WARNING: some spoilers ahead. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of Killing Eve series 2 episode 1 here.
Last Saturday, some 3.7 million people tuned into BBC One to watch the return of the award-winning and brilliant Killing Eve. Understandably so, too. Not only was the black comedy spy thriller the standout TV offering of 2018, it was also left on something of a cliffhanger. The anticipation was real and the tension over these past 7 months was – at least for some of us – almost unbearable.
Head writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge has since handed the typewriter to Emerald Fennell, but stayed on in an executive producer capacity. Some critics and folk online have criticised last week’s opening episode, claiming it already seems to lack the spark of series 1, citing the writing changes as the reason behind it. We, however, couldn’t agree less. We don’t sense a dip in quality at all.
Luckily for (most of) us, episode 1 was a stormer. It was as if Villanelle and Eve had never been away. Here though, in the second episode, the mood, pace and style does change a little. This week’s hour could likely upset some people even further. Only the episode revolves around something we’re yet to see from Killing Eve… A very vulnerable Villanelle (try saying that with a boiled sweet in your mouth).
Sandra Oh’s performance as MI6 agent Eve Polastri is a huge draw here, of course. But it’s Jodie Comer’s Russian assassin that’s the real star of the show. A complex, flamboyant and hilarious central character, she drives the plot by being an unstoppable badass. Here, though? She’s weak. Having smuggled herself to Basildon, of all places, she’s on Eve’s tail. But with no clothes, no antibiotics for her now-infected stab wound and no roof over her head, she’s running on empty. Her plan is simple – zone in on a trusting, friendly type and exploit their kindness.
Which is easier said than done here in the UK.
Eventually though, she finds a mark. Affecting a cut glass Home Counties accent and adopting a lie about an abusive stepfather, she convinces mild-mannered, Rover-driving, still-living-with-his-mum Julian (played by real-life Julian, Julian Barrett) to take her in. Which, of course, turns out to be something of a mistake…
We’re so used to seeing our anti-heroine slickly dispatching targets and generally being immortal that when things turns weird and dangerous for her here in her incapacitated state, it’s all rather unsettling. In the heightened reality of Killing Eve, of course Julian was always going to turn out to be a mad and controlling creep and pervert. He allows her into his house full of dolls, but soon locks the doors and windows.
Julian is Norman Bates with a hint of Annie Wilkes. The majority of this episode plays out like Misery meets Psycho, but with 50% of The Mighty Boosh in the lead role. And it’s every bit as disturbing as that sounds.
Of course, as this is a cat ‘n mouse collision course, Villanelle can’t stay trapped in the house forever, so she eventually escapes, making inventive use of a tent peg along the way. Things don’t look up for long, however. She’s picked up by her new handler, the deceptively affable-looking Raymond (Gosford Park’s Adrian Scarborough), who immediately reminds Villanelle of the hierarchy by nearly choking her to death.
As the woman herself says at one point, it’s been a ‘really sh*tty couple of days.’
Still. We can’t help but think ol’ Ray might’ve made a bit of an error introducing himself in such a hands-on way. He’ll no doubt live to regret that. Though, probably, not for very long.
Speaking of handlers, there’s an unexpected return at the end of this second episode as an old friend pitches up at Carolyn’s house to say hello to Eve. We wonder what the topic of their conversation will be…
Before that we saw Eve continuing to work on Alistair Peel’s death, as an ‘outside expert on female assassins’ alongside former colleague Kenny (Sean Delaney) and new workmates Jess (Last Tango in Halifax’s Nina Sosanya) and Hugo (Edward Bluemel, A Discovery of Witches). She’s also told all to husband Nico. Which is nice/highly dangerous, isn’t it?
Unlike some harder-to-please types out there, we saw nothing here in this second episode to suggest a drop in quality whatsoever. Killing Eve is still tense, funny, clever, unpredictable and stylish as hell.
What did you think of Killing Eve series 2 episode 2? Let us know in the comments below…