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Killing Eve: Season 3 - Final episode and series review

Killing Eve, Season 3 finale

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

THERE’S a beautifully delivered line in the final moments of the third season of Killing Eve in which the Eve of the show’s title (Sandra Oh) opines “I think we all have monsters inside of us, it’s just that most people manage to keep theirs hidden” in answer to a question from Villanelle (Jodie Comer) as to whether she is one.

It served as a potent reminder that, at its best, Killing Eve successfully examined the notion of what constitutes a monster, as opposed to natural human behaviour and/or instinct, albeit in a gleefully subversive manner. What is normal, after all? Unfortunately, this third season – as a whole – struggled to consistently maintain the high standards of its outstanding first season, culminating with a finale that frustrated more than it inspired.

Its biggest flaw, in my opinion, was the lack of momentum that this third run of episodes managed to maintain. In short, it went nowhere very slowly despite a promising start.

The death of Kenny (Sean Delaney), the son of Fiona Shaw’s MI6 boss Carolyn Martens, had seemed likely to set in motion a bigger conflict between Eve and Villanelle, as well as a greater emphasis on rooting out The Twelve.

Yet while the identity of Kenny’s killer was eventually revealed, it did little to push the overall story forward. While the relationship between Eve and Villanelle took a surprisingly dull new direction.

Again, the first season of Killing Eve thrived on the cat-and-mouse game that existed between the two central protagonists, as well as the weird sexual chemistry that seemed to be building between the two. It made Eve’s actions in stabbing Villanelle at the end of the first season all the more shocking.

By season three, the cat-and-mouse element had become all but a side show. For while Eve was initially seen to be trying to get her life and career back in order after having been shot by Villanelle at the end of the second run of episodes, the expected ill feeling that this should have created never really materialised.

Rather, by the final moments of season three, Eve seemed more attracted to Villanelle than ever before… this despite the loss of her marriage and the near-death of her husband, Niko (Owen McDonnell). The final scene saw them standing back to back on Tower Bridge, in London, examining their feelings for each other and trying to walk away from each other… only to find themselves unable to. It was almost as if season three showrunner Suzanne Heathcote (of Fear The Walking Dead fame) was trying to subvert the rom-com genre, rather than the spy one.

Whether this means that Eve and Villanelle will now be teaming up for the incoming fourth season remains to be seen. But, right now, it doesn’t seem like a good idea. The two work better apart.

Indeed, aside from one detour episode that offered some more insight into Villanelle’s back story (via a visit to her family), season three didn’t really move either Villanelle or Eve forward in ways that we found interesting. Eve, if anything, remained static until those final moments, when her sudden attraction to Villanelle seemed rushed and poorly thought through.

Villanelle, on the other hand, developed an aversion to killing which, in the prophetic words of Carolyn, rendered her somewhat inert. What is her use [or interest]?

If anything, it’s now two of the more established supporting players that offer the most interest and intrigue. Primarily, turncoat spy Konstantin (Kim Bodnia), whose duplicitous actions throughout the season, provided the most entertainment and the most mystery.

It was Konstantin that was eventually found to be responsible for Kenny’s death. But while he denied directly killing him, when staring down the barrel of Carolyn’s gun, we couldn’t be sure he was telling the truth. And yet owing to the sustained charisma of this character, we hoped he would survive as Killing Eve without Konstantin, at this stage, would be a very dull series indeed.

The other remaining great character is, of course, Carolyn, whose icy demeanour is brilliantly played by Shaw. She remains a complex and fascinating character, even though there is an element of danger that she is becoming too eccentric for her own good.

Her dealings with her daughter, for instance, quickly became tiresome, while her plodding investigation into her own son’s death, and by extension The Twelve, threaten to test the patience too.

Of this season’s new characters, Villanelle’s handler Dasha (Harriet Walter) ultimately promised more than she delivered by failing to deliver any really telling blows. Initially an intriguing foil for Villanelle, she was eventually despatched too quickly, while her failure to kill Nike midway through the season also spoke poorly to the overall writing, given the cold-blooded tendencies she had earlier exhibited [in flashback].

And Steve Pemberton’s MI6 chief Paul was also poorly used, again promising more than he delivered. Initially brought in as a nemesis for Carolyn, Paul never really got the screen time he needed to make his shadowy chief more telling. Hence, by the time Carolyn put a bullet in his head, owing to his affiliation to The Twelve, we were left with a feeling of indifference over Paul’s overall worth. His connections were never utilised and, again, the path towards uncovering more of The Twelve now seems like it’s leading us up another blind alley.

It’s somewhat disappointing to note that Killing Eve now appears to be operating under the laws of diminishing returns, with each series becoming progressively weaker and less satisfying than the one before it.

It’s not too late to turn things around, of course, but the suspicion is that – based on current events and storylines – the show is now close to running on empty. It’s still capable of some great individual moments, of course [mostly involving Villanelle or Konstantin] but the light is no longer shining anywhere near as brightly.

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