This spoiler-free review is based on the opening episode of Killing Eve Season 2. Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1. Never seen it? Catch up with our spoiler-free of Season 1 here.
“I’ve never done anything like this before.” Those were the words said the last time we saw Eve (Sandra Oh), when she was lying next to Vilanelle (Jodie Comer) in bed. Then, she did it: she stabbed Vilanelle in the stomach, sending the woman she had become obsessed with fleeing into thin air with a potentially fatal injury – and sending herself into a downward spiral of guilt, doubt, sadness and shock. Because Villanelle’s gone. Because Eve’s almost committed murder. Because that act of physical intimacy has joined them together closer than ever before – Season 1’s bravura finale saw Eve cross a moral line to become more like Villanelle, or perhaps understand how close she actually had been to her all along.
That wonderful complexity to their relationship, part psychological, part emotional, part physical – has been at the heart of Killing Eve’s delicious appeal ever since its first episode, and Season 2’s opener reassuringly doesn’t change the recipe: both women continue to become more complex with every passing minute, adding new layers to their determination, their vulnerability, their infatuation, and their coming to terms with all three.
Jodie Comer, repeatedly a source of hilarity and violence in Season 1, continues to delight as she escapes to assassinate another day. She’s a lone wolf, but has always been most entertaining when interacting with others, from her handler, Konstantin, who worked with mysterious organisation The Twelve, to a small child keen for some ice cream way back in the show’s initial minutes. Here, we get to see her distinct form of twisted, sociopathic friendship in action once again, as she talks to the young Gabriel (Pierre Atri). “She did it to show me how much she cared about me,” she tells the boy, who notes that women “don’t stab” people.
That constant subversion of expectations and gender norms is still present and correct. Eve’s descent into domestic norms, such as chopping vegetables for dinner, helps her hide her real trauma – something that poor hubbie Niko (Owen McDonnell) can’t get her to talk about, but something that Eve’s boss, Carolyn (MVP Fiona Shaw, who’s enjoying one of the best characters of her career), happily calls out as a front. Carolyn’s behaviour inside a public park is equally, brilliantly surprising, not least because it’s so understated, and part of the thrill of Season 2 is the prospect of getting to find out more about her, and her allegiances, whatever they may be. New showrunner Emerald Fennell, replacing Phoebe Waller-Bridge (still on as an exec-producer), spends the opening hour putting these pieces in place for the new season, but without losing any of the pace, wit or style of the first run.
And yet while Killing Eve Season 2 opens up its world to introduce more intrigue, and The Twelve promise to become more prominent players, the beating heart remains the connection between the show’s two lead women – whether the marketing campaign focusing on that is teasing a relationship that will never be fully realised or not, it’s a bond that’s as intoxicatingly unpredictable as ever. And that’s because it’s driven by both of the people involved, and they keep on growing. Eve is now dangerous but haunted by her actions, while Villanelle is wounded, exhausted and perhaps even afraid, with a wide-eyed alertness to her every move. “She could have been in England a couple of months ago,” admits Eve of her prey. “Lord knows, she loves a costume,” she adds, half affectionately, half despairingly.
Killing Eve Season 2 premieres on BBC One at 9.15pm on Saturday 8th June, with the whole box set available on BBC iPlayer after the broadcast.