‘Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey’ marks the start of Suzanne Heathcote’s time as showrunner, and she does not disappoint. The episode opens with a dreary Soviet flashback in which a young girl, Dasha, brutally murders her boyfriend. We then cut to the titles and the present day, in which Villanelle has moved to Barcelona and, surprisingly, is getting married. Of course, Villanelle isn’t the marrying type, and it’s unsurprising when her toast falls short, or when the dancing is disrupted by an arrival from her past, causing the entire wedding to descend into chaos.
Dasha (Harriet Walter), who is revealed to be one of Villanelle’s ex-trainers, is the first link between the unexpected wedding and the murderous hijinks we’ve come to expect from Villanelle. Harriet Walter is superb, witty and a match for her protégée, who childishly mimics Dasha’s kill from the episode’s opening in a disturbing and darkly comic moment which reveals Villanelle’s competitive side.
Meanwhile in London, Eve has separated from Niko, who has been admitted to a mental institution with PTSD. There is a grim and gritty tonal shift whenever Eve is featured; while Villanelle is a murderer, she is somehow less harrowing to watch than the jaded, alcoholic Eve. Having left MI6, Eve works in a Korean restaurant in New Malden, and goes through the monotonous motions of everyday life traumatised and with a scar on her shoulder. Sandra Oh’s performance is brilliantly subtle, portraying both Eve’s frustration and trauma perfectly.
The most heart-warming moment in the episode involves Eve and a concerned Kenny, reconciling after the tensions previously caused by Villanelle and Carolyn. They reconnect, and this is the closest to normal Eve’s life appears to get. Obviously, this being Killing Eve, it doesn’t last long: the final scene involves Kenny meeting a grisly and untimely end. His killer is not revealed, but Eve’s horror and grief is unlike anything we’ve seen since the death of Bill in series one. The implication is that Eve will be poised to try to deliver justice.
The first episode is promising; the honesty Phoebe Waller-Bridge injected into series one has returned. It’s gripping and enticing from the get-go, thanks to compelling storytelling and phenomenal performances from Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. (Kim Bodnia’s Konstantin also deserves a mention; he is underutilised in this episode). Although Villanelle’s wedding seemed a throwaway, series three episode one is a fantastic launchpad for what promises to be a gripping series.
Featured Image Source: Still via Killing Eve / BBC iPlayer