Are you feeling a stabbing pain in your stomach? Fret not. That’s just your body informing you that it’s almost time for the unveiling of Killing Eve’s second season. BBC America’s crafty spy thriller stars Sandra Oh as committed covert MI6 agent Eve Polastri, who is tracking a moody, magnificent executioner named Villanelle (Jodie Comer), who now also happens to be tracking her. Season 1 ended with a startling stabbing, as Eve destroyed Villanelle’s apartment, wound up in bed with her (no, not like that, but also not not like that), and then slid a knife into her midsection, before retracting the blade and allowing Villanelle to escape, albeit with severe wounds. Before season 2 begins on April 7 at 8 p.m. ET (also on AMC) and you reacquaint yourself with prime time’s oddest couple, read what Killing Eve executive producer and head writer Emerald Fennell revealed to EW about the action to come via these 12 (it just seemed like a fitting number) clues. “It’s definitely epic,” she sums up, “but it’s also deeply personal.
The motto of season 2? “Look in the mirror.”
“There’s a duality and a sense of self-examination — both women learning a lot about who they are,” says Fennell, who took over head writing duties from executive producer and developer Phoebe Waller-Bridge after season 1. “We’re starting to see the mirror-image similarities between them, for the good and the bad. 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? At what point do they meet? What are the gains and losses there?”
The writers’ conversations about this season revolved around good and evil, and an examination of what those words in the show’s title actually mean. “Our main question this [season] is: Who’s killing Eve?” says Fennell. “Is it Villanelle? Is it Carolyn [Eve’s MI6 boss, played by Fiona Shaw] and MI6? Is it Niko [Eve’s husband, played by Owen McDonnell], because he wants to kill that sort of amazing, eccentric spirit that she has? Or is it Eve, who just can’t stop putting her hands right into that flame?”
The show won’t slice out the immediate ramifications of that shocking stabbing.
Season 2 resumes 30 seconds after the end of season 1, and part of the reason is to explore the emotional aftermath of such a trauma. “We’re very, very used to seeing a huge amount of violence in all the media right now,” says Fennell. “What we never think about is what it would actually feel like to stick a knife into someone’s skin and then through their body. Then to be on the receiving side of that, when you’re most vulnerable, trusting, and lying down. There’s a reality of that. It’s so shocking that we didn’t want to do that thing of picking up two months later when everyone is healed, and everyone is feeling better. Whenever you look at action movies or action TV shows, you skip the recovery. In many ways, our feeling was that recovery, psychological and physical, is really interesting and really scary because it’s so compromising.”
There’s a reckoning of sorts that Eve must face now that she has crossed a line that she didn’t think she would. “Dealing with that, who she is, and how she can get back home is going to be horrifying,” says Fennel. Meanwhile, the beginning of the season will examine how Villanelle transacts with what transpired. “The worst of it was that she was lying down, and she trusted Eve,” says Fennell. “We called it not any sort of psychic wound for Villanelle, but it’s a narcissistic wound.” And it was a cut that joined, not divided. “We really felt like the act bonded them in a macabre, fascinating, deep way.”
Expectation, reality. Reality, expectation. (We’ll let you two get to know each other.)
Eve and Villanelle may be consumed with each other, but that doesn’t mean they truly know each other. “Part of the job for this season was: What does it look like when your obsession becomes real, or you get to close it?” says Fennell. “Because often it’s more exciting but also more scary than you expected. We’re trying to keep that tension always as much as possible, and part of that tension is knowing that both women’s idea of each other might not be the same as the reality. So even if they are in a room together, they might not still be in the same room because the way they think of each other may not be quite what the truth is.”
Expect more colorful kills from Villanelle, but nothing too cartoonish. (Except maybe her pajamas.)
Villanelle has been creative in her murderous ways, such as poisoning a woman with perfume and driving a hairpin into a man’s eye. In season 2, the writers took pains to make sure that kills did not stray into the absurd, assures Fennell. “We were very keen to keep it grounded as always,” she says. “The thing about the show is it walks such a delicate line between hilarious and beautiful and crazy, but also kind of honest. We were really conscious of really the temptation which has been to be like, ‘Let’s explode a ton of buildings.’ We really haven’t done that. There are some amazing murders because everyone loves murdering people. We’ve not gone over the top. We’re not going to see her on a high wire with a machine gun.”
Niko will have to wrestle with the idea of another person in Eve’s life.
Eve’s concerned spouse has seen just the beginning of Eve’s obsession wreaking turmoil in their lives. “It’s another brilliant thing that Phoebe just makes so nuanced and exquisite, is that it’s not a perfect marriage,” says Fennell. “It’s also not a marriage where those people are miserable. It’s actually a very happy, healthy, wonderful thing that is worth fighting for. Of course, it’s just whether or not the circumstances become too impossible. The situations that we are in now — Eve has done something which may have changed her forever. That will have repercussions with every relationship in her life.”
Carolyn and Eve reunite.
Carolyn may have terminated Eve near the end of season 1, but she will re-retain her services at the beginning of season 2. “Let’s say something happens which maybe requires that those things have to be put aside,” teases Fennell. In truth, Eve’s impulse-driven decisions can be challenging for a methodical organization like MI6, “but the truth is there is no one like her at MI6,” notes Fennell. “The truth is Carolyn kind of needs Eve, because there’s no one like her. And the fact that she’s an outsider makes her very interesting, and she’s able to do stuff that other people aren’t.”
That said, suspicion and wariness are stitched into their dynamic by design. “There’s a huge amount of mistrust still between Carolyn and Eve because both of them have been caught in positions that are compromising,” says Fennell. “We don’t know why Carolyn’s on CCTV. Carolyn doesn’t know that Eve has not gone home as she was ordered to do… We might well ask why she wants someone like Eve in the fold. It’s probably a bit more complicated than any of us thinks.”
Brace for more fun in the workplace.
Eve will find herself in a new secret intelligence office, after her previous covert one was disbanded. (Though one familiar face will be Carolyn’s son, Kenny, played by Sean Delaney.) “Eve is such an unbelievably hilarious and brilliant character,” says Fennell. “After the terrible death of Bill [Eve’s boss-turned-underling, played by David Haig], which sort of traumatized all of us, we realized that Eve needs people to work with, to play with, to have fun with. Jess [Nina Sosanya] and Hugo [Edward Bluemel] will be working with her in one way or another. What we really wanted was just some peers — people who were on Eve’s wavelength, and that she can really have a laugh with. What I loved so much about this show it’s how clever it is about building a workplace, even if it’s an extraordinary workplace.”
(Speaking of new characters, there’s also new assassin at large, which means Eve’s focus may be diverted from Villanelle, which probably won’t go over well with her. “Suddenly there’s someone between them for the first time,” Fennell recently hinted at a press conference.)
Light will be shed on the fate of Konstantin.
Villanelle wasn’t the only one receiving a devastating injury to the midsection at the end of of the season. Villanelle’s mysterious, opportunistic handler, Konstantin [Kim Bodnia], was shot in the stomach by Villanelle, but it was left more than a little unclear if he succumbed to the wounds. Is he alive? Or is the show boldly ready to part with one of its most compelling, intriguing characters? “There absolutely will be clarity,” says Fennell. “We’ll definitely find out what happened either way.”
The Twelve. Still there. Still mysterious.
There’s obviously more to learn about the mysterious, ominous, super-powerful, death-ordering organization that employs Villanelle, but answers may not be coming for some time. “They’ve always got their eye on things,” notes Fennell. “They’re always an ever-present threat. They are a physical entity. That’s all I will say. They’re part of the fabric of the world of Killing Eve.”
Killing Eve is not ending just yet.
How long can this cat-and-mouse game continue? Maybe a little longer than you think. “That’s always the conversation in the back of your mind,” says Fennell. “But at the same time, with any good character piece, if you stripped away the fascinations and the MI6 of it all, and you put Eve and Villanelle in a bedsit in Scotland, you’d still really be interested in how they take their tea. You’d be interested in what Villanelle asked Eve to get her from the supermarket. The genius thing of Jodie and Sandra and Phoebe’s creation is that you could watch these women do anything, because they’re breathtaking and they feel so real to us. So actually in a way, it can go on as long as they wanted to — or the characters do. Of course, we think about it a lot, but there’s a way to go yet.”
Let your paranoid flag fly freely.
“Trust no one,” she hints.
One final tease? “Lipstick.”
Warns Fennell: “You’ll never put on makeup the same way again.”