This Killing Eve review contains spoilers.
Killing Eve Season 2 Episode 8
Killing Eve set the tone for its season 2 finale early: Eve heard gunshots outside her room, kicking off a sequence that led to Villanelle slitting Aaron Peel’s throat while making him watch, all within the first fifteen minutes. Where do we go from here? the two women were left wondering while the audience glanced at the clock and had much the same experience.
This season started off strong and faltered a bit when Villanelle became too much a part of Eve’s world, their interactions too commonplace to have the kind of strange, stabby spark that makes the show so electric. I have a feeling that those who binge-watch or who see it week-to-week but are warned that their concerns are fleeting will have a very different experience consuming this season of Killing Eve than those who watched it unfurl in real time. It didn’t help that Sunday had the juggernaut of the final season of Game of Thrones – it doesn’t take more than one middling review or complaint on social media for someone to say, “I heard it wasn’t that good this season,” conforming to our expectations of sophomore seasons. I’ve certainly heard plenty of people who haven’t watched at all say as much, in between their near-endless complaints about their Sunday night show of choice.
In some ways, really great writing looks inevitable as soon as you see it on the page or screen. Even before Eve crumpled to the ground, as soon as Villanelle took out the snub-nosed little gun and it became clear where this was headed – and retroactively, where we had been headed all along – it became clear that this is where it was always going. This is how Anna and Nadia became past tense lovers and present tense worm food. Konstantin, who knew he’d be in the city anyway, wasn’t jockeying for position – he was genuinely hoping to get through to Eve for her own protection.
A heavy tension hung over Eve and Villanelle’s escape through the underbelly of Rome as we wait for the other shoe to drop, lifting somewhat as they come out into the light of the beautiful ruins. Years of cultural training have taught us that bad things don’t happen out in broad daylight, in lovely places during the golden hour. But Killing Eve is nothing if not a show based on subverting our expectations.
In season 2, Killing Eve put in a lot of effort to show us just how much like Villanelle Eve had become. But in this finale, we saw how much distance there still was between them. Even if Eve was willing to take an axe to Raymond’s face to save Villanelle, she might hate V for the rest of her life for making her do it. And she certainly didn’t take any joy in it, even if there was the smallest of teases that she might have taken one more chop with the axe than necessary. In the parlance of many a romcom and teen show, Eve was in love with the idea of being a psychopath assassin – but she wasn’t actually ready or equipped to become one.
In a strange twist of trans-Atlantic timing, In the States we’ve just had the series finale of Fleabag last week and now the season 2 finale of Killing Eve, giving us so many moments that carry on that fantastic Phoebe Waller-Bridge brand of humor. Eve getting asked on a date, Villanelle mocking Raymond for standing there with an axe waiting for her, the reference back to the Ghost with Eve’s maid outfit, and Villanelle telling her she looks cute. Before the horror set in of what Eve did to Raymond, there was the humor. It’s hard to imagine any other show having something as brilliant as Villanelle saying, “really eve? The shoulder?!” and Eve apologizing while pulling the axe out of Raymond’s back so she could do it again.
Konstantin and Villanelle’s farewell was hard to watch, in the best way. He’s still the closest she’s come to family – though he does make a point of opening the door for some of her family to be alive. Maybe he’ll just ride off into the sunset now? There’s real, genuine pain and sadness in both of their faces over this parting. This feels real, like a true ending between one of the show’s kay pairings. I can’t imagine the show entirely without Kim Bodnia’s wonderful presence. Still, this feels big and final, like their relationship has changed in a fundamental way. More fundamental, even, than when she shot him and we thought she killed him. This feels like a seismic, game-changing shift for Killing Eve, a clearing of the chess board.
Both Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer did fabulous work in this episode. With the slightest changes in their face, everything changes. Sandra Oh spends a lot of time believably in a daze, running a thousand emotions across her face. Jodie Comer somehow shows us the exact moment Villanelle goes from lovingly obsessed with Eve to bored and wanting to dispose of her, when she says, “I thought you were special.” As soon as Eve isn’t her perfect toy, she goes from being the magical object of her affection, to being Nadia. Eve is right – V wanted her to kill. She did it on purpose, and that’s not love. The only thing surprising about this is that it took Eve so long to figure it out. But she’s right about this too: V wanted her girl a mess and now she’s not, now she’s fearless. Villanelle better hope Eve stays down (she’s obviously not, come on people season 3 is a go) because Eve will come back with a furious vengeance.
I do have a few concerns about this episode. Largest among them, no way do I buy that Aaron Peel simply left his secret control room unlocked and open, his computer logged in. I assumed he was watching her there, too, and she was performing for him, but during their talk in the dining room, he seemed genuinely surprised that she had seen his films.
I love that Carolyn was a puppet master the whole time, but something about this reveal doesn’t feel all that…revelatory? We’ve been fed bite-size chunks of the idea that Carolyn is not to be trusted and keeping this off-book. The fact that she was secretly behind it all and wanted Aaron Peel dead all along is certainly new information but emotionally feels of a piece with the rest of it. Frankly, the fact that Kenny was on the clean-up crew is the only time I audibly gasped. The idea that The Twelve was also in on it is more of a shocker – that makes Carolyn a much shadier person, though it’s unclear whether Eve knows that, since Carolyn said it as though it was theoretical, whereas Konstantin confirmed the reality. Perhaps we got too much information along the way for this to truly take my breath away? Did this reveal surprise you, or were you expecting something grander, or more inherently dangerous to Eve?
If Carolyn and her crew were there the whole time, how long did they let Hugo hang out without assistance? Could they have stopped the attacker from shooting him in the first place? Were they surveilling Hugo’s room, and did they see Eve and Hugo have sex? Concerns for season 3, I suppose.
Villanelle thought she got everything she ever wanted: her girlfriend, brutally killing for her, to save her. The look of delight and horniness on her face once the initial danger was past as Eve chopped into Raymond’s face said it all. But there was a catch: however twisted we thought Eve was, she was not ready for this, and now that she’s unleashed a fearless energy, she won’t hold back or put up with Villanelle’s tired argument: “he’ll come after us, we have no choice!” I’m hoping that next season, Eve finds her own path, with her own allies, one that allows her to push back on Carolyn as well as Villanelle.