rashbre central: Killing Eve - no fleas on this spy enigma

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Killing Eve - no fleas on this spy enigma

Okay, I'll admit that I've watched the whole of Fleabag twice. That's the series written by, and starring, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a London woman running an off-kilter singles life and struggling at every turn.

A clever script and continuous breaking of the fourth wall to talk directly to the viewers. Uninhibited, with great characters and an interesting storyline, and a particular eye for detail. A favourite refrain for me is about "London Prices" which crops up every time anyone wants to buy anything in the cafe run by the lead.

I was quite intrigued when I saw the trailers for Killing Eve, a spy genre thriller, completely at odds with the styling of Fleabag. I couldn't wait to see what Phoebe Waller-Bridge would do with this very different kind of series.

And relax. It's been twistedly good.

There's Eve (Sandra Oh) who is a bored, intelligent, pay-grade MI5 security officer whose desk-bound job doesn't fulfil her fantasies of being a spy.

And then Villanelle (Jodie Comer) as a mercurial, talented psychopathic killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her.

Killing Eve breaks the typical spy-action thriller as these two equally obsessed women lock in an epic game of cat and mouse across Europe.

I've watched the whole series which features complicated Russian doll style plot unpacking as well as the enigma of the lead assassin who, with some fascination, sees off various victims. There are some real "Whoa." moments in it.

Subconsciously I also noticed Fleabag type detailing. It is there - right through to the inexplicably messy rooms (we know why). Indeed, one of the characters could almost be a grown-up version of Fleabag (I won't say which). There's a couple of episodes in the middle which suffer from exposition overload and clunkiness, but in general the whole story cracks along with a different eye from many conventional spy genre thrillers.

Actually, I've checked IMDB and it turns out that the middle section was written other people. I'm guessing the BBC America producers wanted to turn it from a UK style 3-4 parter into something more box-settian. Notably, the lurches into by-the-numbers story-telling are in the outsourced chunks and illustrates the need for show-runner thinking.

But the (no spoilers here) ending has plenty of hooks for a next series. Oh yes. Please.

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