Actor Craig Robinson remains one of the most underutilized comedians on television. For years he’s been the best part of most projects where he gets decent screen time. That’s what makes Killing It such an exciting series. The Peacock original series kicked off with a dark premise – what if Robinson joined a python hunting competition in the Everglades? In Season Two, the series takes a big leap forward, moving Robinson into the center of a cavalcade of clashing criminal enterprises. The result is a funnier show in season two, using the new season to pursue new directions.
For season two, Killing It follows Craig Foster (Robinson) as he starts a Saw Palmetto farm. With business partner Jillian (Claudia O’Doherty), the farm gets off to a fast start. However, things quickly unravel. Craig’s brother Isiah (Rell Battle) joins with criminal Rodney (Tim Heidecker). Local farmers and black-market Saw Palmetto dealers – The Boones – are led by Jackie (Dot-Marie Jones). To unload their product, they want Craig to launder their goods. With Camille, Craig’s ex-wife (Stephanie Nogueras), threatening to leave the country with their daughter, Craig has to fix the situation.
Showrunners Dan Goor and Luke Del Tredici came into Killing It with extensive experience showcasing dumb criminals in action. Goor’s Brooklyn Nine landed hundreds of jokes at the criminal’s expense, and Del Tredici’s Arizona showcased a Coen Brothers style of dark comedy. Combining the two styles works wonders and gives Killing It a unique comedic tone that fits the world they’ve built around their characters. It allows subplots about cancer, Pitbull, and shark attacks to fit beautifully into the weird criminal world they’ve propped up.
Robinson takes on the role of the everyman and once again does so admirably. He finds moments for comedy, even while being the show’s straight man and emotional heart. He serves as a brilliant center for the rest of the cast to shine and playoff. Robinson does not overuse any of his comedic moves but still crafts an empathetic center for the audience to root for. Even better, he brings enough nuance to the role that even when he steps into the negative aspects of the character, he can keep our allegiance.
O’Doherty easily gets the most laugh lines in Killing It, and it’s hard to imagine the show without her. While Robinson gets to play the straight man, she can deliver some truly troubling and hilarious lines of dialogue. There’s a lot to love in her performance on a scene-by-scene basis, and she plays “the innocent” to perfection. Even when we know about the darker aspects of the Killing It world, she often provides an optimistic lens to view the world.
One downside to the streaming model results in episodes that slightly overstay their welcome. At 22 minutes, enough filler could be shed that would have helped a leaner version of Killing It to thrive. At the same time, Goor and Del Tredici build a cohesive, twisty story over the eight episodes. It gives time for newcomers, like Jones, to receive a complete character arc. Battle still feels slightly underserved by the material, but on the whole, the series delivers enough material for its core cast. With high-energy comedians popping in and out, there is plenty of comedic material to keep audiences laughing. Of particular note, Heidecker, Mike Mitchell, and Timothy Simons play incredibly ridiculous characters.
While Killing It does not change the comedy landscape, it’s a fun show with two great performances at its center. With a handful of great comedic turns and threatening antagonists, it holds its own against the sitcom landscape. Robinson continues as a shining light in the comedic world, and hopefully, he will get a chance to continue leading the fun comedy.