Like a certain assassin nursing a gut wound, Killing Eve returned in cheeky, globetrotting form last night. Season one ended with a meeting we were all dying to see, as Eve Polastri (Emmy winner Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) circled each other in the latter’s Parisian flat. It had become difficult to tell the quarry from the hunter, which is something the show drove home as Eve drove a knife into a stunned Villanelle’s belly.
The season-two premiere, “Do You Know How To Dispose A Body,” which picks up just seconds later, effectively resets the cat-and-mouse game: Eve is back in London and back on the job, thanks to some flawless and subtle manipulation by Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), while Villanelle is trying to get back to her baby (sorry, girlfriend). The A.V. Club staff weighs in on how the efficacy of that reset, the brilliance of Jodie Comer, and all those bon-bons.
Danette Chavez: Jodie Comer gives another dazzling performance in “Do You Know How To Dispose Of A Body,” feinting to the left with what appears to be empathy before quite literally snapping viewers out of that daydream. And when Villanelle tells poor, doomed Gabriel she’s going to “visit my girlfriend in London,” before limping her way back to England—bedazzled Crocs, superhero PJs, and all—Comer’s reading set VillanEve ’shippers ablaze once more. But it’s Eve who really goes on a journey this episode; still reeling from her encounter with Villanelle, she returns home to survey the wreckage of her personal and professional lives. Sandra Oh has always had to work within tighter constraints than Comer, because there are greater consequences to Eve’s actions, good and bad. Though Villanelle continues to surprise us with her killer proficiency, we also know there’s only one way for her interactions to end. But Eve is still trying to have some healthy relationships, though she and Niko lack the vocabulary to discuss what happened in Paris. Eve is stuck in “I can’t do this” mode for much of the episode, which takes her back to her pre-Eve and pre-Carolyn days, and Oh captures the sharp loss of confidence while also retaining a flicker of her new flame. One of my favorite moments was watching Eve hear the telemarketer out—after trying sweets and booze, she finds solace in his sales pitch because if she upgrades her home, it means she’s recommitting to her old life. The show is pointing Eve in a new direction, but she can’t help but look back.
Erik Adams: I caught “Do You Know To How To Dispose Of A Body?” for the first time a couple months ago, and yet my muscles still tensed as Villanelle sidled up to Gabriel on that hospital bed. It’s a moment destined for endless dissection, and just about the ideal demonstration of Emerald Fennell’s grasp on the peculiarity and nuance that drove Killing Eve in its first season. We know Villanelle well enough not to mistake this fast-forward friendship for anything other than transactional, and you can make the argument that the hospital scenes end the way they do because she no longer needs anything from Gabriel. But there’s also enough there to interpret their interactions as those of connection and empathy—especially if, as other critics have, you connect all the dots in the hospital room to Villanelle’s arrested development. It’s perfectly in character for her to conflate gestures of compassion with acts of violence (see: the wound that sent her to the hospital in the first place), and Jodie Comer plays Villanelle’s farewell to Gabriel chillingly. She gets a little Michael Myers moment as she weighs a handful of candy against a fruit of greater sustenance (one, it’s worth noting, with its own connection to another famous Eve), and there too you can see Killing Eve expertly walking its tonal tightrope, even though there’s someone else feeding it instructions from below.
Caroline Siede: Kudos to that young actor willing to let Jodie Comer pretend to snap his neck! I’m not sure I would be so brave. That’s the one truly shocking, visceral moment in a premiere I otherwise found surprisingly low-key. Rather than ramp up the explosive energy created in the final shots of the first season finale, Killing Eve backs away from that a bit to reset the season. “Do You Know How To Dispose Of A Body?” proves that Killing Eve still knows how to deliver an off-kilter scary-funny energy that’s unlike anything else on TV—from Villanelle’s scrappy hospital antics to Eve’s phone call with the window salesman. But I’m hoping the rest of season two will offer dynamics that feel distinct from the first season, rather than just a slightly new rehash. There’s certainly a lot of promise in Villanelle’s journey to London to see her “girlfriend,” and I’m incredibly curious to see where things go from here. For now, however, I’ll be spending the week until the next episode laughing about that hilariously bizarre non sequitur about the playground “kidnapping.”
Shannon Miller: I had the distinct pleasure of binging the first season of Killing Eve within 19 hours. During one of the easiest undertakings I’ve ever endured, I fell head-over-heels with this complex dance between two women who are both disturbingly good at their jobs and have found something in each other that was missing from their day-to-day lives. After such a sharp first season finale (which might be a pun, if you squint), I was more than ready to get back into the chase. “Do You Know How To Dispose Of A Body” bore some of the elements introduced by previous head writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge that hooked me from the beginning. Eve, despite serious trauma, maintains a hunger for her work and a very confusing professional relationship with her cryptic boss, Carolyn. Villanelle remains unsettlingly detached from most of humanity, which was a delightfully dark thing to explore in an environment as inherently vulnerable as a hospital (and spoiler alert: Her temperament with children is objectively at its worst). What I enjoyed most was how new head writer Emerald Fennell and her team have managed to dial things back just enough so that viewers can look forward to Eve and Villanelle’s inevitable and intense reunion, a prospect that drove so much of the magic of last season. It’s reassuring to witness an example of a show keeping its momentum and cementing its ability to move the story forward, despite such a major change behind the scenes.
Gwen Ihnat: I was relieved to see that Killing Eve continued unabated in season two, really less a season premiere than a brief pause in the action (30 seconds, to be exact). Like most KE viewers, I find the pairing of Eve and Villanelle absolutely fascinating, especially as they start to affect each other. Eve is now acting like a criminal, disposing of evidence like the knife she stabbed Villanelle with and manically chopping way too many vegetables for dinner to the tune of Kim Wilde’s “Kids In America.” And Villanelle pulls off what for her is a compassionate act, breaking the neck of poor orphaned, injured Gabriel.
I gasped, I admit: Foolishly I hoped that Villanelle would send the kid a pile of money or something to help make the rest of his life less painful. But from her perspective it was a kindness, especially since it put her own escape in peril, bringing the authorities to the hospital. Maybe it’s a not a move she would have done pre-Eve. As so often with Villanelle, I wonder how in the world she’s going to get out of this current situation (remember when she was stuck in that Russian prison?), but she is a streetwise survivor, taking the liquor and blanket from a conked-out homeless person, ditching a family’s vacation luggage so that she can fit in their trunk. She always finds a way, and this time, she’s headed right back to Eve, who she now calls her girlfriend.
After all, she says when she knows Eve better than anyone, she’s not wrong (better than Eve’s clueless husband does, surely). Only Villanelle (and possibly Carolyn) knows that Eve is actually capable of stabbing someone. Villanelle likes this because it means that the pair is more alike than she dared hope. I suspect that Killing Eve’s cat-and-mouse game may tire eventually—like The Fugitive and the one-armed man, you’ve got to get the guy eventually—but the thrill of that chase fortunately showed no sign of slowing down in the season-two opener.
Alex McLevy: I know nothing about the Villanelle novels on which this series is based, but I have a hard time imagining the neck snap I would conjure up in my mind as a reader could be more appallingly satisfying than the neck snap executed by Jodie Comer. One of the hardest things about sustaining the core characterization of a murderous psychotic like Villanelle is resisting the temptation to make them more likable or human over the course of a long story—essentially giving in to audience fandom and making them an antihero rather than a villain. Call it the Loki problem—it removes the genuine edge of menace from the role, rendering them not toothless, exactly, but safe.
Not so here. Jodie Comer is as engaging as ever, but the narrative is a deliberate thumb of the nose to any idea that this character will be on a path of redemption. Villanelle (it’s right there in the name, said out loud: “villain”) is a danger to anyone and everyone, her obsession with Eve be damned. I like that the show is leaning into her impulsive homicidal tendencies, rather than downplaying them. It made for a lively and compelling premiere. Eve is a bit adrift at the moment, which is a harder position from which to create tension, but the show timed its murder just right to remind the audience of the deadly stakes. So let’s snap some necks and get on with it, no?
Katie Rife: As the first season of Killing Eve built towards what seemed like its inevitable conclusion, I truly wondered how this show would continue after Eve and Villanelle finally met face to face. Well, now we have our answer: With a diabolical con that only a psychopath could have dreamed up (seriously, that poor cab driver) and some equally diabolical, if less overtly violent, stiff-upper-lip British practicality. The way Carolyn manipulated Eve into re-joining MI-6 (or whoever the hell they work for at this point) without her even realizing it until it was too late was masterful, and she and Villanelle had by far the best lines of the episode. Throw in the parallels between Villanelle’s mercy killing of the boy in the hospital and Carolyn’s temporary adoption of the random kid on the playground—not to mention the heavy homoerotic tension between Carolyn and the coroner who tells her, “your hair smells delicious,” paralleling Villanelle’s psychotic crush on Eve—and it seems to me that this season, the battle will be between alpha females Carolyn and Villanelle, with poor shellshocked Eve caught in the middle. I also thought Jodie Comer’s performance was excellent this episode, really showing the subtleties of Villanelle’s disordered personality and how her mind works in a way that must have taken quite a bit of research to develop.
Allison Shoemaker: I was fortunate enough to see this episode quite early, so it’s been rolling around in my brain like a loose marble for a couple months now, and the two moments to which I kept returning are Eve stress-eating that gorgeous bag of candy, and the fate of Villanelle’s hospital roommate. They’re very different scenes, achieving very different things, but I think they lingered for the same reason: Each is, in its way, Killing Eve in microcosm. The bag of bon-bons sits in the same realm as that now-iconic tutu dress, an exuberant confection (here literally) floating atop something kind of nightmarish, but while the dress was Villanelle’s way of telling a story about herself (and denying one inconvenient part of that story), Eve’s snack betrays something she’d much rather hide. Villanelle performs, Eve reveals.
The hospital scene, on the other hand, is all about Villanelle’s emotional logic, something that we, the show, and Eve all find fascinating. That’s a brutal act that seems to be filed in her mind as an act of empathy. Or maybe courtesy is a better word? I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind, and that’s an ugly thing to have stuck in your head. That’s perfectly Killing Eve, too—and unlike me, you’ll get to find out what happens next in a week, not in months. Lucky you.