The first season of Killing Eve – the stylish, flamboyant and funny spy-thriller from Fleabag writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge – embraced an overwhelming reputation around the world.
It’s been praised for its absorbing female characters, included in the Sight & Sound list for the Best Films of 2018 (despite being a TV show), and Roger McGough even wrote a short poem about the series for the RadioTimes.
Needless to say, there’s plenty of pressure on season two to deliver – especially after Waller-Bridge was replaced as head writer by Emerald Fennell (The Crown). Can they match season one's colourful excellence?
Killing Eve has enjoyed an overwhelming reputation around the world
Yes, with bloody bells on. There’s not even a hesitant lull, season two starting 30 seconds after the first - immediately returning to its cinematic flavours and dark comedy.
The opening is a wildly elaborate and brilliant one-shot tracking MI6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) as she nervously descends a Parisian stairwell, fleeing the scene of her crime. She stabbed the decorative assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer), and now has to cover it up. It’s a thrilling Welcome Back to the series, boasting a visual talent that many action films don’t achieve.
Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) recovers after her encounter with Villanelle
Season two carries the same tone and improves upon some of the weaknesses in season one. The ambiguity of the first season - the do-they-fancy-each-other? tension between Eve and Villanelle - felt dry after a while, the answer being annoyingly obvious.
But in season two, the ambiguity’s been torn out - igniting a stronger bond, which unfurls like a doomed love affair. This occasionally bleeds into the colour of a romcom - satirised in a glorious moment when Eve's on the phone, confessing to stabbing Villanelle... only to be heard by a nearby marriage proposal. Killing Eve still finds that exciting, palpable balance between comedy and violence.
In this brutal cat-and-mouse game, there are many moments of ‘just missed them’, somewhat laboured, but the connection between cat and mouse inflates as a result. With Villanelle in particular, it’s like she’s upset about not being caught – if she were, at least she’d see Eve again. They have an intense sexual energy, despite having little to no contact since the stabbing.
Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is left unsupervised, making her more dangerous than ever
Our exceptionally entertaining assassin has also changed, albeit slightly. After shooting her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia), Villanelle is left unsupervised, without an objective, without rules – a caged predator, let loose. She’s more violent and dangerous than ever before.
Jodie Comer facilitates this beautifully, more than earning her recent BAFTA win. She continues her multi-personality performance, but in more suppressed settings (like Basildon) which often prove more interesting than lavish dinner parties and Russian prisons. Her sense of trickery is enhanced, as if convincing the camera that she has a soft centre – which is immediately, brutally, proven wrong.
Killing Eve season two matches the kooky, genre-bending appeal of season one and even tops it. The absence of Waller-Bridge is felt but it's not too distracting – Emerald Fennell proving more than capable of taking her reins. The conflict is stronger, the visuals are sharper, and the villain’s more reckless. Killing Eve returns with a fun and cutting bite.
Killing Eve season 2 drops on BBC Three on Saturday 9th June. It also airs episodically on Saturdays at 9:15pm on BBC One.
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08 Jun 19 – 08 Jun 20, 9:15 PM – 10:00 PM