There are many things I enjoy in life. Two of those things are TV shows and surprises. Put them both together and you’ve got a winning formula. It’s one thing to be anticipating a show for months before it’s release but another to be completely caught off guard by it. BBC America’s Killing Eve falls into the latter category. I’d heard about the show from casting announcements but I didn’t think it would be something I’d end up checking out. Well after a massive outpouring of praise from TV critics, I gave the pilot a shot and the rest is history. Killing Eve came out of nowhere and right out of the gate established itself as one of 2018’s best new shows.
From creator and executive producer Phoebe Waller-Bridge (creator of Amazon’s Fleabag) and adapted from a series of novels by Luke Jennings, Killing Eve tells the story of two women—one, a British intelligence officer (Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh) and the other, a Russian assassin (Jodie Comer) with a flair for the dramatic—and the game of cat and mouse that develops between them.
Sandra Oh delivers a knockout performance as Eve Polastri, an American working for MI5 who’s rather bored with her job until she starts investigating a string of murders. After spending years in supporting roles, Oh but the full range of her acting ability on display here. Eve is complex, determined, and more than a little conflicted and all of those facets are on display from Oh. I knew her from years begrudgingly watching Grey’s Anatomy with my mom but had never really thought much about her. Not anymore.
Meanwhile, Jodie Comer plays the psychopathic Russian assassin Villanelle who’s kills quickly attract Eve’s attention and sets her on a path to find and capture Villanelle. Comer is somehow both charming and straight up terrifying as Villanelle. It’s amazing how quickly she is able to flip from one side to the other. You never quite know what she’s going to do. Unsettling would be putting it mildly.
Killing Eve certainly presents a familiar story but the way it tells it is wholly its own. From the very first scene, the show sets itself apart with a wicked sense of humor. I can’t understand how it switches so easily between pitch-black humor and moments of shocking violence and drama. The show is clearly walking the wire between the two and could at any moment tip too far toward one extreme but throughout the show’s eight-episode first season, that wasn’t the case*.
*The show has been a tremendous success for BBC America in both ratings and reviews. The network showed tremendous confidence in the show by renewing it for a second season before it even premiered.
Could this all fall apart by the time the show returns for a second season? Certainly but why worry about that now when what we got was so dang entertaining.
Killing Eve is full of complex characters and tells its story with confidence and style. The pace never drags and show quickly moves from plot point to plot point. Characters are clearly defined and the cast has wonderful chemistry and it’s all anchored the show’s versatile lead actresses.
It usually takes a few episodes for me to decide if I like a show. Not so with Killing Eve. As soon as the credits rolled on the first episode I was in hook, line, and sinker. Give it a chance, and you might be as well.
The complete first season of Killing Eve is available to stream on BBC America’s website with a cable login.