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Killing Eve: Season 3 - First episode review (Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey)

Killing Eve: Season 3, Episode 1

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE freshness may long since have passed but the third season of Killing Eve got off to a decent start with more excellent Villanelle (Jodie Comer) shenanigans, as well as the death of a fan favourite.

That wasn’t to say the opener was completely satisfying. There was the odd moment that failed to carry the shock or subversive value of that superior first season. And there’s even a nagging sense that the show could become caught in a groove as it continues to dangle certain storylines that have still yet to really get going.

[Spoilers ahead]

But in the main, this ticked all the right boxes and delivered fans with a mostly satisfying start.

The opening two scenes, in fact, attempted to riff on the opening moments of the very first episode, by offering a form of misdirection. First up, there was a female gymnast being put through her paces by a strict instructor, who obviously had romantic feelings to a fellow male gymnast who was watching on.

But after failing to complete her routine and nail the landing successfully, the female gymnast was torn down a strip by her instructor and then proceeded to beat her male admirer to death in the locker room afterwards. It had shock value, for sure. But it echoed Villanelle’s infamous ice-cream moment from the first scene of the very first episode.

Thereafter, the action skipped to the present day for a scene involving Villanelle at her own wedding… to a charismatic Spanish woman. The latter is dressed in a beautiful white bridal gown, whereas Villanelle is all in black.

The scene is another that’s designed to offer pause for thought. Like, what the hell is going on? Has Villanelle moved on so soon from Eve? Her wedding speech suggests otherwise… although its final words, a commentary on the passing of her last love, suggest she still believes that Eve is dead [shot in Rome by Villanelle during the season two climax].

All is going seemingly well, if a little surreal, when Villanelle’s big day is ‘ruined’ by the arrival of a mysterious older woman, who turns out to be Dasha (Harriet Walter), her former handler and trainer, and the gymnast we witnessed at the top of the episode. Rather than embrace each other warmly, Villanelle and her engage in a full-on fight that effectively wrecks her wedding before it has had chance to begin.

Again, Killing Eve attempts a subversion, with incoming showrunner Suzanne Heathcote (of Fear The Walking Dead fame) leaning more to the type of humour that informed Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s first season than Emerald Fennell’s second.

The arrival of Dasha has a purpose, however. And once the two have stopped kicking seven bells out of each other, it’s left to Dasha to bring Villanelle back into the employment of The Twelve, given her ruthless efficiency as an assassin. Villanelle quickly agrees but imposes an outlandish set of demands in the process.

Thereafter, Villanelle is seen carrying out her kill moments later: a political agitator and shop owner, whose moment of kindness towards Villanelle costs her life. In a further nod to the opening moments of the episode, Villanelle leaves the corpse in the same style of Dasha’s kill of her gymnastic admirer.

If that covers Villanelle and generally elevated proceedings, then Eve’s return was less successful and less enthralling. Sandra Oh’s character is still clearly traumatised from her ordeal in Rome and is no longer working for MI6 or former boss Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw).

She now divides her time between the kitchen of a restaurant in New Malden and an apartment, occasionally breaking ranks to visit former boyfriend Niko (Owen McDonell), who is himself a shadow of his former self and undergoing his own kind of counselling in a care facility.

Eve wants to believe that she can repair the damage she has done, both to herself and their relationship, but her intentions already feel naïve, if not borderline cruel.

But her attempts to stay away from her former life always look destined to be short-lived. Kenny (Sean Delaney) has taken a job at an online publication that specialises in investigative journalism and is carrying out research on The Twelve. He’s also keeping Eve in the loop, while trying to coax her back into some kind of normal life.

You invariably knew this wasn’t going to end well. There had to be a reason for Eve to come back.

And so it didn’t really come as that much of a surprise when Kenny was killed, thrown from the rooftop of his new job by an unseen assailant, just as Eve arrived to take him up on his offer of going out for a drink.

Kenny’s death may not have been surprising in the grand scheme of things but it was shocking. He has long been one of the show’s most likeable everyman characters. And you feel his death will provide the catalyst for kick-starting this third season, with both Eve and his mother, Carolyn, now out for revenge.

Whether it was Villanelle who carried out the killing remains to be seen.

But we already feel that Kenny will be missed. And it says a lot for Delaney’s endearing portrayal of him that the show may well feel poorer for not having him a part of it.

The one nagging doubt that lingers over this episode surrounds The Twelve. Where season two appeared to have Eve and Villanelle lining up against them, and thereby possibly uncovering something more about them, the decision to have Villanelle go back seems like a backward step.

Killing Eve needs to give them more of a presence and maybe even a focal point. But then, perhaps, that’s what Kenny’s death is designed to do.

For now, we’re suitably intrigued to find out more…