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Killing Eve: Season 2 (Episode 1) - Review

Killing Eve: Season 2

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

KILLING Eve, of the most savagely enjoyable TV series of 2018, returned to BBC1 on Saturday night and continued to grip with its razor sharp ability to surprise, subvert and turn on the style.

Its first season, written by Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, set up a cat and mouse game between MI5 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) and ruthless yet quirky assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer), which culminated with the former stabbing the latter in Villanelle’s Paris apartment.

Season two opened 30 seconds later, as Villanelle makes her escape and Eve attempts to come to terms with her actions, just as a team of ‘cleaners’ arrive to clean up the mess created by the climactic events of those first eight episodes.

The action, this time around, is being overseen by new showrunner and writer Emerald Fennell (Call The Midwife’s Patsy Mount), yet the slick manner in which events unfold suggests the show has lost nothing in the handover.

The cat and mouse game remains. But the dynamic may have changed slightly. Comer’s assassin is a little less confident this time. She’s betrayed, angry and yet still obsessed. She’s also clinging to life, early on, desperate for medical attention.

But any fears that a stab wound might impede her ability are quickly dispelled. BAFTA winner Comer – as wickedly excellent as ever – is still not a woman to be messed with. Once in hospital and patched up, she employs all of her skills to avoid capture and get well.

There are accents and fake stories, an unlikely friendship is struck, with sympathetic car crash survivor Gabriel (Pierre Atri), and there is revenge to be plotted. And there’s trademark subversion of expectation. Villanelle remains ruthlessly efficient when she needs to, killing an ally in super quick fashion.

If Comer managed to make Villanelle a fatally attractive proposition in season one, some of her actions here started to confront our ‘sympathy’ for her. And yet there’s growing complexity too. There is a hint of vulnerability and flashes of humanity. We’re getting to know her more.

Eve, on the other hand, seems more lost than ever. She’s unsure whether Villanelle has survived. But she’s unable to process her actions, even going so far as to order a load of windows from a telephone salesman as she attempted to re-adjust to home life. Her relationship with husband Niko (Owen McDonnell) is more strained than ever.

And yet, once offered the chance to take on a new investigation by Fiona Shaw’s Carolyn, she’s sly and determined. In her own way, she’s as ruthless as Villanelle, unable or unwilling to lead a normal existence now that she has tasted a dangerous alternative.

It’s this dangerous, sexy – but not exploitative – edge that makes Killing Eve so ridiculously enjoyable. It seduces us, complete with David Holmes-inspired soundtrack, into a world of high stakes spies and assassins, before frequently jolting us back into the reality of its violence.

Hence, as slick and seductive as this world undoubtedly is, its dangers are all too real. And no one is really safe from the damage being created by the show’s female protagonists.

Some critics have asked whether this sophomore run can sustain the momentum and interest generated by the multiple award winning first series. But on the evidence so far, Killing Eve is firing on all cylinders, with two powerhouse leading ladies to guide it onwards.

We can’t wait to see what comes next.

Killing Eve: Season 2 airs on BBC1 on Saturday nights from June 8, 2019. All episodes are also available on BBC iPlayer.