‘Killing Eve’ Season 3 Review: A Palpitating Plunge into Heart v. Mind

Killing Eve's third installment is twisted, attractive, and divinely smart, offering some of the most deliciously inventive and compelling moments in the show's history.

BBC America

Physically healed from her supposed-to-be-fatal wounds, Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) now spends her sober and sentient hours employed in a stuffy restaurant kitchen. The rest of her time is spent avoiding pervasive thoughts of Villanelle, and the harrowing memories of the events that so dramatically concluded Killing Eve‘s second season. She has not dealt with her trauma so much as she’s drowned it, but she’s coping as well as she can. Her life feels devastatingly empty, and normalcy does not suit her anymore.

Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is coping in a far different manner — marrying, however briefly, a gorgeous Spanish woman. “When I think about my ex,” she says to her wedding guests with a perfectly psychopathic inflection, “I’m so much happier now she’s dead.” She has confidently recovered from what she calls a breakup, until of course, she learns that Eve is alive, which sends her to a place of abnormal morality. Not to worry, Villanelle is still contriving assassination techniques that are as playful as they are sadistic, but she has new motivations: assuming power within the organization that employs her. She also has a new handler, Dasha (Dame Harriet Walter), the creatively murderous former gymnast who first taught her how to kill. Comer herself has reached dizzying heights this season. Her embodiment of Villanelle is breathtaking, terrifying, and crafted with impressive psychological comprehension. 

To catch up with our other characters, Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) has been barred from doing any official work for MI6 now that she’s the subject of an internal investigation. For a woman with an unnaturally calm mind, she begins to splinter. Meanwhile, Kenny (Sean Delaney) has left MI6 and his mother’s watchful gaze to become a journalist, but he can’t seem to let his investigation into The Twelve grow cold. As Niko (Owen McDonnell) is struggling to recover, his relationship with Eve is especially strained. Working for The Twelve again, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) continues to level a watchful eye upon Carolyn and Eve, as he keeps track of their movements in London. Through being so tangled up in the politics of an international assassination syndicate, attempting to move on and forget the past proves a futile task for all of them. This becomes particularly true after a personal death forces Eve to take stock and confront the reality of her unfinished work. 

Suzanne Heathcote is at the helm this time around, taking over the roles of lead writer and producer. This season recalls much of the punchy perfection of the first, but replicating Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s genius remains an impossibility. As sharp and cuttingly violent as it may be, Killing Eve is shot with sweeping grace, maintaining its utterly fashionable take on its genre. The show’s aesthetics and costume design are as swoon-worthy and enviable as always, including a fantastic pair of cowboy boots, several dashing suits, and a dreamy Spanish villa. And of course, the whole bit with the clown costumes was iconic if nothing else. As much as this season is invigorating, it does feel a bit unfocused as it tries to follow a multitude of diverging plot-lines, resulting in a few moments that moved so quickly that it was difficult to connect — not to mention the loudness of questions that remain unanswered. On the whole, however, this season offers some of the most deliciously inventive and compelling moments in the show’s history. 

There’s no end to the complexities in Eve and Villanelle’s relationship, which is just as electrifying and sexually charged as it has always been — even from such a distance. Villanelle suddenly knows loss, despite her attempts to scrub those feelings away. Eve struggles to live with the violence she became so wrapped up in (and that she enjoyed, just like Villanelle). Their relationship is less of a chase than an equal, addictive yearning, and after months of being starved of each other, their collision is volatile, carnal, and shocking for the both of them.

Killing Eve’s third installment is twisted, attractive, and divinely smart. Though it has always been a fascinating psychological study, this season gives a deeper, more torturous intricacy to its characters and their morality (or lack thereof). It seems as though we are being guided to some meteoric conclusion, though the endgame is utterly impossible to prophesy. 

The first five episodes of Killing Eve season 3 were provided for review.

Jenna Kalishman

BA in English and film studies. Early English literature as well as fantasy and sci-fi fanatic. Bylines include Lithium Magazine, Hey Alma, and Flip Screened. @jenkalish on socials.

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