The third episode of ITV’s Liar, starring Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt and Criminal’s Katherine Kelly, aired on 16 March at 9pm. And, much like last week’s episode – which saw Carl Peterson (Howard Charles) burn his beloved boat and shack after his confrontation with Ioan Gruffudd’s Andrew Earlham – it left us with a lot of questions.
Here, Stylist’s digital editor-at-large Kayleigh Dray does her best to unravel them all.
Did Carl kill Andrew Earlham?
Nope, although he tried his utmost best to do so. As we see in a flashback, Carl confronted Andrew when he spotted the serial rapist hiding out at the boatyard.
“A lot of people are looking for you, Andrew Earlham. I know you, and I know what you did to my wife,” he says.
Cue a violent scuffle, with Andrew fighting tooth and nail to get away from his captor. Unfortunately for him, though, the old “look behind you” trick he pulls on Carl only works for a moment: the ex-soldier soon has the upper hand.
“I want you to think about my wife. I want you to think about her and all the other women you’ve hurt as your lungs fill up with water and your world turns black,” he spits.
“You can’t. You can’t just kill me,” pleads Andrew.
“You’re wrong about that.”
Later, Carl pens a confession letter and shuts himself away in a remote cabin.
Laura Nielson (Froggatt), though, accompanies Winnie (Amy Nuttall) on a field trip to Carl’s new hideout and reveals that he couldn’t possibly have killed Andrew.
“There’s something you need to know,” she says, kneeling on the ground in front of him. “You didn’t kill Andrew Earlham. The police have his time of death at six days ago, not three weeks.”
“Really?” asks Carl, hope dawning in his eyes.
Laura answers: “I saw him. After you threw him off the boat. I promise you, I promise you that you didn’t kill him.”
So, did Andrew frame Laura?
Every single week, this writer suggests that Andrew could have had a hand in Laura being framed for murder. Particularly when you consider his mysterious relationship with Oliver Graham (Sam Spruell).
In this week’s episode, though, Andrew hammers this red herring home when he announces that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to ruin her life.
Don’t believe me? Well, after Carl ties him up and drops him in the sea, Andrew is treated to a montage of all his best/worst Laura memories. It is only as he recalls the time he told her he would stop at nothing to win that he regains consciousness, and struggles back up to the surface.
Who should he run into on the beach, then, but Laura herself?
“You stole my life,” he tells her menacingly. “And I’m going to steal yours.”
Cue Laura rushing off to a place of safety and calling the police, as Andrew staggers off in search of a new hiding place. However, we know that three weeks after this confrontation, he is murdered.
So who killed him?
So who killed Andrew Earlham?
Well, we have a theory… and it all revolves around that bloody key.
Before we get into that, though, let’s look at a scene from earlier in the episode, this time between DI Karen Renton (Kelly) and Laura.
“What are you doing here?” Laura asks the detective, when she finds Renton at her school. “This is my life… I’ve already lost my boyfriend because of your questions. This could cost me my job. A job I like and that I’m good at. It’s about all I’ve got right now.”
Renton does her usual thing: a smirk, a sardonic comment, a witty aside. Laura, though, isn’t standing for it.
“It seems to me that there are a lot of people who wanted Andrew Earlham dead, but you’re spending a lot of time on me,” she says furiously.
“My instinct tells me you did this,” replies Renton.
“Well good luck making that stand up in court,” Laura snaps back.
Later, when Laura learns that Carl is in the spotlight for murder, she refuses to let Jennifer (Jill Halfpenny) and Vanessa Harmon (Shelley Conn) tell the police that he’s worth investigating… even though it might take the heat off of her.
And, when she speaks with Carl in person, she tells him that she wants him to tell the truth.
“I need you to answer me one question,” Laura says, looking Carl in the eye as she does so. “Did you plant that key at the house?”
Carl promises that he did not, which means that someone else planted the evidence in Laura’s house. Who? We have no clue, to be honest. Probably that shady Oliver character, as he has form for general slipperiness. But then again…
Well, what if Laura DID kill Andrew?
Yes, we know. We know that, last week, we said that Laura would have to be a bloody psychopath to have bumped Andrew off and then accused her boyfriend of doing it. We know that, but we’ve kind of changed our minds.
Firstly, there’s the montage he witnessed as Andrew was drowning. It was entirely made up of scenes between him and Laura, seems to suggest that their fight is incredibly personal: it’s between him and Laura and no one else.
Secondly, she knew, before Jen or Vanessa said very much at all, that Carl hadn’t killed Andrew.
Thirdly, she’s obsessed with the key and nothing else: Laura doesn’t care who killed Andrew. Could that be because she knows exactly who did it?
Fourthly, she isn’t here for sister Katy Sutcliffe (Zoë Tapper) ruining her chances in court with flimsy false alibis. Almost as if, say, she’d perfectly planned it so police would have zero evidence against her.
And, finally, there’s Renton’s “gut feeling”, based on her own past traumas.
“My ex used to hit me,” she tells Maxwell. “For years, I made excuses. Then I had an epiphany and realised he would never stop. So I went downstairs, and I got a kitchen knife, and I stood above him and I thought, yes, this would be so easy. He would be gone and I would be free.”
Renton, though, didn’t do it. Instead, she reported him and had him arrested. And that is why she suspects Laura: she knows she’s Andrew’s victim, but she sees something of herself in the young teacher. She senses Laura took the law into her own hands, and, as Renton has told us over and over again, she really doesn’t like people who don’t obey the system.
But what about the key?
Yes, fine: the key is confusing us, too. Because, if Laura did kill Andrew, why the hell would she take the key back to her own house?
Well, we have a few working theories. Maybe she killed Andrew after the key wound up at hers (we know he was lurking around her bedroom before he popped his clogs).
Maybe she did kill Andrew and stashed the key back at hers because… what? She’s an idiot?
Or maybe, y’know, she did kill him. Hmm.
Unless it was Branch Commander Greg Maxwell (Jack Colgrave Hirst)…?
As in, yes, DS Maxwell (Danny Webb)’s son.
Shortly after the season two premiere, 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.”
Then, last week, we saw Greg approach his dad and asks him to speak with him privately – which, in Liar world, means over a pint at the local pub. And, in tonight’s episode, the “rising star of the NCA” (National Crime Agency) stormed out of his dad’s house in day-old clothes after an inaudible slanging match with Maxwell Senior.
So… what gives? Could Greg have been involved in Andrew Earlham’s murder? And, if so, was it him or his dad who planted that bloody key at Laura’s place?
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 Monday 23 March, 9pm on ITV.
You can read our recap of Liar episode two here.
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.