Developed/Written By: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Starring: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Darren Boyd, Owen McDonnell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Sean Delaney, David Haig, Kim Bodnia, Susan Lynch
Certificate: 15 Running Time: 41-55 Minutes per Episode, 8 Episodes
With the exception of a handful of fondly-recalled classics I grew up with, I've never really been into British TV shows for some reason. For those who don't know me, this is slightly weird as I'm British. I suppose at least part of it is down to the main reason I watch films/shows - escapism. British shows, as good as some of them may be, often just remind me of the kind of stuff I'm trying to 'escape' from, so I usually steer clear just in case. On a different-though-related note, my wife has long been a fan of actress Sandra Oh, whose character she liked in Grey's Anatomy before she eventually got bored of the ultra-long-running show. Since a new show centred around Ms. Oh was nearing release, though, my better half was duly keen on watching it and invited me to join her. Upon doing so, however, I was mildly alarmed to find that it was a British show in which Ms. Oh was seemingly the 'token American' (or Canadian, as the case may be), but I had little choice but to try it anyway.
The show in question is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Killing Eve in which she plays the title character, Eve Polastri, who despite being firmly in possession of a North American accent, was apparently raised in the UK. She now works for MI5 as an investigator - a job she finds unfulfilling. When the sole survivor of an assassination is killed on her watch, however, she and her boss Bill (Haig) finds themselves out of a job, only to almost immediately get hired by Carolyn Martens (Shaw), head of the Russia Section at MI6, who Eve had previously impressed in a meeting.
|Villanelle dresses up for her psychiatric evaluation...|
There isn't really too much of a story here though, to be honest. There is some talk of 'The Twelve', a shady underground group of criminal string-pullers for whom Konstantin (and therefore Villanelle) probably work, and there may be a pattern to the hits, but the show's emphasis is mainly the relationship between Eve and her sociopathic opposite number who quickly develop an interest in each other.
|Kenny shows Elena and Eve what he's found...|
She is young and beautiful, but lacks many social graces and acts more like a child much of the time. She spends her free time entertaining herself on seemingly trivial pursuits, picking up both men and women, and buying expensive and overly elaborate clothes and perfumes. In fact, it's often easy to forget she's a ruthless murdering psychopath, and that's a testament to Phoebe Waller-Bridge's excellent screenplay, but also Comer's exceptional performance.
|Villanelle and Eve, face-to-face at last...|
As entertaining as she and her many faces are, though, this is meant to be Sandra Oh's show, isn't it? That's the impression I had anyway, and I suspect if she were a more egotistical actress (see Julianna Margulies, ref The Good Wife), she might be somewhat put out by Comer's sudden popularity. Indeed, by comparison, Eve is a bit plain and boring - who wouldn't be? She doesn't seem to enjoy her job, nor have many friends to speak of (not that we're shown, anyway).
|Eve and Carolyn survey a troubling sight?|
It would be very unfair to say Jodie Comer makes this show single-handedly - it's of a high standard all round, from the great cast, script, production values, soundtrack (Villanellle even has her own theme tune!), and even the little things like the episode names and the logo with dripping blood - but it is Comer who has earned most of the plaudits, and deservedly so. She's who will be on your mind between episodes of this addictive show, and it's her scenes you'll look forward to the most.
I also have to wonder just how good this show might be without her. As mentioned, there isn't really that much of a 'proper' story, and it's usually hard to know where things are heading. There are a few sub-plots and hints at grander events behind the scenes, but for us it's all about Eve and Villanelle and their growing obsession with each other. Happily, we do have Comer, and thanks to the superb performances of her and Sandra Oh, their obsession quickly becomes our obsession as well.
RKS Score: 9/10