Killing Eve Rushes a Betrayal of a Finale

The last three minutes of the series are rushed, half-baked, and out of step with both the double episode finale and the show as a whole.

Killing Eve Series Finale Rushes a Betrayal of a Finale
Photo: Anika Molnar/BBCA

This Killing EVE article contains major spoilers for the series finale.

Killing Eve Season 4 Episodes 7 and 8

Killing Eve ends its four-season run in a double-episode finale that is so entirely out of step with the final three minutes that it’s hard to even consider them together. In the end, the finale will be remembered for the rushed, half-baked ending that many fans will see as a betrayal as it takes the easy way out. Using death and trauma as a stand-in for prestige and seriousness of purpose is pervasive issue in the era of Peak TV, but it’s especially pernicious where it intersects with tropes that are harmful toward marginalized groups, like “Bury Your Gays.”

There’s a world in which I can accept Villanelle dying – several of them, depending on how it’s done. Frankly, it’s what I expected of the series from the beginning. But ending the show so abruptly afterwards felt cheap, like cheating the audience out of any context necessary to give Villanelle’s death the appropriate narrative weight. Pam killing Konstantin at the end of the first hour was well done, even if it felt wholly unnecessary. (I mean come on, who even has a pizza cutter in a hotel room? With an assassin-in-training? It’s too bad the writers didn’t commit fully to the idea of him planting it, a sort of Pam-assisted suicide.) Carolyn, Villanelle and Pam were also given the time to reflect on his death in the second hour, even if the moments were brief. Other than a guttural scream to show she was alive and in anguish, Eve and the audience were cheated out of a similar moment regarding Villanelle.

If Villanelle had actively sacrificed herself to save Eve, for example, or had knowingly gone on a suicide mission that would end her own life but was the only way to take down The Twelve, the ending would have felt more satisfying, and the character would have had more agency. To an extent, people like Villanelle and Konstantin were perhaps destined to die violent deaths and have no say in how they happened, but Villanelle was exceptional in so many ways that it feels out of place for someone to get the drop on her so easily. Besides, martyring herself would fit in with the religious theme of the season, her tarot reading, and the beatific imagery of her death like the angelic halo and wings the light and her blood made under water, and the “God creating Adam” moment when Eve tried to reach her. The intentionality of a sacrifice would show growth, even as it would be difficult for Eve and many viewers to accept.

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It feels like we keep having to write these same articles over and over, these odes to beloved characters and elegies for finales that might have been. Supergirl, The 100, Supernatural…the details aren’t the same, but the message is. Even on shows with explicitly queer characters, like Killing Eve, that’s no guarantee that their couplings or their deaths will be handled thoughtfully. At a time when our government is making it very clear that we are not safe or welcome, we need escapism more than ever. That’s not to say everything has to be safe and easy with the corners sanded down – no one comes to Killing Eve if they’re squeamish. But there’s a base level of respect that viewers hope to find in entertainment that actively courts our viewership, and the more shows pile up, the harder it is not to feel disrespected.

In the end, Carolyn couldn’t go back to MI6 emptyhanded, so she gave them Villanelle. She had told Pam earlier in the episode not to let “feelings” get in the way, so no matter how much she enjoyed Villanelle, it didn’t stop her from doing what she had to do to look out for herself, as always. Villanelle cleaned up Carolyn’s long overdue dirty work in the form of The Twelve, Eve was there to help in her own way, but in taking the case away from Carolyn, Eve forced the elder woman to find another way to keep herself from being knocked off the chess board entirely. It’s really to bad that line Carolyn had about owing V a dare never came back around. Feels a bit sloppy to bring up Chekov’s dare if you’re not going to use it.

While the final two episodes left a lot of room for some aspects to breathe, particularly some nice slice of life moments from Konstantin or Pam and between Villaneve, and the affecting karaoke sequence, the resolution of the plot itself was incredibly rushed. After more than a season of half-baked attempts to make the audience care about the identity of The Twelve, we didn’t even get to see them when Villanelle killed them. She didn’t even get to kill them in an interesting way! No, that was reserved for the (presumably civilian) kitchen staff on the boat, who she killed via carbon monoxide poisoning.

Similarly, much is left up to the audience to deduce on their own time, after the final rushed minutes of the series leave them reeling. The identity of Kenny’s killer is never confirmed, merely suggested, when Eve says that Carolyn was pretending not to know who it was in order to have a reason to stay in the game, implying Konstantin was responsible (though it’s unlikely he carried out the hit personally), as it seemed way back when Kenny was actually killed. It’s all the more heartbreaking considering Konstantin’s deathbed confession that he always loved Carolyn, and the very real possibility that he was Kenny’s father.

There’s no resolution regarding Konstantin’s daughter, though I suppose we should be grateful that the writers finally remembered that she exists. Pam, similarly, has no resolution, though at least her story feels open-ended in a way that invites possibilities rather than making her feel like a complete afterthought. She may have decided to accept the safety that Konstantin and Helene’s death has created for her, going back to Margate to expertly carve meat with the goofy guy from the fair. Or maybe she’ll, uh…freelance, as it were.

What, then, happens to Eve? It’s unfortunate that Killing Eve and its writers are so uninterested in this question, because in that past it has been so rich to explore. Perhaps they were too intimidated to come up with an answer with any kind of finality. But to deliberately have Eve survive and then to give no indication of her life and well being post-Villanelle feels like walking away from cash on the table, storytelling-wise. Eve surviving is a bigger surprise than Villanelle dying, and therefore a more interesting choice. Why not take some time to live with that choice and show us why they made it, show us why it matters?

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For all that Killing Eve blurred the lines over the years between cat and mouse, killer and catcher of killers, in the end all the agents lived, and all the assassins died, save Pam, who might have chosen to get out before she got started in earnest, and Gunn, who got her eyes clawed out and her head bashed in for her trouble. It feels thoroughly uncomplicated and uninteresting (and therefore so totally un-Killing Eve) to just…have all the Bad Guys be dead and let all the Good Guys get to stay alive and keep their jobs. Wasn’t the point of this show that there are no bad guys and good guys, that the continuum between Villanelle and Eve has disappeared completely? What a shame to draw the deaths along such clear moral lines. Carolyn is the only complicating factor in all of it, who gets to live but also has to live with herself, after once more reminding us of who she has always been.

There’s been talk of a Carolyn Martens prequel spinoff show, and one would only imagine that being the person who killed Villanelle – and therefore broke up Villaneve – is going to put a pretty big damper on that. It’s almost funny the extent to which the powers that be don’t seem to think through the way that editorial choices like this will impact fandom and, in turn, impact their own ability to keep making what they want. By all means, create the best show you can, don’t attempt to cater to whoever is screaming loudest on twitter. But if you rely on, say, queer viewers and queer fandom creators to watch and make the buzz around your show, don’t be surprised if they’re mad that you kept a boring husband around way too long and then killed off a sapphic lead five minutes after she was finally happy with the woman we’ve watched her fall obsessively for over the last four seasons.

Sorry, baby x