wed 12/08/2020

Killing Eve, Series 3, BBC iPlayer review - Eve and Villanelle resume operations | reviews, news & interviews

Killing Eve, Series 3, BBC iPlayer review - Eve and Villanelle resume operations

Killing Eve, Series 3, BBC iPlayer review - Eve and Villanelle resume operations

There's a new showrunner, but can series 3 recapture the magic?

Down with the dumplings: Eve (Sandra Oh) in New MaldenSid Gentle Films/BBC

Instant spoiler alert: she’s not dead. But do we care? Prepare for the plumbing of new psychological depths from showrunner Suzanne Heathcote, previously story editor, appropriately enough, on Fear the Walking Dead, but that may not be enough to keep series 3 from veering into slightly dull and serviceable territory, judging by the first three episodes. Murderous clowns at a kids’ party, for example, have surely been done to death.

At the end of series 2, Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) was, if you remember, shot and apparently killed by Villanelle (Jodie Comer) in a Roman ruin after Eve rejected her (“Sorry to disappoint” were Eve’s parting words). In the first episode of the new series, “Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey”, Eve’s painful recovery is compounded by living in New Malden and working in a Korean restaurant. No longer at MI6, then. Watching her fold mandu (dumplings) is oddly soothing, though she looks as distraught and endearingly dishevelled as ever. It's good to see her again.

But before we get on to Eve, here’s a child gymnast in Moscow in 1974, being harangued by a sadistic teacher in a powerful first scene. Is it Villanelle as a child? No, that would make her too old. But this gymnast is acting true to psychopathic form, as she beats up a boy who’s being nice to her in the locker room and leaves him for dead, and then pours flour over him. Flour? What a waste, you find yourself thinking. Think of the lost baking opportunity. The scene heralds a new theme: Villanelle wants to find her family. Nature or nurture, we’re given to wonder.

keve2This murder is echoed by another one in Girona, when Villanelle pours saffron, or perhaps paprika, over a victim who’s running a charmingly traditional grocery shop. And the locations, emblazoned in huge lettering, are as alluring as ever, more so in the time of lockdown. There’s Moscow, Rome, Barcelona, the Côte d’Azur, Andalusia, and that’s just in the first three episodes, each with a different director.

Plenty of new cast-members too. Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) has a daughter – who knew – the new-agey, empathetic Geraldine (Gemma Whelan; Game of Thrones, White House Farm) who’s far too kind and encouraging for her ice-cool mother to handle. “Why don’t you go and do that thing where you close your eyes and breathe,” says Carolyn. “You mean sleep?” asks Geraldine. “Yes.”

keveAnd Harriet Walter, fresh from playing a suicidal granny in The End, is Dasha, Villanelle’s elegant new Russian handler (pictured above). She's working for the mysterious Twelve and is a former gymnast herself – probably the child in the first scene. She appears at a lavish wedding party in a fabulous house where Villanelle is marrying someone very rich called Maria. No backstory available for her, apart from the fact that they met in an airport and Villanelle said, "I'll go where you're going."

Dasha’s not entirely welcome, apparently, as Villanelle lunges at her in fury and the whole thing deteriorates into a massive, hilarious bun-fight. The Russian accents go into irritatingly hammy overdrive when the two are together. Comer’s was always impressive but the effect is diluted when it’s doubled. And shouldn’t they really be speaking Russian?

Dasha is rather similar in type, perhaps deliberately, to Carolyn, who’s still plugging away at MI6 though she’s been superseded, due to the catastrophic unauthorised errors she made in series two, by a sinister job’s worth type called Paul (Steve Pemberton). You know he won’t last long. And her son Kenny (Sean Delaney)? He’s quit working for his mother, though they’re still living together and although he’s determined to strike out on his own – “I won’t be told what to do any more” - he’s not averse to her organising fish and chips with batter sausages for dinner.

He’s working for an investigative website –“It’s not a website, it’s an online publication,” he tells Carolyn defensively – called The Bitter Pill. Trauma lies ahead. And he’s still, in his spare time, pursuing the machinations of the Twelve, while trying to get Eve on board. “I’m totally done with that, end of story,” says Eve. Well, the existence of series 3 puts paid to that notion. And although the initial wild and crazy magic of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's series 1 has worn off, there’s enough wit, fun and stylishness – the houses, the outfits (some of Villanelle’s have a super-modest, flowery Batsheva look, pictured above) - to keep us amused in lockdown.

  • Killing Eve is on BBC iPlayer today. New episodes will be available to stream every Monday from 6am and will be on BBC One from Sunday 19 April

Comments

'Flour? What a waste, you find yourself thinking. Think of the lost baking opportunity' Nice thought - but gymnasts use chalk, not flour for preparation before the exercise bars

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