'Killing Eve' Goes Out With a Bang in an Extremely Bloody Season 2 Finale (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Killing Eve Season 2 Finale, "You're Mine."]
Killing Eve lives up to its title in a bloody season finale which culminates in the potential murder of the show's titular character. It's a dramatic cliffhanger intended to mirror the close of season one, where Eve (Sandra Oh) stuck a knife in Villanelle's (Jodie Comer) stomach. Here the tables are turned, and the weapons are upgraded, as the unhinged hitwoman fires a bullet into Eve's back, leaving her bleeding out as we cut to credits.
As I said after last week's episode, Eve had a big decision to make. Go all-in on her psychosexual relationship with Villanelle and ride off together into the sunset (or to the snowy mountains of Alaska per Villanelle's suggestion). Or turn her back on the international assassin once and for all and return to her regular life. Each choice was bound to have severe consequences, but in turning her back, Eve presents an open target for Villanelle to aim and shoot.
Villanelle's supposedly the 'crazy' one in the Eve-Villanelle dynamic, but how certain are we that Eve's totally stable?
Throughout the finale, Villanelle convinces herself that she and Eve are one and the same. You can sort of understand where she's coming from, after all, Eve is partly to blame for encouraging the crazed killer, especially by bringing her into the Aaron Peel (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) investigation. Villanelle has always had this warped sense of love - remember how she saw the stabbing as a sign of affection? And so when Eve comes to save her, it serves as further evidence of the MI6 agent's supposed love and devotion.
While it brings Eve and Villanelle back together, the whole Peel plotline is dealt with rather routinely at the beginning of the episode. It merely takes Villanelle the click of a mouse to discover Aaron's homemade snuff films on his hard drive. For an extremely private character who knows all about the protection of data, it's preposterous that he'd leave these files out in the open for any passing guest to see. Unless he intended for Villanelle to find them as some kind of test? But she found them while he still knew her as Billie the ex-alcoholic, not Villanelle the psychopathic killer.
More concerning than Aaron's extracurricular activities is the fact that The Twelve is in town, including Villanelle's former handler, the brutish Raymond (Adrian Scarborough). One of The Twelve's assassins shoots Hugo (Edward Bluemel), and Eve rather callously leaves her colleague in a bloody puddle as she goes to save Villanelle. Picking up what she learned from The Ghost about being "invisible," Eve throws on a cleaner's uniform and casually strolls into the Peel mansion without so much as a raised eyebrow.
Of course, Villanelle doesn't need saving; she is firmly in control of the situation. Dropping her undercover act, Villanelle informs Eve all about Aaron's secret movies. "The murders are okay, but I want more story," she says as if she's reviewing the latest Hollywood horror flick. Aaron recognizes a like-minded spirit in Villanelle and asks her to come and work for him. "Neither of us will ever be bored again," he promises. "I'll give you everything. You can have it all." All she has to do is kill Eve. "Do you think I would kill you, Eve?" Villanelle asks. "Yes," replies Eve in an ominous bit of foreshadowing.
While there's no way the relationship would work out, it's fun to watch... and it's even a little fun to root for.
The irony of the situation is completely lost on Villanelle. She doesn't realize that Aaron's desire to be with her is scarily similar to her own dreams of being with Eve. Or if she does, she's certainly not willing to admit it. And so she slits Aaron's throat and drags him over to a mirror so that he can watch the life drain from his eyes. "Why did I come here?" asks a shocked Eve, believing the entire investigation has now been compromised. "Because you wanted to save me," answers Villanelle, "and you did."
Eve returns to her hotel room to try and salvage the Peel recordings, only to be greeted by Carolyn (Fiona Shaw). As has been hinted at in previous episodes, there was always a bigger scheme in motion. Despite her protestations to the contrary, Carolyn was more than fine with Villanelle killing the tech-billionaire and putting an end to his plans to weaponize private data. "Villanelle did what she does best, and so did you," the nonchalant MI6 boss tells Eve.
The betrayal is hard for Eve to swallow, particularly as she was used as a pawn and put into a situation where she could have easily been killed. When Carolyn tells her to come with her and leave Villanelle behind to face the wrath of The Twelve, a stubborn Eve refuses. "You can't be on her side and ours," says Carolyn. "You've got a noose around your neck, and I'm offering to take it off." As cold as Carolyn can sometimes be, she's not often wrong, and Eve passing on the offer of protection here is what ultimately sentences her to the gallows.
Villanelle also feels the sting of deception when Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) reveals his part in Carolyn's plan. He gave up Villanelle's whereabouts to The Twelve in exchange for his family. "I thought we were friends?" Villanelle says. "We are... but not family," he replies. Konstantin gives her a chance to save herself, providing her with a gun and a vehicle to make her escape. All she has to do is leave Eve behind. But she can't do it. "What is it about her?" Konstantin asks. "We are the same," Villanelle says with a smile.
Bodnia also addresses the lack of another career choice for his character Konstantin.
Eve and Villanelle are not the same, though, and that becomes clear in what is perhaps the best scene of the season (or at the very least the most deliciously violent). To save Villanelle from being choked to death, Eve is forced to pick up an axe and kill Raymond. "Do you know how long it'd take to kill me with an axe?" the British brute says, injecting some dark humor into the situation. But as Villanelle begins to fade, Eve does it; she swings the axe and chops Raymond, in the shoulder, much to Villanelle's frustration.
As Raymond drops to his knees, Villanelle tells Eve that she has to finish him off; otherwise he'll come after them and kill them both. It's an absolutely horrific murder, even by Villanelle's standards, let alone for a former mid-level government worker who has never killed before. There is an initial look of surprise from Villanelle as Eve hacks into Raymond's bulbous head, and then a smile creeps across her face, as if this is validation that she and Eve are equals - two killer peas from the same pod.
However, unlike the stone cold Villanelle, Eve is deeply affected by her actions. She can't simply brush it off as if she's just run over a pedestrian on Grand Theft Auto. Eve is visibly shaken and wants to throw up (she always said she didn't have the stomach for murder). She staggers around in a daze, following Villanelle through the underground tunnels of Rome in a state of confusion. It isn't until the pair exit into the ruins of the Colosseum and Eve notices Villanelle's handgun does she snap back to reality.
If Villanelle had a gun all along, then why didn't she just shoot Raymond? It suddenly dawns on Eve that she was once again used as a puppet - Villanelle wanted her to kill him. "I wanted you to know how it feels," Villanelle confesses, adding that she's proud of the now murderous secret agent. There is a change here. Eve no longer looks at Villanelle with fascination or excitement or even fear... it's a look of shame and disgust. "You're ruining the moment," Villanelle says as if Eve had just made an inappropriate joke during a romantic picnic dinner.
Hard-hitting spy TV dramas like 'The Americans' and 'Homeland' have had success, but what of their comedic counterparts?
Eve busts down the walls of Villanelle's twisted fantasy; there is no happily ever after — no log cabin getaway or Bonnie & Clyde killing spree. "You want me to be a mess. You want me to be scared. But I'm like you now. Not afraid of anything. That is what you wanted?" Eve snaps. When Villanelle expresses her love for her, Eve shakes her head, telling Villanelle that she doesn't understand what that is - and you get a sense that Eve is speaking to herself as much as she is Villanelle in this moment. "You're mine," Villanelle shouts. "No," Eve replies matter of factly, severing the relationship for good.
Unable to get what she wants, Villanelle resorts to what she knows best, murder. If she can't have Eve, then nobody can, and so she shoots her in the back and walks away with seemingly no remorse. The old Chekhov's gun concept telegraphs the ending a little, but it doesn't altogether remove the shock factor, and it's fitting that this potentially fatal encounter takes place in the arena where for centuries combatants squared off in violent confrontations.
Villanelle has a variety of weapons in her arsenal; guns, knives, even hairpins... and a razor-sharp wit.
Now, it's highly unlikely that Eve is dead given that the show has already been renewed for a third season (and Eve's name appears in the title). But part of me wonders if Killing Eve would be better served by making the brave decision to kill off its titular character. Don't get me wrong; I love Sandra Oh, but how much further can you take the Eve/Villanelle relationship without treading the same ground? You can't have the two women join forces without totally undermining Eve's character, yet doing another cat-and-mouse chase would be obvious and trite.
While season two has been fun, and showrunner Emerald Fennell has done an excellent job at maintaining the show's humorously dark tone, it certainly didn't have the same spark or narrative cohesiveness as the groundbreaking first season. Killing Eve succeeds on the strength of its central performances, and it's hard to turn away when Comer and Oh are lighting up the screen; I just worry that without a significant plot shake-up in season three, the show risks a case of diminishing returns. If Villanelle has to let Eve go, then maybe we do to.
'It's been great fun having people intrigued by the trio of women: the good one, the bad one and the boss,' says star Fiona Shaw.
-No follow-up on Niko (Owen McDonnell) or Gemma's murder from last week. That's further evidence that Eve isn't dead because one would assume these plot threads will be picked up next season.
-Speaking of danging plot threads, there is a cough-and-you'll-miss-it line of dialogue when Konstantin is saying goodbye to Villanelle. When she says that she doesn't know what having a family is like because all of hers are dead, Konstantin says, "Most of them." That suggests we could be meeting some of Villanelle's extended family in season three.
-No Kenny (Sean Delaney) in the final episode either, but we do learn from Carolyn that he knew about the secret scheme and is part of the clean-up operation. He did try to warn Eve not to go Rome!
-"I bet your kids are ugly," Villanelle tells Raymond. "They are," he replies — father of the year.
-The most unfortunate thing about Eve being shot is that she'll never get to go on that date with the bald Brummie assassin that chatted her up when she was posing as the hotel receptionist.
Killing Eve, Sundays, 8/7c, BBC America and AMC