Since BBC Three became digital, it has attracted a much wider audience beyond fans of Family Guy re-runs and Don’t Tell the Bride. They’ve begun producing a wide variety of original content, exclusive to their digital platform and, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed what’s been produced. However, the most recent addition to BBCiPlayer, Killing Eve, wasn’t quite at the level I expected from the channel. Phoebe Waller-Bridge has impressed me in the past with her writing and acting ability. Fleabag was an enjoyable watch, (wasn’t my favourite show but I would certainly recommend it) alongside her performances in How Not to Live your Life and Broadchurch. I had high expectations for Killing Eve, however I can’t say I’ll have them again.
The show describes itself as being the story of “Two women who go head to head in an epic game of cat and mouse” and, I’ll admit, that is what the show delivers. The first episode, Nice Face, does certainly exceed the adjective “Nice” (at least visually), with its artsy shots of Paris, and a more than enticing introduction to the “adorable, playful, funny and frightening” antagonist Villanelle, set in an ice-cream parlour which provided the perfect juxtaposition to her cool, devious character. The ever-unpredictable stylish psychopathic is played by the beautiful Jodie Comer. It was her performance for the most part that kept me watching. I find Villanelle to be genuinely surprising, rarely acting according to her established character, whilst her counterpart Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), misses the mark when it comes to unpredictability, or even intrigue.
“I found more development in Eve’s sense of dress than I did her.”
For the most part, Eve wears brown, comfortable clothing and behaves like your run of the mill MI5 security officer (not that I know any personally). As her relationship develops with Villanelle, you would assume her personality would go through some kind of transformation as well, yet I found more development in Eve’s sense of dress than I did her. Eve Polastri’s actions, intended to reflect her growth in confidence in her job alongside the breakdown in her marriage, come across as those carried out by a woman in a midlife crisis.
The best example of this forced excitement comes in the final episode, which in my opinion is definitely the weakest. After 8 episodes of a mildly interesting chase, Eve finds Villanelle’s home in Paris and, whilst she waits for her to return, drinks Villanelle’s champagne as she smashes up her flat. Why? Maybe because this woman has killed her friends, peers and countless others. No, Waller-Bridge ties together a weak homo-romantic arc scattered through the series by implying Eve is now a jilted lover of Villanelle, all because of a few gifts and a reheated moussaka. Upon Villanelle’s return, the two women discuss how they want to “watch movies together” as if any kind of romantic relationship had been well established over the course of the series. There had been a weak attempt to imply that Villanelle’s cunning and wit had won over not only Eve, but her University tutor, however it was weak to the point that, in having Eve fall head over heels for her supposed nemesis only made out Eve to be more psychotic than her counterpart, ignoring all the misery and death Villanelle had caused in the hopes of possibly gaining a notorious bisexual lover.
I did see potential in Killing Eve; an interesting premise alongside strong cinematography does feel like it should be a winning combination, but it was the writing that let the whole thing down. It seems like a drama set in Britain with characters that interact like it’s an American soap opera. At times the “work office banter” feels like teenagers in a High-School drama written by people that haven’t been to school in 10 years. On top of that, having a protagonist like Eve who behaves like she’s 16 with no real consequence is just ridiculous. I feel like grabbing her and yelling “your actions could affect the safety of the country you work so hard to protect!” because as a security officer, Britain’s security seems to come after the promise of a homo-romantic escapade.
The best way I can suggest watching Killing Eve is on mute. Enjoy a beautiful show without the infuriating story. BBC Three has done drama well in the past. In the Flesh is on iPlayer and is a well-made drama that has well-presented homo-romantic relationships, zombies and, to be honest, I think BBC Three would have done better investing the Killing Eve budget into a new series of that. I can’t imagine it would have compared to the salary of casting Grey’s Anatomy actress Sandra Oh. It’s a shame to see such a show come from a channel that is one of the last solely for young adults. I wish they would remember that and stop trying to be something they’re not.