This Killing Eve review contains spoilers.
Killing Even Season 2 Episode 1
Killing Eve has done a rare thing. Well, many rare things: create a spy show that is not only bereft of female subjugation that typifies the genre, but is in fact from the female gaze, in so many ways. It’s queer, it’s written by women, it’s a star vehicle for a woman of color who breaks so many barriers. And it never once feels like homework or vegetables. Instead it’s sinuous and clever, off-kilter and magnetic, peak TV yet somehow unlike anything else so masculine and straightforward and boring on #PeakTV. Its first season grew in viewership from episode to episode, and then in the hiatus it grew in critical acclaim and in serious hardware as it racked up just about every conceivable award.
And now it’s back, doing yet another inconceivable thing: airing a sophomore season that lives up to the considerable hype.
Blood on the bannister, that awesome hair out, and the knife – still bloody – in her hand. The old soundtrack we love, all breathy French and moody pop, still thumps behind the incongruousness of Eve saying, “I think I might have killed her,” in front of a couple who has just gotten engaged. A tuft of that pink dress wisps out of a black trash bag. Villanelle’s glamorous old life is being packed away, cleaned up, as it were. We all know the language of spy movies. If you were worried Killing Eve couldn’t still slap, move along.
There’s a bit of transference in this premiere, carrying over from the events of last season’s finale, and I’m eager to see how it might continue throughout the season. Villanelle used to be the one in control, the violent one, the one obsessed with food. After all it, was she who ate ice cream and inappropriately reacted to a child in the series premiere, in a mirror to Eve slapping a child’s hand when she goes for Eve’s morsel of sugary candy. But in this episode there’s more than a bit of madness to Eve, the result of taking on some of Villanelle’s qualities when she stabbed her.
We watch Eve wrap that switchblade up like a tampon in the train station bathroom and stuff it where tampons go. How many women have done this exact move a million times before? A similar scene played out a very different way on Atlanta when Donald Glover’s character found a gun he had forgotten about in his own pocket. He instinctively knew he couldn’t simply dash away from the line, and had to find an alternate means to dispose of it. Over and over, Killing Eve makes expert use of dialing up and down the meekness of certain women.
Eve cutting carrots to Kids in America has shades of Cristina Yang cutting up cadavers to Like a Virgin and I love it. I hope her marriage remains prominent, one way or another. Her charming husband is one of the few grounding forces in a show that is increasingly frenetic, and both Eve and Killing Eve need him to balance everything out. Meanwhile, Eve in the bath simultaneously calls to mind Glenn Close crying for her lover in The Big Chill and Lady MacBeth trying to wash herself free of blood. That, to me, is the crux of the Eve/Villanelle relationship. These scenes at home – which some would call quotidian – are so essential that I can’t believe spy dramas exist without them.
Killing Eve plays with gender so deftly it’s easy to think they’re not even trying. There’s the obvious stuff, like when Carolyn calls Eve out around being a reluctant ingenue or they discuss male pedicures and how a woman could get close to kill a man – season 1 stuff. They could do it in their sleep.
But there’s the lighter touch. When Villanelle and Gabrielle talk about her injury, he says, “women don’t stab,” and we all instantly know it’s sort of true. When Villanelle goes skulking around for money she’s more suspicious because an adult woman with a mark on her face is always going to be treated with a certain removed delicacy, because everyone’s afraid it means what they think it means, yet no one wants to say. And of course, no one can possibly imagine how else it could happen, because women don’t engage in other activities. To show a young woman in a lab count arouses suspicion, of course, and they don’t pretend it doesn’t. And then there’s Carolyn and Oliver, a completely random child she doesn’t know, but we assume she does and she’s safe because she’s a grandmotherly type. I adore how the writers toy with us.
Villanelle knows that appearances are everything. First, she steals a jacket. Then, she tries to make someone think they injured her, by diving in front of a car. Once she’s in the hospital, she turns on the domestic violence song and dance – not a thing I say lightly, and she knows it. She turns it to high effect on both Gabriel and the audience. And finally, she uses it to find her way out of the hospital. We’ll see more of this in the next episode, but her manipulator skills are never more in tune than in a crisis and it’s masterful.
Villanelle knows how to lull us into trusting her. She forms what seems like a bond with Gabriel before abruptly killing him. It’s not the first time we’ve watched her do this. I love Killing Eve for never letting us forget that she is cold-blooded as hell. For not letting her become Klaus or Loki or even Ted Bundy, one of those warm and fuzzy killers. If you love Villanelle, you do so in spite of Killing Eve’s best efforts. You can try to tell yourself she did him a favor, but that’s bullshit. He may have lost his parents, but there’s more to life than parents. He must have had friends, teachers, cousins.
But then we see Eve get the opportunity to come clean to her boss and her husband and walk right past it. Yeah, she’s not a murderer, but she’s not okay, either. As Villanelle said, “You can see scary people a mile away, it’s the good people you have to worry about.”
The most important question: how will Villanelle stay glamorous without her wardrobe? Those crocs seemed to cause her physical pain
Villanelle refers to her girlfriend in London, and the internet goes wild
In a way, Villanelle is right. I don’t even think Eve knows why she stabbed Villanelle
I’d like to think that Eve putting on lotion is a self-aware shout-out to the TV trope Ladies who Lotion.
“What’s her flat like?” “Chic as shit.”
There’s something enjoyable about watching Eve lie to Carolyn when Carolyn clearly knows it.
I need to know more about the woman ME. Does Carolyn just have a cadre of powerful women around?
I love the realness that they ate burgers and soda.
“She could have been in England a couple months ago and lord knows she loves a costume.”