TV’s adorable psycho is back – and killing us all over again: DEBORAH ROSS reviews the first episode as the award winning drama Killing Eve returns
Killing Eve, BBC1
The second series of Killing Eve finally opened last night.
This award-winning drama has become the go-to show for anyone who has, down the years, hankered to see an assassin delicately murdering people while wearing beautiful dresses as an MI6 agent attempts to track her down.
Actually, no one hankered for it. Because, being unlike anything that has gone before, it’s the sort of series you couldn’t know you wanted until it arrived.
It is that thrillingly different. It is uniquely of itself and for that reason it has what so few TV shows have: swagger.
This award-winning drama has become the go-to show for anyone who has, down the years, hankered to see an assassin delicately murdering people while wearing beautiful dresses as an MI6 agent attempts to track her down. Pictured is Sandra Oh who plays Eve
If Killing Eve were a person, you’d know immediately it was the most interesting person in the room, simply by the way it walked in with an attitude saying: ‘I’m pleasing myself. Come along for the ride. Or don’t.’ I’m thinking if it were a person it would be Kate Bush. Or David Bowie, maybe.
It’s also a creeper. Unlike most series, which kick-off splashily then see the audience degrade, this began in a low-key way, then just grew and grew.
Killing Eve was initially adapted from Luke Jennings’ books by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, of Fleabag fame, who may be the smartest woman ever (sit on that, Mary Beard!). Waller-Bridge has now handed over to a new show runner, Emerald Fennell, who (perhaps bizarrely) played Nurse Patsy Mount in Call The Midwife.
Killing Eve is essentially a drama of tone: it is savage but strangely touching; outlandish but intimate; psychopathic but humane; and violent but blissfully funny.
If Killing Eve were a person, you’d know immediately it was the most interesting person in the room, simply by the way it walked in with an attitude. Pictured is Jodie Comer who plays Villanelle
The worry was that the tone would not be maintained. But it has. Series two doesn’t bother with any time-lapse nonsense. It picks up 30 seconds after we left off.
‘Thirty seconds later,’ even comes up on screen.
Eve (Sandra Oh), our MI6 agent with great hair, had tracked assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) to Paris and, much to her own surprise, had stabbed her.
In the opening episode, Eve is still reeling and flees to London where she tries to reconnect with her boring husband (at least he has a fascinating moustache) by chopping mounds of vegetables and forgetting to put a chicken in the oven.
She sits in the bath for hours, knees drawn up in the foetal position, looking at her hands – the hands that stabbed – and ignoring her ringing phone. When she eventually picks up it’s a cold-calling window salesman. So desperate is she to escape her own reality she says: ‘Yes, tell me all about your windows.’ ‘Really? Wow,’ he replies.
The actual riches of Killing Eve lie in the incidental touches that aren’t necessary but are truly great, rather than in the plot, which has never made much sense or which I forget.
This would matter if the show wasn’t smart enough, but it is.
Plus we also have the utterly majestic Fiona Shaw back as Eve’s handler, Carolyn. Everything she says totally kills me, although I won’t quote her here as it’s the way she says it, as much as anything. And Villanelle? Still alive, stumbling around Paris with a bleeding gut until finally she finds a way to make it to hospital.
Series two doesn’t bother with any time-lapse nonsense. It picks up 30 seconds after we left off. Pictured is Jodie Comer
This episode was less Villanelle v Eve and more Villanelle v Ugly Clothes. It’s the jacket she salvages from a pile of rubbish, the doctor’s whites or that cartoon onesie.
And also, the Crocs. She’s especially appalled by the Crocs, even though, as we all know, they are supremely comfy.
Perhaps because of our gender expectations, we keep waiting for her to soften. I fall for that every time. The way she comforted the boy in the hospital bed next to her. What? Is this empathy? But then, of course, she does something completely horrible and shocking. I didn’t see it coming. Again.
The performances, needless to say, are top-notch. I wish Sandra Oh were in everything, as she brings such tenderness, while Comer somehow makes a psycho a little bit adorable.
Many have read much into the series: it’s homoerotic; it’s about female anger; it’s about women not as victims. (This is especially true in next week’s episode, set in Basildon – I know! – when a controlling man tries to get the better of Villanelle, foolishly). Or you could just come along for the ride.
Yes, do that. It’s stupendous fun.
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