Killing Eve wrapped up its extraordinary first season tonight with a finale called “God, I’m Tired” — though a more accurate title might have been “You Always Hurt the Ones You Love.”
After the murders, the suitcase theft, the prison break, and all the assorted mayhem caused by the female assassin she’s hunting, Eve (Sandra Oh) can no longer escape the fact that to know Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is to love her — even if you want her dead.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead for the season 1 finale of Killing Eve.)
With the discovery last week that Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) interviewed Villanelle in the Russian prison without her knowing, Eve doesn’t even bother to hide her jealousy anymore.
“She had no right to visit Villanelle without asking me!” she huffs. “Why?” wonders Kenny (Sean Delaney). “She’s not your girlfriend.”
But somewhere along the way, Eve’s desire to capture Villanelle stopped being a quest for justice and instead became an urgent, almost primal need to own her.
“Come with me, just you and me,” whispers Eve to Villanelle (a.k.a. Oksana) during their penultimate confrontation. “Please. Just you and me.”
It sounds more like an entreaty from a desperate lover than an MI5 agent’s command.
By now we know that everyone who is close to Villanelle — as much as anyone can be close to a sociopath — is hopelessly, helplessly under her spell. Even as Villanelle held Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) at gunpoint in last week’s episode, demanding that he kill himself with an overdose of pills, he feels compelled to confess his devotion.
“I love you more than this house. I love you more than my family,” he says wistfully. “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, to the organization, to the future.”
It’s a ploy, yes — one that’s made all the more effective by Konstantin’s genuine affection for his protégée.
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When Villanelle comes face-to-face once again with Anna (Susan Lynch), her former language tutor (and paramour) reacts with rage — Oksana did castrate and murder Anna’s husband, after all — but beneath that anger there’s evidence of simmering hurt, the kind of pain only romantic heartbreak can create. Anna’s decision to kill herself is like the reaction of a spiteful, spurned lover — you’re not breaking up with me, I’m breaking up with you!
Perhaps the only person who is immune to Villanelle’s psychotic charms is Konstantin’s young daughter and Villanelle’s hostage, Irina (newcomer Yuli Lagodinsky, in an astounding performance). Man, I would watch a whole episode about these two, fighting with the intensity of sisters (“My dad is going to kill you in the face!” “No I am going to kill your dad in the face!”), and matching each other taunt for taunt. (When Villanelle chides Anna for threatening to shoot her in front of Irina, the child chirps, “I don’t mind.”)
In the end, Killing Eve revealed itself to be a love story, but it’s a corrosive, narcissistic kind of love. Eve and Villanelle are the moral mirror image of each other, the former using her powers — brilliance, bluntness, foolish bravery — for good, the latter for bloodshed. And what could be more fascinating, and terrifying, than a living, breathing embodiment of what might have been?
Once inside Villanelle’s apartment, Eve is both disgusted and elated — at last, answers! Of course Villanelle has a tacky gold fish faucet in her tub! Of course her fridge is filled with champagne! Rifling through Villanelle’s belongings, Eve explodes with the frustration and relief you feel when a word, long on the tip of your tongue, finally materializes — and then she trashes the place in a frenzy of revenge and triumph.
When Villanelle returns and sees the destruction Eve has wrought, the scene is tense… but just for a moment. Exhausted, both emotionally and physically, Eve sits down on the bed and makes her confession:
“I think about you all the time. I think about what you’re wearing and what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. I think about what friends you have, what you eat before you work, what shampoo you use, what happened in your family. I think about your eyes and your mouth and what you feel when you kill someone. I think about what you had for breakfast. I just want to know everything.”
Was that a love poem or a stalker’s manifesto? In the hands of Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who penned this episode, the speech is both. And as such, it is a perfect prelude to the final confrontation between Eve and Vilanelle, the one we knew had to be coming but could never have predicted how it would play out. Will Eve succumb to Villanelle’s seductive charms? Will the scene end in death — Villanelle’s, Eve’s, or both? Sandra Oh navigates the fluidity of the episode’s final minutes effortlessly, as Eve — who clearly doesn’t know which choose-your-own-adventure ending she wants — suddenly stabs Villanelle, and then just as suddenly regrets it.
“I really liked you,” whispers our anti-heroine, her feelings and her vital organs gravely injured. A bloody, panicked Eve runs to the kitchen for a towel to press against her victim’s wounds, but by the time she returns, Villanelle is gone.
It was a shock, to this viewer at least, that Killing Eve didn’t actually kill Villanelle in its season finale, but it’s also a relief to know that we won’t be saying goodbye to her in season 2. (At least, not right away. She can’t last too much longer with that knife wound to the gut… can she?) This love story definitely won’t end well, but what a delight it will be to watch it implode. Grade: A-