Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Access to visual stories should be a right for all

  • 05 June 2019


SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses the opening scenes of season one, episode one of Killing Eve. 'It's fantastic, isn't it?' a colleague states in the tearoom. Another colleague chimes in: 'It's so good, and Jodie Comer, isn't she amazing?' Listening to the conversation, you decide you want to watch this series that's getting rave reviews. Killing Eve has been the source of many a discussion around the water cooler at work so you decide to sit down to watch it that evening.

It's two minutes before the first dialogue occurs. Two full minutes of listening to 'Xpectations' by The Unloved. Although the musical interlude is pleasant, you are perplexed. You have been shut out of the narrative exposition and the first inkling of the personality of a lead character, although you aren't yet aware that you have missed crucial information.

Now let's rewind and play it again.

Motorcycle rides down a street in front a building which has large lettering on it reading Schlekaria Eis Café. People are sitting at tables and eating outside it. The word Vienna in large pink text appears on screen. A woman, Villanelle, is seen from behind sitting at a table, then a side view reveals she is eating ice-cream. She is watching a young girl at another table intently. The child stares back at her. Villanelle half-smiles at the child but she stares back stonily. The child catches the gaze of a waiter smiling at her behind a counter and smiles back. Villanelle watches the interaction closely and tries to mimic the man, smiling as well ... 

She gets up to pay and the waiter looks her up and down. She smirks as she walks past and puts money on the counter. She continues out of the café, walking past the small child. She reaches out to tip the bowl of ice-cream over the front of the girl. She exits the café to the street outside.

Suddenly, there is unwavering clarity. This is an antagonist, a woman who clearly doesn't understand social etiquette and appears to have impaired emotional capacity. In that crucial, silent interpersonal exchange, the audience develops the implicit understanding that this is a character with flaws. In this first, wordless two minutes, an expectation about the role the villainous Villanelle will play is set up, setting the stage for a cat-and-mouse chronicle that will play out across two seasons (to date).  

The second description here is audio description