‘Killing Eve’ Review: The Frustrating Series Finale Isn’t Much of an Ending at All — SpoilersApril 11, 2022
[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Killing Eve” Season 4, Episode 8, “Hello, Losers.”]
In May 2018, when “Killing Eve” aired its first finale, the episode ended in aptly wild fashion. Villanelle (Jodie Comer) was severely wounded; some may even have presumed she was dead. Eve was distraught, having followed through on her season-long promise for vengeance yet unable to cope with the confounding loss she suffered as a result. Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) was a goner (reportedly). Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) was in the wind (though probably on her way back to MI6).
At the time, some wondered if this wasn’t the best possible ending for “Killing Eve.” Audiences already knew another season was in the offing — BBC America renewed the series before it even premiered — but between the cat-and-mouse spy story (that couldn’t go on forever), the “will they, won’t they” central relationship (that never aligned perfectly with either “they should” or “they shouldn’t”), and the blurred lines dividing and connecting Eve, an intelligence officer, and Villanelle, a trained killer, the opposite of a neat-and-tidy ending may very well be the most fitting way to wrap their splendidly chaotic yarn.
But that was then, and this is now.
“Killing Eve” Season 4, Episode 8, isn’t a finale, but the finale. Yet “Hello, Losers” serves up an ending that’s both far too similar to Season 1’s closer and much less satisfying. Carolyn’s motivations are all over the map, as they have been throughout most of Season 4. Konstantin was decidedly killed off in the penultimate episode, though his passing is of such little consequence it’s barely mentioned here. Eve, again, survives, except there’s no clarity that stems from her distress, nor any personal agency achieved in her final moments. And Villanelle. Poor Villanelle. One of the most curious, resourceful, and innovative killers in TV history is bested by an unseen sniper, rather than the dangerous woman she was drawn to, again and again.
The series finale’s waning moments feel obligatory when they should feel inevitable. “Killing Eve” has been adrift for some time — I would argue Season 2 was a compelling follow-up rich with ideas, while the ensuing seasons lost their way entirely — and throughout its struggle to keep both leads onscreen (without actually forming a legitimate partnership), the chief worry was exactly what’s happened; that each new showrunner (Emerald Fennell succeeded Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Season 2, before Suzanne Heathcote and Laura Neal ran Seasons 3 and 4, respectively) was extending a story that’s ending had already been set; that the high ratings and early awards heaped upon “Killing Eve” were the driving force behind its extension, rather than genuine creative insight into exploring two leads as complex apart as they were together; that “Killing Eve” had little left to say after its stellar first season, and conceded to sign off with the same goodbye, remixed into incoherence.
So how did we get here?
Picking up right where Episode 8 left off, Gunn (the Twelve’s assassin played by Marie-Sophie Ferdane, whose character name I did not know until typing this) chases down Eve, then suddenly forgets how to kill people, and soon gets her eyes ripped out by the woman who, 30 seconds earlier, was running in fear. Villanelle watches from the woods, rightly amused at her current lover and ex-love’s pathetic fight, before whisking Eve away on a boat. (Gunn is last scene swearing vengeance on them, the first of many open threads left danging in the series finale.)
Prior to their departure, Eve tells Villanelle she needs her help to track down The Twelve. “And this is why you’re here?” Villanelle says. “You know why I’m here,” Eve responds, letting the dual implication that she’s there to take down The Twelve and there for Villanelle set in. “You want this as much as I do.”
After a brief spat on the hike back to civilization, the duo encounters a couple of hikers, who invite them back to their cabin when it starts to rain. Despite the ticking clock, Eve and Villanelle appear content to lounge around, chatting about relationships and reading tarot cards — the latter of which could not make for a more on-the-nose summation and tease of what’s to come. Villanelle had chaos and destruction in her past, unresolved conflict in her present partnership, and a blessed future. Eve, who skips the past and present readings, sees death in her future. Whatever could it mean.
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in “Killing Eve”
Anika Molnar / BBC America
Bonded by their distaste for the boring couple who housed them, Eve and Villanelle embark on a road trip. They sing along to the radio. They share a bag of snacks. And, in yet another far too direct illustration of their superior closeness to an average couple, they pee together on the side of the road. You see, Villanelle had mocked the hikers for not being able to “piss in front of each other,” despite her giving him one of her kidneys. Eve and Villanelle squat next to each other and laugh. Right after, walking back to the car, they kiss. They really kiss. Rather than another nervous, noncommittal, exploratory advance, they full-on make out. And it’s nice. For a few hours, they’re happy.
That this could’ve happened three seasons ago is, of course, ignored. Their quick resolution of long-simmering issues and random “let’s go for it” romance is another rushed development in a finale full of them. Rather than provide relief after years of evasion, their coupling is too little, too late, if not immediately tragic. This is the series finale. The show is titled “Killing Eve.” A happy ending isn’t in the cards — if it were, they would’ve started setting it up long ago.
So Eve and Villanelle proceed with their plan. They meet Carolyn and Pam (Anjana Vasan) for a quick pint. Pam tells Villanelle of Konstantin’s death (in a curt moment that belittles their relationship, given penetrating depth by Comer’s teary-eyed final words.) Carolyn decides to step aside, letting her former employee and Havana roommate take care of The Twelve for her. Of course, she’s forming a secondary plan in doing so, but Eve is too blinded by love and revenge to notice (in a brusque moment that belittles the character’s intelligence, depicted with just enough passion by Oh to suffice).
A quick note about Pam: I do not know why Pam is in this season. Rumors of a spin-off led me to believe she was being built-up as the star of her own series, and that very well may still be the case. (Vasan deserves only good things.) But Pam’s last scene sees her turn down Carolyn’s job offer, meaning she has nothing to do with Eve and Villanelle’s ultimate fate. The most significant action she takes in Season 4 is killing Konstantin, and that stopped making sense as it was happening. Now, it’s up to Carolyn to carry whatever continuation may come next, after arranging the murder of everyone’s favorite character! Good luck with that.
But I digress. Back to the ending. Eve and Villanelle board the boat where the remaining members of The Twelve are meeting. Eve “distracts” the wedding party happening upstairs by officiating a ceremony where neither groom says a single word, and then dancing through the ensuing reception as if it’s her own. (In another world, it might have been amusing that “Killing Eve” ended with a wedding between two strangers, rather than its two leads. Alas, in reality it only compounds the bungled goodbye.) Meanwhile, Villanelle murders a bunch of people downstairs. They may as well be anyone, since we don’t see them, and there’s no build-up to Villanelle’s quick, routine butchering. The cross-cutting of Eve’s euphoric dancing with Villanelle’s jubilant vengeance might have worked if Eve’s reason for exuberance was rooted in anything real. But she has no idea what Villlanelle is up to; she doesn’t even know if she’s found The Twelve. She’s inexplicably happy to leave the revenge she was so intent on acting out a few hours ago to someone else.
When Villanelle comes to get her, she informs Eve that their years-long mission to eradicate the most mysterious and powerful group of people in all of Europe is done. She just walked in and killed them. No biggie. So they hug. But then a bullet tears through Villanelle’s shoulder. After jumping overboard for cover, more bullets rip through her torso. She’s suspended in the water, lifeless, blood hovering around her body as Eve paddles toward her. When their fingertips touch, Villanelle drifts away into the darkness. Carolyn, watching from the shore, speaks into a walkie talkie: “Jolly good.” Eve surfaces in the water, screaming in agony. “The End” flashes on screen. And it’s over.
Jodie Comer in “Killing Eve”
David Emery / BBC America
So how did “Killing Eve” end? Just as it did the first time. Villanelle is severely wounded, safely presumed to be dead. Eve is distraught, having followed through on her season-long promise for vengeance yet unable to cope with the confounding loss she suffers as a result. Konstantin is a goner (officially). Carolyn is in the wind (though probably on her way back to MI6).
Only with this ending, Eve and Villanelle’s intimacy was erased. The latter’s death was orchestrated by an outside party. The two women we’ve invested in for so long were reduced to pawns of larger forces, be it Carolyn’s quest to earn her way back into MI6’s good graces or the network’s quest to end one successful series while trying to birth another. In trying to recreate an ending that already worked, “Killing Eve” lost what made it special. The mixed emotions driving Eve and Villanelle’s first finale were purposeful; they were intrinsic to a love built around death, and specific to two people still learning what they wanted from one another. Season 4’s finale is filled with loose ends, hurried changes, and empty goodbyes.
Our last image of Eve isn’t of someone who did what she felt like she had to do, even if it hurt her; it’s of a crushed partner robbed of a life she only recently realized was worth pursuing. Eve didn’t die, as the title teased all along, and that’s fine. But what died in Eve wasn’t her old, boring life; it wasn’t the side of herself that she shed by chasing Villanelle; it was the new life she wanted when she stopped running. That’s a tough ending to sit with, but after enduring the rough road to get here, it’s even harder to imagine continuing on.
“Killing Eve” Season 4 is available to stream on AMC+. Seasons 1-3 are available to stream on Hulu.
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