Killing Eve premieres April 8th, 8pm on BBC America.
By John Baker
Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it – and it could be deadly.
That’s the path that Eve Polastri will travel in the new BBC America show, “Killing Eve.”
Polastri, played nicely by Sandra Oh of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame, feels like she’s hit a dead end as part of the MI5 witness protection department in London. She longs for more adventure, the chance to prove herself out in the field, and fulfill her own little spy fantasy.
That opportunity arrives when she inadvertently crosses paths with high-level assassin Villanelle. Eve has been doing a little moonlighting and feels she’s stumbled across an unknown killer that is involved in a series of murders that seem to have no connection. But they do. Her intuition tells her something else is going on and that it’s a woman committing these acts.
When things go wrong in her normal job and she gets fired, the chance to work on her theory full-time appears. Recruited for a super-secret MI6 group that has also been tracking these killings, she’s put in charge of finding out who this unknown assassin is, and who is behind it all.
But Villanelle is no ordinary killer. She’s a young woman who’s pure psychopath and enjoys killing and the lifestyle it affords. She’s cold, ruthless, inventive and, as Eve notes, likes to show off during her hits. The battle of wits to find and stop her has begun.
Oh brings a wonderfully innocent touch to the role of Eve Polastri as the show gets rolling. You can feel the weight of a dead-end job on her shoulders, followed by a naïve excitement as she gets to fulfill her professional dream. The dream becomes something of a nightmare, and Eve has to harden up, as the deaths mount and one of her colleagues is killed by Villanelle. And things escalate, the two women begin a journey that locks them in a cat-and-mouse game that Villanelle is far more equipped to handle early on. As time goes by, though, the two become more evenly matched and the physical and mental battle is joined in full.
Again, Oh does a nice job of taking Eve Polastri through a trek of maturation during the first season. Initially, she’s woefully underequipped to deal with someone of Villanelle’s particular brand of assassin. She makes careless mistakes and struggles to grasp that she’s being played. Fortunately, the character develops and becomes a more interesting foil for Villanelle, who is brilliantly played by Jodie Comer.
The character is a villain with a cold and calculating soul. But we get little glimpses into some of the inner turmoil and hurt she’s experienced to bring her to this point – a point where she is a tip of the spear for a shadowy organization we come to know as “The 12.”
Comer is delicious as a woman who can cry on command, evince sorrow and hurt, while seconds later laugh about how she’s played someone so successfully – then put a hypodermic needle through their eye. The truth is, Comer has created a character that’s a little unnerving. It’s wonderful.
“Killing Eve” gives us a little more than your average “hunt for the professional killer” show. There’s the hunt for the killer, but there are also relationships intersecting that hunt, including instances when Polastri and Villanelle come face-to-face. There’s a devastatingly taut story where they meet in Polastri’s kitchen. It’s chilling.
These aren’t usually my kind of show, but it was nice to see Oh pop up in something interesting and once I got dialed in I was somewhat mesmerized by Comer’s take on Villanelle. The supporting cast is diverse and talented, lending a nice ambiance around Oh and Comer as the show progresses.
“Killing Eve” is an interesting and thought-provoking BBC America offering and I’d recommend giving it a go. I enjoyed it.
I give Killing Eve a B-.