'Killing Eve' Season 2: TV Review
The BBC America series about a gleeful female assassin and the spy tracking her is back for a second season that gets off to a snappy, snark-filled start.
Nobody wants to read a Killing Eve review with spoilers — you can substitute pretty much any series in its second, third or seventh season for "Killing Eve" in that sentence and come to the same conclusion — which renders most reviews of fan-favorite shows sort of pointless, unless the review is as simple as "Yes, still great" or "Whoa, things have gone very wrong here."
So, in case you're curious, "Yes, still great."
Mind you, that's based on two episodes only — BBC America has proved that once it gets a big zeitgeist-y hit it can be as stingy with the episodes as anyone else. But all that Killing Eve really needed to prove it does rather concretely and emphatically in the two episodes sent for review. That is, it still goes down like a particularly glug-glug-glug-able cocktail, as effervescent and fun and thrilling and smart and witty as ever — which is the heaviest half of the equation. Also: It's still as believable and twisty, an emotional entanglement of motives and obsessions and tactical fun that a psychopathic assassin can have with the in-over-her-head agent on her tail.
Before diving into the spoiler-free aspects of the second season, the one glorious exclamation point of these first two episodes is that Jodie Comer proves that everybody who left her off any awards ballots (and that would be pretty much every organization) got it very wrong. If you didn't know she's as essential to the heartbeat of Killing Eve as Sandra Oh, well, you should have, because it was pretty obvious — but nonetheless these first two episodes drive that home decisively.
When last we found Oh's Eve Polastri, her life had changed dramatically: She started out as a mostly bored mid-level MI5 employee dreaming of moving up the food chain, but had a distinct knack for understanding female killers and a theory that led to her uncovering the joyously unhinged Villanelle (Comer). So she was awarded a spy job by the head of MI6's Russia Desk, Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw).
It was all dream-come-true, Nancy-Drew-for-grown-ups stuff until Villanelle turned her attentions to this woman chasing her and the cat-and-mouse dynamic that drives the show was born. The final scene of season one was a bit of a shocker, with Eve stabbing Villanelle. Season two picks up exactly 30 seconds later, and all that's left is for series creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge (the first two episodes were written by Emerald Fennell, who fills in admirably) to deliver something that doesn't feel like it wastes the love viewers bestowed upon it.
Waller-Bridge (and team) doesn't fumble the moment, but it should be noted that such a feat of continuation is not as easy as it looks. Expectations are always higher the second time around, with viewers not only wanting more of what they bought in on the first go-around, but also new twists and thrills. "Give me something I know but don't make it too familiar" is often the unenviable task facing season two showrunners and writing staff. The fact that a mere two episodes of Killing Eve give off such a strong hint of success is an impressive achievement (and a good thing, as things go).
Talking to a young boy at a hospital where she's temporarily nursing her wounds, Villanelle reveals that she was stabbed.
"A man stabbed you?!"
"A woman stabbed me."
"Women don't stab," the boy says, clearly not understanding who he's talking to or the situation at hand.
"I know," Villanelle says, Comer's eyes lighting up with an impressed twinkle. "It surprised me, too."
A couple of back and forths later Villanelle says that her "girlfriend" stabbed her to "show me how much she cares about me" and, yikes, we are off and running again with the gleefully unpredictable assassin hell-bent on tracking down Eve, once the bleeding stops, of course.
Killing Eve retains all the good humor you'd expect — a crucial element of the first season's success — plus the pulse-pounding hunter-and-hunted quality that also fuels the series. Few shows have such fun with twists and light snark, undercut with blood, murder and sociopathic excess.
"You're funny," the boy in the hospital says to Villanelle, who responds as only she (and Comer) can: "Yes, I am funny."
Beyond funny, the series continues to be clever, with plenty of intriguing tricks up its sleeve, the retention of some good characters and we shall see how the newbies develop (two episodes isn't enough for that when they barely get screen time).
Thus far, the second season of Killing Eve passes the most critical test: Is the first episode so good and so fun that you devour it and immediately want a second? That's the winning formula that fueled the first season and yes, Killing Eve has still got it.
Cast: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Sean Delaney, Owen McDonnell
Developed for television by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Premieres April 7 simultaneously on both AMC and BBC America, 8 p.m.