Sunday evening BBC America wrapped up the stellar first season of spy-thriller comedy Killing Eve. Starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, the cat-and-mouse caper follows a British Intelligence agent become obsessed with an elusive female assassin. Beneath the comedic thrills and fatal chills, is a stronger narrative of two women looking for freedom.
Oh is fantastic as Eve Polastri – a British agent who’s mundane existence is freakishly enlightened by a superb assassin’s killing spree. When her gut instincts cost the investigation its key witness, she is relieved of her duties. However when she’s recruited for a rogue investigation on the case, her fixation on the alleged perpetrator grows.
Jodie Comer gives a nuanced performance as the sadistically violent Villanelle. She’s incredibly good at what she does – murdering human targets for a secret entity known as The Twelve. But underneath the femme fatale is a precocious, misunderstood woman who’s early trauma wrought a need for normalcy beyond her mental disorder. Comer instills fear in viewers, while simultaneously earning our sympathy.
As Eve and Villanelle are on opposite sides of the law, a certain magnetism pulls them together. This love/hate relationship between hero and foe has been done before, but it’s refreshing to see in two female leads. It’s a chemistry that explores sexuality and the restraints of gender roles.
For instance, Oh’s Eve is married; but, it seems more out of convenience than actual love. She’s more emotionally invested in her relationship with her partner, played by David Haig. We get a similar nod on marriage with Haig’s character, as he and his wife live happily with child. But he’s openly fluid with his sexuality, having romanced both men and women. It’s a show set in the now, for the future.
With Comer’s Villanelle we have a woman who is independent in what she wants, and when she wants it. Cold and calculating, arrogant and unashamed. She lives unbound. In a way it’s this freedom Eve is drawn to, while Villanelle yearns for the normalcy Eve enjoys. She’s also quite fond of Eve, which makes her something she isn’t used to being: vulnerable.
Not only does the series look to avoid societal mores on sexuality, it embraces the world’s real life setting of diversity. Oh being an Asian American female lead is practically unheard of on TV anywhere these days. And playing supporting cast for most of her career, Oh was genuinely shocked they wanted her as the protagonist.
The most known unknown secret to success has always been inclusion. And one doesn’t need anymore proof than this brilliant new series that’s already been renewed for a second season. If you missed Killing Eve, catch it the entire season on BBC America’s on demand. Or better yet purchase it wherever digital or DVDs are sold.