killing eve season 3 review

How do you keep a show like Killing Eve going? The show’s entire premise is wrapped-up in the cat-and-mouse, would-be-romance between psycho assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and Britsh Intelligence investigator Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), and there’s only so many times (and seasons) you can string viewers along with that set-up.

Season 2 seemed to grasp this, and actually went a long way towards finally bringing Eve and Villanelle together – only to tear them apart at the very last minute. The conclusion left some viewers cold, and many were starting to wonder if the show was starting to run on fumes. Season 3 attempts to prove that no, Killing Eve still has plenty of gas in the tank. But there’s an undeniable sense that there’s not much further this journey can go.

When we last saw Villanelle and Eve, the former had just shot the latter and – presumably – killed her. Of course, even though the show is called Killing Eve, we know that Eve can’t die – at least not yet. She’s the main character. And sure enough, Eve survived the shooting – although Villanelle doesn’t know that at first. The assassin has moved on – or so she’s told herself. And she’s trying to move up in the world of international assassins. She wants a promotion, and she’s asking her new handler – and old mentor – Dasha (Harriet Walter) for help.

Eve, meanwhile, has completely retired from the dangerous world of British Intelligence, and now spends her days living in a dingy, tiny apartment and working in the kitchen of a restaurant. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a show if Eve and Villanelle remained in their current situations, and sure enough, the show is soon finding a way to have them cross paths again. And while they still clearly want to both kill and romance each other, there are other behind-the-scenes goings-on complicating matters. And, as you might expect, familiar faces, like Eve’s old boss Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), and Villanelle’s former handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) are still knocking around as well.

Season 1 kept Villanelle mostly mysterious, but Jodie Comer’s talent was too pronounced to keep in the background, and the character had much more to do in season 2. That trend continues into season 3, to the point where the series is starting to feel a bit lopsided – it’s more about Villanelle now than it is about Eve. We learn much more about her backstory, and there are entire episodes where Eve isn’t even mentioned.

And this is somewhat frustrating. Because again – Comer is great, so it doesn’t hurt to have more of her. But Oh is great as well, and it feels wrong to have her sidelined so much. Surely there must be a way to give the two leads equal time to share the spotlight. Comer’s role is the flashier one – she gets to have all the fun, killing her way across the landscape. Oh’s work is more subtle, more reserved, and that perhaps contributes to her reduced role. Oh is doing a lot of internal work here – Eve is broken now. Perhaps broken beyond repair.

As frustrating as this lopsidedness can be, Killing Eve remains compulsively entertaining. It’s just as sexy, violent, and weird as ever, and while it still lacks the bite of season 1 writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it’s still a sharp show – full of shocking reveals, morbid but laugh-out-loud comedy, and a series of characters that hold your attention every step of the way.

Killing Eve has already been renewed for a fourth season, so this story is going to continue – and I’m perfectly happy with that. I can’t get enough of the violent misadventures of Eve and Villanelle. But sooner or later, the series is going to have to find a way to strike a balance between its two leads, and not favor one over the other. But as long as Killing Eve continues, I’ll be watching. The show is not quite as great as it once was, but it’s still one of the most entertaining shows on TV right now.

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