Life with Charlie Crews, Season 1: Episodes Seven and Eight

Episode 7 “A Civil War”, and Episode 8 “Farthingale”

As we follow Charlie Crews’ exploits as detective non grata on the LAPD bizarro homocide beat, with every episode of Life, we get another puzzle piece clicked into place in Charlie’s picture of who framed him and took away so many years of his life. This time the puzzle pieces were more personal than ever. We got a couple of major reveals about Charlie’s partner Reese.


Now, decades and decades of watching police procedural drama have taught me nothing if not the incontrovertible fact that partners have to rely on each other through thick and thin. Partners sharing a car and a beat have to have absolute trust in each other. Without trust they can’t possibly face the bad guys with an united front, without trust they can’t have each other’s back out in the field. Violations of that trust between partners is a breeding ground for some good drama in police stories.

We start to step into that touchy territory with “A Civil War.”

The episode title is perhaps evoking the little hiccup in trust between partners Charlie and Reese. It’s also likely a comment on the specific crime committed in this episode. Iranian-American students are killed, hate speech is scrawled over their dead bodies, and, as a result, there’s a bit of a threat of domestic terrorism to hunt down. Native born vs. immigrant = civil war.


The owner of the convenience store where the crime occurs is cuter and younger than Charlie (or anyone) imagines an owner of a chain of convenience stores would be. There’s a tiny bit of a chemical reaction when Charlie first sees her and she shares his wonder at the fact that phones can play video…”It’s like we’re living in the future.”  The tiny spark diminishes though as it’s revealed that the masked criminal seen in the video is her son.


Mrs. Farmer came to LA as a destitute single mother, bootstrapped herself up to owning a chain of convenience stores, and estranged her son in the process. The tidy American success story is not so tidy when a hard-working parent raises an entitled brat of a kid. The kid hates immigrants because they, as employees of his mother’s stores, got all the attention from his mother that he never got. And the cultural comment is that Mrs. Farmer sees more of herself in the immigrant kid than she did in her own son.


There’s a fun IT guy in the mix and some files hidden within a Prince of Persia video game. How retro to watch the graphics of this game where we sit now nine years into the future. And what a throwback against political correctness for the showrunners to choose a moody Persian tune, the more exotic-sounding the better, as backdrop to the Eastern magic performed by the kidnapped boy’s sister as she cracks the video game. East meeting West, yo.

Ultimately, despite the “full house” of FBI, Homeland Security, Mayor’s Office and the hate crimes unit working the case, the putative domestic terrorism gets whittled down to a crime driven by drugs and money, the perpetrator just one really angry and hurt white boy with mommy issues.(As it often does?) The story evolves into a tangled tale of drugs and kidnapping and ransom, as well as an egregiously high body count. It all ends in a bank hold-up interrupted at just the right moment by our super sleuth Charlie Crews.

Along the way, we and Charlie learn that Dani Reese speaks fluent Farsi; her Persian mother spoke it to her growing up; her Latino father disallowed it in his presence. We and Charlie also learn that Dani has a connection to the Bank of Los Angeles heist that was connected in some tangential but incriminating way to the conspiracy to frame Charlie. What is that connection? During a surreptitious googling session on the IT guy’s very special googling computer, Charlie finds new info on that bank heist and he finds the name Jack Reese in that info. Thus two puzzle pieces find their place on Charlie’s board of clues.


Moment of Zen from “A Civil War”? A butterfly flaps its wings and halfway across the world a hurricane forms.

Unfortunately, body count was higher than fruit count in this episode. All we get is a glass of orange juice while Ted tells Charlie that the solar farm of his dreams is a go.

Fun fact from this episode. The mother of the boy who’s ends up being the killer is played by Sarah Clarke. This is the actress who played badass Nina Myers on 24. She was also Jon Hamm’s prom date in high school, a fun tidbit we found out from a Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable a few years ago featuring Damian, Jon Hamm and Keifer Sutherland, among others. Coming full circle, this episode of Life also featured in the role of Charlie’s father’s fiancee and Charlie’s roommate Ted’s crush, Christina Hendricks, aka Joan from Mad Men. Small world, Hollywood.

At the start of Ep. 8, Farthingale, Charlie is listening to his Zen cassette, eating a green apple, and trolling the detective who was the lead investigator in Charlie’s conviction. He sees him meeting and arguing with a white haired man in Echo Park.


The crime: a man is chopped in half due to an exploding stove. His upper body is in tact thanks to the fridge door sheltering it from the blow, while the lower half is blown to smithereens. We learn that he has two IDs, two names, two lives, and two wives, both of whom think he works as a secret spy of some sort. Fun way to hide another life: tell your wife you’re a spy and your missing hours and days and weeks are all top secret. How the man supported two very nice households in the LA real estate market on the salary of an IRS cubicle jockey is anyone’s guess. Plus he had a safe house in sketchy Cheviot Hills where Crews and Reese find him.

Moment of Zen, shared over a cup of mixed fruit…maybe some melon and mango: The Chinese symbol for war is two women under one roof.


Meanwhile back at the precinct, the detective Charlie had been tailing earlier that day is found dead. This gives the police chief ammunition for getting all over Charlie, sending IAD to investigate.

Again, we see Damian’s very fun way of conveying hijinks with pure physicality.



Another moment of Zen: It’s not what is different in the two lives lived by the murdered man wherein lie the most telling clues, it is what is the same. The answer is a puzzle and it’s solved by two groups of five objects, one in each house.


Charlie and Dani, with the help of their lieutenant, find a pattern within the pattern, leading them to a Unibomber type figure, the Free State bomber. Apparently Farthingale, in the course of all his number crunching at the IRS and dreams of heroic pursuits, had found some anomalies in the data, leading him to the identity of the Free State bomber. And the bomber did what bombers do and blew the poor guy into bits.

Charlie does his own version of number crunching trying to determine where the bomber might be. We see him doing that finger drumming thing that Brody did to pray, and one has to wonder if Damian brought that little bit of physicality into both Charlie and Brody sans direction from script. Afterall, the one and only thing in common between Charlie and Brody is Damian. 😀


Cut to Charlie’s home being raided by the DA’s office. Constance is back in town and now working for the DA’s office. This return seems to be a plot device so that she can be the one informing Charlie that his house is being raided. (Sometimes it’s very clear that the writers weren’t happy in those days and not really there in spirit 100% of the time. Constance’s random motions in and out of Charlie’s life seem to be one of those times.) Ted, in his ex-con’s wisdom, knows Charlie is hiding something in that closet he’s always visiting. So he has the foresight to take down the puzzle Charlie is slowly putting together before the DA’s office can see it.

Charlie is off the hook, for now. The detective still needs a funeral and everyone but Charlie is in their dress blues to give him the send-off. Cue the moment Charlie learns that Jack Reese and the white-haired man he saw talking to the dead detective are one and the same. What this reveal means for Charlie and Reese’s future as partners is a story yet to be told.imageedit_23_6045098148

Fruit count: Orange Juice (does that even count?), mixed melon, Granny Smith apple

6 thoughts on “Life with Charlie Crews, Season 1: Episodes Seven and Eight”

  1. I was watching LIFE,, In 2009, in France, I découver, a wonderful man, a fantastic actor, Damian Lewis!
    I loved LIFE, I still love, the best TV series, a nice start to the career of Damian, USA

    1. When Life first aired here in Sept 2007, I was home with a three month old. I would collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day and had no energy for TV, let alone TV that started at 10pm.:D I sometimes wonder how I would have “seen” Damian had I seen him first in Life and not in Homeland. Charlie is so different from Brody, but I like to think he would have caught my eye and imagination just as much as Brody did. 😀

  2. Wonderful post! You had one of my favorite scenes (Ep 7) and one of my favorite episode (Ep8).

    It’s amazing how “A Civil War” is both very retro (those video games!) and very contemporary (immigration, guns) at the same time. I loved the chemistry between Charlie and the woman that owns the convenience store and also LOVED the conversation they had at the very end of the episode. The woman looked familiar but I would never understand she was Nina Myers from 24 — that first season was a game changer! And besides it was made by the same men that gave us Homeland later. Everything is connected in this universe. And now I am sounding like Charlie 😀 And you know how I feel about Mad Men so couple of actors/actresses appearing in Life was such a pleasant surprise for me!

    My most favorite scene in that episode is when Ted tells Charlie about the solar farm. Charlie loves LIGHT. He missed it so much in prison! Charlie loves light so much so that he wants to invest in solar energy and solar panels. He is like a little kid in the candy store at the end of episode 7 when Ted tells him that they can invest in solar panels. He is so sweet, I wanna HUG him!

    And Episode 8 is one of my most favorite Life episodes because of its “only in Los Angeles” kind of crime! And who knew Lt. Davis was a sports trivia expert? I still giggle as I remember Charlie being surprised that she is married in Episode 6!

    Finger drumming!!!! Yes!!!! I love this connection between Brody and Charlie – and I wonder… if he also finger drummed to the tune of “Match of the Day” in Life!

    Thank you so much for bringing these wonderful moments to us! <3

    1. HA! I bet he did. Living out in stark Los Angeles, the internet and ability to watch international things in the States not what it is now, I bet he was humming Match of the Day every chance he got. 😀
      I chuckled when they were talking about their sleeping habits in relation to the murdered guy and Lt. Davis nonchalantly said she has no trouble sleeping.
      Also, love the part where Ted asserts that all men lie to their wives, and asks Charlie didn’t he always lie to his wife. He very believably and convincingly shrugs, No. Charlie’s child-like wonder at the world is so convincing! Thanks to this Shakespearean guy from Tufnell Park playing him.

      There are talking points all over these episodes. Don’t realize until re-watching how much we can say about each one!

  3. I am just loving all the interesting perspectives everyone is contributing to Life! So much fun to read….keep up the amazing work, everyone! I’m looking forward to my next turn on the season finale!! 🙂

  4. I m really enjoying the recaps of Life. This is wonderful Jania Jania.

    I had the exact same thought about the finger drumming and whether or not he was humming MOTD then too.

    I love the scene with Ted where he’s imagining his two wives. Charlie gives us a peak into the pre-prison Charlie and how he was perhaps ‘that nice guy’ and in fact was that nice guy who ended up being too nice for his own good. I believe him too when he says he never lied to Jen. Pre-prison Charlie seems to have been very innocent.

    …yes orange juice counts. It is one of the five a day…can you imagine with Charlie with ‘five a day’ stickers? I can…

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