Follow Us on Twitter

Killing Eve: First episode review

Killing Eve

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

FROM its opening moments, you know Killing Eve is the type of show you’re going to love by virtue of its willingness to play things a little different.

Hence, while the premise is overly familiar – agent pursues assassin across Europe in a cat-and-mouse game – the execution bears all the hallmarks of a show that exists to subvert expectations.

For starters, there’s that opening scene. It focuses on an attractive woman as she sits in a café, apparently studying a little girl as she eats ice-cream at the next table. When the girl smiles at the barista, he grins back, prompting the woman to do the same.

It’s reasonable to assume, therefore, that the woman, or assassin, is having to study normal human interaction in order to understand and imitate it. But no sooner has the girl warmed to the woman, then the woman gets up, pays her bill and promptly tips the bowl of ice-cream over the child as she leaves the restaurant.

It’s a bravura act: designed to make you laugh as much as gasp. But it expertly lays the foundations for what’s to come.

Killing Eve is deliciously naughty. It exists to misbehave as much as one of its leading ladies… which brings us to another of those subversive elements.

The primary roles are occupied by two women. Jodie Comer is the assassin, aka Villanelle, while Sandra Oh is her pursuer, the MI5 agent Eve. Both are comfortable within their environments, rather than women in men’s worlds.

Comer, arguably, remains the most enigmatic. Moments after her ice-cream encounter, we’re told that she has killed a Russian politician by slicing his femoral artery in the street. She then plays dead with her handler, indulges in a three-some, travels to Tuscany to kill another target at a wedding (luring his grandson into her scheme into the bargain) and laid waste to a hospital full of potential witnesses in London.

Her actions are somehow as playful as they are sexy. But they’re never exploitative. Unlike, say, movies such as Atomic Blonde, the sexual element is under-played. Villanelle never has to undress to impress. Rather, she hints at her allure. But there is no unnecessary stripping or sexual innuendo. It makes her instantly more memorable.

Likewise, Oh’s Eve is a no-nonsense desk-jockey, suddenly thrust into a high stakes game against an assassin she has long suspected is female by virtue of men’s arrogance towards her. She already looks to be a worthy adversary. And the one scene she shared with Comer was a blast… a fleeting exchange in a wash-room, pre-hospital massacre, that lays some delicious foundations for the future.

Trailers have shown they will meet again – but they’re dynamic already looks set to be irresistibly sexy in a natural, organic kind of way.

If that’s not enough to recommend Killing Eve already, then consider there’s deftly handled action set pieces, top-notch location work and some very funky soundtrack blasts. Oh, and the supporting cast, including Fiona Shaw, Kim Bodnia and (especially) David Haig, look well placed to add to the quality of this first-rate thriller.

We can’t wait to find out what happens next…

Killing Eve screens on BBC1 on Saturday nights.