Jodie Cormer and Sandra Oh resume their twisted dance
If you ask most people about their plans on a Sunday evening of late, you’ll most likely get Game of Thrones as a reply. Which is a shame, with BBC America having scheduled its second season of Killing Eve against the TV behemoth. Still, it was a much anticipated return for the series, despite a shuffle at the top (Phoebe Waller-Bridge moves from writer/showrunner to executive producer, with Emerald Fennell taking over as lead writer). So if you were too wrapped up in Starks and Targaryens to catch it, this new Blu-ray release is a splendid opportunity to catch up.
Killing Eve is the story of two women — Eve, an MI6 operative, and Villanelle, the beautiful, psychopathic assassin that she has been tasked to find — bound by a mutual obsession and one brutal act. Season Two begins 30 seconds after the final episode of the first season; Eve is reeling and Villanelle has disappeared. Eve has no idea if the woman she stabbed is alive or dead, and now both of them are in deep trouble. Eve has to find Villanelle before someone else does; but unfortunately, she’s not the only person looking for her.
For those unfamiliar, the show is an adaptation of the Codename Villanelle book series, which tells of a sociopathic assassin (Jodie Cormer) and the female detective (Sandra Oh as Agent Eve Polastri) hunting her down, and the rather curious relationship that develops between them. A crime thriller and blackly comedic character study combine into a deliciously twisted venture. Season 2 picks up immediately where the first left off, a confrontation between the two leaving Villanelle suffering from a stab would and Eve suffering from guilt at thinking she has killed her target. It’s an interesting opener, positioning each of them in very vulnerable states, seeing how they cope with that circumstance and also the shift in the dynamic between them after the altercation. The show soon plunges back into the compelling cat and mouse game as the pursuit and play between them picks up. It’s still fascinating to watch, but the show also looks to keep things fresh by adding new characters and locales to the mix, most notably a third person to disrupt this duel, another assassin.
The real marvel of the show is in these two central performances and how they play off each other. Cormer is iconic and deserves every plaudit she gets. But Oh’s work is equally worthy of praise, less eyecatching but full of depth and nuance. Their interactions cause the show to lean into (an oft comical) character drama more than a thriller, but the show is no less tense and gripping for it. As mentioned above, after expertly adapting the books for the first season, Phoebe Waller-Bridge steps back into an EP role, unsurprising given her work to deliver a second season of the magnificent Fleabag and being recruited to drag Bond 25 into the modern age. Does the show maintain the same quality? The answer is…mostly. The debut of the show was such a breath of fresh air, it’s hard to replicate that. But the ingredients that made it such a refreshing experience are all still there, along with some new ones. It remains a potent thriller with charged erotic undertones, deftly balancing grim and hilarious moments, a showcase for its two stars and the creative forces behind the cameras too.
The release contains all 8 episodes of Season 2. As you’d expect from a modern show shot on digital, the visual quality is very good, the transfer showing natural colors with solid representation of detail, contrast, and blacks. The episodes are backed up by a nice selection of featurettes that delve into some aspects of the production:
- Killing Eve characters Eve, Villanelle, and Carolyn
- The closet of Killing Eve’s costume designer
- Filming on location
- Bringing the script to the screen
- New characters
The Bottom Line
Killing Eve continues to be one of the most gripping and smart thrillers on our screens. Its unique tone remains intact, while adding further layers of complexity and quirk. There’s more of what made the first series so impacting while adding adding enough to keep things fresh, and giving the perfect platform for Comer and Oh to continue their compelling dance.
Killing Eve Season 2 is available via BBC America from June 18th, 2019.