Villanelle’s found God, and Eve doesn’t want to know. That’s the stage we’ve reached with Killing Eve, the silly cat-and-mouse espionage thriller originally adapted for the screen by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. It's now being concluded by Sex Education alumnus Laura Neal in the fourth and final season, in which Jodie Comer finally says goodbye to the killer role that made her an international name.
The escapades with Eve (Sandra Oh) hunting Villanelle, or vice versa, haven't yet resumed their former excitement, mostly reduced when Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) left after season two. Many would argue, perhaps rightly, that Waller-Bridge’s exit was the contributing factor to its lost magic. The series endured a strange devolution, punctuated by a few decent episodes with sabre-toothed dialogue and amusing performances.
It’s usual for a series as big as Killing Eve to run out of steam eventually, but to achieve that undesired feat so quickly is (frankly) weird. However, in the first episode of season four, Neal keeps the writing punchy and the performances retain much of their ridiculous allure – thankfully preventing an exhausting experience.
Villanelle (Jodie Comer) finds God. Photo: BBC
The opening scene becomes Tarantino-esque when Eve visits her old frenemy and Villanelle’s ex-employer Konstantin (Kim Bodnia). Neal wrote the funniest episodes in season three, and she resumes her pitch-black sense of humour here. It’s easy to see why she was promoted to showrunner.
Apparently, the union that concluded the last season – where Eve and Villanelle turned to face each other in a strangely sentimental romcom moment – didn’t amount to much after all. Eve is seeing a bloke she works with; Villanelle lives with a vicar and his smitten daughter, hoping to find salvation and forgiveness from a God she doesn’t believe in. The latter wears crimson church garb with a frilly white ruff in her first scene, as if nodding to the Waller-Bridge fans who fondly remember the Hot Priest in Fleabag.
Villanelle hasn’t disclosed her murderous past to those innocent parties, but there’s a clear effort to change herself. This is shown during a dissatisfyingly unlethal scene between her, Eve, and a fish tank – resembling the famous meet-cute in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. This season’s shaping into another post-break-up analogy: Villanelle’s trying to show she’s changed, but Eve sees nothing different.
Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle meet again via fish tank. Photo: BBC
Meanwhile, Eve copies every other TV investigation (like Inventing Anna recently) by sticking maps and names and photos to a wall. She connects all the significant dots relating to The Twelve, the series’ clandestine network of international assassins, of which the elusive Hélène (Call My Agent’s Camille Cottin) is a part. Eve’s intent on bringing them down.
Her former boss Carolyn is now a cultural attaché in Mallorca, but offers Eve help in her plight. Returning to the role, Fiona Shaw is a stern, elitist dream. She is, and has been, a consistently commendable aspect of the show (one of a few), and often steals the stage from both central performances.
As the start to the final season, episode one is pretty textbook and predictable. Villanelle’s duplicity and psychopathy no longer wield the same twist-value they once did, but Neal keeps it interesting: closing on an image that nobody will foresee. Neal keeps the tone, the atmosphere, and the comedy intact: providing many doses of colourfully coordinated nonsense.
At one point, Carolyn existentially quotes TS Eliot saying, ‘Humanity cannot bear very much reality,' and that summarises what Killing Eve is for. With its bizarre plotlines and lush locations, this is a show that revels in life outside the real world.
Killing Eve, season 4, comes to BBC iPlayer on Monday 28 February.
|What||Killing Eve, season 4 episode 1, BBC One review|
28 Feb 22 – 28 Feb 23, ON BBC iPLAYER
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