If you’ve been harboring any fears about the future of Killing Eve in the hands of a new showrunner, you can put them to rest. Busy with other projects (including the critically-acclaimed Fleabag), show creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge left Eve in the capable hands of her pal, actress-writer Emerald Fennell, who keeps up the series’ killer streak. The second season of BBC America’s darkly comic spy thriller packs just as effective a punch as the first; picking up 30 seconds after the first season’s conclusion, the premiere wastes no time throwing us right back into the action - and dropping hints that there may be another bloodthirsty broad in our midst.
Recently stabbed by the object of her obsession, our flamboyant assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer, who was criminally overlooked last awards season) spends much of the season premiere licking her wounds in a French hospital. Despite being on the brink of death, Villanelle is delighted by this scar in the making, as if she now possesses tangible proof of Eve’s feelings for her. Her hospital roommate, a young boy named Gabriel, is confused when Villanelle tells him her “girlfriend” is responsible for the hole in her stomach – and that it’s a token of her affection. “Women don’t stab,” he says, with total conviction. Clearly, Gabriel has never seen Killing Eve.
The stabber in question, MI5 officer Eve Polastri (the magnificent Sandra Oh), isn’t sure if Villanelle is alive, dead, or coming to get her. (She also doesn’t seem to be sure which one she hopes is true). Oh plays this strange post-trauma period beautifully, totally solidifying why she stole critics’ hearts and took home a trophy or two last year. But even with this one-of-a-kind relationship still in the mix, it turns out that Villanelle isn’t the only female assassin Eve has to worry about.
Brought back into the fold by Carolyn (the delightfully deadpan Fiona Shaw) to investigate who is responsible for the death of yet another powerful man, Eve soon figures out that it’s not Villanelle’s handiwork – there’s another woman carrying out these assassinations. And she’s a lot more discreet than our ostentatious friend Villanelle. We may not know what she looks like just yet, because her power lies in her anonymity, but we do know that she’ll be a helluva lot harder to trace than killers past. If Villanelle’s style is as subtle as a Broadway musical, this new fatal female is a wallflower at a middle school dance. She has no interest in a standing ovation – and that might make her more dangerous than Villanelle ever was.
On any other series, throwing a new female killer into the mix might seem like a risk (because, like, really? There’s another one?), but Killing Eve is so damn good that it doesn’t matter. There isn’t a single other show on television that blends macabre comedy and chilling violence as deftly as this one does. It’s distinctly feminine in tone, a breath of fresh air that usually places men in the roles of the investigators and women as the victims. On Killing Eve, women get shit done. They kill the men who would keep them captive, slap candy and ice cream out of the hands of children, and survive on mere minutes of sleep. They cringe at the notion of donning Crocs, put that sexy blue dress in their online shopping cart, wear moisturizers made from pig placenta, and make filthy jokes to people they’ve just met. On Killing Eve, women don’t faint when they examine bodies – they crave cheeseburgers.
Will this new lethal lady create a toxic love triangle? Can this killer game of cat-and-mouse go on forever? Only time will tell. We know for certain, however, that Oh and Comer are still at the top of their respective games – who else can make you giggle and send shivers down your spine in a matter of seconds? If the first two episodes are any indication of the season ahead, Killing Eve’s knack for subverting stereotypes and clichés with its wicked sense of humor and refreshingly feminine storytelling will continue to slay us in ways we never see coming.
Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. She was previously a reporter/producer at Decider and is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.