Sunday, October 14, 2018

The hitwoman and her

After eight brilliant, edge-of-your-seat episodes, Killing Eve concluded rather abruptly - so it's reassuring to know that it'll be back on the BBC for a second series. And presumably on terrestrial TV, too - why it started out on BBC Three remains baffling.

Aware that it was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of Fleabag fame) and on the recommendation of several friends, we sat down to watch the first episode of the first series a couple of weeks ago. Four and a half hours later, we were six episodes in, it was half one in the morning and reluctantly we just had to call it a night. The final two episodes were duly polished off the following day. When Caitlin Moran observed that it was "straight up the best thing in YEARS" and that as a result she was "inhaling it like TV cake", I knew exactly what she meant.

Take a superb script (based on the Codename Villanelle novels by Luke Jennings), an excellent cast (most prominently Sandra Oh as detective Eve and Jodie Comer as psychopathic hitwoman Villanelle) and plot twists and turns aplenty and you have a smart, stylish thriller that feels fresh for upending tired old cliches and somehow avoids taking itself too seriously while ratcheting up the tension and intrigue with every passing scene.

The beauty of this portrait of mutual obsession is often in the detail: the opening scene, which sees Villanelle ruining a young girl's day; the much-celebrated line about a rat drinking from a Coke can; the way Villanelle makes a point of taking the name of the person who designed one victim's throw before killing him; the cut shot from a reference to castration to some sausages sizzling in a pan; Frank Haleton (Darren Boyd) desperately seeking brown sauce and over-eagerly eating hot chips when Eve is trying to get a confession out of him.

I won't pretend to understand all of the various characters' machinations, but thus far have just been content to sit back and enjoy the ride - something, thankfully, that I'll continue to be able to do on the Beeb.

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