Killing Eve Is Killing It

The BBC America marketing department knew what they were doing when they tacked a sneak preview of Killing Eve onto an Orphan Black retrospective highlight show a couple of weeks ago. My DVR, set to record anything related to Orphan Black, recorded this. Boy, am I glad.

Killing Eve seems poised to fill the empty space that the Orphan Black series finale left in its wake. While their premises and plots are not identical, they share a spirit and sensibility: irreverent and more than a little nasty. From the start, you know crazy stuff is going to happen. We’re on a journey without a roadmap and things might turn ugly. In fact, there’s no “might” about it; you can be sure they will.

Based on the Villanelle novels by Luke Jennings (Codename Villanelle being the first), Killing Eve stars Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, who is based in London and working a desk job in intelligence. Her primary interest outside the office is female assassins, whom she studies with a fan-girl level of dedication. (Every gal needs a hobby.)

Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, denying the undeniable.

The awesome Fiona Shaw plays a highly placed intelligence officer and Eve’s erstwhile mentor. David Haig (whom you’ll recognize from lots of things) and Kirby Howell-Baptiste (who should be in more things) are Eve’s colleagues.

Jodie Comer is Villanelle, the killer who captures Eve’s interest. She’s prolific, capricious, attractive, unhinged, and chillingly skilled. “And now she’s showing off,” Shaw’s character explains.

It’s up to Eve to … identify her? Catch her? Stop her?

What Eve will be able to accomplish isn’t clear. But her cat-and-mouse chase with Villanelle through some of the most beautiful spots in Europe promises to be original, unpredictable, and fun to watch. Except for the cold-blooded murders—and there are quite a few of those. (Villanelle finds many different ways to dispose of her targets, some of which, while inventive, are quite unpleasant.)

The potential outcome of Eve’s efforts also isn’t clear. She’s deniable. The work she and her team are doing isn’t actually happening in the official sense. If she succeeds, she’ll receive no credit. If she fails, no one will be the wiser, and she’ll disappear without a trace. Yet she’s bored enough with her desk job to take the risk.

Critics are describing the series, created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, as “stylish,” “surprising,” “smart,” “seductive,” and other adjectives that don’t start with s. It is all of those things, with a sense of humor besides.

Jodie Comer as Villanelle, just a girl in a pretty pink dress.

Villanelle is scary as anything, but she’s such a flat-out sociopathic trainwreck it’s hard to stop watching her. Her relationship with Konstantin, her handler/father-figure (played by Kim Bodnia, who was Martin in the Danish version of The Bridge), is the stuff of psychology Ph.D. dissertations. They remind me of a warped Gorodish and Alba from the 1980s Diva novels by Delacorta, but maybe that’s just me.

I have no idea where this series is headed save for the fact that it’s already been renewed for a second season and the critics on Rotten Tomatoes adore it. From the locations to the music to the witty, fast-paced dialog, Killing Eve looks to be a winner, albeit one that could take time to build a following. Word of mouth will be what grows its viewership. Consider this one such “word”: hunt down Killing Eve on BBC America.



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