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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Killing Eve ratchets up the tension for everyone but Eve

Illustration for article titled iKilling Eve/i ratchets up the tension for everyone but Eve
Photo: Laura Radford/BBC America
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As the third season of Killing Eve winds towards its close, there’s an unshakeable sense that the chickens are coming home to roost. Or as Carolyn puts it in a rare unguarded moment with her daughter, the walls are closing in. For her, it’s the realization that even as she gets closer to solving the mystery of her son’s death, the forces allied against her are more powerful, and less worried about consequences, than she thought they would be. For Konstantin, it’s the speedy shriveling away of any possibility that he’ll get away from the world that he’s built with his own life spared. And for Villanelle, it’s the sinking awareness that her days of usefulness to the Twelve are numbered, which is made eminently clear in her meeting with Héne, who’s quite explicit that all she wants out of Villanelle is her beautiful monster side, and is very open about having a replacement waiting in the wings. 

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In fact, the only person who doesn’t seem completely overwhelmed by what’s going on around her is Eve, who continues on with her meandering investigation into Kenny’s death. It’s also a sign of how much she’s been sidelined in recent episodes, as the world collapses around her various colleagues and nemeses. When she nearly murders Dasha, it seems like it’s supposed to be a sign of her tripping down the road towards sociopathy that the show has teased before, but we’ve spent so little time in her perspective this season that the action doesn’t feel earned. A lot of that can be pegged to the show’s indecision around her relationship with Niko—what does she actually feel about the assault on him? Does she actually want him back? Does she experience regret about the relationship? Sandra Oh has always been able to do a lot with a little, but there’s not a lot to work with here. It’s hard to tell if Eve even has a formalized position with Bitter Pill—was she drawing a paycheck with them? Who pays for all her various tickets abroad?

Illustration for article titled iKilling Eve/i ratchets up the tension for everyone but Eve
Photo: Laura Radford/BBC America
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That’s not to say that it isn’t good TV viewing to go in deep on what’s going on with Carolyn, Konstantin, and Villanelle. But it’s starting to feel like the show is leaving Michael Jordan on the bench, so to speak. Three seasons in, it makes sense that the universe of the show has gotten broader and the secondary characters have grown and evolved and become more three dimensional with time. What does it take to turn into a Carolyn or a Konstantin, and what toll does it take on them? These are fascinating questions, and the show’s interest in examining them is certainly fertile territory. But it’s increasingly at the expense of the star of the show, who even on an off day is a fascinating, prickly creation.

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For those of you who didn’t tune into the SNL at home episodes recently, there was a funny spoofed Phoebe Waller-Bridge Masterclass, which involved her talking about keeping a separate journal just for her thoughts of and/or about violent female rage. Sure, it’s a satire, but it was hard not to remember the Eve of the Waller-Bridge crafted pilot, who was introduced screaming into a pillow simply because her arms had fallen asleep. It makes sense that that version of Eve is gone, but it’s getting harder to figure out who the new version of her is supposed to be. She and Villanelle have been at such a distance both literally and plot-wise this season that it’s confusing to see the intensity of Eve’s commitment to tracking down Villanelle pop up again. Minus the creepy birthday cake, there just hasn’t been enough cat and mouse this season between them to maintain the connection.

And of course at this point, if Eve were to find her, she might be surprised by who she found—a woman who seems to be losing the ability to kill, even when confronted with a target as obnoxious as the American golfer. Villanelle has gone through a profound transformation over the season, although in recent episodes, it’s starting to feel like that’s been telegraphed more by her crying easily than any obvious series of events. But it’s also just starting to seem plausible that our core four have more to offer each other than they ever have previously when it comes to facing down an enemy that has increasing interest in seeing them all dead.

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Stray observations

  • Is there any worse job than being a young man working for Carolyn: no.
  • “Go on, tell me. How would you do it?” “I don’t know yet, but it would definitely involve the tiny chair.” The highlight of every interaction Villanelle has with her bosses is her making fun of the ridiculous surroundings.
  • “Jokes are for people who do their jobs correctly.” This particular withering Carolyn retort really got me, as a person with a lifelong habit of making nervous jokes when people are upset.
  • It’s requiring more than the usual suspension of disbelief to roll with the notion that Konstantin would leave a key with a neighbor.
  • So Villanelle’s bum arm is bad enough that she needs help on her latest assassination, but she can still swing a golf club?
  • I was all set to get annoyed at Geraldine for showing up at Konstantin’s house to be oblivious again, but then she finally got the upper hand on someone. Is she supposed to be unaware that her mother hooked up with him back in the day, though?
  • The Twelve may be a super evil conglomerate, but at least the power structure has women at the top. You hate to see yet another evil business controlled by the patriarchy.
  • I think we can all agree that the show’s deployment of Kim Bodnia’s great laugh has been delightful. I’m glad Konstantin isn’t dead (yet).
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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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