‘Killing Eve’ thrills with espionage and assassins

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Brian Lang

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‘Killing Eve’ thrills with espionage and assassins

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve (2018)

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve (2018)

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve (2018)

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve (2018)

“Killing Eve” starts with a murder that just doesn’t add up. A Russian operative dies minutes after being stabbed, and there’s not a single scrap of evidence to build an investigation on. The perpetrator, Villanelle (Jodie Comer), is a special breed of assassin who creatively kills her targets with glee; but Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), the MI5 agent tasked with finding her, refuses to back down.

Villanelle’s kills become increasingly creative and shocking, which only makes Eve more infatuated with her target as she tries to think and reason like her as she digs into Villanelle’s past to try to figure her out.  The two orbit each other throughout the series, ratcheting up the tension as the deadly game of cat-and-mouse inches towards its conclusion.

“Killing Eve” is one of the best new shows on television right now. It’s filled with all the traditional espionage tropes like exciting European locales and clever disguises, but it also turns the whole idea of spy thrillers on its head with its two incredible female characters.

Eve and Villanelle are as similar as night and day, which is to say not at all. Eve is an awkward but determined desk agent who is constantly underestimated by her bosses. Villanelle, on the other hand, is a stylish and skilled sociopath serial killer that is tired of playing by the rules and more than willing to show off as Eve chases her down. It makes for a riveting drama.

The show is anchored by two fantastic actresses who take what could be simply another spy show and transform it into a fascinating character drama. The two leading ladies are wonderful when they’re on their own, but give a sharp sizzle when put in the same scenes, especially in the season finale.

Comer’s turn as the slippery Villanelle is so fun to watch. She plays the character as smart, stubborn and selfish, but not without a heart. It’s hard to root against her when she makes killing look so fun. Comer is adept at using accents and her facial expressions to morph into the different character’s that Villanelle must become and plays the role of a psychopath with perfect restraint. It’s easy to see why Eve is so enraptured with this assassin.

Sandra Oh returns to the small screen after her iconic role as Dr. Christina Yang on “Grey’s Anatomy” with a splash.  Eve is just as determined as Dr. Yang, but Oh allows Eve’s vulnerabilities to seep through the cracks more. She’s frumpy and aloof but becomes gradually more sure of herself as she learns the intricacies of the world and politics of spy-craft.

Despite the tense moments and wonderful espionage elements of “Killing Eve,” it’s still filled with plenty of funny moments thanks to wonderful writing by producer Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The dialogue is smart and fast and Walter-Bridge’s iconic dry humor keeps the show’s sometimes dark subject matter from being too bleak.

“Killing Eve” wastes no time setting up, but instead gives the audience what it wants: a scintillating kill in the first episode. The show rarely slows down after that as Eve and Villanelle traipse across the European stage while constantly surprising and ignoring their superiors. The two are easy to cheer for and both make it hard to pick a winning side.

So if you’re looking for a new show to binge over Easter break, look no further than “Killing Eve.” It’s full of the best television has to offer with outstanding performances, a gripping plot, and plenty of twists to keep you glued to your seat. Season 1 is currently streaming on Hulu.

 

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