‘Killing Eve’ Boss on Why Eve and Villanelle ‘Could Die in Any Episode’

Killing Eve’s” new head writer and executive producer Emerald Fennell took the reins of Season 2 with the attitude that both of the main characters — the titular MI6 agent (Sandra Oh) and the assassin she stabbed at the end of Season 1, Villanelle (Jodie Comer) — could “die in any episode.”

“I never wanted that thing that you often have often with famous thriller characters, which is, ‘They’ll all be fine!'” Fennell tells Variety. “I think it’s really important to say, ‘OK well if this is a fight to the death, and demonstrably it is with what happened last [season], no one should feel safe.'”

Fennell notes that series creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge established this kind of anti-precious approach to characters early on in the first season when she killed off Eve’s boss Frank (Darren Boyd). “The brutality of that and the fact that you never look away from it,” Fennell explains, helped exemplify that “there is a sense that both of them are getting into stuff that’s properly deadly,” which is key to keeping the tension and stakes high on such a series as “Killing Eve.”

“Otherwise we don’t believe it anymore,” she says.

Fennell notes that it often common for thrillers to jump forward in time in order to skip having to watch their heroes recover from their battle wounds. But true to the subversion of the genre that “Killing Eve” started when it launched with two women in the MI6/assassin cat-and-mouse relationship, here, too, did she want to do the unexpected.

“Immediately the thing I was interested in after Episode 8 of Season 1 was, ‘What the f— does Villanelle do when her power’s been taken away? And what on Earth does Eve do the moment she’s done something completely unfathomable?'” Fennell says. “I felt very strongly about seeing that immediate fallout.”

This led her to pick up the second season premiere mere seconds after the first season finale left off. While Fennell admits she would have liked to keep it a secret from the audience as to whether or not Villanelle was alive, that was impossible when trying to market the new season. But while the audience knows she survived, Villanelle is in the wind, and because of that Eve is unsure whether or not her wound was fatal.

“We couldn’t cheat around the fact that Villanelle is bleeding to death,” Fennell says, noting that a lot of the early part of the second season will be about how she copes with people looking for her when she is not operating at her best. “In the end what we ended up doing was making a virtue of something that usually would be admin in any other thriller. In any other thriller it would have been about getting Villanelle back to her sexiest point again.”

Additionally, Fennell says that “assassins have the shortest sell-by dates” and often when one is getting “close to 30, they get more reckless.” But Villanelle’s injury should knock her down a peg or two in thinking she is untouchable.

“If you are immortal, which is what Villanelle was in Season 1 and has been her whole life, what does it feel like when you’re suddenly mortal and at the mercy of people who are beneath you in every way?” she says.

Meanwhile, for Eve, one of the first things Fennell says she thought about when breaking story for the second season was “What do you do when you have got blood under your fingernails and are in Paris and you’ve got to get home?”

Fennell, who spent some time living in Paris herself, recalls times she would be on the train “hungover, let’s say, and maybe full of a bit of remorse.” That led her to view Eve’s post-stabbing mood as “the worst hangover ever.”

“This is the morning after you’ve done something unforgivable and you have to go home and face the music,” Fennell says of where the second season premiere picks up with the titular character.

“Killing Eve” Season 2 premieres April 7 at 8 p.m. on BBC America and AMC.

More TV

  • Hailee SteinfeldTribeca TV Festival 2019 Presents

    Hailee Steinfeld Announces New Single Tied to Apple TV Plus' 'Dickinson'

    Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled “Afterlife” on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series,”Dickinson.” “This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,” Steinfeld [...]

  • Rachel Bloom

    Rachel Bloom Announces Pregnancy After Emmy Win

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom made a special announcement after winning her Emmy for best original music and lyrics — she is pregnant. Bloom announced the news backstage on Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. She joked she had planned to reveal the news on Instagram but that doing it at the Emmys was even [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    TV Review: 'Evil'

    In its pilot installment, CBS’s new drama “Evil” delves into that which may lie beyond the rationally explicable. And the show itself represents something almost supernatural by 2019 standards, too: A well-made hour fueled by chemistry between its leads and a strong idea of itself. On the basis of its debut outing, which screened at [...]

  • Emmy Awards Placeholder

    Creative Arts Emmys: 'Free Solo,' 'Queer Eye' Among Big Winners on Night 1 (Full List)

    “Free Solo,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Saturday Night Live” were among the big winners Saturday after the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. “Free Solo,” the National Geographic feature documentary that already claimed the Oscar earlier this year, lead the field on the [...]

  • Gary Cole, Christina Anthony, Tika Sumpter,

    'Mixed-ish' Team on Why 'All Stories About "Others" Are Necessary'

    The producers and cast of “Mixed-ish” are not out to tell a singular black and white story — but one that showcases and celebrates all shades in between. “It’s important for me across the board in all of my work to talk about ‘otherness’ and identity and real, grounded characters,” showrunner Karin Gist told Variety [...]

  • Shane Gillis

    Comedians Condemn Shane Gillis Over Slurs

    “Saturday Night Live” showrunner Lorne Michaels has yet to comment on the racist and homophobic remarks made by newly hired cast member Shane Gillis, but comedians and actors are expressing their condemnation on social media, some even asking that he be fired from the show.  Footage of Gillis’s podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content