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Killing Eve - Episode 2 - I'll Deal with Him Later - "Let the Games Begin"

****SPOILER WARNING – Please note the series review below may contain spoilers from the latest episode of Killing Eve

If there are any aspiring television writers out there looking for a role model to study for crafting unforgettable characters; sharp, witty dialogue; spot on plotting and pacing; and a compelling thrill ride of a story filled with twists and turn, then they need look no further than Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag). As the writer-creator of Killing Eve, she is setting a new standard in gripping television. The show's premiere episode was so good BBC America renewed it for a second season before the first show had even aired. She set the bar very high in the premiere, and instead of a second episode let- down, as occurs on many shows, she ramped the story up with another superbly written script for Episode 2, "I'll Deal with Him Later". The result is an episode which at first finds Eve out of a job, and the mysterious Villanelle's employers worrying about her fitness to do her job, killing. By the end of the stylishly shot, expertly edited and brilliantly directed episode Waller-Bridge not only reached that bar, she took a giant leap over it.

Outstanding writing and production values aside, it's the two stars, Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy) and Jodie Comer (The White Princess) that continue to elevate Killing Eve. Both actresses continue to peel back the many layers of the unique characters they play. In "I'll Deal with Him Later", Oh shows us a goofy, awkward side to Eve Polastri, someone not concerned with the trappings of common social skills or amenities. But, make no mistake there is a razor-sharp mind behind the slight goofiness. A mind that as the head of a secret arm of MI6, Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw – Harry Potter, in a nicely understated performance) recognizes when she recruits Eve for her team that's been a female assassin they've been tracking for two years.

Privy to the information from Eve's computer from MI5 after she was fired, Martens finds that Eve has made more progress tracking this assassin on her own than her team has in months. She doesn't mind Eve's goofiness, not when she sees that goofiness disappear when Eve discusses her favorite topic, serial killers. For Martens, Eve is just the person she needs to help track and capture this killer.And she knows just how to get Eve on board, she takes her to a secret office where an elaborate murder board has been set up tracking the assassin, a murder board comprised of the information found in Eve's research. She further reels Eve in by telling her she can pick her own two-person team to go with the computer genius she already has on board. Eve wastes no time in reaching out to her former boss, Bill (David Haig – Witness for the Prosecution) and assistant Elena (Kirby Howell-Baptiste - Love).

While Eve is setting up her new office and getting to work, Comer's Villanelle is told to stand down by her employers and ordered to undergo evaluation. From one scene to the next, Comer adds layer upon layer to Villanelle, a character you really shouldn't care about but can't stop watching. Giving the performance of her career, Comer is giving us a character unlike any seen on television in a long while. Villanelle is a cold-blooded, emotionless, trained killer, yet there is an almost child-like innocence about her, seeking approval for her work. That child-like innocence helps her get close to her victims, fooling people who don't realize how brilliant and deadly she is. Comer does amazing work as Villanelle. She is especially outstanding in this week's scene where her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia – Watership Down) has forced her to go be evaluated before giving her, her next target. Using her expressive face and eyes, she turns Villanelle into a maniacal chameleon, her expressions and emotions seemingly turning on a dime. She goes from indifferent and impatient to upset to laughing in rapid-fire succession. You literally can't tell which her true emotions are. Who is the mysterious Anna her handler had the evaluator ask her about? What was her relationship with her mother?

Comer has given this character such depth that you are close to being mesmerized by her every time she is on screen. This episode takes you through so many levels of Villanelle, but through them all she is devoid of emotion, from killing the businessman in Budapest to quickly latching onto a new "boyfriend"/neighbor, Sebastian (Charles Hamblett – The Secret Agent) when she's told to do something "normal" by Konstantin who accidentally kills himself with a deadly poisoned perfume she created to use on her latest target, whom she killed after disobeying her handlers again. Yet, we discover Villanelle IS capable of emotion. Villanelle is told by Konstantin her employers are concerned about a new squad at MI6 devoted to finding her, a squad led by a woman by the name of Eve Polastri. In a masterfully edited final scene set to the anthem "La Marseilles", Villanelle researches her pursuer while Eve is trying to track down an odd nurse she remembers at the hospital where her witness had been killed.

Both women have unusual reactions to discovering they have actually met. From Eve, there's almost a joy and giddiness that she's been face to face with the serial killer she has been so fascinated about. And from Villanelle, we see the first sign of true emotion - fear - when she realizes that this Eve Polastri is the woman she met in the bathroom of the hospital before she calmly walked out of the room and killed four people.

Let the games begin. Watching what moves Eve and Villanelle make next is going to be a sheer delight. What was your favorite part of the second outstanding episode of Killing Eve? Use the comments below to discuss your thoughts.

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