The season two finale of ITV’s Liar, starring Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt and Criminal’s Katherine Kelly, aired on 6 April at 9pm. And, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, and despite the fact that we have far more important things to worry about, there’s no getting away from it: that big reveal was extremely frustrating.
From the beginning of the series, Laura Nielson (Froggatt) had always been DI Renton’s (Kelly) prime suspect for the murder, and nothing was going to change her mind. And, as it tuns out, Renton is a very good detective indeed: despite all of Laura’s protestations as to otherwise, it seems she really was the one who murdered Ioan Gruffudd’s Andrew Earlham.
That’s right: in a flashback, viewers saw steely-eyed Laura lured to the marshes by her rapist. And, while he planned to drug her and frame her for murder, he never got the chance to fake his own death. Because, after a quick scrap in the mud, Laura got hold of Andrew’s knife and sliced his throat.
You know the rest, of course: he gurgled a bit, clutched at his neck, fell down to the floor, dead. Laura dashed off to cover her tracks and convince the world that she had nothing to do with his death. And Renton, after learning all of this, decided to… what?
Well, she decided to let Laura off. Because, despite everything the DI had previously said against vigilante justice, some tragic personal news had changed her mind/given her a complete character overhaul. And that something, of course, was her ex.
“My ex used to hit me,” Renton previously told 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. But, in last night’s finale, Renton was given the shock of her life when she learned that playing by the rules doesn’t always have the best outcome: her ex, she discovered, had been released from prison early. And, shortly after his release, he violently attacked and killed another woman.
Presumably, Renton is of the opinion that… well, that if she killed her ex, like she initially planned, she’d have saved another woman’s life. Which is why she decides to look the other way when it comes to Laura’s own murderous antics: instead of sending the teacher to jail, Renton lets Andrew’s accomplice Oliver Graham (Sam Spruell) take the fall instead. Dark, huh?
That all makes sense. Kind of, anyway. What doesn’t make sense, though, is the fact that Laura turned so quickly on her boyfriend Ian (Kieran Bew) back in episode two. You know, when police found his fingerprints on the late Andrew’s phone, and Laura found out and emotionally accused him of a) murder and b) framing her for murderr?
Yeah. At the time, this writer said that this conversation 100% proved Laura didn’t do it. “Because, if she had killed Andrew, then surely she wouldn’t have turned on Ian so quickly? Surely?” our naive episode recap reads. “Unless, y’know, she’s a cold-blooded psychopath and knows exactly what she needs to do to paint herself as innocent.”
So… she’s a cold-blooded psychopath, we guess. That’s why she happily went on a date with Ian after her name was cleared, that’s why she told him nothing about her fatal encounter with Andrew, and that’s why she told him, with a cheeky little smile, that she’s going to live her life “like none of this ever happened”.
Is it any wonder, then, that so many Liar viewers are fuming?
One, sharing a shell-shocked photo of the late Andrew Earlham, tweeted: “He looks how I feel after sitting through this nonsense.”
Another tweeted: “Can’t fucking believe I’ve watched six hours… SIX hours… of this for the killer to be Laura, the person who was accused in the trailers before the programme had even started!”
“So we waited three LONG years to find out she did it anyway?” another lamented.
One more added: “So we had six weeks of Laura going to extreme measures to prove her innocence and it turns out it was her all along? Should have just done one series, the storyline in the second has been ridiculous.”
And our favourite? Well, it included a GIF from our beloved Line of Duty.
Check it out:
To be honest, we only have ourselves to blame for this: the clues were there all along. Such as, y’know, the fact that Laura was far more interested in who planted the key in her apartment than who actually killed Andrew. And the fact that she guiltily helped Winnie (Amy Nuttall) prove Carl (Howard Charles)’s innocence? And her strange reaction – “this is ridiculous!” – when she was accused of the deed in the first place.
But, you know, it’s a lockdown. We have very little to talk about that isn’t Covid-19. We’re bored out of our minds. And so, if we have an excuse to get mad at a compelling and well-acted ITV drama, we’re gonna get mad. Fact.
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.