Eve Polastri has risen from the dead and Villanelle is on a power trip and they still can't get each other out of their heads
There's something riveting, bordering on guilty pleasure, about an espionage thriller that pits two strong, independent women against each other. The fact that one is a mercurial, cold-blooded psychopath with an obsessive streak and the other an average Jane, so to speak, grappling with midlife crisis makes it all the more delicious.
Having binge watched Seasons one and two of the black comedy Killing Eve, in the days leading to the much anticipated recent release of Season 3, I was understandably in the thrall of the icy Villanelle (a delightfully provocative Jodie Comer) and her significant other, MI6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh in a tailor made role that has the 'what does Villanelle see in HER?' kind of appeal).
The globetrotting action thriller, high on style and lyricism (the background score redefines poetic ear worm) turns the Bond trope on its head - the testosterone-driven male characters are replaced here by witty, highly strung women in sharp suits (not Eve, of course) and sharper minds.
While Season 1 headed by series creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was spectacularly engrossing, having found Season 2 a bit lagging, specially the fantastical plot line which involved Villanelle being hired by MI5, I was nevertheless looking forward to another cat and mouse game with the lead protagonists. Episode One (the current season is helmed by Suzanne Heathcote of Fear the Walking Dead fame) of course (spoiler alert) ended with the death of a much adored character, probably among the most likable of them all though it started off a bit dark and underwhelming. But Episode 2 picks up speed though it is mainly a period of mourning and emotional turmoil for most of the main characters, with not much action. Villanelle, is seeking to "move up in the world" through a promotion and with Eve hiding away in the back kitchen of an Asian eatery in London, it looks like the star-crossed lovers will continue in their divergent paths, till Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) decides to speed things up and sparks once again fly between the lead pair, this time in a London bus.
My only quibble would be that just like in Season 2, there is an element of killing time in the first few episodes. Admittedly Killing Eve is not a series whose strength lies in its story; it's more the style that hooks you. While Eve grudgingly comes out of the shadows to hunt the killer of her erstwhile buddy, Villanelle is on her own power trip. The second episode, in particular, belongs to the sardonic Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) who proves her mettle once again, and we get to glimpse momentarily the woman behind the pursed lips and sharp haircut.
What makes Killing Eve so impactful is the over abundance of strong female characters, each as divisive and distinctive as they come. And as with any spy thriller you get to whiz through exotic locations - the first few episodes of Season 3 we were privy to alone took us through London, Spain and France. The highlight, though is the background score- so lyrical it infuses even the most gruesome murder with a sense of lightness. And in the end that is what Killing Eve will be remembered for - for making the deaths incidental in the greatest television romance of our times.
As we stay marooned in our homes, desperately seeking a connect with the outside world, Killing Eve offers up a chance to traipse around exotic locales, and escape into a fantastical tale where love and hate are so intrinsically woven together, that the very person you are in love with is also the one you are seeking to exterminate. And isn't that a sentiment many of us can probably relate to in these days of firstname.lastname@example.org
Season 3 of Killing Eve is airing on OSN streaming every Monday