Kleo owes everything to Killing Eve and the creative imagination of Phoebe Waller Bridge and Luke Jennings. Creator Hanno Hackfort, to his credit, took the idea and made it uniquely different while retaining the humor, style, and charm of the original concept.
Kleo is set in Berlin in the late 1980s around the time the Berlin Wall came down. The female assassin Kleo (Jella Haase) was betrayed and imprisoned prior to the wall coming down. When it fell, political prisoners were freed. Kleo embarked on a revenge killing spree to find out who betrayed her. She had no interest in the freedom and abundance the west had to offer.
Kleo was an East German and very nationalistic. Her motivations were patriotic and not related to money. She was raised by her grandfather (Jürgen Heinrich) who brainwashed her into a proper little Communist East German killer. The color scheme for the film was based on the flag of East Germany, with plenty of dark green added to the mix.
There was a red suitcase full of world shaking material that became a part of the chase as Kleo worked her way from one person to another in the search for her betrayer. The contents were quite a surprise.
Kleo was creative in her methods of killing. She knew how to make poison from a puffer fish, attach a flame thrower to a car’s exhaust, put explosives in a suit coat, or make a deadly cake. And, of course, shoot any kind of gun.
Sven (Dimitrij Schaad) was a low level cop who became obsessed with Kleo when she killed a man in a West German bathroom. (Kleo was straight, and the person obsessed with her was a man. He had a wife and a son. See? Different.) At the beginning of the story he wanted her arrested and jailed. Sven was in every episode.
There were many characters involved in the story. Andi (Vladimir Burlakov) was Kleo’s previous boyfriend. She’d been pregnant with his child when she entered prison and lost the baby. When she got out of prison he was married to a very pregnant wife.
Thilo (Julius Feldmeier) believed techno music would save Germany. Kleo moved him in with her because she hated to be alone. Thilo didn’t think he came from earth, but other than that he was one of the few “normal” characters. Everyone was a spy, a former spy, a Russian spy, a Chinese spy or a former West German. No one was trustworthy. Kleo made the mistake of trusting some of them, with very bad results.
The series was beautifully done, and well directed by Viviane Anderegg and Jano Ben Chaabane. Episode 6 especially, which was a kind of fever dream or coma dream, was gorgeously and creatively done. It gave us Kleo’s background story on a set that should have been on a theater stage but worked really well here.
The costumes, the disguises, the Villanellesque heroine, the humor were all there to enjoy. Much of the humor was visual. It was Killing Eve but different, and the difference worked. Overall, this is an enjoyable and well done series.
Here’s the trailer for this Netflix series.