she’d be so stupid as to implicate herself by stashing evidence in her own flat.
Renton, naturally, gives nothing away, but there’s no denying that Laura makes a good case. So who planted the evidence?
Well, social media sleuths have suggested a number of different names. Kieran Brew’s Ian Davis has access to Laura’s home, not to mention an increasingly shady backstory (more on that later). Katy Sutcliffe (Zoë Tapper) is clearly going through something, but we doubt she would betray her sister like this. Then there’s Jennifer Harmon (Jill Halfpenny), who was out very early the morning Andrew’s body was found, not to mention Vanessa (Shelley Conn) herself: after all, hers was the evidence than led to police searching Laura’s house in the first place.
Based on Andrew’s track record, though, we have a feeling that he could have had a hand in Laura being framed for murder. Particularly when you consider his mysterious relationship with Oliver Graham (Sam Spruell).
After all, Andrew once said he “has to win, no matter what”.
Good point. So what else did Andrew ask Oliver to do for him?
In a flashback, we see Andrew call his friend, Oliver, from a police cell. Despite Oliver’s protestations that he’s currently in Edinburgh, Andrew goads him into travelling down to the pretty little seaside town in which Liar is based. Why? Because he wants him to locate and destroy any evidence which may suggest Andrew is the rapist he is.
“I’ve helped you out before, haven’t I?” he whispers into the mouthpiece.
“Don’t,” replies Oliver. “That’s not fair.”
“There’s no one else I can trust,” wheedles Andrew. “There’s no one else who understands.”
Eventually, Oliver agrees to do as Andrew asks, but not before his friend/blackmailer drips a little more poison in his ear.
“It’s not right,” says Andrew. “That bitch [Laura] walking around while I have to leave my son… if she thinks she can do this and get away with it, she’s wrong.”
Could it be that Andrew, so desperate to “win” and punish Laura, blackmailed Oliver into framing her for murder? Once all the evidence was planted, all Andrew needed to do was walk out into the marshes and… well, you know the rest.
Too crazy a theory for you? Well, consider the fact that ITV has promised us this about Oliver: “His connection with Andrew’s past will become clear as the series progresses, and we’ll uncover the strange turn of events that brought him and Andrew together years ago in Edinburgh. Year later, he again becomes deeply entangled with Andrew’s web of lies.”
Plus… well, plus we have Andrew’s own hint.
“When bad things happen, they don’t go away,” he told Laura, all those years ago. “They’re always there, under the surface, like they’re just waiting for you.”
Who is Alexander Slater – and what did Ian Davis do to him?
Ian Davis (Kieran Bew) is, on paper, the perfect boyfriend. He’s supportive, and caring, and loving. And he’s clearly 100% smitten with Laura, telling her simply: “I knew I was in trouble the moment I saw you”
A lot of people have taken this as an admission of murder. Particularly when paired with the important update that came later on: Ian has form when it comes to teaching Very Bad Men a lesson.
Sitting down for a chat with DI Renton and DS Rory Maxwell (Danny Webb), Ian quickly shuts down when he realises they have him pegged as a possible suspect in the Andrew Earlham case.
“I never met the man,” he says flatly, although he reiterates what everyone watching at home is thinking: that Earlham got what was coming to him.
The detectives, though, are unmoved by this display of emotion.
“Is that how you felt about Alexander Slater?”
For a moment, it seems as if Ian isn’t going to reply: his shock is that palpable. Then, recovering, he says: “That was nine years ago. You know what he did, don’t you?”
“We do,” says Renton. “And we also know you put him in hospital.”
Hmm. What did Slater do, we wonder? What did Ian do to him? And is this connected in some way to Earlham’s murder, or is it just another delicious red herring for us to chew over?
Only time will tell, we guess.
What do we know about Winnie and Carl?
As is so often the case with season premieres, this episode spent a bit of time setting up a few key players. Two new characters it’s worth keeping an eye on? Carol (Howard Charles) and Winnie Peterson (Amy Nuttall).
We see Winnie, dressed in her nurse’s uniform, approach a ramshackle shack on the beach. There, she confronts her husband, Carl, begging him to stop drinking and come home.
It becomes abundantly clear that Winnie is another of Andrew’s victims. That, just as he did with Laura, he drugged and raped her. Unlike Laura, however, he convinced Winnie that the incident was her “own drunken mistake”.
So what do we know about Winnie? Well, ITV has said that she is “gentle, with an underlying inner strength, Winnie is a nurse who worked with Andrew before he died”. After Laura uncovered Andrew’s recordings, however, Carl – a troubled army veteran – began “retreating into himself and spiralling out of control to potentially dangerous effect.”
And why are people pointing the finger at DS Maxwell?
Because, much like Laura, he had motive and he had access to her flat.
As one fan tweeted: “So I think Rory the cop did it. Because Andrew raped his mate (the copper woman who grassed Laura up) he also planted the key during the warrant search.”
Could Luke have been involved somehow?
Andrew Earlham’s teenage son, Luke (Jamie Flatters), has really been through wringer. His mum died around six years ago, and since then it’s just been the two of them – but then his dad was exposed as a rapist.
From what we see of their interactions in the episode’s flashbacks, Andrew and Luke seem to have a good relationship. At least, they do until Andrew learns that Laura has got her hands on some seriously incriminating evidence. Then, he rushes upstairs, fills a bag with a few sparse belongings, and tells his son he’s off to work.
“Not sure how long I’ll be. Hopefully not too late,” he says, lying through his teeth. Then, clearly realising he may not see his son again, Andrew asks: “You’re doing OK, aren’t you? In life, I mean?”
“Why are you acting so weird?” replies Luke, not looking up from his phone.
“Sometimes I need to know. It’s a dad thing,” insists Andrew.
The pair chat some more, before telling one another “I love you”. Later, though, police arrive at the Earlham household with a warrant for Andrew’s arrest, leaving Luke absolutely bewildered. We know he told officers where his dad’s boat was moored, but we know little else about what the teen’s life looked like after his dad’s arrest. Nor do we know how Luke reacted when he learned his father was a serial rapist.
Perhaps the teen decided to lash out at his father. Or, just maybe, the teacher who tore his sole surviving parent away from him?
After all, as Andrew once told Laura: “Please don’t treat Luke any differently after what I’ve [told you about his late mum]. And just be patient with him. He’s a bit stubborn. A bit like me, really.
“He has to be right. Has to win, no matter what.”
Does DI Karen Renton really believe that Laura is the murderer?
A lot of people have DI Renton pegged as the bad guy of Liar season two, but that simply is not the case.
As Kelly previously told Stylist: “Karen is the best for the job because she works quickly and effectively and without emotion. Laura’s got her own thing going on, and she’s too much in the thick of it to have anything personal against Karen.”
Froggatt added: “I think Katherine’s character is definitely sort of Laura’s antagonist in the present day, as Andrew was in season one, but also she’s everyone’s antagonist because that’s the point of DI Renton being there. She’s got to solve this case, and that’s what adds the great drama to it, I guess.”
But… does DI Renton really believe Laura is capable of murder? Well, at the moment, it seems as if she does. However, Kelly hinted that there’s more to it than that.
“You only really find out anything about how they truly feel about each other in the very last scene, when a conclusion is reached,” she told us.
… because everyone on Twitter certainly does!
Writing on Twitter, one viewer said: “#WhoKilledAndrew surely it’s far to obvious that Laura would be the one to kill Andrew BUT maybe that is the double bluff??”
“Laura probably did see him after she’s lying,” another suggested.
A third added: “Very interesting. Too obvious to be matey boy down at the docks. I’m callin it now. It was Laura and she’s gonna get away with it”
So, what do we know for sure?
We haven’t a scooby about anything, quite frankly. At this point, all bets are off and everything’s to play for. One thing’s for sure, though: we will absolutely be tuning in next week to find out more.
The next episode of Liar will air Monday9 March, 9pm on ITV.
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.