TV Review: ‘Killing Eve’ Comes Back With Oh & Comer In Top Form

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How different are we from our enemies? “Killing Eve” thrives on the relationship between security operative turned spy Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and gleeful serial killer Villanelle (Jodie Comer). As their game of cat and mouse came to a bloody, powerful conclusion last season, we now have to deal with how the relationship has changed. These growing pains mirror what shows go through, as they have to expand beyond their first seasons. Luckily, “Killing Eve” continues to deliver on its initial promise with sharp characters and even sharper wit.

The show illustrates how Eve and Villanelle are more connected than ever now. It also manages to do so in hilarious and inventive ways. Take, for example, an early scene as Eve stops at a candy store mid-flee. She fills her bag up to the brim with blue sweets, only to snatch a single candy away from a child when it falls out of her bag. This recalls Villanelle flipping the little girl’s ice cream in season one. It also puts the audience at ease. Though season one showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge has handed over the reins to Emerald Fennell, we are still in ultra-capable hands. Fennell understands the tone of the show well.

This moment serves as just one of many incredible moments of acting delivered by Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh. Throughout the first episode in particular, Oh conveys Eve’s disbelief, fear and exasperation in a variety of interesting ways. Whether it’s freaking out at security or laughing at a woman who thinks Eve is an alcoholic, Oh never misses an opportunity to draw a richer portrait of her character. This comes in handy as the events from season one draw a wedge within her normal family and marriage. Oh switches from biting dark comedy to soul crushing loneliness so swiftly and deftly.

As amazing as Sandra Oh is, Jodi Comer proves she’s the one to watch this season in particular. Villanelle surprise and delights with every second of screen time. Each of her mannerisms, down to her strut and subtle shifts in her face, derives fear, laughter or surprise. Her set pieces are routinely highlights of the episodes. Between fierce honesty to a car crash victim or an captive section with a Mama’s boy, Comer makes audiences want to see what Villanelle is up to. If there’s any justice, Comer will receive just as much awards attention as Sandra Oh.

There’s more going on besides Eve’s malaise and Villanelle’s trail of blood. The show reconnects Eve with M16 head Carolyn (an always-welcome Fiona Shaw). Despite being in the throws of turmoil, Eve dives head-first into Carolyn’s new assignment. She thinks, at first, the dead bodies Carolyn has found are more of Villanelle’s killings. However, Eve pieces together that there’s another female serial killer operating at the moment. The show goes one step further, asserting this new serial killer excels at her job because she moves undetected as a janitorial staff person.

These touches are what make “Killing Eve” a revolutionary and welcome new addition to the spy genre. Between Waller-Bridge and now Fennell, it pays to have a female show-runner tackle a male dominated genre. The psychologies of Eve and the killers she goes after always feel well documented and thought through. Every reference (whether it be “Clueless” or talking about skin care) further builds the show’s unique tone. “Killing Eve” feels different, without having to baldly tell you that it is different. The reason we need more diversity in show-runners is because different people have different takes on the stories and genres we love so much. Let’s hope for not only more “Killing Eve” type shows, but more versions of the spy genre that step out of the James Bond mold.

The show orchestrates itself into a “My Best Friend’s Wedding” type scenario. In that film’s climactic moment, Julianne (Julia Roberts) chases after the love of her life (Dermot Mulrooney) while he chases after his fiancée (Cameron Diaz). “Who’s chasing you?” her best friend George (Rupert Everett) asks. By the end of the second episode of the second season, “Killing Eve” puts its characters in a similar situation. Eve makes moves with her team towards another serial killer who has been going unnoticed. However, Villanelle trudges forward, still after Eve. The first season stood out as the best crime thriller in recent memory because of the anticipation of Eve and Villanelle’s meeting. With attention turned elsewhere, Villanelle becomes Julia Roberts’ Julianne. “Who’s chasing you?” I ask Villanelle. Yes, this season cannot just be a rehash of season one. However, I’m interested in hopefully seeing these two share story-lines once again.

“Killing Eve” Season Two premieres on BBC America on Sunday, April 7th at 8 p.m. ET.

GRADE: (★½)

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