Reviews

April 8, 2019

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Killing Eve”

 

KILLING EVE:  Sunday 8PM on AMC/BBCAmerica

AMC very much wants KILLING EVE to be its next big thing.  The critical and awards-season darling spent its first season on the network’s subsidiary BBCAmerica service, but while the marketing for Season 2 still refers to it as “BBCAmerica’s”, all episodes are being simulcast on the parent network.  Being a ratings event on AMC would require quite a leap, since at its Season 1 best, it was getting numbers about 10% of even the diminished recent ratings for The Walking Dead.  The challenge may be increased by a behind-the-scenes development, as series creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a celebrated talent with many projects demanding her time, decided to step down from her showrunning and lead writer duties (she remains an Executive Producer), leaving Killing Eve in the hands of first-time showrunner Emerald Fennell.

Fennell wrote the Season 2 premiere (the director was Damon Thomas, who directed several Season 1 episodes), and it’s too soon to tell whether she’ll be able to sustain the individuality Waller-Bridge brought to the series, or whether she intends to take Killing Eve in new directions.  The premiere, like many season premieres, was mostly concerned with getting the show out of the corners the Season 1 finale had painted.

The season had ended with a pair of major events for its main characters, the glamorous sociopathic assassin known as Villanelle (Jodie Comer), and MI-6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), who spent the season on her track and increasingly in her thrall.  (The thrall is mutual.)  Eve had been fired from the agency by her boss Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), but traced Villanelle to her Paris flat anyway, a confrontation that culminated in Eve stabbing Villanelle, who ran away badly injured.

The premiere spent its time getting things back to status quo, as Carolyn promptly re-hired Eve, and Villanelle, not very surprisingly, demonstrated strong healing powers, making her way into a hospital under false pretenses, and soon up and about.  Her only murder of the episode was a twisted (literally) act of mercy, wringing the neck of the teen in the next hospital bed who wasn’t sure he wanted to stay alive with serious facial scars.  By the end of the hour, Villanelle was in England, and her dance with Eve was clearly about to resume.

Fennell put some recognizably Killing Eve moments into the script, notably when Villanelle was forced to put on escape clothing and footwear that weren’t up to her standards, and when Eve’s reaction to an exhumed corpse reeking of formaldehyde was a yen for burgers.  There were peppy one-liners, and Oh, Comer and Shaw continued to be delicious in their roles.  There were also signs of potential risk, though, as the character moments, as well as Villanelle’s perverse murder, could start to seem like fan service “bits” rather than organic parts of a narrative fabric.  The episode in addition was somewhat underpopulated, with almost all of the hour spent with the leads, apart from small contributions by Shaw and by Owen McDonnell as Eve’s kind but out of the loop husband.

Killing Eve has short 8-episode seasons, and it remains to be seen whether Season 2 will just retrace the steps of the first, or take the show somewhere new and unexpected.  It’s certainly enjoyable as it is, thanks to its sharp writing and stars, but for AMC’s hopes to be realized, it may need a refreshed sense of excitement.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on screened.com and the-burg.com. In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."




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