'Killing Eve' Season 3 Walks a Familiar Road, But With New Hazards

The new season includes some of the best twists of the entire series.

Cook, Room, Chef, Cooking, Food,
(Image credit: Des Willie/BBCA)

Season three of Killing Eve comes with some high expectations. It earned a strong fan base with a buzzy season one, and then avoided the sophomore slump beautifully. But, unfortunately, season three is a bit all over the place. The premise of the cat-and-mouse, spy-and-assassin game has been contorted way beyond its original shape, in an effort to fit an ever-fluctuating premise. But, on the other hand, season three also offers some of the most creative, terrifying, and exciting moments the show has ever given us. Some of these moments are what fans have been longing for, and some of them are what we've been dreading all along. Be prepared, from the get-go, to yell "Oh my god! WHAT?" at the screen quite a bit.

Not really a spoiler-alert (it's in the trailer): Despite a pretty fatal-looking gunshot wound, Eve is still alive. Season two ended with the MI6 agent metaphorically going back into the closet, rejecting the electric chemistry between her and her assassin frenemy. And we now know what Villanelle does to people who reject her (and people who love her, and also total strangers). Season three picks up with Eve in rough shape; she's in pain, folding dumplings in the back of a restaurant, engaging in a bit of solo day-drinking. It's devastating. The character longed so badly to go back to her normal life, only for her to realize how empty it is. The fury she feels is palpable, much of it aimed at herself and the utter wreck she's become. She's alive, but she's not particularly happy about it.

Villanelle, on the other hand, is strutting along as always (Jodie Comer is especially good this season, which is saying something). The "wealth as female freedom" symbolism is still prominent: A bigger, dazzling place to live—European real estate porn has always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show—and a new fabulous closet for us to ogle. Villanelle's rebounding beautifully from the "breakup." Or so she thinks, until she learns her ex is still alive. Again, not really a spoiler: Creative vengeance, and some cool deaths, are always in store when the stylish murderer is around.

This season has had to slowly, gently ease its way back from the precipice of season two: not kill its leads, not ruin the dynamic, somehow keep things interesting. The season two finale seemed to promise that the show would fundamentally change structure; the two leads nearly became the couple we've always wanted, then it was cruelly ripped away. They seemed destined to meet again as they fled from the series' big bad (The Twelve). For the show to slide back into the somewhat familiar dynamic of season 1 is a little confusing, not to mention disappointing.

The creators know that we just want to see Eve and Villanelle circle each other, fighting and flirting. In an effort to keep that energy, it feels like the show's bending back over itself. It's also worth noting that each season has someone new at the helm. In season three, the lead writer and executive producer is Fear the Walking Dead writer Suzanne Heathcoteand you can kind of tell. Like Dead, there's some running around, followed by an insane moment, then running around again. But there are hints we're headed to an epic conclusion, and that this old structure might be a vehicle for change. I'm hoping, though I'm not sure, that there's an overarching plan for the show.

The big question lingering in my mind, which only grows louder from season to season: How are these people still alive? No, seriously. Eve and Villanelle have crossed paths with dangerous foes, and each other, to warrant their deaths a hundred times. At this point it just feels like plot armor—they survive because it's important to the story. At one point, regarding the question of "Why don't you just shoot this person?" a character says something to the effect of: "It would be too complicated!" It feels like the writers said it to each other and then put it in the script. Granted, screeners were only available through episode five, and the show has always had a way of bringing things around brilliantly. But if you're looking for some kind of immediate resolution to that particular problem, you'll have to wait.

Another lingering quandary is the overarching villain. To me, The Twelve haven't historically felt real or scary, with the exception of an employee or two (RIP Raymond!) and hints of a vast network. This is in contrast to Luke Jennings' original book, which the series is based on but has now diverged completely. To her credit, Comer's Villanelle does the impressive work of both antihero and villain. She's an assassin for other people, but she has a brain. She kills without a scruple in the world, except when she has a flicker of quasi-conscience. Here, especially this season, we get more information about why Villanelle is the way she is. And the "resolution" to it could only have come out of her twisted mind.

Despite its challenges, the complexity still makes Killing Eve deliciously watchable. The show doesn't treat the viewers like idiots. It won't hold our hands or show its cards before it's ready, even on the little stuff. Some plot points aren't explained at all this season in favor of a "just keep up and see what happens" attitude; so unpacking the shifting allegiances and twists within the show seem wearying at this point. Instead, just sit back and let the experience wash over you.

Ultimately, watching Killing Eve season three is like trying to date Villanelle. It's sexy, it's confusing, it's infuriating at times. Then, in half a heartbeat, it's the most twisted, devastating, compelling thing you've ever seen.

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Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.