Killing Eve, episode two, review: this blend of comedy and thrills proved irresistible
The bodies continued to fall like puncture-wounded ninepins in the second electrifying instalment of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve (BBC One).
Glamour-puss international assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) kicked off the episode chasing a Bulgarian businessman around an office – she could have just shot him but it was so much more fun prolonging the agony – and finished it accidentally liquidating her new boyfriend by leaving him alone with the deadly perfume she’d concocted for a hit job.
Waller-Bridge’s misanthropic quirkiness is identifiable at a thousand paces – the signature was established with her hit non-rom-com Fleabag – and Killing Eve’s swerve between workplace satire and violent espionage won’t be to all tastes. The spectre, moreover, of a smirking Russian hired killer bumping people off with poisoned toxins has taken on a different resonance since the series’ initial airing on BBC America in April.
But for those willing to submit, Killing Eve’s blend of comedy and high-octane thrills once again proved irresistible. In the case of luckless paramour Sebastian (Charlie Hamblett) and the poisonous parfum, the humour was to be seen dancing in the eyes of Villanelle, a wry flicker waiting to catch fire. She’d absent-mindedly left him alone with the lethal concoction while she received a dressing down from her patron Konstantin (Kim Bodnia). Having been hauled over hot coals by her boss and then seen her boyfriend drop dead, Villanelle should have ended up crying uncontrollably.
Only Villanelle doesn’t do crying. She is a superhuman psychopath, blankly incurious about her targets. One person who has caught her attention, though, is Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) – a disorganised pencil-pusher within the British intelligence services but the only one to intuit that a sequence of apparently unconnected killings across Europe might be the handiwork of the same killbot.
Eve doesn’t yet have a name for her adversary. Yet she was beginning to sense what she was up against as, with the covert backing of MI6 Russian section leader Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), she settled into her job at the head of a black-ops unit tasked with tracking the killer.
Killing Eve is terribly arch, yet it has an addictive quality which manifested itself in this episode as the game of cat and mouse began to unfold. Who is hunting whom is the question to be answered.