Love It Or Leave It? Review
(Episode 101, “Nice Face”)
April 8, 2018
Killing Eve debuted last night on BBC America and just knocked my socks off. It is funny and sexy and dangerous and most importantly, its a thinking person’s show with involved plot and character design. I want all of those things on my TV all of the time. Love it or leave it? I loved Killing Eve.
Led by a strong cast, but in particular, its three female leads, Eve promises to be a weekly spy adventure in the grand tradition of the good guy chasing the bad guy, EXCEPT its a good woman chasing a bad woman, and maybe the bad woman is not so black and white bad? A 2018 Twist on the spy genre to be sure but also, just as welcomed. Television can only be benefited by having complex women on the screen that don’t wallow in traditional tropes. Killing Eve smashes the traditional idea of the type-cast female in a thriller spy show and puts them front and center.
Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) as the titular Eve and Jodie Comer (star of several UK shows but in America was a lead in the Starz series, The White Princess) as the assassin, Villanelle, crackle when they’re on screen and its hard to take your eyes off of them. Add in the fantastic Fiona Shaw (Americans will know her from her time on True Blood or more obviously as Aunt Petunia from the Harry Potter film series) as the legendary MI-6 operative who will seemingly play an important role in Eve’s life, and you’ve got tremendous women that are hard to ignore.
Killing Eve is brought to TV by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who acts as lead writer, showrunner and is an executive producer) and is based on a series of novels by Luke Jennings which focuses on the assassin, Villanelle, as well as the MI-5 agent that tracks her. I haven’t read them yet but I will because the only thing I like more than a great spy show is a great spy novel! Sold! Also important to note, Killing Eve was renewed for a Season 2 before this pilot episode even aired. BBC America believes in Eve.
There is a hole on Sunday nights at 8pm and my “Hot Take” is that you need to fill it with Killing Eve. If you’re looking for a recap of the first episode, take a gander, after the jump (Beware of Spoilers!)
We open on a beautiful woman eating ice cream in a shop in Vienna. She smiles at a young girl who is also eating ice cream but the girl doesn’t respond. The girl does respond to the smiles from the soda jerk behind the counter while the beautiful woman watches their interaction. Smiling again at the girl, she gets a smile back. Checking the time on her watch – hey is that, blood on your watch beautiful woman? – the beautiful woman gets up to leave and as she passes the young girl, flips her ice cream into her lap. Serve you right for not smiling the first time, brat. Its very funny and also, really mean.
We come back to Sandra Oh screaming, night terror level screams, into her pillow. Meet Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a shleppy MI-5 agent who is hella-bored with her hum drum “assistant to a mid-level MI-5 functionary” lifestyle. Also, she sings a mean karaoke with her boss and loves croissants. Following the Russian assassination, she’s called into work on a Saturday morning and her colleague, Elena (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), gives Eve the lowdown on the murder of a sex trafficking, Russian politician and the participants of the meeting she’s there to attend.
In said meeting, we have Eve’s boss Bill (David Haig), his boss, Frank (Darren Boyd), and a legendary badass from the MI-6 Russia Desk, Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), among others. Eve makes the kind of impression a hungover, shleppy person makes on a Saturday morning after having sung “A Whole New World” with their boss just a few hours before at a karaoke bar. Two important take a ways from the meeting: one, there was no CCTV footage as the murder was done in a “blind spot” and two, Eve has a theory on the murder – that it was a woman who did the deed. After a moment of hesitation, she expresses these thoughts out loud and Martens thanks her for her contribution.
Meet Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the beautiful woman from the cold open who is also a sexy assassin who lives a lonely apartment life in Paris where her best friend appears to be an older Russian gentleman, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) who also acts like her handler. He is there to check on her following the Vienna job but also to give her a new contract – the assassination of one Cesare Greco, a Tuscan man who has the episode’s eponymous “nice face,” at least according to Villanelle. Anyway, she’s on her way to Tuscany.
As part (or all?) of Eve’s job, she is tasked with arranging security and basic necessities for the dead Russian politician’s girlfriend (mistress?), Kasia Molkovska, who was also a witness to the murder. Hearing the witness was still within her grasp, she goes to talk to her but not before Bill, her boss, informs her CCTV camera footage popped up all of a sudden and confirmed it was a man who did the dirty deed (proving her wrong). Bill hasn’t actually seen the CCTV footage himself.
We find Eve with the mistress/witness who is high on heroin and completely unintelligible as she gibberishes on in Polish. Eve takes her leave from the (unauthorized, maybe illegal) interview but not before telling the looped lady, in Polish, to get her ass into bed (Eve’s husband is Polish, she’s picked up some phrases). Undeterred, Eve takes a recording of Kasia’s (that’s the name of the mistress/witness) gibberish to her husband, Niko (Owen McDonnell), and a young man named Dom (Billy Matthews). She has them do an interpretative translation on what Kasia’s saying. Long story short, Kasia is describing the killer as “a small-breasted psycho.”
Checking with Elena at the office, only 3 active assassins under 45, 2 are dead and 1 has “massive pendulous breasts” according to Elena. No one new on the bubble.
Tuscany. Villanelle rides into town on a motorcycle and its really enjoying the Italian countryside as she stalks her prey. After a quick shimmy up a drain pipe of Signore Greco’s home, she spies him playing with some children during his own Wedding Anniversary party; she even smiles a little – its reminiscent of her interaction with the child in the ice cream parlor in the show’s opening scene.
After a quick scene where she needs to stash herself in a suitcase (which we watch her emerge from in an uncut scene just to show that she really did it, Villanelle joins the party … because she’s awesome like that. She watches a scene where Greco dumps a bucket of ice water on his grandson Davide in a playful manner but Davide, who started it, is a jerk and runs off. Villanelle follows him and convinces him to play a trick on his bastard of a grandpa.
When we return from Commercials, she’s gotten Davide to draw his Grandpa into the house and upstairs to a bedroom where Villanelle is waiting (she’s locked Davide in a bathroom). She introduces herself as Syliviana Morel. If Signore Greco is concerned about a beautiful woman waiting for him, a woman who admits to having locked his grandson in a bathroom, he doesn’t show it. Honestly, if I found Villanelle waiting for me in a bedroom, I don’t know if I’d ask a lot of questions. She closes the door and wishes Signore Greco a Happy Anniversary. He thinks she may be his “gift” and goes in with his gross, old Italian man moves but is rewarded with Villanelle plunging a syringe into his eye ball. As he twitches and spasms to death, she writes down the name of the designer (Liliana Rizzari) of a silk throw on the bed – Greco gave her the name when he first entered the room. Greco, in his old man horny ways, really handled this whole situation wrong.
Anyway, Villanelle applies some pressure to Greco’s temples which acts as a sort of finishing move on him. After he drops completely dead to the floor, she looks all sorts of elated and satiated, almost like it was a sexual release. Its very hot; she’s very hot. And definitely a pschypath, in like a clinical sense. She leaves the room and poor Davide breaks out of the bathroom somehow to find his dead Nonno. Maybe you won’t be a jerk next time, Davide.
We rejoin Eve who now at home, trying to imagine the small incision to the femoral artery that would cause the massive bleedout that the Russian politician suffered; she’s also nicked her thigh with a giant knife. Niko comes in to tell her dinner is ready and they get into an overly detailed conversation about how she would kill him in the perfect crime. But enough of that, dinner time! These two – they clearly love each other and its so bizarre and romantic and I love their chemistry. Later that night in bed, the offer of sex is waylaid by her thoughts that someone is lying about the CCTV footage and the more general thought of how she should have been a spy and not just a support role. Also, she’d like Dom’s number. Commercials.
When we return, Konstantin wakes Villanelle and her two bedmates (a boy and a girl) and has her excuse her “guests.” Alone, he catches her up that while the murder of the Russian politician was great, the fact that the Polish girlfriend was allowed to live and is now about to testify as to what she witnessed in London = not great. He gives her a train ticket and warns her to be tidy and careful; she swears they won’t catch her. But they might he insists. Also, the hair pin MO she’s been rocking has been noticed in the press so make it look like a suicide.
Back at MI-5, Eve lets loose on Bill over lunch that someone is lying about there being CCTV footage and that it only came up after she suggested it might have been a woman assassin. She’s also maybe accusing Bill of being lazy. Also, maybe “they” are in on it. The “they” is unclear; she’s admits she’s not worked it all through but she’s convinced something weird is going on (Eve has also connected the Russian job with a Tuscany murder and some others from the recent past). Bill advises her to do her job, to not go rogue, to go home and to not be weird.
So, instead of taking his advice, she heads to the hospital with Dom, trying to pass him off as a relative of Kasia’s so she can get a moment to speak to Kasia before she is shipped off to some black hole. But first, a potty break. In the bathroom, Villanelle comes out of a stall as Eve is trying to do something with her hair. She’s taken by Eve and as she leaves, advises Eve to wear her hair down. For her part, Eve is just slightly weirded out by the weird nurse who is staring at her (Villanelle is dressed a nurse). After deciding to keep it down, Eve sits down on a toilet where she takes a call from Bill as she pees. He is calling to reluctantly tell her she was right; there was no CCTV footage. “Keep that girl safe” is his message before ringing off. Commercials.
When we return, Eve finds a blood bath in Kasia’s room with the 2 armed guards and the nurse having been killed in a very bloody manner and Kasia in the final moments of bleeding out. Eve whispers “Bedzie Dobrze” (roughly from the Polish: “It’ll be okay”) to her as she watches the life leave Kasia’s eyes. In this room of horror, Eve is at least buoyed by the fact that Dom apparently had stepped away when this all happened so he remains unhurt.
We cut to Bill trying to convince a bloodied and shaken Eve that she did the right thing in her job and that she’s brilliant. But also? Don’t tell them “everything” because she’ll sound “like a nutter.” Frank, the MI-5 boss from earlier in the episode and Carolyn Martens, also from the beginning of the episode, enter the room. Frank immediately gets to the blaming part of his speech but Eve is in no mood and tells him to piss off. His monotoned self is offended but she just wants to know what she needs to do next. Eve thinks the important thing is she was right but Frank cuts her off because he thinks the more important take away for Eve is that because she was distracted with her “illegal investigation,” four people are dead and its all Eve’s fault.
Right about what, Martens says? Eve mentions Kasia’s description of the flat chested psycho and Frank is very curious how she knows any of that? Well, she’s already deep in it so Eve admits to secretly recording the interview with Kasia, and playing it for Dom and Niko to translate. “You’re fired,” is Frank’s immediate response and Eve fires back that he’s a dick swab. Bill chimes in, because he wanted to call Frank a dick swab and now, he’s fired too.
Later that night, Niko and Eve are interrupted by the door bell. Eve finds Carolyn Martens on her doorstep, who invites her to do some late night grocery shopping. The walk is casual enough and we learn Carolyn has been married a few times. In the grocery store, Martens spills the beans that they think their mystery female assassin has been working for 2 years across 10 countries, she’s highly skilled and now, is starting to show off. Carolyn wants to buy Eve breakfast at the Purple Penguin Restaurant by Charing Cross on Thursday at 9am; she’ll wait 10 minutes. That business done, Carolyn tells Eve to buy some milk or else Niko will think she’s having an affair. Eve says offhandedly that Niko would definitely think she was a secret agent before thinking she was having an affair.
“You may want him to think you’re having an affair then,” Martens replies before reminding her about Thursday. I think … I think that was a job offer?!?
The episode ends on Villanelle spreading out her new silk throw on her bed and picking up a postcard from Bulgaria and looking … thoughtful. I wonder if she’s thinking through the ramifications of not having made Kasia’s death look like a suicide – like the exact opposite of a suicide in fact.
3 thoughts on “TV Recap: Killing Eve – Love It Or Leave It?”
I’ve watched all episodes- Will there be more.
I didn’t want Konstantin to die, bring him back,
Yes! The show was renewed for Season 2 before it even premiered so more KE is coming!! I liked Konstantin too. Great show, can’t wait to see more!
Very nice article, just what I was looking for.