One of the breakout dramas of 2018, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Killing Eve, a loose adaptation of Luke Jennings's Codename Villanelle stories, returns to BBC America on April 7 right where it left off. The sexy, violent and witty spy vs. spy story pit Mi5's Eve (Sandra Oh) against assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer), in a cat and mouse chase that eventually put them together in the explosive Season 1 finale, "God, I'm Tired." Finally revealing themselves to one another, Eve stabbed Villanelle and the two parted ways once more.
Season 2 picks right up from that finale, and this year, executive producer Emerald Fennell is the show's head writer, as Waller-Bridge handed her the day-to-day showrunning as she worked on her other series, Fleabag. Alongside Fennell is executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle, and together they explained to SYFY WIRE how the show's sophomore season hones in on the repercussions of both of their actions last year.
First off, how much of the series is still based on Jenning's novellas, or have you gone your own path with the narrative?
Emerald Fennell: Luke is a genius and has a real fascination with odd characters, the whole of series two now is of his novels.
Sally Woodward Gentle: We sort of ran out of stories by episode three of Season 1. He was writing more stories, and we were writing in parallel. He knew what was gonna happen but I actually haven't finished reading the rest of his books. But, I know that there is some parallel and some crossover.
After such a crazed Season 1 with Eve and Villanelle's dual obsession with one another, what is Season 2 focused on exploring?
Fennell: What we're really looking at this series is going back to what it is to be a woman in an extraordinary situation. And that you can't ignore that there are certain physical limitations that when a person like Villanelle experiences is very, very distressing. So, what was really important to us, was that we picked up immediately, rather than fudge it and just get back into what does it feel like to be a woman who's used to doing whatever they want, and is suddenly, seriously, physically compromised?
And for Eve, it's like being the black-out drunk. You've woken up in Paris, You've cheated on your husband, and you've gotta get home. Physically and psychologically, what does sitting on that three- hour train ride feel like? What does being surrounded by ordinary people thinking you might have killed someone, what does that feel like? Going home, looking at all of your stuff with blood under your fingernails, what does that feel like? And then for Villanelle, if you believe that you're immortal because you have been up until now, and you're a psychopath, what does it feel like to have everything just taken away from you quite quickly?
Writing into the intensity of this series has to have an impact on you?
Fennell: Yes, Phoebe was so brilliant in this paranoia that's required and the low-level anxiety, you really just start thinking differently. Writing it is so fun because everything, every scene is full of a different type of atmosphere and chemistry than our lives are generally.
Will we get to see the fallout of this continuing obsession on both of their lives?
Woodward Gentle: There are some moments in the series where you get the sense of the impact this kind of life has on all sorts of people, because you see the impact of it on Villanelle and Eve. And then necessarily, their experience frames others people's experiences. Then you start to notice that maybe it's kind of tiring and horrible and all the things it would be if you had to lie every day.
Emerald: I think the thing is for this series was looking at it still as a thriller and the "Big Bad" that we're interested is the bad inside Eve and Villanelle. What that kind of toxic relationship, this 'romance' is doing to both of them and eating them from the inside. But externally, paranoia and the sense of being watched and all of that stuff is very pertinent to this series because we start to get the sense that somebody has died who had a lot of information.