On very rare occasions, a TV series careens into the world with a first season that’s so on-the-mark that one’s left wanting for more but also fearing that pushing further could serve a disservice. Why ruin an extremely good thing, right? That’s how I’ve already felt this year about Netflix’s Russian Doll, and here we are with last year’s example, BBC America’s Killing Eve. In my mind, the first season of this exquisitely executed series could have ended satisfyingly with the bloody finale — you know, the whole stabbing thing. That went down after MI6 spy Eve (Sandra Oh) discovered the flat of crafty assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) following their cat-and-mouse game. We could have been left to wonder how and to where Villanelle escaped and whether Eve goes back to her mundane existence, only to forever speculate on what might have been.
This series could have even pulled this off without leaning upon the heavily-suggested air of romance between the two women because, ultimately, Killing Eve is a procedural. It’s also a twist on the classic, Heat-esque story of the detective and criminal who grow obsessed with each other because they’re drawn to something that’s missing in themselves. Of course, the series is so well-executed that people have interpreted the “coupling” in many ways. Perhaps Eve and Villanelle could have reunited, either on a professional or more personal basis (oh, the latter would be such a volatile relationship), but a lingering mystery would have been permissible on a storytelling level.
We’re all aware that the realm of entertainment generally does not practice graceful exits as a rule. Few networks or studios can resist continuing a successful project, so we’ve definitely got more Killing Eve. This presents the danger of a letdown after that first-season high. Yet since we’re dealing with a procedural structure, there’s plenty of cushion here for both main characters to continue navigating within the relatively secure framework that already exists. Obviously, neither will be able to resist orbiting each other as their stories continue, so the goal of a second season would be to add something new and different while still remaining faithful to the darkly comedic, playfully fatal tone that was the big first season draw.
I am pumped up to reveal that Killing Eve still burns as brightly in season 2 as during its debut. That is at least the case with the two episodes that screened for the press, which pick up “30 seconds” after Eve discovers that Villanelle has fled the scene. From there, they head in opposite directions. They’re also both struggling to cope with what has just happened after an enormous build-up that led to the bloody encounter. That final meeting included Villanelle confessing that she “really liked” Eve, and we see the immediate aftermath of the actual outcome. Eve struggles with PTSD. She comes unglued, at times, with her hands lingering over a knife while preparing dinner and falling into crying fits.
Villanelle’s obviously dealing with much more physical fallout. As she recovers, she takes on various personas while seeking medical attention and refuge. Her armor’s dented, and that’s reflected in her wardrobe, which features these comic-book pajamas but some shockingly civilian attire. (It sure is hard to be a fashionista while recovering from major blood loss.) Underneath it all, she’s still the same shifty, mutable personality, but she is — possibly for the first time in her adult life — not entirely in control of her situation. Clearly, this is something that she hasn’t contemplated before, and Villanelle’s met her match, in more ways than one. She’s disarmed in several capacities, although she seems even more fascinated and enthralled by Eve as a result.
Mind you, Villanelle is not a changed person. She’s now even more heartless — especially while committing one particularly senseless kill, which hoo boy, is darker than her season one actions — except when it comes to her thoughts on Eve. The question remains, though: will Villanelle ever make the same mistake (letting her guard down and being vulnerable) that got her into this jam in the first place? There’s little indication that she’s learned a lesson. To a sympathetic party, she claims that her “girlfriend” only stabbed her “to show me how much she cared about me.” She reasons that people do “crazy things” when they are in love, which is probably a precursor to what she may do after finding out that Eve’s been assigned to investigate a different female assassin.
This third party, who is a careful and discreet operative, appears to favor the polar opposite of Villanelle’s reckless, flashy, and downright arrogant manner of doing business. One can only imagine the consequences that could occur when Comer’s volatile character feels her ego bruised by this development. Hopefully, this will only add to the rich and layered approach of the series and enhance its complexity rather than simply complicating it. Killing Eve is still impossible to look away from, and hopefully, the show’s energy will continue to flow as we prepare for another showdown within this duo’s deadly dance.
BBC America’s ‘Killing Eve’ season 2 premieres on Sunday, April 7 at 8:00PM EST and will be simulcast on AMC. You can still catch up on season 1 on Hulu.