The cat-and-mouse game between a crafty killer and an obsessive law enforcement official may seem like one of the oldest stories in the book – but in Killing Eve, it’s as fresh as it gets. The new BBC America thriller from Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge is compelling, funny, frightening, and entertaining. It received heaps of advance praise – and an early renewal for Season 2 – and based on the first episode alone, it may just be your (and our) new obsession.
The thrilling story, which premiered last night, stars Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) and Jodie Comer (The White Princess) as two unstoppable women at the center of an international story.
The (Would-Be) Secret Agent
Sandra Oh has long been one of our favorite actresses – from Grey’s to The Princess Diaries and more – and she is incredible as Eve Polastri. Eve is a British-born, American-raised MI5 employee. While she clearly wants to be a real spy, she’s currently stuck at a desk job as a security officer and seems very bored with both that and just about everything in her life… except the case. But we’ll get to that.
When we meet Eve, she rolls up into work on the weekend, hungover from her boss’s birthday party the night before and craving nothing more than a croissant. Now that’s what I call having your priorities straight. I had no idea eating a croissant in a quiet meeting could be quite so funny, but Eve’s first few scenes were some of my favorites from the episode.
Said meeting has been called because a Russian politician and known sex trafficker has been murdered in Vienna. The only witness was his girlfriend, but she hasn’t provided any useful information and the murder took place in a CCTV blindspot.
Eve is very excited by and invested in the discussion of the case, to her boss’s boss’s chagrin. She says the murderer was probably a woman, because the politician may not have considered a passing woman a threat. Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw – Aunt Petunia, people!), a senior official, seems intrigued by this theory, but the other officials are dismissive.
The Unstoppable Assassin
As it turns out, Eve’s superiors should pay her more attention. We also meet Villanelle (Comer), a beautiful and talented assassin who seems to be the textbook definition of a sociopath. The episode’s opening scene shows Villanelle gaining the trust of a little girl in an ice cream parlor by mimicking the kind expressions of the server, before knocking the girl’s ice cream all over her on her way out. RUDE.
That ice cream parlor was located in Vienna – the same city as that murder MI5 is investigating. Seems just a little suspicious. Eve returns to what seems to be her home in Paris, where we see that she has a stash of wigs and a box of bullets next to her tampons. Oh, and her idea of a joke is faking suicide before a man comes in to give her a cash bonus and tell her that “they” want her to do another job. The details come in the form of a postcard – destination: Tuscany.
While the first murder in Vienna happens off-camera, this one is shown from stakeout to bloody end. I have a feeling this is the first of many creative murders we’ll see from Villanelle, who turns a hairpin into a terrifying implement of death. Through this murder, we also learn another of the assassin’s skills: language. Thus far, we’ve seen her speak French and Italian perfectly – and I’m betting it doesn’t stop there.
While Villanelle brings her murder spree to Italy, Eve continues the investigation. She goes to speak with the Russian politician’s girlfriend, Kasia Molkovska – as you may recall, the only witness to his murder. Never mind that it is illegal for Eve to do so.
Kasia is drunk and really out of it, mainly swearing in Polish (as the translator points out). Eve records Kasia – again, illegal – and brings the audio to her husband, who is Polish, and a younger guy named Dom who seems to be friendly with the couple. Dom and Eve’s husband, Niko, are able to decipher some slang from Kasia’s audio. She gave a description of the killer: a “small-breasted psycho.” Looks like Eve’s hunch was right after all.
Unfortunately, Eve swiftly runs into a dead end. There are no active female assassins who match the description. But it doesn’t put Eve off her side investigation, as she continues her research.
Unfortunately, the clock is ticking. Villanelle’s mysterious contact – it’s unclear whether he’s her boss or if her killing for this mysterious organization is more of a freelance situation – tells her that the girlfriend from Vienna was brought to London, where she will be interviewed as a principal witness to the murder the next day. It’s straight to London for our assassin, who is told to make the job look like a suicide.
Back at MI5, Eve is determined not to lose Kasia, the only lead she can tie to the cases from Vienna, Tuscany, and apparently a slew of other murders from the past few months that she has been tracking. She comes clean to her boss, Bill, about the illegal interview with Kasia and the recording. While someone at MI5 said that CCTV showed the killer was male – when in the initial meeting, there was said to be no footage available – Eve wants Bill to dig deeper, unconvinced that the footage even exists. She’s worried that either someone is hiding something or is too lazy to follow up the leads. Bill doesn’t rise to the challenge, but tells Eve to go check on the witness at the hospital and go home.
The Plot Thickens
Eve goes to the hospital – but brings Dom, telling him to pretend he’s Kasia’s cousin and ask her a few questions. She excuses herself to the loo, and as she’s freshening up, runs into Villanelle in a new disguise. DANGER, PEOPLE.
While Eve is in the bathroom, she also receives a call from Bill. He seems to have taken some of her words to heart, and tells Eve that he looked into the CCTV situation and found out that there was no footage after all. He tells her to keep the witness safe and hangs up.
As Eve walks back toward the hospital room, it looks like that’s not going to be a possibility. The nurses and armed guards are dead, and Kasia is choking and seriously bloody. Eve screams for help, and Dom walks back in with an armful of snacks. At least someone survived the murder spree.
Eve is in serious trouble at work, both for her illegal interference with Kasia and for failing to do her actual job in protecting the witness. She and Bill, her boss, are fired. But it looks like Eve may just get exactly what she wants after all – because Carolyn turns up at her flat and invites her to a breakfast that sounds a lot like her induction as a secret agent. It turns out that she has also been reading the signs where this new female assassin is concerned, who she says at this point is just showing off.
Meanwhile, Villanelle is bound for a new assignment in Bulgaria. 20 quid says her and Eve’s paths will cross again sooner rather than later.
I was totally drawn in by this first episode of Killing Eve – it’s beautifully shot, shows so many cool locations, and has two very compelling female characters at the heart of the story. There are moments of dark comedy, clues to follow, and a teaser of what’s sure to be a much bigger relationship to come in Eve and Villanelle’s brief encounter. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Best Quote: “Turns out people are still murderous bastards on the weekend.”
Killing Eve airs Sundays at 8/7c on BBC America.
Are you watching Killing Eve? What did you think of the first episode?
Photos Courtesy of BBC America