‘Killing Eve’ Ends Season 3 With a Few Head-Scratching Twists

The season three finale of “Killing Eve” ends on a note that suggests the show is itself trying to figure out where its key relationship goes next. Three seasons have featured three different showrunners, so the narrative keeps shifting and changing even as it tries to insist it’s all about M16 operative Eve (Sandra Oh) grappling with feelings for deadly assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Gone is the semi-satirical tone that made the first batch of episodes so watchable. Still slickly produced, the season ends looking good, but on an unsure footing.

All is coming to a head as Villanelle is still attempting to not kill anyone because of a vow she made to herself earlier in the season. She makes the ultimate attempt at switching sides by meeting with Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) and pitches herself as an MI6 prospect. But when she cannot offer much info or even the ability to whack anyone, Carolyn essentially turns her down. Carolyn’s main aim remains taking down The Twelve, Villanelle’s former employers. Former handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) is already on the run. Villanelle’s old trainer Dasha (Harriet Walter) lies out of commission in a hospital ward after the former bashes her head in. At a dance hall Villanelle and Eve reunite, it turns out it’s the spot where Villanelle carried out her first ever killing on American soil (“he was a tango champion”). But one of the new Twelve assassins, Rhian, is nearby and Eve has to hurry away so they can meet later. Has Villanelle truly switched sides? Carolyn also comes closer to finding out what happened to her son Kenny, who died coming out an office window at the beginning of the season. Already her relationship with daughter Geraldine (Gemma Whelan) is coming to a head to the point where she asks her to leave the house.  But when security footage from the MI6 office gives a major clue to what happened with Kenny, Carolyn must prepare to go after both Konstantin and a Twelve mole inside her own ranks.

Longtime fans of “Killing Eve” have remained to the show even as it delivered a fatigued, somewhat disappointing story thread this time around. A major flaw was that there was so little of Eve herself. It began with her suffering from memory loss, and there were episodes where she was simply not around altogether. For most of this season the great Sandra Oh has been doing a common gig these days, with many action heroes going into an extended story lap she just wanders around looking confused. Even when she meets with Konstantin, who uses a Russian doll to explain how he is preparing to escape, there is not much tension in the moment. Every major development is happening despite Eve, not with her. 

The season shined best when it focused on Carolyn and the memorably good performance by Fiona Shaw. The death of Kenny at the start of the season allowed for a less cold, more emotionally involved Carolyn to appear, full of her sharp wits but now expressing pain and loss. For the season finale she is faced with a double conflict in asking Geraldine to leave, particularly after Konstantin manipulated her to get information, and then facing a video recording by Bear (Turlough Convery) and the rest of the Bitter team (revealed with an unwise attempt at dark humor), showing Konstantin in the same room as Kenny right before the latter’s death. 

For the rest of the episode the plotting gets confusing and almost dismissive of itself. Geraldine leaves the scene after contributing little to it this season, and there’s a moment where Villanelle visits the Bitter headquarters and quite literally does nothing except lounge around. The idea seems to be she’s bitter over not being accepted into MI6. It also allows for a goofy moment where Bear and the gang stare at her in awe. In quick succession Carolyn forces Paul (Steve Pemberton) to call Konstantin and tell him he’s aware he has been taking funds from the Twelve’s bank account.  A low-key showdown commences at Paul’s house where Konstantin arrives with Eve, then Villanelle appears. The ensuing moment will be surely debated by fans. Carolyn demands to know why Konstantin killed Kenny but he denies it. In fact he claims he offered Kenny a job with the Twelve but the youngster, terrified, accidentally fell off the MI6 roof. Carolyn doesn’t seem to totally buy it, but she instead puts a bullet in Paul’s head. At this point we are scratching our own. As Carolyn’s character has opened up more this season so have details from her past, including a long ago romantic feelings shared with Konstantin. We get the sense this is why she lets him go.

However this is “Killing Eve,” which means the story eventually has to come back to Eve and Villanelle. Their relationship seems to delude itself into thinking there are still sparks, or maybe it is just that the story does not know where to take them both. The final scene is them at a bridge having one of those lovers’ quarrel discussions where Eve begs Villanelle to put her out of her longing misery (so to speak). Villanelle suggests they turn their separate ways, keep going and never look back. And so they do.

What then will keep the fire burning in this unfortunate match of hearts? Showrunner Suzanne Heathcote has taken the show to new directions a bit farther from the original concept produced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is of course her own kind of TV force of nature. If Heathcote stays maybe this current vision will shape into something fuller and more coherent. The fans remain loyal and these actors still give the material intriguing life. But like all relationships it needs a fresh shot in the arm.

Killing Eve” season three finale aired May 31 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC and BBC America.