TV Review: Killing Eve (Seasons 1-3)

It was the hit show of 2018 – breaking records and winning awards in both the UK and America, it blazed a trail with its uniqueness and light-hearted approach to detailing the exploits of a Russian assassin, and MI6’s efforts to bring her down, or manipulate her to their advantage. But with the third season finale being released last night, and the fourth season already on the cards for 2021, has Killing Eve still got its killer spark?

In a word, sort of. It is still the most glamorous show on television, and the acting quality has remained at fever pitch from the start. However, it’s success and flawless first season (driven by the incredible Phoebe Waller-Bridge) was always going to be hard to live up to, and it was a poisoned chalice. Nothing could top season one’s mixtures of action, farce, humour and suspense. Especially the ending, where Eve finally came face to face with Villanelle for the second time (after THAT hospital bathroom scene). So, what did they do for season 2? Have the same ending, but in reverse.

Not to say season two was a waste of time, BUT. The jokes circulated online about season three finishing up with Eve shooting Villanelle with a ballistic missile. It sort of underlined the fact that we weren’t much further with the plot, beyond the fact that Eve still didn’t want to give into Villanelle’s charms. The way that Eve being shot point-blank and managed to survive without even a scratch… simply being referred to by Konstantin as ‘a miracle’ was not really the explanation that any of us wanted. But, still. Of course I was going to keep watching for season three.

I think one of the problems with ‘Killing Eve’ is production’s unique position in having a new showrunner every season. It is one of many things about this show which is unconventional, and I loved the idea behind it – a chance to showcase some of the best women in the business – while still maintaining Phoebe Waller-Bridge behind the scenes. Sadly, it does seem to have meant that the show lost some consistency between seasons and led to situations such as the season 2 finale. As a result, season three has felt more like a 16 episode second season, which would have also been glorious, but I am left wondering if they are milking the success as much as possible.

The biggest issue, as of season three, is actually Eve, the title character. Her whole premise of wanting to be involved with Villanelle is weak – okay, being a witness to her crimes and wanting to bring her down in season one was fair enough, along with having a predisposition for fascination with female assassins – but after maiming your husband to the point where he hates you, shooting you at point-black range and leaving you to die, destroying every part of life and making it very clear that you and no-one around you is safe….. why are you still going? And it took until episode 23, 03×07, for her to receive any proper development all season.

Now, it feels like she has gone onto the brink of going mad and turning into a cold-blooded killer herself, however she couldn’t quite do it. Leading Dasha to be lying in a hospital bed, next to that of Konstantin (the fact that the two near-deaths took place, I assume, 600 miles apart and the two of them are in beds next to each other is another inexplicable plot point), both of which have their own reasons to come after Villaneve, who are slowly starting to morph.

As I’m writing this, my perception of the show is slowly altering, as it has been since that episode. For six episodes of this season, the second series seemed somewhat pointless. Watching it at the time, the show has descended into lots of killing (naturally, but with no aim), lots of grandstanding, lots of fashion and not a lot actually happening plot-wise. As previously mentioned, we wound up at a similar point at the end of season two to one, but I’m thinking that the last two series have been a slow-burning descent into psychopathy for Eve. She’s still too milquetoast to make the leap into cold-blooded assassin, but Villanelle has been pushing her buttons repeatedly. If season four is to be the end, its focus has to be on finding out who the Twelve are – and not on endless plot diversions. There also has to be no more queerbaiting the two lead characters and trying to pretend it’s a suitable substitute for a main plot. It’s been three seasons, and we still don’t know who the Twelve actually are, apart from the source of everyone’s problems. At least series 3 has centred Carolyn more as a main character – Fiona Shaw is often one of the highlights of each episode.

The finale having aired now, I can look back across the whole season. It was a bizarre conclusion – although we should be grateful that it didn’t end with one of them being upended into the Thames. I don’t know where the show can really go from here, although I know season 4 has the ‘Sex Education’ writer as showrunner – hopefully some of the fun can return to a show which became a bit too miserable. There were too many plot holes, a far cry from the intricate plotting of season 1 – and although the body count seemed to go up dramatically towards the end of the season, every single one of them turned out to be characters which had only been introduced this series. Unless there is a shift from the focus being on Eve and Villanelle, to the four main characters as a whole, we really have run out of plot. There was a chance to actually put Villaneve together at the end – which would have been an interesting dynamic going forward – but instead it was rejected, well sort of.

Killing Eve is a show that’s worth a binge, although nothing can surpass series 1 (probably in my top three seasons of all time). Season 2 didn’t further the plot enough, although I do have a new appreciation for it and it remained fun. Season 3 has been a bit disappointing, and I am left wondering if they really should have tried to wrap it up. A worthy watch for fun, fashion and murder, but the ‘fun’ becomes a lot less prevalent towards the end. Hopefully series 4 can return the show to a level of greatness.

Season 1: ★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)
Season 2: ★★★★★★★★★ (9/10)
Season 3: ★★★★★★ (6/10)

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