I first stumbled upon ‘Killing Eve’ on Twitter in 2019 when season two had just been released. I was completely gripped by Villanelle and her peculiar ways of killing people. The chemistry between Eve and Villanelle is electric but offered to us in the form of incremental crumbs and I was hungry for it. When I rewatched the show to review season three, I found it refreshing in its treatment of two women and their sexuality. Early this year, when the fourth and final season came out, my expectations were soaring high but unfortunately, for a seasoned queer fan like me, ‘Killing Eve’ season four did not kill it for me.
There is no light at the end of this tunnel so before I get into how disastrous season four was, let me tell you a few things the creators did right. ‘Killing Eve’ is known for its dark humour. The writers used some gross food imagery to drive their point for season four. Carolyn illustrates one of the murders using the imagery of a stringed cheese while Helene compares ice cream sprinklers to toxic waste. These short doses of dark humour manages to keep the show afloat and the audience entertained.
The big highlight from this season was not the ending but episode six. Written by queer writer Kayleigh Llewellyn, in this episode we finally see Eve and Villanelle share a vulnerable moment where their hurt is coupled with longing. It also shows Villanelle’s most impulsive and satisfying murder this season. The show has used songs by the band Unloved since season one. The band’s ‘The Pink Album’ sets the tone for the show. The plot-stirring points are heightened by these songs and are instrumental in driving the intrigue. It is impossible to imagine Villanelle and Eve scenes without the backdrop of songs like ‘Careful Baby’ and ‘Anything to be Cool’.
Now let me elaborate on what led to the downfall of ‘Killing Eve’. Unlike the first two seasons where Villanelle and Eve attack each other, season three ends on a hopefully ambiguous note. So, this season viewers were hoping to see more of Villanelle and Eve together. However, season four starts afresh for all characters and the bridge scene where Eve and Villanelle finally reach a certain level of acceptance for each other’s behaviour is left completely unaddressed.
The series wastes an incredible amount of time developing characters and then leaves them hanging. Carolyn is fired from her job at MI6, reduced to being a cultural attache and Konstantin becomes the mayor of a small town in Russia. At first these new jobs seem like a pivotal shift for the characters but soon they go back to their original positions. It also introduces two new characters, Pam who is the new assassin recruited by Helene for the Twelve and Yusuf who is both Eve’s new sidekick after Kenny and her new love interest after her husband Niko. Even though these characters are essential in moving the plot forward, too much time is spent on their introduction and development.
The show gives the viewers an insight into how the Twelve started out through a flashback episode but who ordered the murders and why is left unexplained. The mystery at the heart of the show is brutally brushed off which is the most disappointing thing about this season. The creators plan to release a spin-off series that focuses on Carolyn’s involvement with the Twelve but waiting for another series to get answers seems unfair to the ‘Killing Eve’ viewers.
Villanelle is known for killing people gloriously, duping them into believing her innocence, letting them suffer, watching the light fade from their eyes, making sure that everyone knows that she has killed them. When she kills members of the Twelve, the intense grandeur of the killing and adrenaline rush of watching her kill is completely missing. The audience is only left feeling indifferent and confused.
The power dynamics in Eve and Villanelle’s relationship have largely shifted; Eve has the upper hand this time. Villanelle follows the path of Christianity, tries to not kill people while Eve’s desire to kill members of the Twelve becomes stronger. Villanelle’s redemption makes her more vulnerable and purposeful but Eve does not believe she can change. She is angry at Villanelle but for what reason is not clear. Eventually, she gets Villanelle arrested for murder which creates a huge conflict between the two. The cat and mouse game which kept the fans hooked works against the show this time. Queer fans would be more delighted by some dialogue between the two rather than the constant chase.
This season Eve indulges in her darker instincts; she shoots Konstantin’s hand, fights skilled assassins, challenges Helene and shoots a man in the head. However, at the moment of vengeance that she strived for, she is found dancing which is very uncharacteristic of Eve. It makes a mockery out of the final episode. Many critics and fans accused the show for perpetuating the ‘bury your gays’ trope as almost all queer characters in the show are found dead. As a queer fan, I was disappointed by how it makes them puppets of plot progression and kills them without need or warning.
In the last episode of this season, Eve and Villanelle share moments of normalcy against the backdrop of a beautiful pastoral setting. However, even though they are cheerful and united their chemistry is off as the tongue-in-cheek humour and the constant push and pull between tenderness and power is absent. The final season of ‘Killing Eve’ had the potential to give us the most compelling sapphic love story of all time but it falls flat and destroys its own legacy.