Deputy Editor Kat Smith reviews Vox Media's Explained and praises its short, snappy episodes for educating viewers on complex topicsWritten by Kat Smith on 24th September 2018
Review: Killing Eve
TV Editor Morgana Chess gives her thoughts on why Killing Eve, the BBC's new spy drama, is rightfully taking the world by storm
Killing Eve has been making waves across continents and the internet and, after a swift binge on BBC iPlayer, it’s easy to see why; this show is bloody brilliant. Stemming from the talented pen of Phoebe Waller-Bridge (screenwriter of Fleabag) and inspired by Luke Jennings’ original novels, the television series was first released in America and has now hit the UK to rave reviews. It follows the story of MI5 officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) who becomes tasked with tracking down Villanelle (Jodie Comer), a doll-faced yet psychopathic assassin who is leaving a string of dead bodies across the globe.
The two women become entrapped in a cat-and-mouse chase as they undertake their separate missions but at the same time develop a fascination, and almost respect, for one another. The viewer will struggle with their loyalties as Villanelle’s personality is as compelling as it is psychopathic; she especially enjoys killing targets who have asthma- ‘you know I like the breathy ones’-at the same time as she starts to reveal a more vulnerable underside. The viewer wants to figure her out just as much as Eve does.
“The humour never detracts from the tragedy of events, and instead they work together with the harmony of peanut butter and jam
The casting of the two protagonists is perfect and the spy plot itself is thrilling, whilst the script literally crackles with wit. To give an example, within the space of a minute we go from gruesome murder scene to people calling each other ‘dickswabs’. But the humour never detracts from the tragedy of events, and instead they work together with the harmony of peanut butter and jam.
Killing Eve subverts spy movie clichés through not hiding from them but updating them. Villanelle’s international murder spree features her killing someone with her hairpin and hiding in a suitcase, whilst Eve works an office job and has relatable conversations with her husband (Her: ‘Do you want to have sex?’ Him: ‘Sure…’, followed by ‘I'm actually knackered’ and her relieved ‘Oh, good!’). The plot doesn’t fall into the simple hero/villain dynamic of exotic assassin and plucky underdog; Waller-Bridge dishes humour and character equally to both sides, and the supporting cast are fantastic too. Eve’s colleague Bill is particularly funny, and you can expect some brilliant one-liners from the secret-agent boss (recognised by most of us as Petunia Dursley).
“Think Sherlock’s clever plotting and British humour merged with the awesome female ensemble of Orphan Black
With its predominantly female cast, the series also certainly passes the Bechdel test, but its brand of feminism doesn’t yell ‘down with patriarchy’; Eve isn’t complaining about sexist bosses in MI5 and Villanelle doesn’t use seduction to murder her targets. The characters are nuanced and the events flow naturally, without an agenda, making Killing Eve a refreshing and easy watch to sink into. Think Sherlock’s clever plotting and British humour merged with the awesome female ensemble of Orphan Black. Waller-Bridge has conjured up the perfect spy thriller that will keep you clicking ‘Next Episode’ on BBC iPlayer where the whole first series is available to watch (they are filming for the second series now). Avoid Twitter to avoid spoilers because Killing Eve is killing it.