Revisiting BEST of Life with Charlie Crews


Hello – Holliedazzle here! Welcome, one and all, to the Best of Life with Charlie Crews! In this post, we’ll all be weighing in with our highlights (and lowlights) of the entire series. Let’s jump right in, shall we?


At the center of Life lies the heart and mind of a man who gets his life back, along with a $50M settlement and his LAPD badge, after 12 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Charlie Crews is quirky and charming and funny, but vulnerable and even sinister at times. He’s a walking proof of the wide range Damian Lewis can deliver as an actor. No wonder New York Magazine calls him “the you-can’t take-your-eyes-off-him star” in Life. Damian takes a good network show and elevates it to another level.


So what do I talk about when I talk about the BEST of Life?

Charlie and Dani. While they do not see eye-to-eye on everything, they are more similar than they first seem. They both need a partner to cover for them and not let them fall. And they gradually find THAT in each other. They are just RIGHT the way they stand in their relationship and do not need to go to 1+1 = 1.

Charlie cannot have enough of what he was denied in prison. This recurring theme delivers some of my favorite moments.

TECHNOLOGY. It is delightful to watch Charlie discover this whole new world from figuring out IM to reading Internet for Idiots to getting into a chat room as “mango man” and to being fascinated by his cell phone.


SPACE. Charlie needs space to breathe and feel comfortable after 12 years in a cell. No wonder he has no furniture in his huge house! He cannot stand the idea of having a fence to keep the coyotes away, either.

LIGHT. Charlie loves light so much he wants to invest in solar energy and solar panels. He is a kid in candy store when Ted tells him such investment could, in fact, be profitable.


FRESH FRUIT. Grapes. Apples. Mangoes. Plums. He even has his own orange grove!

CARS. But he is not attached to them 🙂

WOMEN. And they obviously love him back 🙂 Here is my MOST favorite moment from Life. Random. Funny. Lovely. It’s so Charlie!

Favorite fruit moment: “It’s a personal pineapple.”


Favorite episode: Farthingale! A strange murder case. One IRS man. Two wives. Five baseball caps. Five bottles of wine. Dani starts to speak like Charlie. Charlie delivers my favorite line (see below) and has his first break in his own very personal investigation.


Favorite quote:

Charlie: “The light that shines upon me shines upon my neighbor as well.”

Agent: “What is that supposed to mean?”

Charlie: “That in this way everything is connected to everything else.”

I quote it all the time, and in our universe, everything finds its way, ultimately, to Damian.

Favorite Side character: Ted is a constant source of good humor in Life.

source: nbc
source: nbc

Least favorite moment/plot point: Sorry it needs to be Charlie and Jen.


Charlie, not having had a closure, constantly chasing Jen makes a hilarious plot: THAT horse! 😀 But I do not like Jen one bit. There is NO power in this world that could make me believe – other than his own words – that my husband would kill his best friend. I would NEVER leave him in prison and move on. NEVER.

Lady Trader:

I feel that in our last post about “Life” we all kind of talked about what we didn’t like (mostly the ending and the implied realization that Charlie loves Dani). So, I’m glad we have this chance to talk about all the things we did love about “Life”!

In my review of episodes 3 &4  in Season 1, I wrote about how much I loved the banter between Charlie and Dani (and often times between Charlie and about anyone else in the scene!). The timing was great, and it was the comedy that was sometimes needed during some dark plots. But, it also was a way of seeing how the relationship between these two very different partners was growing. How happy was Charlie when Dani finally called him her partner? As I have mentioned, this relationship grew stronger and there was definitely caring and loyalty, but not romance.

I also loved how Los Angeles was a supporting actor in this series. Being a NYC girl my whole life, I enjoyed seeing the many different sides to LA – city, desert, hills, etc. I’d love to go on a “Life” tour in LA, kind of like how they do a Seinfeld tour of NY.

The music used during the show was something I really enjoyed also. The songs were not ones that I knew, but I think the show did a good job of relaying a feeling through its choices of music. I don’t know if there is a “Life” soundtrack, but I would surely like one!

Last, but not least, my favorite part of “Life” was of course Charlie Crews. Isn’t it funny how Damian seems to always play a very complicated, many faceted character? Brody, Axe, Soames, Henry; all men with so many different sides and personalities. And Charlie is a very complicated man! He seems to me to be always trying to find the right balance in his life. He is also a walking contradiction! He gets out of prison after 12 years with a nice settlement. But instead of getting away from it all, he goes back to work for the LAPD. Why? So he can find who set him up. But, he is “Zenish” after his incarceration. Zen would tell him to let it go, but he can’t. He is constantly saying he is not attached to things. But, at least in the first season, he is still attached to his ex-wife, then to his lawyer. Oh, and let’s not forget about his car! He buys a huge, beautiful house, but does not furnish it.  All contradictions, but you never feel he is confused. He knows who he is, and who he wants to be. I also loved is innocence when it comes to all the “modern” technology he is having to learn after being away for so long. You don’t realize how much technology has advanced it such a short time, until you see Charlie trying to figure it out!

“Life” was a really good show that ended too soon. But as Damianista reminds me, we would most likely not have Damian as Brody if “Life” continued. And well, if I had the choice of Season 3 of “Life” or Brody, well there is certainly no question which one I would choose!! 🙂


The best of Life – The Women in Charlie’s life:


Charlie and Dani are perfect partners for each other in many ways that we see develop over the two seasons, but I never bought the suggestion in the finale that they could be a couple. Dani is part of the world which Charlie has to re-integrate himself to and Dani, like us is trying to figure Charlie Crews out. We look through Dani’s eyes just as much as through Charlie’s.

Connie (Constance):

Here is someone who understands Charlie as well as anyone can at this point in his life. She was there in his darkest hours and she fought his corner even when he may have given up on himself. The intimacy between the two never blossomed into an actual relationship (to my disappointment). Connie was all about Charlie and ready to leave hubby behind. I am not sure I can judge her for that because she is emotionally and intimately connected to Charlie through their shared experience of fighting to prove his innocence and for his release. This would have been exhausting especially if she had to initially fight Charlie’s depression/indifference as well.



Rachel and “sort of”/”not” uncle Charlie, depending what mood you find the two of them in, suffered similar traumas over the 12 years they were separated. Rachel is not the little girl he remembers, but an adult who grew from childhood by blocking out the reality she was living and yet she grounds Charlie perhaps more than anyone. She angrily tells him at the dinner table that he can’t come and go as he pleases. Basically, she needs to know she can depend on the one person she has left.

Favourite moment: Charlie ignoring Jen’s warning and looking for Rachel. Charlie was a naïve, rookie cop when he went into prison. That description no longer fits. He is not willing to take anyone’s word that Rachel is happy and safe especially not when he discovers that Rachel was in the house at the time of her parents’ and brother’s murders.

Fruit moment: Charlie asking if his kumquat could be boxed.

Favourite car moment: Charlie pulling Jack Reese over and warning him to stay away from Ted, while bugging Jack’s car.

Favourite episode: ‘Not for nothing’ a university psychology experiment goes wrong. Students take the roles of guards and cons. This episode gives strong hints to Charlie/Ted’s imprisonment, showing that a ‘con’ who was previously innocent can be provoked into becoming a fully blown con. Ted is still a con because he thinks the murderer was a hero for standing up against corrupt guards…

source: nbc
source: nbc

Favorite quote:

“Pretty girls in black dresses, weeping quietly in small groups. Or all by themselves.” Charlie, in ‘Badge Bunnies’

Favourite side character: Mickey Rayborn. His presence in and influence on Charlie’s life was not by invitation, but by his own arrogance, greed and force.

Source: nbc

Least favorite moment/plot point: I am going to agree with Damianista here and say Charlie and Jen.


The series, as a whole, was uneven, but the high points were amazing, and the low points were just kinda laughable.  The second season’s turn toward the “what a twist!!” type writing style was, at times, exhausting.  The simplicity and focus of the first season is what I loved most.  It’s so strong.  My favorite episode definitely comes from it, which is a two-way tie for “Dig a hole” and “fill it up”.


I love seeing Charlie “win”.  I just like those happy type endings, and I loved the cliff hanger of Rachel being the adoptive daughter of the killer!  It was something I never, ever saw coming.


My favorite side character, despite the slight her character’s writing gets in season two, is Dani.  I loved how complex she was, how she was kinda a loser, someone who had made HORRIBLE mistakes.  Someone who was living in the shadow of her father, trying to make a name for herself without having to invoke his, but, clearly, she had.  I don’t think she would have kept her job without her father’s connections.  And she knows it, and she HATES it.  I loved the way she played “straight man” to Charlie’s kooky behavior.  I loved seeing the trust build between her and Charlie.  In the end, she was willing to do anything for him.

Source: NBC
Remember when Jennifer’s husband punched Charlie? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

My least favorite moment came with another of our female characters, one that it seems my blogmates don’t really share any love of (I am at worst sorta indifferent to her), it was poor Jennifer’s assault by Charlie in the first episode.  Yes, that was a sexual assault.  Maybe it was supposed to be “cute” or whatever, like he still loved her.  But, umm, no.  I just wanna leap outta my skin thinking of it.  I am glad that Charlie never really acted again, without reciprocation, against Jennifer.  I try to chalk it up to him being fresh out of prison, but it still really bothers me.


I think my favorite quote or concept from the show was also the name of the final couple episodes: “dig a hole, fill it up.”  It’s a Zen practice, as it gives you a sense of purpose and a task to do, physically, which leaves the mind free to explore.  It also, I feel is a symbol of the very nature of existence, that hard work can easily be undone, virtually in an instance, so don’t get too committed, don’t dwell.  Your “holes” you dig are destined to be “filled”, if not by you, then others.  And Charlie certainly dug a huge hole, over the course of the show.  And when it was all said and done? He filled it back in, and started fresh.  He walked away from the bottom of it, filled it in, and stood, staring into the bright sun, just like how it had all started.  All connected 🙂

This photo is totally not about how good Damian looks in those pants. Move along.
This photo is totally not about how good Damian looks in those pants. Move along.

Oh and of course, my favorite fruit moment (and maybe yours, too? I think it deserves to be posted twice!!)

wheeee pineapple!
wheeee pineapple!



Charlie Crews is my favorite Damian Lewis character. I took Charlie to the deserted island with me in my DID and I opted to marry Charlie in the Marry, Shag, Kill game. Damian has said in past interviews, and I’m paraphrasing, that Crews is the character that most closely resembles him as a person. Charlie is funny, charming, quirky, a little naughty, but most of all, loyal. Yep, that’s Damian – forever my Mango Man! I loved both seasons of Life, but reflecting back season one was probably the better of the two.

Favorite Episode: “What They Saw” because of the quirky homeless man.

Favorite Side Kick: Ted “Am I Robin to your Batman?”

Favorite Fruit Moment: Personal Pineapple

Favorite Overall Moments: Cars, cars, cars. Tractor demolished, bullet-hole infested and flower power painted cars. He was not supposed to become attached to the cars, and the universe reminded Charlies of that every time.

Favorite Subplot: Charlie stalking Jen’s current husband via traffic violations. Cracked me up every time. I’d give him my license and registration anytime!

Favorite Quote: “Anger ruins joy, steals the goodness of my mind, forces my mouth to say terrible things. Overcoming anger brings peace of mind, leads to a mind without regrets. If I overcome anger, I will be delightful and loved by everyone.”

Favorite Charlie Crews Photo(s): I’ve never looked at apples or apple cores the same since.

Best of the Best: Charlie and Dani. Just breathe…

Least Favorite About Life: Damian’s suit pants were not tapered enough at the lower leg and it bugged me just about every episode. Fit this man’s physique for a suit properly! Wardrobe Department’s epic fail.

The End

Have you watched the entire series of Life? What episodes or moments do you like the most, or the least?  How did season one compare to season two?  Join us in the comments to discuss!

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

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