Review: Killing Eve (Season 2, Episode 1)

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Steady

Killing Eve's second season gets off to a solid if unspectacular start.

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2019 may have been the year of Phoebe Waller-Bridge thus far. With Fleabag wrapping up beautifully and the first season of Killing Eve picking up the BAFTA for Best Drama Series, it might come as a surprise to some that she’s stepped back as head writer for this second go-around. It’s part of the intention for there to be a different female showrunner each season: Emerald Fennell, best known in an acting capacity for her role on Call the Midwife, holds the reins here; Suzanne Heathcote will take over for an already confirmed third season. It’s an encouraging decision industry-wise, but does the diluting of Waller-Bridge’s unique voice, as she stays on as executive producer, mean the essential potency of Killing Eve has been weakened in its second season?

Well, it’s hard to tell from this largely uneventful opening episode (titled ‘Do You Know How to Dispose of a Body?’) We kick things off in medias res, a mere 30 seconds after last season’s finale came to a close. Eve (Sandra Oh) is in hysterics thinking she’s killed Villanelle (Jodie Comer), but she doesn’t have long to dwell on the complicated emotions that envelop their twisty dynamic. There’s a shady clean-up team storming Villanelle’s apartment, ostensibly ready to bump off anyone who stands in their way – Eve and Villanelle included. Where last season felt like a cat-and-mouse game solely between the two leads, greater forces have begun to reveal themselves and seem likely to be further explained in subsequent episodes.

The world getting bigger in scope may not be the best direction for the show to go in. The real interest here is in the relationship between Eve and Villanelle, corresponding to the terrific performances of Oh and Comer. With them having come to blows multiple times in the first season, will their continual circling of each other be able to produce the same tension? Or will the show have to introduce new characters to spice things up, in the process diverting away from the series’ initial raison d’être? This dilemma may be overstated, yet there was a genuine sense at the time that, with a few tweaks, Killing Eve‘s first season could have served as a near-perfect limited series – regardless of how much of Luke Jennings’ original source material there is to mine.

Still, this first episode doesn’t really make any big mistakes. Oh and Comer are in customarily good form. Villanelle forms a sweet if ultimately bleak bond with a young boy in hospital. Eve struggles to make the next move, her relationship with husband Niko becoming increasingly strained as distrust of her superiors continues to grow. Though there isn’t much event in ‘Do You Know How to Dispose of a Body?’, there’s plenty of biting and irreverent dark humour. The highlight is probably Eve taking solace in the voice of a cold caller trying to sell expensive windows, having thought she was getting a ring from someone with more malicious intent. It’s these little nuggets of compelling performance that keep it engaging; the two phenomenal leads are the heartbeat of this series. Let’s hope the writers can keep up.

Season 2 of Killing Eve is available in its entirety on BBC iPlayer now.

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Film Editor 2019/20. Enjoys classic Simpsons, R.E.M. and the MCU.

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