‘Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer & More Tease ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Unexpected’ Season 2
Having been everywhere from Paris, London and Berlin to Crazytown, the delightfully twisted globe-trotting drama Killing Eve enters new territory in Season 2. And the thrill ride starts just 30 seconds after the stunning knife-in-the-gut finale scene that left viewers hanging for 10 months.
Brainy intelligence agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) has stabbed flamboyant psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and they flee in opposite directions through Paris — but their compulsion to outfox and impress each other will soon put them back on a path of mutual pursuit.
“When Eve pulled out the knife, she crossed a line, and this season in relationship to Villanelle, the line keeps moving and Eve keeps crossing it,” says Oh, who made history in the role as the first Asian-American woman to receive an Emmy nod for lead actress. “Her fear and anxiety continue, but she can’t help but [keep] going down that road. Her journey is extremely dark.”
Eve, who suspects she may have killed Villanelle, returns, deeply shaken, to her safe married life in London. Although last season she was fired by her MI6 boss, eminently practical Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), she’s soon rehired. Eve is still suspicious that Carolyn has a connection to a shadowy group known as the Twelve, part of a faceless organization giving Villanelle her hit list. (“I know what I think about Carolyn,” Shaw says. “But I’m holding my cards close to my chest.”)
Meanwhile, “Villanelle is in new terrain: being helpless and completely out of control,” Comer says. First off, the usually glam, couture-clad killer is wounded, scratched up and reduced to wearing castoffs. “I love the beaten-up-ness. I feel more comfortable when my character looks like a monster,” Comer says. One scene in the premiere has Villanelle in kiddie superhero pajamas. Another has her step into Crocs, and she winces more at that crime against fashion than she ever did when committing crimes against humankind.
She also has to slum it for help, relying on the kindness of a stranger (Sally4Ever’s Julian Barratt) who is not exactly on her sophistication level. But even he has the potential to be a threat.
“We have some really dangerous stuff,” says new exec producer Emerald Fennell, also an actress (Call the Midwife). She took over lead writer duties from her friend Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who had to resume work on her dark comedy Fleabag. “This season is more unexpected. It’s never quite going in the direction you think. We’re keeping the threat Phoebe set up but drilling down into the stuff she did so weirdly — the emotion you’re not expecting to feel.”
Fennell adds that the new gig has spawned a surprising trend: Her family and friends text her in the middle of the night with ideas on how to kill people. “They’re homicidal!” she says with a laugh.
But back to feelings. The question viewers have is, why are Eve and Villanelle so obsessed with each other? What exactly is their relationship? “There’s obviously elements of [love] in it, but there are other very complex dynamics too,” Oh says. Plus, with a psychopath making up one half of this “couple,” they’re never going to be on the same page. “Villanelle likes to [think] she knows what love is,” Comer says. “We explore her believing she feels this emotion and not quite grasping what it is. She’s emotionally unavailable but desperately wants connection.”
Part of the way Eve delves into Villanelle’s mind is by employing a psychiatry consultant, Mark Freestone of London’s Queen Mary University. “For a lot of psychopaths, what is very distressing is that you are aware there’s something you’re missing and you can’t find it.” Fennell says.
One thing Eve has found is a rabid (and primarily female) audience, which grew nearly every week in Season 1. “People keep coming up to me going, ‘Say that line again!'” says Shaw. For her part, Fennell credits the show’s clear-eyed depiction of women, saying, “It feels real to me. They are women I recognize: good at their jobs, not sitting around weeping over men, as we’ve seen for decades on TV or in film.”
We’ll soon learn there’s a new female assassin in town. That development is going to test Eve to see if she’s really a specialist in catching women who make their living killing people — or just one woman in particular. It also might make her original quarry a tad insecure. “What does Villanelle do when Eve turns her gaze to someone else?” teases executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle.
We kind of don’t want to think about it…but we can’t stop either. Says Fennell: “We don’t know who the cat or the mouse is anymore. Neither do they.”
Killing Eve, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday, April 7, 8/7c, BBC America, AMC