May 27, 2019

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Killing Eve”


It may not be fair, but it’s awfully hard not to compare the second seasons of KILLING EVE directly with HBO’s Barry, since both were comedies-with-drama/dramas-with-comedy about hired killers that aired on virtually the same Sunday nights.  Many of us watched the latest installments of each series in the span of the same few hours.  The balance this year favored Barry, which developed from its dazzling first season tonally and even structurally, finding room, for example, amid its black humor and twisted heart for a spectacular virtual standalone episode that somehow featured a feral child just this side of CG without yanking itself out of its narrative.

For Killing Eve, Season 2 was more of a dead end.  Part of that may have been because of a curious creative decision:  while Barry, like most successful shows early in their runs, has been guided by the same showrunners (co-creators Bill Hader and Alec Berg) from the start, Killing Eve seems to have decided to change showrunners on a yearly basis.  This season, Emerald Fennell took over from very busy creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and it’s already been announced that in Season 3, Suzanne Heathecote will be in charge.

With a sort of caretaker government in office, Season 2 repeated a lot of the same emotional territory of Season 1, as we followed the mutual fascination of assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and MI-6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh).  Eve wanted to catch Villanelle but also bask in her unrestrained id, while Villanelle saw a like spirit underneath Eve’s proper exterior, and sought to cultivate it.  A little thing like Eve’s near-fatal stabbing of Villanelle couldn’t keep them parted, and in the first half of the season, they continued their cat and mouse game, barely missing each other or coming into teasingly brief contact.

The back half of the season was an enormous contrivance that seemed designed on the show’s part to find an excuse for Oh and Comer to have more screen time together, as MI-6 somehow approved a plan that started with Eve ordering a hit on herself for Villanelle to fulfill, and then had Villanelle hired to work with Eve to trip the utterly boring tech mogul psychopath Aaron Peel (Henry Lloyd-Hughes).  Even though tonight’s season finale explained that this was indeed a contrivance, but one concocted by Eve’s devious boss Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) on the correct theory that Villanelle would kill Peel and MI-6 would be able to disclaim responsibility, this made almost no sense on a practical level.

All of that plot silliness could have been excused if the relationship between the two protagonists had deepened, but Season 2 was just more of the same quasi-sexual, quasi-psychotic same, almost to the point of fan service, as Eve had sex with a colleague while listening to Villanelle in her ear, and Villanelle (seemingly) put her life at risk in order to force Eve to hack someone (the odious Raymond, played by Adrian Scarborough, who did a great deal with very little screen time) to death with an axe.  This time, the season ended with a mirror image of the Season 1 cliffhanger, as Villanelle shot Eve and left her for a death that no one imagines could be final.

Killing Eve remains compelling because it’s done with a great deal of style, and because Oh and Comer are two of the most charismatic performers on television.  But neither got to play much this season that they hadn’t already shown us, and one wonders how much longer the series can continue without a major switch.  AMC signaled that the series was a priority by adding it to the mothership network schedule while keeping simulcasts on original home BBCAmerica (and launching Season 2 in the week following the season finale of The Walking Dead).  The two-network play naturally increased the ratings, especially since AMC is so much larger than BBCAmerica, but Eve remains far from a breakout hit.

Season 3, as noted, is already on its way, and now that both Villanelle and Eve will have survived (we assume) near death at the hands of the other, it’s time for Killing Eve to find a new way to thrill.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."