Eve is Dead: on Killing Eve series 3

What actually happened in series three of the popular award-winning drama Killing Eve? I could only give you small flashes of events rather than a full plot synopsis: Kenny is killed, Villanelle wants to be a ‘keeper’, Villaneve fight/kiss on a bus, Konstantin’s daughter runs over her stepdad, and then there’s a whole episode with Elton John’s music and Villanelle killing her mother. All the other stuff? The Twelve? Murder and assassination? Literally no clue, hun.

Perhaps it’s because I binged the first two seasons back-to-back in December, and this ‘once a week during lockdown’ business isn’t really suiting me, but the show seems to have lost its mojo, it’s sense of freedom and unique-ness it had during its first series. Part of that is because the writers are really giving scraps to the incredible Sandra Oh, and feeding everything to Jodie Comer.

This is, of course, not at the fault of these two amazing actresses: they were both nominated for several awards for their performances and their chemistry (when they do finally meet) is frankly unreal. But due to the natural interest in such a ruthless, playful antagonist, the titular character has been thrown by the wayside, completely forgotten about for an entire episode. With a perfect minute or so at the end pretty much written so Comer can claim her awards. Where is the same respect for Oh, and for Eve.

I could not tell you a single thing that has changed about Eve this season. While Villanelle has a whole arc about coming to terms with the idea of family, and even firmly stating she doesn’t want to be an assassin any more (her kills do not derive the same pleasure as they used to), Eve is simply…there. There is no real drive or ambition, and no exploration of how Vilanelle leaving her for dead has affected her. Why is she so obsessed with someone who almost killed her, and why does she appear to have zero agency? Like a robot who is programmed to chant ‘Villanelle Villanelle Villanelle’.

Don’t get me started on the fact her husband is still alive…because there is nowhere to go with it, as he told her to stay away from him. If they boomerang-bounce back to each other in the next season, I will probably riot. Because the feeling of an elastic band expanding and springing back together should be reserved to Eve and Villanelle – yet even that excitement and playfulness seems to have vanished this series. It feel arbitrary that they should be away from each other, the chase isn’t as exciting as the first series. You almost will them to both stay together and fight (The Twelve? MI6? Men?) as a duo, tear the whole thing down and start again.

I guess the reason they have pretty much killed Eve’s character is because Villanelle is the money-maker. She’s the pop culture currency. The character who is used most as a meme, become a huge style icon and is seen as the big draw for the show. Three seasons on, her moments feel engineered to be shared on social media rather than to drive the story. For example: that pink dress, the Amsterdam outfit and the clown disguise. Without the raw source material of Luke Jennings’ novellas, the show appears to rely on what they think the audience will like and what will generate social media content, thus views.

So that’s the hope for season 4 (which was announced before season 3 had even aired). More Eve development, less gimmicks. Give us a character arc to root for and a clear story.

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