'Killing It' Season Two Tussles with Different Snakes — and This Savvy Satire Gets Even Sharper

Craig Robinson and Claudia O'Doherty are no longer polishing off pythons, but they're still facing savage inequality while chasing the American dream.
Sarah Ward
Published on August 18, 2023

Craig Robinson slays snakes. If Killing It was initially pitched with those four words and those four words alone, it still would've been easy to greenlight. When the latest comedy from Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Dan Goor and executive producer Luke Del Tredici first arrived in 2022, it leaned in, too, with terminating serpents the whole point of the contest at the centre of the comedy's debut season. The place: Florida, home to the python-teeming Everglades. The year: 2016, in the lead up to the US election. The reason for vanquishing vipers: a $20,000 payday, which Craig — also the name of Robinson's character — needed to enact his vision of becoming a saw palmetto farmer.

Killing It served up far more than just Robinson, a B99 guest and The Office star, polishing off reptiles — and not simply because Claudia O'Doherty (Our Flag Means Death) joined in as the hammer-swinging Jillian. As a satire of the type of society that has people resorting to seeking a better future by offing animals competitively, this series has always sunk its fangs in. Craig wanted to swap being a Miami bank security guard for capitalising upon a smart idea (the berries he's keen on are coveted in the health market for prostate medicines) to provide for his ex-wife Camille (Stephanie Nogueras, The Good Fight) and daughter Vanessa (Jet Miller, Young Dylan). Aussie expat and Uber driver Jillian wanted a life beyond the gig economy and sleeping in her car. But even in a nation that celebrates the American dream as the pinnacle of existence, a goal that all can chase with hard work and perseverance, and a key factor in US exceptionalism, neither had any other option but to hunt snakes for a big payday.

Getting Killing It's characters bludgeoning wildlife was a savvy signifier of a horribly broken system. In season two, which streams in Australia via Stan from Friday, August 18, slaughtering serpents is old news; however, venomous foes definitely aren't. They're the uncaring bureaucracy, the shameless corporations, the shaking-down gangs, the car thieves, the cruel insurance bodies, the nation's entire health scheme, the manipulative bosses, the rude customers and the cash-splashing rich. They're absolutely everyone with a solely in-it-for-themselves perspective, which is almost everyone. They're also unscrupulous entrepreneur Rodney Lamonca (Tim Heidecker, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson) and his mini-mogul 12-year-old daughter Prada (Anna Mae Quinn, A Carolina Christmas), who aren't done with Craig and Jillian from season one.

When Killing It's latest eight-episode go-around begins, its central pair have followed through on the saw palmetto plan — albeit at a cost, with Craig's low-level criminal brother Isaiah (Rell Battle, Superior Donuts) now on the run and posing as a doctor in Phoenix. Their farm is up and running, and perennial-optimist Jillian isn't is the only one who's hopeful. The two business partners even have a buyer for their berries — and, while their margins are thin, they're getting by. Alas, whether they're dealing with a possible giant snail problem, being blackmailed into taking on new colleagues or becoming the subject of a hostile takeover, Craig and Jillian swiftly realise that snakes still lurk everywhere.

Taking a cue from slithering critters, in fact, season two of Killing It poses a question: how low can modern-day America go? It's apt that this brutal contemplation of savage inequality and constant grifting returns in the same week that also gives streaming stunning docuseries Telemarketers, which similarly ponders people exploiting anyone that they think is lower than them in the food chain. Killing It is still firmly a comedy, though, and a hilarious one. Indeed, it's the best comedy that too many viewers aren't watching when everyone should be. The show is also so cutting and canny about capitalism's predators, and the prey that the globe's dominant economic setup turns most folks into, that it nearly draws blood as well as inspires laughs.

There's another query at Killing It's core, of course: how low will Craig and Jillian sink, too? Season one introduced them as strangers that were each struggling but striving, then hacked into the little they each had, observing how they were forced to cope (including by coming together). Season two finds them seemingly more comfortable and secure, then unpacks what they're willing to do to retain their new status quo. It sees the selfish moves they make, or don't; the loved ones they protect, or can't; the others they sell out, or won't; the morals they compromise, or refuse to; and the dirt they embrace, or wash away. Craig and Jillian have always been an odd-couple pair, with Killing It's new run also exploring how their differences shape their responses to every choice and decision that slides their way.

Problems won't stop multiplying for their on-screen alter egos, but Robinson and O'Doherty's casting gleams. He's all charismatic determination, she's perkily indefatigable, and both play keepin' on keepin' on to perfection. Together, they provide two portraits of trying to hurtle forwards however one can — and as the entire state of Florida, country of America and planet that is earth keep pushing their characters down. That said, Killing It's leads aren't the only ones shining. Fleshing out season two's storylines with an array of eclectic folks, Battle, Heidecker, Quinn and the also-returning Scott MacArthur (No Hard Feelings) all steal scenes. So do Dot-Marie Jones (Bros) as a crime-family matriarch with a laundering proposal, Beck Bennett (Nimona) as an overstressed government flunkey, Jackie Earle Haley (Hypnotic) as an insidious debt collector, Kyle Mooney (Saturday Night Live) getting shady and Timothy Simons (Joy Ride) as an FBI agent.

Sharks in swimming pools, shonky surrogate arrangements, multiple Pitbull impersonators, the ridiculousness of the influencer industry, loving your first-ever major purchase, those aforementioned oversized snails: Goor, Del Tredici and their writing team also work them in. Even more than in season one, Killing It's new run of episodes delights with its eagerness to get absurd, filling every instalment with surprises. There's another way of looking at that throw-anything-in randomness: this series is hustling, just like Craig, Jillian and company. Again and again, this satire gets sharper. It also gets deeper and funnier. Yes, that name is accurate: this show is killing it as well.

Check out the trailer for Killing It season two below:

Killing It season two streams via Stan from Friday, August 18.

Published on August 18, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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