Review: Fiona Shaw Adds Secret Agent to Her Résumé

Fiona Shaw has a knack for portraying characters who want to blend into their surroundings. In her latest role in the BBC show Killing Eve, Shaw drops the Petunia Dursley desire of fitting into suburbia and instead slides into the gray overcoat worn by secret agent Carolyn Martens.

Killing Eve, based on the novellas by Luke Jennings, is jam-packed with a strong, female presence. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is executive producer for the miniseries, while Sandra Oh and Jodie Cormer take on the lead roles. Cormer plays the cold, detached, sometimes deranged assassin Villanelle, while Oh portrays Eve, the woman tasked with tracking her down.

In the pilot episode, Eve (Sandra Oh) is working a security desk job but has higher aspirations. When she learns of a series of hit jobs around the world that have gone unsolved, she can’t help but jump into the investigation even though it’s a bit above her pay grade.

Remember that stellar lineup of females controlling this series? Well, that’s heavily reflected in the writing. It turns out, Eve is a step ahead of the men she works with in identifying the assassin, for one simple reason: She recognizes women can be capable of murder.

Eve finds herself heading the investigation, and viewers are brought along for the pursuit. The chase has Eve and Villanelle engaged in a sort of tug of war, each equally as intrigued, and somewhat obsessed, with the other. What’s interesting here is, the two are connected by a mutual respect. A recognition of each other’s intelligence puts these two women on equal ground, each seeing in the other something to admire.

What’s really special about this show is the characters. As soon as we are introduced to Eve, it feels like she’s a real person. Sandra Oh is Eve, not just playing a character. Villanelle is a complex antagonist. The audience can feel why Eve is so intrigued with her. Villanelle is fascinated with death. She romanticizes it, seeing it as a presentation or performance art. There’s a scene where she thoughtfully arranges herself on the couch, wearing a frilly dress and pale makeup, thoughtfully arranging herself as a “corpse.”

The bottom line is, I really enjoyed this show. It feels new and original and I’m looking forward to seeing where the chase will end. Who will come out ahead? Eve or Villanelle?

The first episode airs on April 8 on BBC America.

Amy Hogan

I was 9 years old when I discovered the magic that is “Harry Potter.” I am a proud Hufflepuff and exceedingly good at eating, reading, being sarcastic, and over-thinking small tasks. Since I spent too much time worrying about the correct way to write this bio, this is all I was able to come up with before the deadline.