Killing Eve (2019)

Killing Eve (BBC One / iPlayer)

Who couldn’t love Killing Eve? Like millions of others, I devoured every outrageous twist and turn of BBC America’s witty, stylish, bonkers black comedy thriller. But was its tally of fourteen Bafta nominations (including five wins) perhaps a little OTT for a show with such a tenuous grip on reality?

The much-anticipated second series picked up 30 seconds after the end of the previous one when, you will recall, loopy assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) had just been stabbed in the stomach by MI6 agent Eve (Sandra Oh). Having dragged herself across Paris to hospital, Villanelle explained to the 12-year-old car crash survivor in the next bed that, ‘She did it to show how much she cares about me’. ‘That’s stupid,’ said the boy. ‘No it isn’t,’ protested Villanelle. Actually, it is stupid, but you surrender to the wonky logic because the love-hate, cat-and-mouse dynamic between the two protagonists is the engine that drives the show.

Both leads continue to delight, with Comer all rolling eyes and sulky pouts as the ruthless but childlike killer. ‘You’re funny,’ said the kid in the hospital. ‘Yes,’ she deadpanned. ‘I am funny.’ Then she twisted his neck – a mercy killing, of sorts, but one you suspect she still enjoyed – and fled in his tiny pyjamas, ending up in a supermarket in Basildon. (It’s not all glamour being an international assassin, you know.)

Eve, meanwhile, was in more shock than her victim. Never the slickest of spooks, she almost strolled through customs with the bloody knife, while her increasingly manic attempts to appear normal included cooking Nigella’s Rosemary Chicken, minus the chicken.

For this series, Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been replaced as head writer by Emerald Fennell (aka Call the Midwife’s Nurse Patsy), who’s almost as posh and, on the evidence so far, just as annoyingly good.

It’s all quite demented, of course. And sometimes you worry it glories in its shocking violence almost as much as its psychotic anti-hero. But it’s done with such irresistible brio, you’ll want to clear a space to binge on all eight episodes (on iPlayer now).



TV extra:

 

Black Mirror (Netflix)

Landing as part of three new Black Mirror films, Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too found Charlie Brooker sugaring his usual dystopian tech nightmare shtick with a dose of goofy, John Hughes-style weird science in the tale of a smart speaker with the mind of Miley Cyrus (or someone very much like her). The former Hannah Montana was inspired meta-casting as a manipulated pop puppet – but does the shamelessly feelgood Hollywood ending suggest TV’s grumpiest misanthrope is going soft on us?

 

Chernobyl (Sky Atlantic)

We TV critics have to carefully ration phrases like ‘all-time great’, lest they become devalued by overuse. But I genuinely think Chernobyl, which concluded last week, is one of the most astonishing pieces of television ever made. A terrifyingly immersive descent into hell – physical, personal and political – it was often unbearable to watch, but impossible to look away from; a masterpiece that now haunts my waking dreams.


Published in Waitrose Weekend, June 13, 2019

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