KILLING EVE SEASON 1
Episodes Directed by: Jon East, Damon Thomas, Harry Bradbeer
Episodes Written by: Luke Jennings, Vicky Jones, George Kay, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Rob Williams
Starring: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Kim Bodnia, Owen McDonnell, Sean Delaney
Based on the Villanelle Novellas by Luke Jennings
Review by Stephanie Cooke
Killing Eve is a new TV series from BBC America starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. Oh plays Eve Polastri, an MI6 agent who is investigating an assassin who has killed across ten countries without leaving a trace. Comer plays Villanelle, said assassin who has been on a spree as she kills for money… and the pure joy of it.
The best compliment I can offer to Killing Eve up front is that it reminds me of my favourite parts of Luther. Within Luther, I adore the relationship that is explored between Luther and Alice, who are two sides of the same coin. The focus of Luther isn’t primarily on that relationship though, and while Alice is definitely a character that’s in the mix a lot, the show is called Luther for a reason. Killing Eve, however, takes what I wanted more of in Luther and brings it to the forefront here.
As Eve catches up to Villanelle, the show sheds equal light on both women as one chases, and one is chased. It could almost be a cat and mouse game. If the mouse in question (Villanelle) wasn’t a psychopath who was fairly confident in her ability to not get caught. As the show progresses, it’s abundantly clear that while Eve would typically fall into the role of the cat. The real cat is Villanelle as she plays with her prey before pouncing.
Eve and Villanelle are fascinating characters. I loved learning about them as the show progressed. Honestly though, I loved learning more about Villanelle’s character. Jodie Comer captivates you when she’s on screen. There’s absolutely no looking away from her. Sandra Oh was a fantastic choice to play Comer’s counterpart. At the end of the day, Comer stole the show in every single way. Every facial expression, smile, and gesture feels perfectly calculated to convey exactly what she meant to.
From the first moment when we see Villanelle in an ice cream shop in Vienna, you know exactly what she’s all about as she watches the employee of the shop interact with a child. There is no dialogue. Villanelle watches the emotional reaction of the child as a shop employee makes a silly face. Villanelle mimics the big smile at the child to see what sort of response it evokes and watches as the child smiles back at her. Right then and there you know that Villanelle doesn’t understand emotions in the same way as others, with such a simple yet impactful scene.
I was so thoroughly enchanted with her portrayal and wanted to know more about Villanelle.
Towards the end of the season, we start to get a little more backstory on Villanelle. Honestly, I could’ve had an entire show that was entirely dedicated to her. I have wished for a Black Widow movies for years and thought that the film Red Sparrow would be a non-Marvel answer to my prayers. I was so wrong (do not see Red Sparrow). Killing Eve surprised me in being the Black Widow origin that I had always wanted to see.
What Red Sparrow gets wrong, Killing Eve gets right. While Red Sparrow chooses to focus on Dominika’s trauma (and traumas that continue throughout the movie), Killing Eve chooses to omit certain details of Villanelle’s past. Instead, portrays what makes her an excellent killer. Villanelle is given backstory (or bits and pieces of it). But much of it is left to our imaginations to fill in the blanks. There are huge parallels between her and Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence’s character from Red Sparrow) but how the creative teams chose to bring that to life on screen was the difference between making compelling programming vs. something that I wish I could take back having watched.
Red Sparrow is praised for its accuracy when it comes to how women were trained and dispatched into the world as spies in Russia. Killing Eve felt like it took all of those elements and incorporated them in a way that was empowering to the character of Villanelle and made her have the agency that Dominika was never given.
I could probably write an entire article comparing these two pieces of media. Regarding Killing Eve vs. Red Sparrow, there was so much to be learned from this show on how to portray a female killer. Not just that but how to portray a killer that you’re intrigued about beyond just morbid curiosity. Villanelle is expertly crafted, and Jodie Comer brings the character to life in the best way possible to make her one of the most interesting “villain” characters I’ve seen portrayed on screen since Alice in Luther.
That being said, while I was addicted to the series and binged pretty much the entire thing. However, I was really disappointed by the way that this season ended. I don’t want to give anything away. I was hoping that this would wrap up things up with a small part of the story. Something like Eve figuring out who is pulling Villanelle’s strings, but that doesn’t happen. The show doesn’t have any satisfying conclusion at the end of the first season, and that was a genuinely disappointing finish for something that I otherwise thoroughly enjoyed.
Watch it! While the show didn’t feel fully realized by the end of the first season, I still enjoyed the ride along the way. Killing Eve Season 1 was everything that I didn’t know that I wanted it to be with compelling performances by Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, and a plot that left much to be uncovered in the coming seasons.
Killing Eve Episode 8 “God I’m Tired” is the finale to Season 1. It airs on Sunday, May 27 on BBC America.