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The story so far (Episodes 1-2):
In this case, as we think that Killing Eve is a Thriller, these core scenes should turn on the global values of Life and Death.
The Inciting Incident for the Beginning Hook is the same scene as in episode 1, There is a killer on the loose and they need to solve the crimes.
It’s upending Eve’s life, isn’t it? Eve is interested in studying female assassins and finally on her doorstep arrives this assassination where she thinks it might be a female killer so that’s what motivates her to want to investigate these murders. If it had been a male assassin, she might not be so interested.
So formally, we have Eve Polastri, an MI-5 security manager who has an opportunity to input on a crime which MI-6 is looking into, but she is quickly slapped down, that this isn’t her position.
Randall and Parul:
Does this turn on life and death – hell yeah it does; it begins with this guy having his femoral artery slashed.
This is the perfect setting for this series, I mean, this series is about a psycho assassin and the Inciting Incident is the assassination.
The first 2 episodes are incredibly strong. The further you get into the series, the viewers aren’t disappointed. It becomes more and more complicated.,
Randall: The Inciting Incident sets the theme, tone, and mood for the series – people will die, can the protagonist stop her? It’s exactly where you want to be as an author or a screenwriter – you want to tell you your audience this is what this series is about.
Melanie: And also we see the power difference between the two. Eve is very, very unprofessional. She’s taking croissants to the briefing and making noise, she’s clumsy (she bumps the table, and she’s late to the meeting. And then we have Villanelle, who isn’t making any mistakes.
Are progressive complications getting more difficult for the protagonist?
Initially, I thought the Turning Point of the Beginning Hook is when Eve is offered the job as the leader of the Task Force to find Villanelle. This would be a Character Action Turning Point because Carolyn offers her the job. And would lead to the Crisis Question of does she take the job – does she risk her life and her family’s life by being involved in a search for an assassin, or does she risk that MI-6 will botch the job because Eve isn’t involved and more people will die. However, Parul and Melanie disagree.
Parul and Melanie:
The Turning Point is internal, she’s frustrated with the job and she’s doubting her ability. She’s torn – Can she do the job? Is she the right person?
Either Turning Point is significant with respect to the global value of life and death. The stakes are very similar, even though the two possible turning points are very different.
In both cases, she is trying to stop a psychopath assassin.
In both possible Turning Points, the Crisis Question becomes – Does Eve continue doing the job or quit? It’s the best bad case scenario for Eve. If she continues, it may get dangerous but she feels that she is the best person to find the assassin and stop the killing. If she quits, then Villanelle may continue killing and no one can stop her.
Does this turn on life and death? Absolutely! Either way, more people may die. And also, Eve doesn’t know it yet, but Villanelle knows that Eve is tracking her, so from the audience’s point of view, her staying the course is even more dangerous now.
Eve decides to continue to track Villanelle. Once again, this turns on life/ death because it doesn’t matter what she does, Villanelle might escape capture and kill more and Eve has put herself in the crosshairs of Villanelle.
The resolution of the beginning hook is Eve knowing that her assumptions about a female assassin were right.
Not only is her investigation taking a major leap forward, but she also knows now that she has already met the killer and knows what she looks like.
Careerwise, Eve is the leader of a secret task force having no clue about the fact that the villain or group of villains already knows about her not so secret task force.
For the Beginning Hook, the global value changes from negative to positive.
At the beginning of the series, MI5 has no leads and is actually being misled from within the agency and no closer to catching the assassin. At the end of episode 2, after the task force has been created, Eve is leading the team and evaluating information to get them closer to stopping the assassin.
Also, Eve is close to her internal desire to finding meaning / a purpose / even a thrill. Eve thinks that her talents are being wasted as a security manager for MI5, that she would be better analyzing intelligence, and now she has the chance to do that.
When a bored MI5 security officer Eve Polastri is signed up on a case to protect a witness who witnessed an assassination of which Eve’s the only one to assume it was a female assassin, and she has to question herself if she is up for the job of leading a secret task force to find the female assassin or if she does not use the opportunity (that not only can change her life for the better, but that might influence her personal and professional life). Eve decides to follow her instincts, puts Kenny on gathering all the pictures of the nurses and she not only finds the evidence that she was right, but she also knows now what that female assassin looks like.
A bored MI5 security officer, Eve Polastri, is assigned to lead a task force in search of an expert female assassin, but after doubting her ability to continue leading the task force, she finally decides to take charge of the team and continue her pursuit, ultimately realizing that she may have actually met the assassin.
After MI5 investigates numerous assassinations of important people in Europe with no leads, security coordinator Eve Polastri discovers evidence that the killer is a woman by conducting illegal investigations because she has made the decision not to follow the rules of her agency. After being fired for breaking the rules, her potential is acknowledged and Eve is rehired as the leader of a secret team whose goal is to find and stop the assassin.
After being scolded by her boss when she speaks out about an assassination being committed by a female assassin, Eve Polastri is fired from her job for doing her own investigation, but is vindicated in her abilities when she is offered the job to lead a task force to find the female assassin and accepts it, only to later question if she is really the right person to lead the task force.
Yes, it absolutely works!
Reviewing the Obligatory Scenes and Conventions of the Thriller, the Beginning Hook answered the following:
An inciting Crime indicative of a Master villain – Villanelle is assassinating people for an unknown reason and there are no clues to help MI5 catch her.
Speech in Praise of the Villain – especially in the conversation between Carolyn and Eve, when she hires Eve to work for her. Eve praises her when she evaluates the femoral cut of the first victim and actually re-enacts the move on herself.
A MacGuffin – the Villains’ Object of Desire – Villanelle is a psychopath who enjoys her job as an assassin and she enjoys her quality of life, so her Object of Desire is to continue to kill for money.
Clock: The clock is continuous because the longer Villanelle remains at large, the more people she kills and the closer she gets to her goal, which is unknown
But first and foremost I thought the beginning hook of Killing Eve worked because it kept the promise made to the reader. Do you want a thriller? Well, you got one. A cat-and-mouse game between two women you have never seen before. So yes, the Beginning Hook worked.
The love story is just beginning, the lovers have met and just discovered each other exist.
Lovers Meet in the hospital, but they don’t know each other
Helpers and Harmers: nobody wants this relationship – Bill jokes about Eve fancying Eve but in reality, everyone knows that it’s not clever to fall for a serial killer. Constantin cautions Villanelle to not engage with Eve, but V can’t help herself. You know the only people rooting for them
Is this a trope? The good guy and the bad guy falling for each other like in the movie At First Sight with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, and many others.
Gender Divide: both women are taking on what would normally be portrayed as male jobs. Eve is head of an assassin task force (with no training or experience) and V is a master assassin
External Needs: Eve needs to prove herself in her job, but you get a sense that if things had been different, she could have been an assassin; she has the psychology for this.
Opposing Forces: society, governments, the 12
Secrets: so many secrets
Moral Weight: They suggest those who cannot love have a moral failing. For one to live happily ever after, they must get over the moral failing by story’s end or suffer the consequences. Eve must lower her morals to save Villanelle, and Villanelle must lose her “kill everyone and let God sort them out” attitude and not kill Eve, no matter the threat she presents.
Because we have focused on Eve as our protagonist, let’s just look at the 5 commandments for Villanelle for the beginning hook because even she has to face progressive complications and a dilemma.
Konstantin tells Villanelle that a witness to her Vienna assassination will be heard in London the next day.
Konstantin tells Villanelle there is an investigation led by Eve Polastri to find Villanelle. He shows her a picture of Eve and Villanelle remembers her from the hospital bathroom. She knows now she has already met the leader of the task force chasing her.
Shall Villanelle be more careful in her killings or should she go on expressing herself in the way she kills and start playing with the one who hunts her? Because it’s a game for her.
We are not seeing the climax nor the resolution to Villanelle’s beginning hook in the first two episodes. But you will find the answer in episode 3, just look out for it, when Villanelle uses Eve’s name for the fetish sex hospital in Berlin, where she kills a Chinese man.
Villanelle lured her prey to Berlin and is now able to study Eve.
It moves from being carefree to that feeling of being intrigued by someone, which is strange and new to Villanelle. Until finding out about Eve, Villanelle was just doing her job, but knowing that Eve will be there to find her victims, Villanelle can start a new game to entertain herself. A game that excites her. A game of being the hunter and the one who’s hunted.
Randall – absolutely, I’m hooked. A psycho assassin, an untrained but competent hero, what could go wrong?
Melanie: I am hooked, too. Two women with obsessive behavior tendencies set out on this cat-and-mouse game that raises the stakes to life and death. Yes, I go on watching this series.
Has the Beginning Hook for Killing Eve worked for you? What do you think of the Killing Eve TV show so far?
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For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.
For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.
If you want to see more applications of the Story Grid methodology, below are links to my analysis of various novels and television shows in blog posts and podcasts:
Story Grid Showrunners Podcast – Parul, Melanie, and I analyze hit TV series using the Story Grid methodology.
My blog posts analyzing other Television series – my person take using the Story grid 5 Commandments to look at my favorite TV series – Jack Ryan, Batgirl, For All Mankind, Hanna, and more.
Novel analysis – I analyze some of my favorite books using the Story Grid 5 Commandments and 6 core questions – First Blood, Old Man’s War, Waylander, and more to come!
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© 2020 Randall R. Surles