A beautiful young woman, seen in a café eating a serving of what appeared to be gelato, caught a little girl’s eye who was also eating a gelato. They exchange a few light-hearted smiles in what appeared to translate as a tender moment on camera. She finishes her gelato, stands up and leaves, but not before toppling the little girl’s gelato on her dress.
It is, narratively and dramatically speaking, a classy way of setting the tone for what the audiences will be in for the next hour, every episode with pitch-perfect performances by Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer as they play a twistedly obsessive game of cat and mouse across the globe. You already know, in that first five minutes that this TV series is going to be one hell of a ride.
Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), an MI5 security operative whose job appears to be nothing more than a mere agency grunt with an intelligence and curiosity that’s largely unrewarded, even unrecognized by her superiors, suddenly becomes an MI6 foreign intelligence operative after speculating that the killer in a recent assassination they’re investigating might be a woman.
Polastri comes across as an awkward but intelligent woman with a rather unruly mass of curly hair. She also registers as deadpan and slightly comedic on camera, but possesses a steely determination despite her inexperience. She screams with primal fear in the face of danger. The raw vulnerability that Oh lends to Polastri makes for a compelling and captivating performance.
Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is a highly intelligent and skilled assassin. Beneath the playful, fresh-faced ingenue façade lies a deeply disturbed psychopath bereft of any moral compass. She develops what I can only describe as an erotic fascination for Polastri which metastasizes into a twisted and disturbing obsession where their worlds will collide with absolutely no regard for the implications it may cost both of their careers.
The relationship dynamic between Polastri and Villanelle is compelling. While it crackles with an unabashed sexual tension so palpable you can feel it under your skin, the manifestations of their mutual fascination couldn’t be more different. Polastri’s fascination is such that she seems to have formed a bond with Villanelle while the latter manifests it with playful yet deliberate taunting to unnerve, and even spite, Polastri.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this taut and riveting show, largely thanks to its intelligently provocative screenplay.
Oh’s portrayal of Eve Polastri proved to be career defining as she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series, making her the first Asian woman to win more than one award.
The show was renewed for a second season before its release. G