This KILLING EVE review contains spoilers.
Killing Eve Season 3 Episode 8
Killing Eve’s third season slunk away with an uneven finale, one that certainly has its memorable moments, but manages to be a whole lot less than the sum of its parts.
Villanelle and Carolyn’s meeting at the opera house, much like the effective dance with Eve, posed some worthwhile questions that the episode declined to answer. For example: Who is Villanelle if she’s not a hired killer? Can she be of use to anyone (oh, say, Eve) if she’s not murdering people anymore? What does Villanelle even want anymore? It’s hard not to feel like Killing Eve is holding off on taking these questions more seriously until season 4, but unfortunately that has left season 3 feeling a bit thin. Combine that with the near-elimination of Villanelle’s intricate kills, and the show suddenly lacks one of its biggest sources of style, along with substance.
While this episode had a lot of facetime with Eve, there’s so incredibly little of her in it. During the final encounter she had very little figured out, which is rather unlike our detective, who’s sharp-minded even when dazzled by Villanelle. Without a homelife or, more importantly, Kenny, Eve’s world is down to nil. What does she care about other than Villanelle? What is her personality, other than possibly psychopathic and singularly focused, to the detriment of all around her? We don’t know who Villanelle is without her killing, but increasingly, we don’t know who Eve is without Villanelle’s killing either. There’s a way that could have been fascinating, but season 3 didn’t quite find it.
To be clear, I enjoyed the ride for much of season 3, right up until the end. This finale left me underwhelmed, as did the previous episode, though the previous episode was more disappointing because it had become clear that the season-long arcs were listless and wan. As an individual episode, 307 is fine, though not up to the usual standards. The finale, however, feels lacking both as a standalone episode and as a conclusion to the season, and it’s doubly disappointing.
After spending all season serving up Soviet sarcasm with a side of murder, it feels a bit lackluster for Dasha to die alone in a hospital bed. Perhaps that’s meant to be some kind of sad foreshadowing for Villanelle about the kind of anticlimactic end she can expect if she follows through with her retirement, but since she didn’t witness it an barely heard about it, it’s a lesson solely for the audience, if at all. Someone high profile had to go, so Dasha and Paul were it.
While Eve’s role in killing Dasha should have been a cause for self-examination – just as Villanelle’s inability to finish her off – the writing refrained from letting either of them go there. Why not? If we’re going to have the pair together as often as season 2 and 3 do, these moments should feel as stolen and transgressive as possible, like the bus fight and Eve’s strange kiss did, or their dance floor moment. Eve taking the axe in season 2 felt like witnessing a woman going off the rails in real time, but seeing her kill again, this time calm, alone, with no one egging her on, should entail a far more stark realization about herself, just as the writing has neglected to push Villanelle on having the murder yips. Instead, we get a faux-transgressive joke about how their tag-team murder is romantic. It’s Killing Eve-lite.
Villanelle’s fight with Rhian feels like one of the most honest moments (career-wise) of the season. V has never been happy being under anyone’s thumb, so playing at this being an autonomy struggle has always seemed like a handy defense. When Villanelle says “sorry” to Rhian she actually sounds genuine, and the look on her face when she fails to strangle her says it all. Villanelle only manages to resolutely kill Rhian when it’s one step removed, kicking her off the platform so something else can kill her. She could no longer kill someone directly, with her own two hands.
Does this mean Villanelle the killer is back? Is she only able to kill this way now? Or did she simply need someone nipping at her heels, trying to surpass her? It’s frustrating that Killing Eve would rather wait a year to entertain these questions, if at all.
Finally, there’s the season’s central mystery of who killed Kenny. It is the ultimate unsatisfying answer and no amount of thinkpiecing about why that’s smart or interesting or good will make it feel any more satisfying. It was, in fact, Konstantin, but no because he’s secretly his father (maybe he is!) or because The Twelve sent him (they hadn’t yet!) but because he was looking out for him and a very unfortunate thing happened – he backed up too far and he fell. So, yeah.
The reveal that it was Carolyn holding Paul at gunpoint was pretty obvious. Carolyn taking the law into her own hands could have been a turning point, if we hadn’t already seen her do so on a lesser scale. Something about the way this was played made it all feel small and low-stakes. Watching them all get caught up on the illicit goings-on felt more like a dinnertime farce than a thriller. Emotionally, the biggest moments were the one when she sends Geraldine away and it becomes clear it’s for her safety, not out of coldness, and when she tells Konstantin to run before she changes her mind. Everything else felt a bit rote.
Carolyn killing Paul, whom she hates, instead of Konstantin, whom we love and – let’s face it – she definitely has a whole compendium of feelings toward, even if she’s unprepared to ever take stock of them, is not actually surprising or transgressive. I’m glad we’ll get to see Kim Bodnia in the next season, but, along with the other non-deaths of late, it feels like a case of creators giving fans too much of what we want rather than what we need. Maybe Konstantin or Carolyn should have died terribly this season, or Konstantin should have played a more active role in Kenny’s death.
It’s hard to say which changes would make a season crackle instead of lollygag, but this season certainly needed something different and more dangerous than what it was. The performances continue to be engaging, the individual episodes are great and the writing is especially good at one-liners and funny-weird dialogue, but ultimately the season needs to add up to something more. But just like Eve and Villanelle, I can’t walk away. Not yet, anyway.
- The way Dasha and Konstantin talked about Dasha’s son, did anyone else get a vibe like he would be important? It doesn’t even feel like a proper red herring since it wasn’t quite broadcast hard enough. Yet another part of this episode and season that was so promising and then dissipated.
- Villanelle roasting Rhian or her outfit was delightful. “I was trained to look devastating. Obviously!”
- Vilanelle navy double-breasted wide-colalred geometric suit was absolute heaven. Big fan of her pink coat to chat with Carolyn and the warm honey yellow wool coat at the Bitter Pill offices, too.
- At the Bitter Pill offices, I kinda love seeing someone have the appropriate response to Villanelle for once.
- Truly thrilled that the Tangfastik case was not only cracked, but played a major role in the central mystery.
- I loved seeing Villaneve as giggly admonished schoolgirls.