Kleo Season 1 Review – A deliciously dark revenge thriller

Season 1

Episode Guide

Big Eden
The Reunion
Snow in Soller
The Minister
Object Else
The Snipe and the Clam
The Purple Witch -| Review Score – 4/5


There have been a litany of revenge thrillers over the years, especially those told from a female perspective. From Kill Bill and Hard Candy through to Carrie and Killing Eve, this genre has been mined to death. This automatically puts Netflix’s new German thriller, Kleo, on the backfoot. Somehow though, this show manages to both feel refreshingly new and overly familiar at the same time, taking a simple but effective formula and spinning that into a bloody, twisty-turny thriller.

Set in Germany, right across 1989 and 1990 (during the time of the Berlin Wall falling), Kleo actually doesn’t start off as an outright revenge thriller. Instead, the show emanates an espionage vibe as we follow Stasi assassin Kleo Straub. Hired off the books, Kleo is a proficient agent, working on behalf of her grandfather to take out various targets.

After killing a man in a West German nightclub, police – and in particular an officer called Sven – start to piece together who this woman is. When she’s subsequently arrested while heavily pregnant, with her grandfather and everyone she works with testifying against her, Kleo takes the fall and end up behind bars with a life sentence. That’s not good, and the heartbreaking betrayal continues when Kleo loses her baby too.

Consumed by anger and vengeance, Kleo bides her time. When the Berlin Wall falls and all political prisoners are free to go, Kleo sets out on a bloody revenge mission to gain some sweet payback from those responsible for putting her in prison.

The first half of this season follows a pretty conventional format, with Kleo working to take out different targets while learning about a mysterious red suitcase. This becomes a key McGuffin moving forward, holding a secret that could change the destiny of Germany completely.

Interestingly though, the second half of this season switches things up, with an unlikely alliance working surprisingly well to shake up the tone and pace of this series.

There are some definite similarities to Killing Eve here, in both the dark comedy and the visuals. Kleo is an aesthetically stylish and impressive venture, with a consistent motif of yellows, blues and reds used throughout. Once you notice this, it’s hard to ignore it with the creative team working really well to weave this into the story in a natural way.

Episode 6 in particular is beautifully hedonistic, with the first half serving as a big flashback to flesh out more of Kleo’s past and childhood – not to mention her ties with the red suitcase.

For all the positives (and there are a fair few with this one), there are a few points that hold this back from being a better venture. Kleo heads off on several “missions” beyond the borders of Germany but these single-episode adventures feel a bit rushed. These could easily have been fleshed out further, and ironically this is actually one of those shows that could have greatly benefited from more episodes.

For a show with a lot of bloodshed and violence, Kleo is also surprisingly funny. There’s a real desire to try and add some light bites of levity to the plot, and for the most part Kleo achieves that. Of course, there are a couple of jokes that don’t land, but if you liked the humour Killing Eve and Quentin Tarantino play with, then you’ll be right at home with this one.

Kleo is definitely one of the dark horse contenders this year for great shows. Despite a slightly rushed screenplay and a need for more episodes, Kleo is a solid, well-written revenge thriller. The visuals are fantastic, the humour is well placed and the story has enough twists and turns to keep you watching until the end. This one’s a must-watch folks!

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  • Verdict - 8/10

4 thoughts on “Kleo Season 1 Review – A deliciously dark revenge thriller”

  1. I enjoyed this, more so because I married a man from Berlin, Germany in 1958. We went over to see his parents and the wall. I had voted for Reagan and our daughter had dinner with him. I have a little piece of the wall. I could understand a lot of the German. I’m sorry I married that man as he had too much of the “Hitler Youth” in him. Didn’t know it, and eventually left me for a woman who said “come with me and I’ll build you a hotel” so he did!

    I do not lie and had gone to the convent school for some years because my father travelled so much. We were supposed to be the head of the Berlin Hilton when husband got into a fight with Connie’s friend (Conrad Hilton), back to Dallas we went. My husband got to the USA through some wealthy people travelling and he was their waiter, age 17 or so! They paid for him to come to the U.S. and live with them. He entered into our military for a couple of years. He is all “make believe.

    .” He would turn on anyone keeping him from what he wanted, wealth and power. He never wanted to walk over dead bodies, for horse food, so mom could cook it for their dinner, or have bullet holes in the apt. or watch rapes. Like Scarlett O’Hara, “I will never be hungry again.” The Russians were mystified by the electric lights, etc. most from the country who had nothing. Talk about the Russians in the series!

    He (husband, Heinz) wanted the finest of clothes, so he got them, and I was popular and well dressed at college but had nothing but two babies and stayed home. Lasted five years. I never bought a guy, even though my friend wanted to. I was afraid I’d use it.

    The way they made Kleo a fine killer is the way we can be talked into things. I know she has a heart, at times.
    Being turned down by your found mother is awful. I wanted Kleo and mother to hug. They could tell the children she is her aunt, who was found to be in East Berlin! I love her character and can’t wait for more.

  2. One of the best series I’ve seen in a long time. Jella Haase is awesome! I couldn’t wait for her to catch up with the next character that had crossed her. The plot got better and better. Loved the quirky characters. Cinematography, lighting, music were all first rate. Please come up with a sequel. I binge watched this on a flight back from Europe until my laptop battery died and couldn’t wait to see the final episodes when I got home.

  3. Killing Eve and Kleo own everything to Stieg Larssons “The girl with the Dragon tattoo”. And thousands of others. The Japaneese My Name.

    All are good, but if we should start with inspiration, that´s were we should start.

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