By Will Barber Taylor
Killing Eve was one of the big hits of 2018 and its renewal seemed as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Combining an intriguing plot with strong leads and engaging writing, the first series of Killing Eve captured the public imagination and ensured numerous accolades were piled on to both its stars and its creators. Yet, many wondered whether the second series could live up to its audience’s expectations and be as riveting and engaging as its predecessor? The answer is that it is.
Beginning seconds after the ending of the first series Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), unsure whether Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is dead or alive flees her apartment taking with her the knife she used to stab Villanelle. Returning to the UK, Eve soon discovers that Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) has a new job for her – and it involves following up a previously unknown victim of Villanelle’s. Meanwhile, Villanelle recovering from being stabbed by Eve in hospital meets a boy called Gabriel whose parents were killed in a car crash. As she recovers her strength it soon becomes apparent that Villanelle has a plan and one that involves Eve.
It’s always hard to ensure that, after you create a popular series, the second is as enjoyable and engaging as its predecessor. The “difficult second album” phenomenon is one that few artists fail to escape. And whilst it is true that the first episode of the second series of Killing Eve does not live up to the first episode of the first series it would be unfair to think that it could or should.
Writer Emerald Fennell ensures that the script is as engaging as the previous series and the characters are certainly as entertaining as in the previous series. However, if anything this episode serves as more of an interlude or prelude to the main story that will run throughout the rest of the series. However, sometimes Fennell tries just a little too hard to push comedy ahead of realism as is sometimes apparent with Gabriel’s character.
The acting from the ensemble cast is excellent but particularly praise must be given to leads Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. Comer, in particular, brings Villanelle’s manic lust for life to the forefront of the episode and every scene she’s in fizzes with life. She has a magnetic presence, and this is exemplified when she has someone to bounce off of like in the scenes in the hospital with Gabriel. Comer has a wonderfully bouncy presence and translates this into her delivery.
In contrast, Sandra Oh’s more reserved performance as Eve works perfectly when combined with the shock, she feels at thinking she’s killed Villanelle. This adds to both the humour of the situation and also allows the audience to have empathy with Eve for the situation she finds herself in.
The first episode of the second series of Killing Eve isn’t the best piece of television you’ll ever see. But it is a funny, engaging and vivid reintroduction to the world of Eve and Villanelle and sure to make audiences want to see more.
Killing Eve Season 2 airs on BBC One on Saturday the 8th of June.