It’s been just nine months since we last enjoyed the BBC’s adored and stylish crime thriller Killing Eve. Series 3’s gestation period has been cut short due to recent events, so you might say that this new baby is a little on the premature side. Previously given a due date of summer this year, we’re pleased to report that this latest run is a healthy, bonnie little thing.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame was the driving force behind this Luke Jennings Codename Villanelle adaptation. Promising Young Woman’s Emerald Fennell took over as lead writer for series 2 before handing over to Suzanne Heathcote (Fear the Walking Dead) here, before Sex Education scribe Lauren Neal picks up the role for series 4. So each series has its own identity to a degree. We’ll have to wait and see how this third season pans out, but based on this opening 45 minutes, our early thoughts are ‘pretty well’.
We left the action last time out with Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) effectively breaking up. Bullets tend to leave their mark both on the body and the relationships of those at either end.
We pick up the action some months after the Russian assassin tried killing Eve and, unsurprisingly, the shooting in Rome drew a rather heavy, bloody line under the pair’s reciprocated obsessions.
The soon-to-be ex-Mrs Polastri is now living a solitary and rather depressing Shin Cup noodle and Merlot-centred existence in a dingy south London bedsit. She’s no longer at MI6 and nor is Kenny (Sean Delaney). He’s working for a website – sorry, ‘an online publication’ – still digging into the Twelve and uncovering their shady criminal operation.
Kenny’s mum Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) is starting to feel the pressure after the botched mission that saw Eve left for dead. Steve Pemberton’s rather slimy Paul has been brought in to ‘oversee’ her work for the foreseeable.
Less slimy but far more noticeable is another new character, Dasha – played with real panache and gusto by Succession’s Dame Harriet Walter. A Soviet gymnast as a teenager, Dasha is Villanelle’s former mentor, a woman with a mission… lure her ex-protégé away from wedded bliss (yep, really) and back into the world of murder for money. As it turns out, it’s not a particularly tricky task.
Let’s swerve spoilers, but this killer crimer still has the ability to shock. The final moments of this opening episode will have you gasping. Just before you’re reminded of a catchphrase so often repeated in South Park.
Crime thrillers with twists of black comedy are like revenge – they’re a dish best served cold. Series 3 appears to have all the main ingredients of previous courses of Killing Eve, but – based on this opener – things may have gone ever so slightly tepid.
Killing Eve is still good. Very good. Does it still thrill and enthrall quite as it did when it first hit our TV screens? No, not really. There’s a subtle dip in quality here, something which crept in towards the end of the second run. But not hitting the incredible highs of the debut series doesn’t make for bad television. Not by a long chalk.
Incredible costumes, inventive set pieces, beautiful locations and wit coming out of its ears, there’s still plenty to love. As with previous series however, things don’t really spark until Eve and Villanelle are together.
We’re more than prepared to wait until then.
Did you tune in for Killing Eve series 3 episode 1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Still catching up on Killing Eve series 3 episode 2? Read Steve’s review of episode 1 here.
Sandra Oh’s Eve being simultaneously fragile and yet fearsome. Jodie Comer’s Villanelle managing to affect an air of bored insouciance while killing people in the most extraordinary ways. The two of them hating, loving, lusting after and wanting to kill each other… Then there’s the action set pieces, the music, the locations and the costumes.
There are plenty of reasons why folk love Killing Eve.
Episode 2 of this third season reminded us of another – Fiona Shaw’s MI6 type Carolyn Martens.
Of course, Killing Eve pivots around the relationship between its two lead characters, but what makes it so relentlessly brilliant and unmissable is the strength across its entire cast. Here, we’re reminded of just how interesting Carolyn is and how fantastic Irish actress Shaw is.
We’re used to Eve’s former boss helping to propel the plot and serving up some witty zingers to lighten the mood, but here in series 3 episode 2 – in an episode called ‘Management Sucks’ – we see a more vulnerable version of Carolyn. It’s both disarming and affecting. It appears that the woman does have a heart, after all.
Kenny’s rather unpleasant death at the end of last week’s action has understandably hit his mother quite hard. Not that Carolyn shows it very much, of course. Barring a car-based welling of tears in front of an underling here, she keeps herself together at the funeral and at work – despite being told to take leave.
This week wasn’t a total downer, though. On the continent there were moments that amused from Villanelle’s new promotion-focused career boost. Old mentor Dasha (Harriet Walter) sent her to the Côte D’Azur to demonstrate her managerial skills, something the Twelve are keen to assess if they’re to up her within the organisation.
Our assassin heroine was quick to learn that the hit game may be glamorous and sexy, but it’s not all that unlike most people’s jobs. There’s hierarchy, bureaucracy and – invariably – a bunch of useless people getting in the way. As the episode title helpfully reminds us, management sucks.
Still, you live and learn at work. But it seems unlikely that the Russian hit-woman will stay committed and focused on her new career aspirations for too long. Not since she learned from Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) that Eve didn’t actually die in Rome.
Those ol’ familiar cat ‘n’ mouse games aren’t far away…
We were introduced to a couple of new characters here too. We met Kenny’s ’empath’ sister Geraldine (Game of Thrones‘ Gemma Whelan) and the head honcho at Bitter Pill, Jamie (Danny Sapani – The Crown, Misfits). A man who, while not instantly likeable, proves himself rather quickly to be an ally of Eve’s.
This second part of eight was a welcome return to form for the BBC’s flagship black comedy crime drama. Last week’s return was a little shaky, but then the first part of any new series can be. It was something of a spluttering restart for the show, but it looks as though we’ve got real momentum back already. Perhaps because of some sharp writing from Succession’s Anna Jordan who was on scribeswoman duties.
Fiona Shaw steals the show here as she delicately shows us a powerful woman coming to terms with not only the loss of her son, but the loss of her power. Such show stealing is no mean feat given we’re not only treated to some classic boozy Eve, but we get an entire scene of Villanelle as a clown at a spoiled little French kid’s birthday party. And what’s not to love about that, eh?
Did you tune in for Killing Eve series 3 episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Still catching up on Killing Eve series 3 episode 3? Read Steve’s review of episode 2 here.
Eve’s put down the vino, Villanelle has her killing groove back and a grieving yet characteristically stoic Carolyn is back in the field. Everyone seems to have woken up.
There’s nothing like a crying baby to kick you out of a slumber, is there?
After a slowish start, Killing Eve’s third series finally seems to have hit its stride; its trademark dark wit is back in spades and our two protagonists are face to face once more. When faces get that close, that generally means one of two things – kisses or headbutts. Or in this case both. Theirs is, after all, the very definition of a love/hate relationship.
Back to that baby we mentioned. After another assignment in which Villanelle stylishly dispatches yet more Spanish women with little or no explanation as to why, she inherits a little bebé. Well, she steals one, at least. Are we seeing a glimpse into the softer side of Jodie Comer’s character? Might she become… broody?! Well, judging by the giggling at her Russian mentor Dasha dumping the tot in a nearby bin, it seems rather unlikely.
It’s a scene that may make some more sensitive viewers wince, but reinforces the show’s nihilistic style and Villanelle’s credentials as a cold blooded woman. Not that either of those things really need much proving by this point.
Parenthood is a theme throughout this third episode, ‘Meeting Have Biscuits’. From the absent mother tuning fork victim and the surrogate mother nanny figure, to Villanelle’s baby holding and reflections on her own parents with Konstantin. Her former handler himself uses an expletive-filled description to explain how his daughter is at one point.
We’re also treated to more awkwardness between Carolyn and her emotionally incontinent daughter Geraldine. As well as the spy boss – who’s effectively the matriarchal figure of the whole Killing Eve universe anyway – continuing to come to terms with the death of her son Kenny.
“They f— you up, your mum and dad,” as Philip Larkin once wrote.
Ah, Carolyn. For a second we thought we’d lost her here. Luckily, that turned out to be nothing more than a bit of deceptive camerawork. It really says something about Fiona Shaw’s incredible performance that in an episode of Killing Eve where Eve Polastri and Villanelle fight and snog on the top deck of a moving London bus, she’s still easily the star of the show.
From her insisting on chairing a meeting from her own bathtub to her killer response to Eve’s dig about ‘another one of her cold war boyfriends’ – ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Eve… We barely had a night together…’ – these 45 minutes simply belonged to Carolyn.
So far this has been Shaw’s series. And you know what? Long may it continue.
Plot-wise, a little clunky exposition caught us up to date with things. Basically the Twelve are active again and our new rag-tag group of journos, spooks and Eve are onto them. The main clues revolved around a Rubik’s Cube, an overweight dead Chinese spy and a Russian accountant in a fetching mustard cardigan.
As for Eve and Villanelle, it seems that both have abandoned their fruitless attempts to forget the other. Things are back on…
By the way – that baby? Don’t feel too bad. It wasn’t in the bin for very long.
Did you tune in for Killing Eve series 3 episode 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Still catching up on Killing Eve series 3 episode 4? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.
A change is as good as a rest, according to the rather bland and well-worn proverb. While the phrase may be a little tired, the sentiment still rings true.
It’s only been two short years since the first episode of Killing Eve aired on British TV, would you believe. By the end of this week’s fourth episode we hit the midway point of series number 3. A rest is probably due, but that would mean less Killing Eve on TV, so we’ll take the change instead.
The shake-up here in episode 4 of 8 of this third series comes in the form of a temporarily revised narrative structure. We’re used to seeing our scenes’ locations introduced in satisfyingly huge brightly-coloured typeface. Here though, the jumbo lettering that peppers the episode gives us plot strands by character instead. Not a major alteration, but the flexibility in timelines offered up an almost Pulp Fiction-style structure. Which allowed for a pleasing – if rather gruesome – pull-back-and-reveal ending involving a pitchfork and a recurring character’s neck.
So where are we? Well, in terms of Eve and her new rag-tag team of online hacks’ mission to track down Kenny’s killer, not all that much closer than we were last week. That said, the chain-smoking Dasha is now on their radar after the motley crew noticed the similarities between Villanelle’s recent spice shop murder and the old Russian lush’s 1974 killing that opened the series.
We opened with an update on Eve’s mustachioed estranged husband Niko. After being severely traumatised by the events of series 2, he found himself convalescing in an institution. Here we find he’s checked himself out and gone back to his roots by returning to his native Poland, delivering bread and doing odd jobs and favours for locals. Just as he’s settling into his new life and envisioning a future there, he receives an unwanted visitor. Actually, he receives two. One being Eve, the other being a Russian hit-woman – but not the one you might think…
Before Eve bears witness to bloodshed in a Polish shed, her little section of ‘Still Got It’ sees her slumming it sleeping in the Bitter Pill office, eating Coco Pops straight from the box and stuffing a dirty pair of knickers into her shoe. It’s another series of low points here for our protagonist. And that’s all before her ill-fated trip to Central Europe. Still, there’s a potential new love interest that’s inevitably doomed for failure: her and her new boss Jamie have started to spark a little. That’s one to watch out for.
As for Villanelle, she’s tasked with killing yet another woman – this time the crooked accountant’s wife. Her mission comes from Konstantin who’s keen to tie up any loose ends from the moneyman’s murder. In yet another inventively murderous set piece we’re shown another creative way to kill someone. This time with a garden hose. It’s educational is Killing Eve.
Dasha is visited by another stone cold member of the Twelve, a statuesque woman who tells her that if she’s to mentor her protégé to a lofty position within the shady organisation, she’s going to need to ensure Villanelle’s ties to ex-spook Eve are severed. Advice heeded, Dasha catches a flight from Barcelona to Poland to wreck some barnyard havoc.
The closing scene teased what’s sure to make for entertaining viewing in the fifth of these 8 episodes… Villanelle going home. Will her going back to her mother country turn out as badly as it did for Niko? It seems unlikely. But we wouldn’t bet against a similar amount of violence being involved. Or a wee bit more, in fact.
The change-up of style and narrative structure worked nicely here and allowed for a genuine twist and shocking moment. Props go to the episode’s writer, Elinor Cook, whose script here was outstanding, especially considering this is only the second TV writing assignment of the playwright’s career. Here’s hoping she’s back on board next year.
Next week? Villanelle’s origin story. Мы не можем ждать!
Did you tune in for Killing Eve series 3 episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Still catching up on Killing Eve series 3 episode 5? Read Steve’s review of episode 4 here.
The first two seasons of Killing Eve rattled along at almost breakneck pace. Both series of this stylish tale of an unlikely mutual obsession sped around the track, easing through plot chicanes with ease.
Series 3, however, has taken a far more relaxed cruise through the countryside. In fact, this fifth episode – ‘Are You From Pinner?’ – was positively Sunday driving. And it was a pleasure to be in the passenger seat for it.
Anyone familiar with the Marvel superhero movies will know that all the best characters deserve their own ‘origin’ story. So it’s high time Killing Eve presented us Villanelle’s.
We’ve long known that ‘Villanelle’ is really just Oksana, taken in from an orphanage and trained up to be a super assassin by her ruthless employers after being abandoned. Here, in a standalone episode dedicated just to – let’s be honest – the show’s best character, she finds out exactly what she missed out on.
This is no vengeance mission, though. Villanelle doesn’t return to ‘Mother Russia’ to right any wrongs. In fact, Villanelle doesn’t really return at all. Until the final few minutes, this is Oksana. We’re not watching a deadly international hit-woman here, this is a rejected Russian kid who just wants her childhood back.
Of course, Jodie Comer plays this idea of two women in one body with an effortless brilliance. It’s still a generous performance, though – there’s no scenery chewing or showboating here. This is all about her, but Comer leaves ample space for the episode’s various other interesting characters to each shine. None more so than her Elton John-obsessed little half-brother Bor’ka (Temi Blaev).
At various points throughout we glimpse the familial trait of madness that afflicts each member of the clan, be it by banging heads on walls, battering a sofa with a baseball bat or – SIN OF ALL SINS – believing in conspiracy theories. As you might expect, Villanelle’s is not a normal family.
Of course, it was a very different family by the time Oksana/Villanelle left, but it was always going to be. Going back to her roots has a quite devastating impact on a good chunk of the homestead. But we do see further proof of her softening. A ‘Sacrifice’ was made, but luckily for Bor’ka it wasn’t ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ for him.
This bottle episode is not only funny, it’s poignant and really helps flesh out Villanelle as a fully-formed character. She’s no longer just a weird sociopath, she’s now a weird sociopath with a backstory that perfectly explains both her weirdness and, for the most part, a good deal of her sociopathy.
New head writer and show-runner Suzanne Heathcote seems to have taken the brave decision to take a different tack with series 3. While there is still the murder of Kenny and Villanelle’s proposed ascent to Keeper as legitimate plot threads, this season is far more interested in characters, themes, motivations and emotions. And when you’ve got the likes of Eve, Villanelle, Carolyn and Konstantin as your main players, why not, eh…?
If you like your television plot driven, this run of Killing Eve may prove a little slow or meandering for you. If, however, you’ve enjoyed two seasons of hairpin turns and are happy to take your foot off the pedal, drop the roof and enjoy the drive – there’s plenty of beautiful scenery to take in. Just watch out a low bridge doesn’t take your head off.
Did you tune in for Killing Eve series 3 episode 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Still catching up on Killing Eve series 3 episode 6? Read Steve’s review of episode 5 here.
Being a talented, successful and jet-setting international assassin is a pretty cool job. Once you get over the whole murdering people bit, of course. No job is perfect, though. Not only is there a rather heightened chance of getting blood stains all over your clothes, it seems as though opportunities for career progression can be quite limited.
So far, this third series of Killing Eve has really honed on Villanelle’s various crises of confidence. After putting a bullet in Eve at the end of series 2, the Killer Formerly Known as Oksana has been all over the place. A new-found yearning to revisit her past predictably ended with fireworks last week, and now it seems as if her goal to achieve promotion with the Twelve is doomed to failure.
One of this week’s stand-out scenes is one that may be familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to get themselves upped at work. Called into a meeting by an intimidating and sharply-dressed superior, drinks are poured and career progression is discussed. Although her application to become a ‘Keeper’ is formally accepted, it immediately becomes clear that Villanelle’s job role is largely to remain the same. She is, effectively, too good at killing to ascend above it within the organisation.
Or at least she was, anyway.
A sloppy kill in Romania as her first assignment since ‘promotion’ will no doubt have repercussions. You have to think the consequences are almost welcomed by our anti-heroine, though. Only she never normally makes mistakes. This was self-sabotage, almost.
That said, it’s not just work on Villanelle’s mind. She is, of course, still processing the trifling matter of having killed half her family last week. Matricide has its emotional toil, you’d imagine. Konstantin knows.
‘Of course she deserved it,’ he tells her on finding out how her trip to Mother Russia went. ‘Everyone’s mother deserves it. But you’re not supposed to do it.’
As for Eve, well, she’s finally got her investigating groove back. She smells a rat with Niko’s (attempted) murder – that’s right, somehow he survived being ‘pitchforked’ – and suspects something’s amiss. She senses that the barn attack was not the work of Villanelle and heads off to Barcelona to quiz Dasha about it all over an extremely high quality game of ten pin bowling.
Towards the end of ‘End of Game’ we’re treated to a twist. A twist that’s not really a twist. An anti-twist, if you like. The revelation that Carolyn’s new boss, Steve Pemberton’s Paul, is a double agent has been intentionally signposted throughout the series, so hardly comes as a shock. Plus, this is a show about spies and Russians. Someone has to be a double agent.
The question we’re left asking ourselves is whether Konstantin will clue Carolyn into the truth about Paul or whether he’ll just scurry off to Cuba with one or both of his crazy girls Irina and Villanelle. It seems that Plan A is to scarper to Havana with his now murderous daughter. But the best laids plans and all that…
One thing that’s been just a little annoying in this series has been the focus. Literally, the focus. It’s fashionable to blur the edges of shots in TV at the moment, the BBC’s recent Dublin Murders was in love with the technique. Deadwater Fell as well. It’s a distracting stylistic touch that makes us think of Instagram’s Vignette filter far too much.
Six down, two to go. Eight episodes never quite feels enough with any series of Killing Eve, does it?
It’s tricky to serve up a rip-roaring plot that tears along at a pace as well as a series of involved character studies in such a short run. This series seems to have favoured the latter and that’s no bad thing as far as we’re concerned.
Villanelle may not have been promoted at work quite as she’d wished, but her character’s been promoted within Killing Eve to much, much more than just a funny killer with impeccable dress sense. She’s now a far more rounded and vulnerable figure. Albeit one still capable of cooking a Eastern European politician’s head.
Did you tune in for Killing Eve series 3 episode 6? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…