REVIEW: Killing Eve (S2 E3/8)

The problem with series two of Killing Eve was always going to be that there were only two ways it could go: option one, the same thing all over again, attempting to repeat the success of season one by imitation; or option two, something different, taking the risk of losing the original spark in the search for novelty. Our money was on option one, and guess what, that particular fleabag (see what we did there?) has passed the winning post first.

Because, utterly predictably, the old gang from season one has been reunited with the return of Villanelle’s original handler, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia). Anyone who didn’t see this coming needs a refresher course in TV clichés; first, you don’t break up a winning line-up of star power, and second, you don’t assume a character is dead unless you actually see them dismembered. Crucially, if you only hear reports of a character’s death off-stage – well, they ain’t dead.

So it was with weary predictability that we welcomed back Konstantin (well, Kim Bodnia is a great asset to the series, but the freshness of the writing is undermined by such an obvious twist).

Konstantin survived being shot in the tea-room (always painful) by Villanelle, and Carolyn now has him stashed away, trading information for the safety of his family (who think he is dead). Eve greets his resurrection with weary acceptance, but is wrong-footed when he warns her to forget Villanelle – he mixes his metaphors a bit when he describes her as a hungry caterpillar. She’s actually more like the chestburster from Alien.

Villanelle, consigned by new handler Raymond to a disgustingly sleazy hotel (with louche concierge Larry played by old stager Nickolas Grace) is back to her old ways, flamboyantly dispatching a financier by trapping his tie in a lift (could this work? We must try it some time). But what of her rival operative, The Ghost? Raymond taunts Villanelle about her success – but it appears that she doesn’t work for The Twelve, so who?

Eve tries to cosy up to Niko by making him what looks like the most disgusting breakfast ever, but Villanelle has other ideas, plotting sexual shenanigans to get him in hot water in school, with the unwitting aid of besotted colleague Gemma (Emma Pierson).

Gemma, meanwhile, who is implausibly single, is easily manipulated into causing a rift – but why is Raymond, who is watching Villanelle closely, allowing her to indulge in this peccadillo?

Eve, figuring she needs some leverage, persuades Kenny to find her the location of Konstantin’s family – information she knows Konstantin will exchange for Villanelle’s location. But Konstantin beats her to it, receiving a surprisingly tender reception from Villanelle, though the power games between the two are as twisted as ever.

By the time Eve and her SWAT team turn up, Konstantin has persuaded Villanelle to go freelance, with him as her partner – Eve is distraught at missing her by inches, and Carolyn is hurt by Konstantin’s betrayal.  Even Eve begins to question her own motivation, until she finds that Villanelle’s parting gift of lipstick contains a deadly surprise.

Twisty, psychologically complex and pretty much devoid of gore, this episode felt like the series was getting into its stride again, though maybe that was just because Kim Bodnia was back, and Villanelle got into some tasteful outfits again (we’ll forget the hippy ensemble with the pasta jewellery).

But we’re still no nearer finding out anything about The Ghost, and until we engage fully with that mysterious character, we aren’t getting much of a sense of direction. But we can already predict what’s going to happen in series three; Villanelle will be recruited by MI6, and will be tasked with hunting down other killers, with Eve as her boss. We’ll put money on that, and where Killing Eve is concerned, our betting average is pretty good.

Chris Jenkins



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