As Bodyguard exits in a cloud of smoke and dust, Killing Eve has moved to take its place as the hot TV topic in offices and pubs alike. The gripping and darkly funny drama, which stars the kick-ass Jodie Comer and Grey’s Anatomy‘s Sandra Oh, has blown away TV lovers everywhere. Dangerously, the entire series is available on BBC iPlayer so we, and probably you, have already binge-watched it through to the end of season one.
The show is based on Luke Jennings’ collection of novellas, Codename Villanelle, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the screenwriter, made some crucial changes when adapting the story for television. While some may have been artistic choices, others may reveal key plot drivers for season two.
Here are seven things that are different about the books. (Warning: spoilers ahead)
1. Villanelle is originally in prison for a very different crime
In the TV show, we’re led to believe that before Villanelle is rescued and recruited by The Twelve, she’s in prison because she castrated and murdered her teacher Anna’s husband.
In the book, not so much. Jennings gives her character a lot more back story, and we learn some major things. Oxana, as we know her from the first few pages, is thrown in prison after she murders her father’s killers. We know that he was a wealthy war veteran who turned to crime later in life. After her mother died from cancer when Oxana was young, she became very close with her father, so vowed revenge when rival criminals ended him.
Her merciless murders – she slits one man’s throat and shoots the other two in the face (ouch) – catch the attention of The Twelve, who rescue her from prison and give her a whole new persona. Enter Villanelle.
2. It’s not Anna’s husband who gets castrated
Although the crime that landed Villanelle in prison in the first place doesn’t centre around her chopping off a penis, this brutal act does take place. And no – not to Frank either (we’ll get to him).
In the books, Villanelle actually castrates a man who had raped Anna, which, in a weird psychotic way, is quite sweet of her. Having said that, it still drives Anna away – rightly terrified by Villanelle’s violence.
3. Eve and Niko’s marriage is in a far better place
In both the show and the books, Niko gets frustrated with Eve for being so obsessed with the Russian assassin. The cat-and-mouse game she plays with Villanelle certainly puts a strain on their relationship.
However, while the series ends with their marriage completely up in the air, in the books, the two actually reconcile. Niko even helps Eve and her team crack a password that gives them a major clue. Nice, no? Let’s hope season two unfolds in a similar way for the pair.
4. Bill never features as a key character
It was a tragic moment when Villanelle stabbed the kind and wise Bill to death in a Berlin club. However in the books, while Eve’s MI5 boss Bill Pargrave is mentioned briefly, we never actually meet him – which leads us to believe he’s still alive and well.
Eve does, however, have a colleague called Simon Mortimer, who leaves MI5 with her in order to unpick the case of Villanelle. Sadly, his fate is similar to Bill’s in the show.
5. Carolyn is a man
The MI6 agent and increasingly shady character Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), isn’t in the book. There is a similar character – a man called Richard Edwards.
This Richard hasn’t been carrying on with Konstantin and also hasn’t shown any dodgy characteristics – but we are yet to find out where Jennings’ next book will take that storyline.
6. Other major characters don’t appear
The other two members of Eve’s team – Elena and computer-savvy Kenny – aren’t in the books either. When her friend and colleague Simon dies (see above), Eve’s boss Richard allows her to recruit some others to help her track down Villanelle, but they aren’t in any way like Kenny or Elena.
Frank Haleton, the MI5 agent who is revealed to be a mole in episode four, also isn’t a character in Jennings’ work, but the team do track down a more remote MI5 worker who is leaking information.
7. Eve doesn’t stab Villanelle
…Or at least, she hasn’t yet. Jennings’ sequel, Villanelle: No Tomorrow, is scheduled for publication next month, so we’ll have to wait and see where he takes their relationship. But in his first instalment, Eve and Villanelle have barely had a conversation, let alone shared leftovers for dinner or lain next to each other in bed.
Where will the plot go next? Only time will tell.
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