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Killing Eve makes a frustrating return to what worked well for it in the past

Illustration for article titled Killing Eve makes a frustrating return to what worked well for it in the past
Photo: Des Willie/BBCA
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Killing Eve has a problem. For all that it’s more than the sum of its parts, it’s also always had a sort of gimmick at its center: sociopathic assassin and troubled government agent circle each other like predator and prey. The tension and action has always depended on the maintenance of that relationship. Season one had the advantage of newness; season two offered a hint of what would happen if they were actually around each other. And in season three, the first two episodes seem to be geared around the concept of recreating season one. 

It’s too early to say if the show will continue down the path it’s on. But everything that’s happened around Villanelle in the first two episodes has a vague air of “did you like this version of the show better?” Did you like seeing Villanelle wander around beautiful Paris? Now she’s in a different glamorous European city, with a different luxury apartment, committing ornate murders. She’s wearing all the fashionable clothes you love to see her in. And as of this episode, she’s even sparring with Konstantin again. There are hints of change there—she’s got a new handler, Dasha, and she’s theoretically working on a promotion—but even when this inevitably blows up, it’ll be hard to see it as anything other than a repeat of what happened in Paris. It’s like the show is trying as hard as it can to hit a reset button on what’s going on with her. Villanelle is a tough character to move forward. On some level, she can’t evolve altogether too much, because she’s always going to be a murderous sociopath. Jodie Comer’s performance has always carried a lot of the weight of suggesting that Villanelle is capable of change instead of just being changeable. And there’s some progress suggested here by her greater ambitions, but it’s snuffed out quickly when she immediately assassinates her protégé and Konstantin makes very clear that the Twelve aren’t actually offering her anything real.

Illustration for article titled Killing Eve makes a frustrating return to what worked well for it in the past
Photo: Laura Radford/BBCA

And the path Eve is on bears a faint whiff of the familiar, too. Sure, the dirt digging journalism outfit would have been a new way for her to investigate something, if she hadn’t immediately gone back to Carolyn, the person she had soundly rejected earlier in the episode. She and Villanelle both keep making wounded references to “what happened in Rome,” but the show fundamentally does not want to seem to want the events of the last season to play any kind of role here. Is Eve going to go back to working for Carolyn off the books?

The show also needs to do a little work on its tendency to separate people into two camps: sneaky spies and gullible dunces. How is it possible that Carolyn’s daughter wouldn’t be more suspicious? The person who raised Kenny would not have a daughter who’s that baselessly trusting of strangers, nor would Carolyn herself accept tacky tourist gifts displayed anywhere in the home. And how in the world did Konstantin know that Geraldine would accept the magnet decoy? It’s one thing to collect that type of thing as a goofy souvenir, but Konstantin’s whole plan here is that Geraldine, an adult woman who barely knows him, will accept a children’s souvenir of a place she already lives as an item of comfort. And look at that! She used to collect them! She would love another one, and Carolyn does not notice or care that a weird item has appeared in her spotless modernist home. It is totally plausible that Carolyn and her daughter would be very different people, and that Geraldine would have chosen to live her life very differently from her stern and aloof mother. But it seems like the show could have communicated that in a different way than having her be oblivious to the dangers that her proximity to her mother would expose her to.

So now Eve and Carolyn have united to try and solve Kenny’s murder, which is so patently obvious that it’s a little hard to believe the government isn’t more invested in solving it. Here’s hoping they make a little more progress on the Twelve than the show has previously.


Stray observations

  • I know there is a type of person that has their own picture as their phone lockscreen, but Kenny did not seem to be that type of person.
  • Is this show introducing another dull man for Eve to have a romance with before he’s inevitably shunted aside for Villanelle? It’s literally the episode after her husband bounced.
  • It is more than a little frustrating to see Carolyn so completely sidelined at work. Season 1’s Carolyn was a legend. The bad guys would never have dared to target her son. And now she’s a middle manager hiding in her car?
  • While the notion that Kenny had started wearing deodorant for the new girlfriend is funny, he also hooked up with Elena in Season 1. He’s not a total social deviant.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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