Perhaps the worst thing I can say about Killing Eve is that you have to navigate ABC iView to watch it.
The cat-and-mouse spy thriller, starring Sandra Oh as an MI5 researcher as she follows the trail of psychotic assassin Jodie Comer, dropped on iView earlier this year. It’s not only one of the best shows I’ve seen in years, but one of the few shows this year that’s been so good that I’ve dropped other games/movies/TV series to binge straight away.
The series, which runs for eight hour-long episodes, starts with Villanelle (Jodie Comer) shortly after a crafty assassination of a sex trafficking politician. After leaving the girlfriend of the deceased behind, Eve (Sandra Oh) goes behind her boss to conduct an unauthorised interview. That results in her crossing paths with Villanelle for the first time, prompting an investigation that develops into a two-way obsession between the MI5 agent and the assassin.
What’s gripping to watch about Killing Eve is that it’s well paced, exceptionally well cut, and surprisingly funny. That’s not a surprise given the showrunner and main writer is Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the comedian and creator of Fleabag, the BBC/Amazon spin-off of the solo play Waller-Bridge debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Villanelle does a great job at making you sympathise with a psychopath, through her creative methods, dry wit and total irreverence for authority. Her relationship with her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) is laced with plenty of dark humour as well: in the pair’s first meeting, Eve pours out a bunch of pills on a table and lies flat on a couch, pretending to have overdosed.
Eve’s humour is a little more British, which is odd for an actress who’s last major role was Grey’s Anatomy. You also don’t see many thrillers centred around 46-year-old actresses of colour, although that never becomes a focal point. Eve stands out because she’s insightful in a way her colleagues aren’t, even though she’s completely outmatched by Villanelle’s physically, and jovially unfamiliar with the machinations of field work. Villanelle, meanwhile, has a lethal creativity that makes her too good not to hire, even though her increasing boredom and psychopathy put her at odds with her shadowy employers.
An allure develops between Eve and Villanelle as well, and while that adds an extra layer of intrigue in the second half of the series Killing Eve never abandons its core hook: a buddy comedy where the two leads happen to be a psychopath and a spook. It’s structurally similar to other spy thrillers, but it’s packaged with a fantastic soundtrack, and the pacing is consistently snappy from the first episode to the last.
But more than anything else, you’ll want to watch Killing Eve because it’s just a funny, spy thriller. Australians can watch the lot on ABC iView for free here, which is a hell of a lot easier to navigate on desktop than the iView app on your TV or console.