‘Killing Eve’ EP Emerald Fennell Teases Season 2 Will Explore Addiction & Obsession
“You should never tell a psychopath they’re a psychopath — it upsets them.” So deadpanned the disturbingly likable assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) to dogged intelligence agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) in the breakout first season of Killing Eve.
To recap the darkly comic thriller: In a global game of cat and mouse, the women raced through London, Paris and Moscow as they obsessed over outsmarting — and impressing — the other. Disheveled brainiac Eve, a people-pleasing bureaucrat until she was recruited by MI6 bigwig Carolyn Martins (Fiona Shaw), initiated the chase. Then a flattered and fascinated Villanelle began to stalk Eve. An element of sexual attraction pervaded Season 1, which ended as Eve pretended to seduce Villanelle but stabbed her instead. Instantly regretful, Eve ran for bandages while her victim fired a few shots (she missed) before escaping.
When the wildly popular series returns, it will dive into the dire consequences of that twist of the knife. “One of the biggest questions for Season 2 is: How does someone get back from an act like that?” says new executive producer Emerald Fennell. “We are so used to seeing violence that we forget just how truly harrowing it would feel to push a knife into someone’s body. Or to have a knife pushed into you in a moment of total trust and vulnerability. We wanted to give that incredible moment the fallout it deserved.”
Fennell, a writer and actress (PBS’s Call the Midwife), took the reins from friend Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who created Killing Eve based on a novel by Luke Jennings. (Waller-Bridge needed to return to work on a second round of her acclaimed comedy Fleabag.) “Phoebe and I talked a lot about compulsiveness, addiction, obsession and how those things manifest themselves when you’re a woman,” Fennell says.
How Eve and Villanelle’s fixation manifested itself gave viewers one of the strangest scenes of Season 1. Villanelle, teasing Eve, had sent her luxury clothes and perfume — and one night, in a misguided attempt to understand her quarry, Eve slipped on a designer dress from the trove. Then her homicidal benefactor broke in! The shocked “hostess” begged not be killed, and her “guest” asked for help changing her career path (manipulation?), saying, “[You’ll] probably find we work for the same people.”
She may have been right. Eve’s formidable boss, Carolyn, is also an old friend and lover of Villanelle’s handler, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia). In the penultimate episode, Eve became suspicious that Carolyn might be part of “The Twelve,” the mysterious group ordering the string of assassinations. “Carolyn is in the job of betrayal,” Shaw says. “It’s such a weird landscape, such a tightrope they’re on. They trust each other and don’t trust each other at the same time. Part of the charm of the series is that you can see people’s excitement about the enemy. [In Season 2], Carolyn is much more in charge and probably much more wary of Eve.”
And if the characters are excited about one another, fans are even more excited about Eve. Paparazzi stalked the set in London and Rome, snapping Comer in a striking red dress (great for hiding blood spatter) as well as Bodnia, whose character was thought to be dead. Shaw, a respected stage actress (not to mention Petunia Dursley from the Harry Potter films), draws stares on the street. “It is surreal how popular the show has been,” she notes. “It’s been great fun having people intrigued by the trio of women: the good one, the bad one and the boss.”
When the three meet again, they will see, hear and speak plenty of evil. “Phoebe and I also discussed Milton’s Paradise Lost,” Fennell says, “and how the Devil is such a finely drawn and seductive character in that story.”
Killing Eve, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday, April 7, 8/7c, BBC America