‘Killing Eve’ Season 3 Ending Explained: What Was This Season Really About, Anyway?

     June 3, 2020

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When Season 2 of Killing Eve ended with a literal bang, no one knew where Season 3 would go. With the third season finale, it’s worth wondering if anyone cares where it goes next.

“Are You Leading or Am I?” offers a lot of fan service, especially to those waiting for the shipping of Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer). I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t been waiting for them to finally be together, even if only to see a new dynamic. But that was the beauty of the first season, a 1:1 contrast of romantic vs. criminal pursuit. Even with an uneven second season, the finale mirrored Eve stabbing Villanelle with Villanelle shooting Eve and leaving her to die. Each time there is the chance of them being together, it ends violently.

So in the third season, their first encounter ends with a public brawl on a city bus. The excitement for them to meet again was there, and yet it almost had the same energy as running into a coworker at a supermarket. Maybe that’s the irony of the title of the episode, in that not even the show knows what the characters truly want.

Ultimately, what was this season was about? Villanelle realizing she no longer wanted to be a monster? It could be a great redemption story but she also just kicked another assassin in front of a train. Is it coming to terms with her perceived childhood trauma and her feelings towards her estranged mother? I believe the intention of her mother’s death was to show that the person known as Villanelle was dead and that only Oksana remained but even then, besides an emotional reflection on the train, we see no real change in Villanelle. Even though she says she doesn’t want to kill, she continues to do so. Even the death of her surrogate mother, Dasha, doesn’t seem to stir too much up in her, a character who, one could argue, had more of a role in creating Villanelle than her actual mother did. If this was about killing your past so you can have a future, the past wasn’t given the emphasis it deserved.

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Image via BBC America, AMC

Was this season about tracking down who killed Kenny? I really hoped it would be, since it felt like the most shocking part of the season, but instead, we just find out that Konstantin maybe-kind-of-sort-of had something to do with it. Did he just stumble or was it something more sinister? Turns out no one really cared to interrogate more, and everyone was content to just let Konstantin go about his business running away from the Twelve. Even with Carolyn choosing to kill Paul over Konstantin, it really doesn’t seem like justice for Kenny was anything she was ever interested in. Introducing her daughter, Geraldine, seemed like a great way to push the stone-hearted Carolyn to really open up and care about the murder of her son, but she is reduced to nothing more than a sounding board and a strange love interest to Konstantin.

And speaking of the Twelve, was this season about them at all? I mean, I guess? We got to meet some more of their members, but the investigation of the criminal organization was pretty much left to be spearheaded by The Bitter Pill, an online investigative publication who is so poor at their job they didn’t think to check a candy surveillance camera they had running the day of Kenny’s death. And as we met more of the Twelve, it doesn’t feel like it met the expectations set by the previous seasons. Somehow the prestige and mystery built up over the years is minimized by hollow characters that I’m sure won’t be fleshed out until next season.

And then there is Eve. The last time we saw her she was left for dead; her life hasn’t gotten much better. She’s not working for MI6 anymore, her relationship with Niko is in shambles, and she starts this season trying to solve Kenny’s death to only get distracted by her hunt for Villanelle.

This is where Season 3 falls apart.

The cat-and-mouse game that everyone loved is strong at the beginning, it’s classic will-they-won’t-they. There is the previously mentioned bus fight; the episode before it ended with them just missing each other on a train. The two ships passing in the night thing works for them, two people who just keep missing their chance. And then, all of a sudden, this finale starts with them meeting at a dance hall of all places. It made me feel like I had missed something. The previous episode ended with a phone call but choosing to skip over the details felt like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker choosing to start the movie with “The dead speak!”

The meeting that everyone was waiting for all season was a conversation they felt comfortable leaving out. Not only that, but after spending a full season trying to connect, they spend almost the entire episode together and all they do is sit and listen to the plot threads neatly tie themselves up, with very little reaction to any of the reveals. Even though Eve cared more about Kenny’s killer than Carolyn did, after learning what happened, she is actually more upset that Carolyn killed their only lead to the Twelve, as if she isn’t sitting next to Villanelle, a much better lead.

Which brings us to the final scene and our only real chance of guessing where it all goes next. Both of the prior finales have ended in Villanelle and Eve meeting … and both end in bloodshed. Although I’m glad the ending isn’t a repeat of the other two seasons, I wouldn’t say this one ended with any impactful cliffhanger or even a definitive stance on the future.

Pulling from the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Villanelle and Eve walk away from each other, never to look back, but they just can’t bring themselves to do it; they silently gaze at each other from opposite sides of the bridge. It’s blunt, but two seasons they’ve ended apart, it does seem right to end with them together. The issue here is, did this season lay the groundwork to fully appreciate this moment?

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Image via BBC America, AMC

No. Even though the chemistry between Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh is there and they remain a delight on screen, most of that charm is left over from the previous seasons. This moment wasn’t earned and when I think about the future, if the start of their relationship doesn’t feel justified, will any of Season 4? I do think the show has already planted the seeds for what’s to come. Eve storming out of the meeting at the end in an attempt to remind the audience how much she cares about stopping the Twelve makes it seem like the organization will continue to be the focus. Eve and Villanelle will finally be working together to take them down and this is also supported by Villanelle asking Carolyn for a job at the start of the finale. Although she was rejected, having Eve vouch for her might get both of them in MI6. And although her introduction was disappointing, Hélène might be the only dangling thread of this season. Maybe it pulls a little from the novels and we get to visit Shanghai or Odessa.

No matter where we end up, the real challenge will be trying to light the same spark the beginning of the series had and finding a way to bring balance to Eve and Villanelle again.

Television