A potentially psychopathic murderess with a killer eye not just for people, but for fashion, Killing Eve’s Villanelle birthed a new star in Jodie Comer, the British actress with the porcelain complexion who’s devastatingly good at portraying the assassin with a thirst for blood.
The same was true of her target Eve, played by Sandra Oh: another outsider, this time softly calculating and introspective, she’s a counterweight to Villanelle’s brashness. They made a fine pair.
The first series was a thrillingly flirtatious journey to get to know these two women and understand their deadly relationship.
Their encounters were compelling because we all believed Villanelle could - and would - kill Eve in the same way she’d dispensed of all the other poor souls that edged into her view or challenged her authority.
Villanelle’s viciousness was the whole point - her wayward kills, the spectacular way she carried out her dispenses and the unpredictability of their nature: what would she do next? Eve was her target, so it seemed obvious.
Yet, as we reach the end of the third season, Eve’s still alive and the title of the show is starting to feel increasingly tone deaf to the show’s content. If Eve’s not going to die, then what is she going to do, and what’s the whole point of all this?
Of course, running concurrently with the whole ‘let’s kill Eve’ arch is the idea that the women love one another. This challenges Villanelle’s professionalism as a hitwoman and adds emotional layers to the plot, but two wearisome seasons later, it feels like Villanelle only wants to get inside Eve’s pants and nothing else.
And while a show about two well-dressed women on other sides of the world falling in love with one another is a pleasant idea for a TV show, it was hardly the point.
Not helping is two season’s worth of uninteresting villainous male leads and sub-characters that feel more generic, and a confusing set of storylines which are less gripping.
In the mix, we’re offered the opportunity to get to know Villanelle more as a person - but wasn’t the whole point that she was aloof and distant? Did we really need to see her family home in Russia or watch her as she shops mournfully for teddy bears to send Eve as a declaration of love?
Sometimes, the more personal storylines have been intriguing to watch, and are always beautifully shot.
In season three (spoiler-alert) Villanelle infuriating Polish locals by winning all the prizes at her local fete was a charming segway into her childishness, and Eve’s bedside rituals for her estranged husband express her true sense of duty and care - but none of these subplots feel like they matter now that the black cloak of death isn’t hanging over Eve’s shoulders.
But while it may be visually gorgeous, for two seasons now, the show has suffered from Villanelle’s lovesickness.
And there needn’t be anymore suffering - instead of sprawling on any longer, Killing Eve should end now to retain the grace it once had.
The show should have been a one-season phenomenon; fiery and passionate, it should have burned out and died young - rather like Eve should have at the hands of Villanelle - rather than living to a (not so) graceful old age.
Will there be anymore? Probably. But how much longer can we appreciate the beautiful scenery, great fashion and solid acting when the fundamental premise is missing?
Villanelle has separated Eve from her kill list and onto her lust-for list. She is still chasing Eve, but doesn’t want her guts for garters anymore - and in Killing Eve terms, that renders the whole initial idea pretty much redundant.