Midway through the S2 finale of Killing Eve, things got messy according to one point of view – or worked out just fabulously from another. Psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) calmly slit a throat, MI6 investigator Eve (Sandra Oh) thought she’d made a colossal mess of things, and Eve’s diabolically cunning and astute superior Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) revealed that the deadly game had played out just as she had anticipated, with her 2 pawns Villanelle and Eve filling their roles perfectly. One bloody axe murder and some stampeding across moral boundaries later, though, and the season ended in a shambles of a cliffhanger that we aren’t giving away in case you’re still catching up before S3 starts on Wednesday, 26 August on FOX (DStv 125). It all leaves a giant question mark over what will happen following the ugliest break-up of the century.
SPOILER ALERT! Links within this article lead to features that discuss important story developments throughout S3.
For the past 2 seasons, Villanelle has acted as if she’s had Eve’s name tattooed over her heart. So, going into S3, we’re wondering whether she’ll (metaphorically) go for just lasering it off, picking an insulting cover-up, or having detail and shading added as she continues to pursue her obsession with making Eve her partner in crime. “From our study and our research into psychopathic behaviour, psychopaths fall desperately and very passionately and very deeply in love. And it can be very intoxicating, but they can also turn it off. It can just be turned off like a light switch. So if at any point Villanelle feels it’s not reciprocated, we knew that was a really dangerous moment, too,” the series’ S2 executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle says of the S2 finale.
Once Villanelle switches off her feelings for Eve, can they be turned back on, though? There’s a pink talking teddy bear in an angel outfit in episode 3 that could testify to some fuzzy feelings remaining behind.
As for Eve, their final encounter in S2 could be a full stop for her… or just a rest break as Eve comes to terms with how she has been changing since the day that she got her first, fascinating glimpse of this glamorous and deadly assassin. “We really get to see deeper layers of Eve (in S3), and her really coming to terms with the person she is now. She’s forever changed because of what happened to her and what she’s been through, and it’s really about seeing her now, this new version of herself, and her acceptance of herself, which is very exciting and really takes her into new places,” says Suzanne Heathcote, who takes over as Killing Eve headwriter in S3.
Suzanne muses that there might be no calling it quits for Eve and Villanelle – ever. “For Eve, there's that speck of darkness that she can't remove from herself. And it's that that's drawn her to studying these murders in the first season, for years before she was discovered by Carolyn. That's always been there. Villanelle, it's almost the opposite. It's like she has this speck of light inside her. I think, as a result, there's a completeness when they're with the other. They know that they recognise each other in a way that no one else ever has before. Once you've known that, once you've felt that with someone, it's very hard to walk away from that. It's an addiction in itself, really.”
Part of what makes that compelling is that Eve and Villanelle find in each other someone who appreciates the art of what they do. “It’s about two women who are only seen by each other. I think Villanelle, and her gifts, which as it happens, tends to be killing people – it’s an art form for Villanelle, and that’s something that Eve actually appreciates in itself. She appreciates the brilliance of what Villanelle does, and sees her as a human, fully in a way that no one else does. And Villanelle can feel that. And similarly, for Eve, the things that she grapples with and her truly deeper, sometimes darker self, is truly seen by Villanelle, and elements of herself that she might have suppressed or hidden – or may not even be aware of – are seen by Villanelle, and she feels fully seen. I think it’s about these two women understanding each other in a way that no one ever has,” Suzanne explains.
There are other relationships in their lives, though. Family is going to be spotlighted for Eve, Carolyn and Villanelle in S3, which begins with a wedding for one family and a funeral for another – always a good time to mingle and enjoy some character spotting. “It’s about seeing these characters in a deeper way as well this season, and understanding their personal lives, and how those personal lives really feed into their professional lives. It’s about getting into deeper pockets of the characters and seeing them in a new way,” says Suzanne.
It’ll be particularly illuminating when Suzanne introduces Villanelle’s Russian birth family in episode 5, including her mother, Tatiana (Evgenia Dodina), who put her in an orphanage, her quiet older brother, Pyotr (Rob Feldman), and her Elton John-obsessed half-brother, Bor'ka (Termirlan Blaev). “I was really interested in the relationship she has with her mother. What I was really interested in exploring was the mother’s perspective. This idea that Villanelle had been ‘born bad’, and yet the reality being that Villanelle’s mother herself is someone who has a facade, a veneer that’s incredibly convincing. Villanelle, and to an extent her half-brother, can really see beneath it, and very few people can see beneath it. Was Villanelle actually violent as a child, and did she always show tendencies that were genuinely terrifying to the family? I was really interested in those questions,” hints Suzanne.
Speaking of family, for viewers who adore Irina (Yuli Lagodinsky), the delightful bratty daughter of Villanelle’s handler, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia), the excellent news is that she and Villanelle will be enjoying some bonding time in episode 6. Prepare to skip school for a joyride and hang out on the swings at the park!
Watch Killing Eve S3 from Wednesday, 26 August on FOX (DStv 125) at 20:45 and on Catch Up