|Based on||Villanelle novel series|
by Luke Jennings
|Country of origin|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||32 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||40–43 minutes|
|Original network||BBC America|
|Original release||8 April 2018 –|
10 April 2022
Killing Eve is a British spy thriller television series, produced in the United Kingdom by Sid Gentle Films for BBC America and BBC Three. The series follows Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a British intelligence investigator tasked with capturing psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). As the chase progresses, the two develop a mutual obsession. Based on the Villanelle novel series by Luke Jennings, each of the show's series is led by a different female head writer. The first series had Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the head writer, the second series Emerald Fennell, the third series Suzanne Heathcote and the fourth series Laura Neal.
The first series premiered on BBC America on 8 April 2018, and on BBC iPlayer on 15 September 2018 through BBC Three. The third series premiered on 12 April 2020 for BBC America, and on 13 April 2020 for BBC iPlayer, and concluded on 31 May 2020. The fourth series premiered on 27 February 2022 on BBC America, 28 February 2022 on BBC iPlayer and 5 March 2022 on BBC One and concluded on 10 April 2022.
The first two series were praised, whereas the final two series received more mixed responses, with the fourth in particular drawing significant backlash from critics and audiences. The show broke weekly ratings increases, and received several accolades, including British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series. Both Oh and Comer were praised for their performances, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, respectively. Comer and Fiona Shaw have also received British Academy Television Awards for their performances.
In the first season, Eve is bored with her protection role in MI5 and, after brashly investigating the behind-the-scenes of a witness she is handling, she is fired. However her passion for female assassins later leads to her joining an undercover division within MI6 whose task is to pursue and locate Villanelle, a ruthless international assassin who works for a secret organisation called The Twelve. When Eve and Villanelle cross paths they begin a cycle of obsession which leads them away from their individual missions and closer to each other.
In the second season, after a violent encounter at the end of season one, Eve and Villanelle resume their obsessive relationship while continuing their separate missions. Eve works to solve kills set by The Twelve while Villanelle continues to kill for The Twelve; however, after a new killer appears on the scene, the focus changes for The Twelve and MI6, as both women are pitted to work with each other. A dangerous mission leads Eve and Villanelle to Rome where their own lives are at stake.
The third season picks up six months after the fallout of the mission in Rome. Eve, traumatised by her near-death experience at the hands of Villanelle, quits MI6 and begins living a low-profile existence, whilst Villanelle attempts to discover new ways of earning a living after she stops killing for The Twelve. However, the unexpected arrival of her former Twelve trainer leads Villanelle to question who she really is and if killing is what she's made for, whereas Eve begins looking into The Twelve again after they murder someone close to her, leading both women to cross paths once more.
The fourth and final season picks up soon after the third with Eve now desperate for revenge on The Twelve whilst Villanelle is eager to change for Eve. However, due to their different outlooks on their personal missions, Eve and Villanelle begin to clash leading them off into their separate directions but both eventually aiming for the same goal, destroying The Twelve.
Cast and characters
- Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, an analyst with MI5 who becomes tirelessly preoccupied with a notorious assassin and is recruited on an off-the-books basis to the foreign intelligence agency MI6
- Jodie Comer as Oksana Astankova / Villanelle, a psychopathic and skilled assassin, who becomes obsessed with the MI6 officer who is tracking her
- Comer also plays "Jesus Christ" (who appears as Villanelle in drag), with Penny Ashmore as her body double (recurring series 4)
- Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, head of the Russia Section at MI6
- Imogen Daines as Young Carolyn / "Janice" (guest series 4)
- Kim Bodnia as Konstantin Vasiliev, Villanelle's handler
- Louis Bodnia Andersen as Young Konstantin / "Karl" (guest series 4)
- Owen McDonnell as Niko Polastri, Eve's English-Polish husband, a maths teacher and bridge player (series 1–3; guest series 4)
- Sean Delaney as Kenneth "Kenny" Stowton, Carolyn's son, an ex-hacker who has been recruited by MI6. He later becomes a journalist for Bitter Pill. (series 1–3)
- Darren Boyd as Frank Haleton, Eve's supervisor at MI5 (series 1)
- David Haig as Bill Pargrave, Eve's MI5 associate who comes with her to MI6 (series 1; guest series 4)
- Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Elena Felton, Eve's assistant (series 1; guest series 4)
- Nina Sosanya as Jess, an experienced MI6 agent now working as a part of Eve's team (series 2)
- Edward Bluemel as Hugo Tiller, a wealthy Oxford graduate, who is working as a part of Eve's team at MI6 (series 2; recurring series 4)
- Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Aaron Peel, the heir to a tech company following the assassination of his father, mogul Alistair Peel (series 2)
- Adrian Scarborough as Raymond, a member of the Twelve and one of Villanelle's former handlers (series 2)
- Adeel Akhtar as Martin, the British Intelligence expert on psychopaths (series 2 and 4)
- Raj Bajaj as Mo Jafari, a new MI6 agent working for Carolyn (series 3)
- Turlough Convery as Bear, Kenny's colleague at Bitter Pill (series 3)
- Steve Pemberton as Paul, an MI6 supervisor (series 3)
- Danny Sapani as Jamie, Kenny's boss at Bitter Pill (series 3)
- Harriet Walter as Dasha Duzran, a hard-bitten one-time Olympic gymnast turned spy, Villanelle's former trainer and mentor (series 3)
- Gemma Whelan as Geraldine, Carolyn's daughter and Kenny's older sister (series 3)
- Camille Cottin as Hélène, a high-ranking member of the Twelve (series 3–4)
- Anjana Vasan as Pam, Hélène's newest assassin recruit who works at a funeral home (series 4)
- Robert Gilbert as Yusuf, Eve's associate (series 4)
- Laurentiu Possa as Vlad, Carolyn's Russian associate (series 4; guest series 1)
- Ingvar Sigurdsson as Lars Meier, a member of the Twelve who has ties with Carolyn (series 4)
- Siggi Ingvarsson as Young Lars / "Johan" (guest series 4)
- Marie-Sophie Ferdane as Gunn, a seasoned assassin for the Twelve (series 4)
- Sonia Elliman as Madame Tattevin, Villanelle's neighbour at her apartment building in Paris (series 1; guest series 2)
- Billy Matthews as Dominik Wolanski, a young bridge player (series 1)
- Olivia Ross as Nadia, an assassin for the Twelve and Villanelle's former love interest (series 1)
- Susan Lynch as Anna, Villanelle's former languages teacher and love interest (series 1)
- Yuli Lagodinsky as Irina, Konstantin's young daughter (series 1, 3–4)
- Shannon Tarbet as Amber Peel, Aaron's sister (series 2)
- Emma Pierson as Gemma, a teacher colleague of Niko's (series 2)
- Jung Sun den Hollander as Jin / The Ghost, a rival assassin hired by Aaron (series 2)
- Ayoola Smart as Audrey, Kenny's girlfriend and a co-worker at Bitter Pill (series 3)
- Alexandra Roach as Rhian, a rival assassin for the Twelve (series 3)
- Steve Oram as Phil, a vicar (series 4)
- Zindzi Hudson as May, Phil's daughter (series 4)
- Manpreet Bachu as Elliot, Pam's brother and boss at the funeral home (series 4)
- Anyastassia Melehes as Chloe, Hélène's daughter (series 4)
- Monica Lopera as Fernanda, Lars' ex-wife and Hélène's ex-lover (series 4)
- Anna-Maria Everett as Benita, Carolyn's temporary caretaker in Havana, Cuba (series 4)
- Josh Zaré as Darren, a carnival worker who falls for Pam (series 4)
- Remo Girone as Cesare Greco, a target of Villanelle's (series 1)
- Charlie Hamblett as Sebastian, a neighbour of Villanelle's with whom she begins a friendship (series 1)
- Edward Akrout as Diego, a know-it-all assassin working with Villanelle (series 1)
- Julian Barratt as Julian, an older man who lets Villanelle stay with him (series 2)
- Zoë Wanamaker as Helen Jacobsen, a senior British Intelligence official and Carolyn's boss (series 2)
- Dominic Mafham as Charles Kruger, the accountant for the Twelve (series 3)
- Rebecca Saire as Bertha Kruger, the wife of Charles (series 3)
- Evgenia Dodina as Tatiana, Oksana's mother (series 3)
- Predrag Bjelac as Grigoriy, Tatiana's new husband (series 3)
Sally Woodward Gentle, of Sid Gentle Films, optioned Luke Jennings's Codename Villanelle in 2014, saying that "the notion of a female assassin was not unique", but that Jennings's take was "fresh, intelligent and tonally much bolder than others", adding that she was particularly interested because "It wasn't exploitative. We really enjoyed the character of Villanelle and the inventiveness of her kills, but we were particularly engaged with the mutual obsession between the women". Jennings's story began as a four-part novella published between 2014 and 2016. Following the stage success of Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was recruited to write the show, which was then commissioned by BBC America in November 2016.
Sandra Oh was the first to be cast in June 2017, as the title character Eve Polastri, and IMG agreed distribution rights later that month. Oh reportedly was confused over which character she would be playing when she first received a breakdown, thinking that she would not have the option to audition for the young assassin and not even considering the lead. Later her agents informed her that she would be reading for the role of Eve.
For the role of Villanelle, the production considered over 100 actresses before Jodie Comer was cast, about a month after Oh. Sally Woodward Gentle told Backstage that the production "didn't want Villanelle to be like Nikita or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo—that male fantasy version of what a woman who'd come for them might look like. We wanted her to be able to disappear into a crowd". Comer's first audition involved acting out the kitchen scene from "I Have a Thing About Bathrooms" with Oh, where the two clicked.
Initially, Waller-Bridge considered casting herself as either Eve or Villanelle, but discarded this idea as she wanted a larger age gap between the leads. Kirby Howell-Baptiste was cast as Elena in August 2017.
In August 2019, Deadline Hollywood announced that Harriet Walter and Danny Sapani had joined the cast for the third series. More cast additions were revealed in November, including Gemma Whelan, Predrag Bjelac, Camille Cottin, Steve Pemberton, Raj Bajaj, Turlough Convery, and Evgenia Dodina.
Filming for the first series began on 17 July 2017 in Tuscany, extending to further locations in Paris, Berlin, Bucharest, Cheshunt, Turville, London and West London Film Studios. The Viennese Cafe opening scenes were shot at Bar Garibaldi in Colle di Val d'Elsa, a small hilltop town north west of Siena, Tuscany. The building used as Eve's base is in Warwick House Street, just off Trafalgar Square. In the London pub scene, the external shot shows The Albert pub in Victoria Street; the interiors were of the dark-panelled Old Nick in Sandland Street. In episode three, Villanelle lures David Haig's character Bill Pargrave into tailing her out of Berlin Friedrichstraße station and along a neighbouring Berlin tramway street before entering a busy nightclub, the location of which was Fabric, opposite London's Smithfield Market. Bucharest's neoclassical Romanian Athenaeum concert hall was converted into a decadent café for the penultimate Moscow scene. Filming also took place at Nell's Café, a popular roadside café off the A2 near Gravesend in Kent, as well as at the nearby M2 motorway. Filming also took place at the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford and production concluded on 15 December 2017.
Production for the second series began on 16 July 2018 and concluded on 14 December.
Filming for the third series began in August 2019, Filming locations included Viscri and Comandău in Romania. Additionally, several locations were used in Barcelona, Spain, among them the Arc de Triomf on Passeig de Lluís Companys and the Port Vell Aerial Tramway. The interior of Vilanelle's Barcelona apartment was shot inside the Casa Ramos, a noted Modernista apartment block in the Plaça de Lesseps which was designed in 1906 by the architect Jaume Torres i Grau. Production for the third series ended in January 2020 in London.
Filming for the fourth and final series began on 7 June 2021 and ended on 6 November 2021. Margate in Kent features throughout Episodes four to seven, with filming taking place on the beach, various streets, Dreamland, the Nayland Rock Hotel and Sands Café.
Shortly before its premiere, Killing Eve was renewed for a second series. Luke Jennings's sequel, Killing Eve: No Tomorrow, was published in March 2019, shortly before the second-series premiere; the book is said to diverge from the television series, but also to "share common DNA" because of Jennings's continued collaboration with the creators. In July 2018, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Waller-Bridge delegated some responsibility for the second series, hiring Emerald Fennell as head writer, and Lisa Brühlmann and Francesca Gregorini as directors.
Less than twelve hours after the premiere of the second series, BBC America renewed the series for a third. Suzanne Heathcote served as showrunner, so that each new season of Killing Eve brings on a new female showrunner.
On 3 January 2020, Killing Eve was renewed for a fourth series ahead of the premiere of the third series. On 20 February, Laura Neal was announced as the head writer as well as an executive producer of the fourth series. In March 2021, it was confirmed that the fourth series would be its last.
Episodes and broadcast
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||8 April 2018||27 May 2018|
|2||8||7 April 2019||26 May 2019|
|3||8||12 April 2020||31 May 2020|
|4||8||27 February 2022||10 April 2022|
In the United Kingdom, the series was shown on BBC One in September 2018 and as stream-only on BBC Three. The first episode was broadcast on 15 September 2018, and seen by 8.25 million viewers within the first twenty-eight days. The second series was released in its entirety on BBC iPlayer on 8 June 2019, with its first episode being shown on BBC One the same day. The third series was released 6 am every Monday from 13 April 2020 on BBC iPlayer.
Irish broadcaster RTÉ2 was the first broadcaster in Europe to premiere the show, with the first episode broadcast to 76,000 viewers on 27 August 2018. The final season will premiere on 1 March 2022 on RTÉ One.
In New Zealand, second-series episodes premiered two days before their US broadcast on TVNZ Ondemand. Episodes will air on TVNZ 2 the same day as the US broadcast. The second series began broadcasting on 7 April 2019, shown concurrently in the United States by both BBC America and AMC.
In Canada, the series debuted on 22 July 2018 on Bravo! The series continues to be broadcast on the channel which is now branded as CTV Drama Channel. It is also available on the Canadian streaming network Crave.
In The New Yorker, Jia Tolentino characterised both Polastri and Villanelle as "deeply strange" and possessed of a "wild, unlikely interior weirdness and flux", writing that it seemed equally possible that they "could team up, or try to kill each other, or fall into bed". Judy Berman wrote in The New York Times that Agent Polastri tracks assassin Villanelle not as hero and villain but as "two broken women whose flaws bind them together in a twisted pas de deux". Villanelle is romantically interested in women and, as Willa Paskin wrote in Slate, is captivated by Polastri perhaps in part because of a "shared brusqueness".
Despite being enemies professionally, both characters are professional, childless women, "hard-working, ambitious, and slightly obsessive", whose respective worlds "betrayed and deceived them at every turn". Melanie McFarland wrote in Slate that they are "two of a kind" and "can trust in each other's constancy", with Priscilla Frak writing in The Huffington Post that both women are "fueled by a volatile cocktail of ambition, curiosity and morbid adoration". Angelica Jade Bastién wrote in Vulture that, with Eve, Villanelle "feels something beyond (the) crushing boredom" she normally experiences, while Eve looks at Villanelle as "an escape into feminine excess". Perceiving "mirror-image similarities between them, for the good and the bad", executive director Emerald Fennell posited the question, "What does it look like when a psychopath starts to learn how to feel things, and when a woman who's incredibly empathetic and intuitive starts to lose those parts of herself?"
Fennell also said that the Eve and Villanelle relationship will always be the core of the show, in accordance with the perception of BBC reviewer Caryn James who wrote that the "series' true allure is the deeply complicated love-hate dynamic between those two characters", NPR's reviewer Terry Gross' view that the character dynamic "sets Killing Eve apart from other thrillers", and a Dan Snierson review in Entertainment Weekly that the series portrays "TV's most mesmerizing, twisted relationship".
Contrast, conflict and attraction
Jia Tolentino wrote in The New Yorker that the "amoral" Villanelle's existence is "saturated with pleasure", in contrast to Eve's career as a "bored security-state functionary". Series writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge explained that Polastri has a "sense of self-consciousness and guilt" that cripples her – a perfect counterpoint to Villanelle, who, as Ashley Boucher noted in TheWrap, only does things that might bring joy.
Hanh Nguyen wrote in IndieWire that, even when Villanelle invades her home Eve "can't quite capture who Villanelle is as a person" since the assassin always seems to be a few steps ahead, and that Polastri, possessed of a "frustrating attraction", "keeps banging her head on the enigmatic wall that is Villanelle". And Melanie McFarland wrote in Salon that, though Villanelle has the opportunity to kill Polastri during the break-in, forces within Villanelle–despite having been "raised to kill without guilt or concern"–compel her to want Polastri alive.
Angelica Jade Bastién wrote in Vulture that, after Villanelle manipulates Polastri into committing a brutal murder, the women are "finally stripped of their proxies, and the electric tension between them is laid bare". Sandra Oh described Polastri's ultimately misguided belief that she is "special" enough to control Villanelle, that they have a "special" connection, but—upon telling Villanelle that Villanelle doesn't know what love is—learns otherwise: Villanelle shoots her, a counterpoint to Eve having stabbed Villanelle earlier. Villanelle had later reflected on Polastri's having stabbed her, "Sometimes when you love someone, you will do crazy things".
Social, thematic and creative context
BBC America president Sarah Barnett commented that "there is a marvelous sea change happening where we are profoundly shifting away from an invisible, unconscious assumption that the big stories have men at the center, and anything else is a subset of that". Matt Zoller Seitz noted in Vulture that, even in contrast to films such as Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal in which one lead character is female, the conflict between Polastri and Villanelle is more equal despite the fact one entered as "an MI5 paper-pusher" and the other as an experienced assassin. Along similar lines, Melanie McFarland wrote in Salon that most feminist narratives are framed in terms of a male-female dynamic, but Polastri and Villanelle explore "patriarchy's impact on the already delicate complexities of female relationships": though sisterhood is powerful, "it's also complicated and devoid of guarantees" and "can be false and a trap".
Ben Goldberg wrote in Into that the relationship between Polastri and Villanelle—"often sexual, at times romantic, and occasionally vengeful"—"resists simple categorization". Their mutual affectation suggests an alternative lifestyle, the couple performing an "elaborate dance, edging closer to one other while always being just slightly out of reach". The characters’ mutual interest is "rooted in a desire of an unknown–a life away from the men that presently structure their lives".
Relationships and sexuality
Showrunner-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge remarked that the characters "give each other life in a way that's more complex than a romantic relationship. It's sexual, it's intellectual, it's aspirational." Along these lines, Melanie McFarland wrote in Salon that the show's "careful awareness of the love languages of fashion, music and setting all play roles in strengthening (the audience's) affair" with the characters. Hannah Giorgis wrote in The Atlantic that its "greatest success" is how alluring it makes Villanelle to an intelligence agent dedicated to tracking her down. Calling Killing Eve a "sexually charged female-buddy-comedy espionage nailbiter", Jenna Scherer wrote in Rolling Stone that the actresses "share a crackling chemistry, one that situates them in a gray realm between bitter enemies and would-be lovers".
Shannon Liao noted in The Verge that "some say that demanding physical expressions of sexuality or other concrete confirmations of queer relationships... can erase subtler, more complex relationships", and that this pair's mutual obsession "ventures into homoerotic territory" without explicit physical consummation. Accordingly, the show has largely escaped criticisms of "age-old issues dealing with LGBTQ representation on-screen, like queerbaiting or male-fantasy lesbianism", with Liao concluding that "Killing Eve is one of the only shows pushing the envelope in the espionage genre on race, gender, and sexuality". Natalie Adler wrote in BuzzFeed News that the show is about "femme power, femme cruelty, femme treachery—an explicitly queer power, one that doesn't suffer cis men". Kate Arthur wrote in Buzzfeed News that this relationship "has never before existed between women on television: a queer will-they-or-won't-they romance in which one suitor is an admitted psychopath".
Jia Tolentino wrote in The New Yorker that the "women are deeply strange, forming a collective study in improbable contrasts, strung together by each actor's charisma". Matt Zoller Seitz wrote in Vulture that Oh's performance as Polastri actually makes Villanelle's character feel more plausible – as "an incarnation of Eve's sublimated aggression and assertiveness". Though Jia Tolentino wrote in The New Yorker that Villanelle's character "works" because of Comer's "mercurial, unassailable charisma", and Willa Paskin wrote in Slate that Comer's Villanelle (twisted and conscienceless but also irrepressible) is "flat-out incredible" and Mike Hale agreed in The New York Times that Comer is good in that "showier part". Hale added that it is Ms. Oh who ensures the series is "more than a cute gloss on the glamorous international caper."
Use of fashion
A pink tulle dress worn in the first-series episode "I'll Deal with Him Later", designed by Molly Goddard, was heralded as a "fashion moment" that inspired the dresses worn on red carpets in the subsequent awards season, including an overwhelming showing of pink at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony in 2019.
The character Villanelle's relationship to fashion has been described by many people. Gilly Ferguson of Grazia says that she has become a "style icon". Luke Jennings, author of the book series on which the show is based, says that "Clothes reflect her status and independence[...] She doesn't have to conform or please anyone's gaze"; Charlotte Mitchell agrees that "She plays by her own rules". Sonia Saraiya of Vanity Fair considers Villanelle's outfits "their own subplot"; she notes that the character choosing to live in Paris is also a nod to the emphasis on fashion in the show. Melania Hidalgo of The Cut writes that "Villanelle reverses the style of a typical femme fatale, wearing everyday basics on her missions while saving the choicest items in her wardrobe for her days off"; in reference to a specific outfit, Steff Yotka of Vogue says that Villanelle has "redefined the look of an international assassin story" by subverting classic tactical gear and sleekness. Mitchell also said of Villanelle that she "uses color to provoke reactions", pointing to the pink Molly Goddard dress.
Considered Villanelle's fashion foil by Entertainment Weekly, Eve Polastri has been described as considering fashion "trivial" and not bothering to dress well. Jennings suggested that even if she cared, "she'd be hopeless at it"; Mitchell and de Gaye crafted outfits that match Eve's practical attitude, with Mitchell saying that she "wears elastic waists [because] she doesn't have time to do up a button fly". Other choices include more clothes made of linen to more easily appear dishevelled. Eve is allowed some moments of being well-dressed, however, which are significant to the plot, including trying on dresses that Villanelle has chosen for her in her own stolen suitcase.
|1||96% (154 reviews)||83 (22 reviews)|
|2||92% (163 reviews)||86 (22 reviews)|
|3||80% (158 reviews)||63 (16 reviews)|
|4||56% (89 reviews)||55 (14 reviews)|
On Rotten Tomatoes, the first series has an approval rating of 96% based on 154 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Seductive and surprising, Killing Eve's twist on the spy vs. spy concept rewards viewers with an audaciously entertaining show that finally makes good use of Sandra Oh's talents." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Jenna Scherer, writing in Rolling Stone, described Killing Eve as "hilarious, bloody, unclassifiable" and idiosyncratic, "a stylish story of obsession and psychopathy that's disarmingly warm and lived-in". Scherer went on to write that the show "undermines every rule of TV", with what it does best being its "dry wit, razor-wire tension, sex appeal and the looming threat of violence". Hanh Nguyen wrote on IndieWire that one of the show's most appealing aspects is "how it subverts expectation", allowing it to "constantly surprise and delight". Troy Patterson wrote in The New Yorker that the story discloses "a life independent of genre conventions" and that the triumph of the show's style is its "reconciliation of the outlandish and the intimate", adding that the "Jason Bourne-style escapism of the bare premise, inflected by the assertively odd tone, yields fresh depictions of fear and grief". In the context of Vulture's selection of Sandra Oh as the best actress on television (June 2018), Matt Zoller Seitz wrote that there was "no precedent" for the "wild extremes" of the show's "comedy and thriller elements". While Mike Hale acknowledged in The New York Times that "scenes and characterizations play out differently than we're used to" and the comic style is distinctive, he also wrote – in contrast to most reviewers – of being "just as conscious of (the show's) congruences with standard examples of the genre ... as ... of the differences", citing Berlin Station, La Femme Nikita, Covert Affairs and Homeland.
Scherer described the show as a feminine take on a traditionally masculine genre—"more interested in giving space to character beats and the weird chaos that can leak into the best-laid plans". Similarly, Melanie McFarland wrote for Salon that Killing Eve has been dubbed a "feminist thriller", calling it a "perfect show for the #MeToo era", saying that it "slakes one's desire to see piggish misogynists get what's coming to them" but also delves into complex trust issues among women and shows "sisterhood's might and peril (as) powerful ... but ... also complicated and devoid of guarantees". Along the same lines, Willa Paskin wrote in Slate that Killing Eve is a story about "the literal dangers of underestimating women: of not seeing the woman who can kill you, underestimating the woman who can stop her". Paskin added that "The disfigured, beating heart of Killing Eve is the way that Villanelle's gender and manner, her very femininity, keep our acculturated brains from being appropriately terrified of her".
Jia Tolentino acknowledged in The New Yorker how critics have noted that women characters are substituted for men "in every meaningful part", that the men are "formulaic" but the women are "deeply strange". However, Tolentino asserted that Killing Eve "isn't shaped around the concept of women; it's shaped around these women, who are unlike any others in their wild, unlikely interior weirdness and flux". She added that a defining feature of the show is its "constant reversals in tone and rhythm", with the show's thrill coming "from pattern rather than resolution".
Ben Goldberg wrote in Into that the series "never outright explains its characters' sexualities, but unlike shows that queerbait their audiences, Killing Eve does not need to name the relationship between Eve and Villanelle in order to recognize it", adding that the show "does not shy away from its characters' sexual attraction but also complicates this narrative at every turn".
Hannah Giorgis wrote in The Atlantic that the show's greatest success is "how alluring it makes its villain: to both Eve ... and audiences", and that Villanelle's character subverts feminine stereotypes so as to "carve a jagged space into the serial-killer canon".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the second series has an approval rating of 92% based on 163 reviews, with an average rating of 8.15/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With the titillating cat-and-mouse game still rooted at its core, Killing Eve returns for an enthralling second season of considerably higher stakes, hilariously dark humor and a captivating dynamic between characters, solidifying its position as one of the best spy thrillers out." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 86 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Chitra Ramaswamy wrote in The Guardian that the show "uproots the tired old sexist tropes of spy thrillers then repots them as feminist in-jokes, patriarchal piss-takes, tasteless murders and blooms of sapphic chemistry". Describing how Villanelle "does what she always does—exploit society's misogyny by imitating a victim of it"—Emily Nussbaum wrote in The New Yorker that the potent idea that undergirds the show is that "femininity is itself a sort of sociopathy, whose performance, if you truly nail it, might be the source of ultimate power".
Angelica Jade Bastién wrote in Vulture that the second season, with new showrunner Emerald Fennell, "trades in the precise mordant wit of series creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge for something more garish and horrifying", further describing the "wild consumption" of food and clothing "that builds into the closest thing the show has come to a genuine sex scene between" the two women. Bastién also perceived that "Killing Eve is deeply indebted to film noir, a genre whose backbone is the ways people lose their soul in the face of desire—...but it's a noir operating at the tenor of a fairy tale".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the third series has an approval rating of 80% based on 158 reviews, with an average rating of 6.75/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "If Killing Eve's third season doesn't cut quite as deep, it's still a fiendishly delightful showcase for Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh's killer chemistry." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100 based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth series has an approval rating of 56% based on 89 reviews, with an average rating of 6.55/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Villanelle's found religion in Killing Eve's climactic season, but this series has spun its wheels for so long that the thrill is gone." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100 based on 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The series finale aired on 10 April 2022. The series' ending received very heavy backlash from its fanbase and critics, who called it unsatisfying and cruel. The finale was criticized for perpetuating the "Bury Your Gays" trope; killing a queer main character moments after she achieved happiness, with no real contextual reason for the death to have occurred. The episode was quickly ranked on worst TV finale lists. Jennings, in an article for The Guardian, consoled upset fans, deeming the ending, 'a bowing to convention'. Fans were quick to point out other examples of homophobia present throughout the season. A religious themed redemption arc for main character Villanelle was a point of contention, as well as the overall treatment of the relationship between main characters Eve and Villanelle. A series of comments made by producer Sally Woodward Gentle and showrunner Laura Neal in post-season interviews were called into question by fans for their homophobic nature, referring to the controversial death scene as a sort of "rebirth" for the surviving main character, allowing her to return to a "normal life."
Prior to filming, series four experienced an earlier backlash when Kayleigh Llewellyn tweeted a screenshot of a Zoom call with the other writers of series four. This led to criticism of the lack of diversity in the writer's room, given one of the programme's leads, Eve Polastri, was an Asian woman. Executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle later responded, stating, "You look at that room and it's full of brilliant female writers, we've got a really strong LGBTQ contingent, but it's not good enough and we need to do better." Despite this, fans were quick to criticize a distinct lack of attention paid to Eve's character in the final two seasons of the show, with significantly more attention being paid to the storyline of white side character, Carolyn, whom producers intended to make a spin-off about following the series finale.
"Best of" lists
In November 2018, Killing Eve was chosen as Time magazine's Best Show of 2018, the magazine's Judy Berman writing that "the characters were multidimensional but incomplete, their mutual obsession fueled by the sense that each woman had something crucial the other lacked". It was number three on The New York Post's Decider.com "Best TV Shows of 2018" list, being praised for "brilliant writing" and "nuanced performances". It was also second on the "25 Best TV Shows of 2018" list from Paste magazine, which labelled it as "the best new series of the year".
In December 2018, The Guardian named Killing Eve the best TV show of 2018, describing it as a "high-wire act of misdirection that subverted stale genre expectations" and saying that it "mix[es] genres – spy thriller, comedy, action film, workplace drama and... farce – without it collapsing into a tonal mess". The New York Times included Killing Eve in its "Best TV Shows of 2018" list, stating that the series was "infused ... with the brio of a dark comedy, though its hour length marked it as crime drama". The New York Times also included Oh's and Comer's performances in its list of "Best Performances of 2018", noting "these two women are inventive about how to be funny in a thriller" and "make run-of-the mill embarrassment seem more lethal than any bullet". NPR included the show on its list of "Favorite TV Shows of 2018", saying that it may be "the strangest—and most compelling—story of how opposites attract on TV this year".
The Washington Post listed Killing Eve as the third best show of 2018, calling the "sleeper hit... splendidly paced". USA Today listed the show at fifth place on its "Best TV Shows of 2018" list, remarking that it "completely surprises you, from its writing to its performances to its direction to the names on the poster". New York magazine's pop culture website Vulture included the series as number seven on Jen Chaney's "10 Best TV Shows of 2018" list, remarking on its immediate and escalating "sense of propulsive daring" and its infusion of "feminine energy". TV Guide named Oh's and Comer's performances as the second best TV performance of 2018, and said that the show "ended up on pretty much everyone's Best of 2018 lists". Vanity Fair listed the show at second place on its "Best TV Shows of 2018" list, saying that "watching Killing Eve is like spraying a disinfectant for the musty tropes of prestige drama directly onto your brain" and inviting viewers to "come for the black comedy; stay for the fashion".
Rolling Stone named the show as the fourth best TV show of 2018, describing it as "exciting and scary while making room for the quippy dialogue and smart observations about how women interact". IndieWire listed Killing Eve as the fourth best new TV show of 2018, saying that "exploring identity and dark desires, the series never met an impulse it didn't pursue to its extreme", and that "outrageous and often off-kilter dark humor only highlights the show's transgressive charms". Livingly Media listed the series as the third best TV show of 2018, saying it is "loaded with quippy dialogue and razor-sharp observations about how women interact in increasingly destructive environments". Mashable rated the show number four on its "Best New TV Shows of 2018" list, praising the two lead actors and commenting that the show was "exactly the weird, psychosexual romp (that) 2018 needed".
In September 2019, The Guardian ranked Killing Eve 30th on its list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century, stating that "few shows in TV history have scythed on to the screen with as much elan". In December 2019, The New York Times named the show as 9th on its Best International TV Shows of the Decade, characterising it as "a riff on the romantic spy thriller that can be darkly funny one moment and devastating the next".
The first series had unbroken weekly ratings growth among adults aged 25–54 and 18–49, which no other television show had accomplished in more than a decade. The final episode's 1.25 million viewers (Nielsen live+3) was 86 percent greater than for the premiere. The second series was simulcast on both AMC and BBC America, with its premiere drawing a combined total of 1.17 million viewers.
When the first episode of the second series was shown on BBC One it had 3.5 million viewers taking a 21% audience share.
|2018||Gotham Awards||Breakthrough Series – Long Form||Killing Eve||Won|||
|People's Choice Awards||The Bingeworthy Show of 2018||Killing Eve||Nominated|||
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||Sandra Oh (for "I Have a Thing About Bathrooms")||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Phoebe Waller-Bridge (for "Nice Face")||Nominated|
|Television Critics Association Awards||Individual Achievement in Drama||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Achievement in Drama||Killing Eve||Nominated|
|Outstanding New Program||Killing Eve||Won|
|Program of the Year||Killing Eve||Nominated|
|2019||American Cinema Editors Awards||Best Edited Drama Series for Commercial Television||Gary Dollner||Won|||
|British Academy Television Awards||Best Drama Series||Killing Eve||Won|||
|Best Leading Actress||Jodie Comer||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Kim Bodnia||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Fiona Shaw||Won|
|Must-See TV Moment||Eve stabs Villanelle||Nominated|
|British Academy Television Craft Awards||Best Writing||Phoebe Waller-Bridge||Nominated|||
|Costume Design||Phoebe De Gaye||Nominated|
|Director: Fiction||Harry Bradbeer (episode 1)||Nominated|
|Editing: Fiction||Garry Dollner (episode 1)||Nominated|
|Original Music||David Holmes, Keefus Ciancia||Won|
|Photography and Lighting: Fiction||Julian Court (episode 7)||Nominated|
|Production Design||Kristian Milsted||Nominated|
|Sound: Fiction||Sound team||Won|
|Titles and Graphic Identity||Matt Willey||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actress in a Drama Series||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|Best Drama Series||Killing Eve||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Sandra Oh||Won|||
|Best Television Series – Drama||Killing Eve||Nominated|
|Gracie Awards||Actress in a Leading Role – Drama||Sandra Oh||Won|||
|Location Managers Guild Awards||Outstanding Locations in Contemporary Television||Casper Mills||Nominated|||
|National Television Awards||Best New Drama Series||Killing Eve||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Drama Performance||Jodie Comer||Nominated|
|Peabody Award||Entertainment||Killing Eve||Won|||
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series||Lisa Brühlmann (for "Desperate Times")||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Drama Series||Sally Woodward Gentle, Lee Morris, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emerald Fennell, Gina Mingacci, Damon Thomas, Francesca Gardiner, Sandra Oh, Elinor Day, Morenike Williams and Andy Noble||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||Jodie Comer (for "I Hope You Like Missionary!")||Won|
|Sandra Oh (for "You're Mine")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Fiona Shaw (for "Nice and Neat")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Emerald Fennell (for "Nice and Neat")||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series||Suzanne Crowley and Gilly Poole||Nominated|
|Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More)||Laurence Dorman, Beckie Harvey and Linda Wilson (for "The Hungry Caterpillar")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series||Dan Crinnion (for "Desperate Times")||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series||Sandra Oh||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Action-Thriller Television Series||Killing Eve||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Television Series||Sandra Oh||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series||Sandra Oh||Won|||
|Television Critics Association Awards||Individual Achievement in Drama||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Achievement in Drama||Killing Eve||Nominated|
|2020||British Academy Television Awards||Best Leading Actress||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|British Academy Television Craft Awards||Best Editing: Fiction||Dan Crinnion (for "Episode 4")||Nominated|
|Best Original Music||David Holmes and Keefus Ciancia||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Laurence Dorman and Linda Wilson||Nominated|
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Contemporary Television||Charlotte Mitchell (for "Desperate Times")||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actress in a Drama Series||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Killing Eve||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|Best Television Series – Drama||Killing Eve||Nominated|
|Location Managers Guild Awards||Outstanding Locations in Contemporary Television||Jamie Parsons, Jordi Utset, Lucian Asan||Won|||
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Sally Woodward Gentle, Lee Morris, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Gina Mingacci, Sandra Oh, Damon Thomas, Suzanne Heathcote, Jeff Melvoin, Lynn Horsford and Nige Watson||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||Jodie Comer (for "Are You From Pinner?")||Nominated|
|Sandra Oh (for "Are You Leading or Am I?")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Fiona Shaw (for "Management Sucks")||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series||Suzanne Crowley and Gilly Poole||Nominated|
|Outstanding Contemporary Costumes||Katie Broome, Sam Perry and Justin Selway (for "Are You from Pinner?")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music Supervision||Catherine Grieves and David Holmes ("Meetings Have Biscuits")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More)||Laurence Dorman, Beckie Harvey and Casey Williams (for "Are You From Pinner?")||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Television Series – Drama||Killing Eve||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series||Jodie Comer||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|2021||American Cinema Editors Awards||Best Edited Drama Series for Commercial Television||Dan Crinnion (for "Still Got It")||Nominated|||
|American Society of Cinematographers Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in an Episode of a One-Hour Television Series – Commercial||Carlos Catalán (for "Meetings Have Biscuits")||Nominated|||
|Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a One-Hour Contemporary Single-Camera Series||Laurence Dorman (for "Are You from Pinner?")||Nominated|||
|British Academy Television Awards||Best Leading Actress||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Killing Eve||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Jodie Comer||Nominated|||
|Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards||Best Contemporary Make-Up||Juliette Tomes and Amy Brand (Season 3)||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Kiss||Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh||Nominated|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Television Series – Drama||Killing Eve||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series||Sandra Oh||Nominated|
|2022||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||Jodie Comer||Pending|||
In March 2021, Sid Gentle Films confirmed that Killing Eve would conclude with its fourth series. Additionally, the development of a potential, unnamed, spin-off series was being considered.
In April 2022, it was confirmed that a spin-off focusing on Carolyn Martens' early life at MI6 was in the early stages of development.
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