Your primer for ‘Killing Eve’ season 2

Illustration by Sammy Newman

Brandon Shillingford, Contributing Writer  

In 2018, “Killing Eve” took the world by storm.

Quite literally, in fact. In an exceptionally short amount of time, the British series became a global sensation and one of the most successful shows among critics and fans alike. It’s BBC America’s biggest piece of programming, and many fans have caught up by streaming the show on Hulu just in time for season two.

For everyone who hasn’t seen the show since it premiered last spring, the latter part of this article will be a recap of the first season. But the first half of this will be my desperate attempt to get those of you who haven’t seen “Killing Eve” yet (for whatever reason that is …) to hop on the bandwagon before it’s full.

What you need to know

“Killing Eve” was created by actress, writer and overall jack-of-all-trades genius, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. It’s an adaptation of Luke Jennings’ “Codename Villanelle” novellas. It’s a globe-trotting, psychosexual game of cat-and-mouse between two brilliant women — MI5 agent Eve Polastri and psychopathic assassin Villanelle.

Eve is tracking Villanelle after she commits a series of murders of high-ranking government officials around the world. But Villanelle is always one step ahead of Eve, undermining her and her team at every turn. In the midst of all this, the two women become obsessed with each other, taking every opportunity to watch, listen to, and learn about the other.

The main strength of the show lies in Eve and Villanelle’s relationship, although I’m not sure if you would call it love.

The main theme of “Killing Eve” is the link between violence and perceived femininity. Both of these factors play into the complexity of their characters. As the two become closer, they start to display each other’s personality traits. Eve becomes more violent, headstrong and assertive; while Villanelle starts displaying compassion and kindness. The line between sanity and insanity blurs, and this is where the show truly shines.

“Killing Eve” doesn’t go out of its way to distinguish its two leads from other women on television. But that’s the very reason why it does. They do it with sharp writing and phenomenal character building. These aren’t just great female characters, they’re great characters, and that’s why it’s so refreshing.

The humor is also a big piece of the show’s allure. While most spy-dramas coast on high concept premises and action, “Killing Eve” has a dry and offbeat sense of humor that sets it apart from similar series. The actors deliver jokes and dialogue that are totally random and could seem pointless, but the humor puts the viewer at ease just long enough for the extreme tension and violence to put you on edge again.

“I once saw a rat drink from a can of Coke there. Both hands. Extraordinary.”

This is a real line of dialogue delivered by Fiona Shaw — one of the most prestigious and acclaimed British actresses of her generation — as she and Eve enter an apartment building in one of the earlier episodes.

The line is delivered with no context. If you don’t find that funny, I don’t know if this is the show for you.

“Killing Eve” is funny, suspenseful, sexy and uncompromisingly bold. So do yourself a favor and please, please, please watch it.

Now that that’s done, I can get into a recap of the first series, so any avid watchers are prepped for the second season.

So without further ado, here is your recap of “Killing Eve,” season one.

(Oh, and spoilers aplenty from this point out.)

Where we last left off

Last time we saw them, our favorite MI5 agent with great hair and psychopathic assassin weren’t on the best terms.

Eve had lured Villanelle into bed, only to attack her viciously with a shiv in a moment of anger and revenge, fulfilling her promise to kill Villanelle after she killed her partner and best friend, Bill Pargrave. But after realizing what she had done, Eve ran to get help — only to find Villanelle had escaped.

As we’ve seen from the trailers and promotional material, Villanelle is obviously safe and sound. Well, maybe not safe, but sound is probably the best someone in her situation can hope for.

The first half of season two will likely focus on Villanelle attempting to escape from her former employers, “The 12,” the shadowy organization that Eve and her colleagues tracked throughout the first season. After shooting her former handler Konstantine, finding and killing Villanelle is likely the group’s top priority.

Eve isn’t doing any better. Before she left for Moscow, she had gotten into a huge fight with her disapproving husband, Niko, which ended with her hitting him. The two haven’t spoken since and he probably won’t be too happy after he finds out she stabbed someone as well.

And her former boss and MI6 agent, Carolyn, who at one point seemed to be Eve’s closest ally, may have revealed her true colors after Eve found footage of her meeting with Villanelle in prison and learning she had a decade-long affair with Konstantine.

To recap the recap, Villanelle is walking around somewhere in Moscow bleeding profusely, Carolyn is still shady and wants to sleep with Konstantine. Konstantine still wants to sleep with Carolyn and is also shady, and Eve is in a lot of trouble once she gets back to London.

New episodes of “Killing Eve” air Sundays at 8 p.m. on BBC America.

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