By Kat Smith
Killing Eve is officially back, but is it better than ever?
At the end of season two, we left Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) – or Oksana if you will – on a sharp cliff-hanger. Villanelle had supposedly killed Eve after we finally thought they would be together after what had already been a flirtatious whirlwind of twisting dynamics; and it’s been difficult to predict where the story would be taken since we last saw our favourite couple-but-not-completely-a-couple in May.
So, with the third season being brought forward to save us from isolation misery, and two extremely successful series before it, the third instalment run by new show runner Suzanne Heathcote had high expectations to meet. But so far, it is hard to tell whether she will live up to it or not.
The first episode of season three gave us brutality, shocking deaths and a duller aesthetic than ever before. The palette is greyer, and style has been swapped for savagery when it comes to the deaths. The general mood is not exactly light either: Eve is recovering from a gunshot wound, Kenny is working in a dingy office and Villanelle getting married to a woman she clearly does not care that much about. It is difficult to tell if this is the start to the best season yet or the beginning of the end for Killing Eve – will it add a welcome new layer of morbidity and brutality, or become another gruesome thriller?
Killing Eve’s ability to shock its audience is undeniable – it has been doing that since the every first episode in 2018 – but it must retain the essence of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s original writing if it is going to keep its unique appeal. The series has been defined by not only its strong female characters, but also its dry humour, unapologetic femininity, iconic settings and twisting power dynamics. Even when there were ruthless killings in series one, it was with poisonous perfume and hairpins, now it is pure brute force. It is not enough for the deaths to become more gruesome and the wardrobes more expensive – it must continue to elevate above the standard thriller series by slowly burning, only shocking when it makes sense to and keeping a bit of creativity (even if this comes in the form of inventive murders). After episode one, it felt like the playfulness and elegance so essential to the series has been forgotten for the sake of pushing the storyline forward.
I hope that season three does not become merely a storm of surprises, losing sight of what makes the series so special. I hope that the season will see Eve and Villanelle have a proper conversation without it ending in attempted murder, really addressing what has so far been left unsaid. Let us hope Killing Eve keeps its unapologetically seductive and empowering sense of femininity, infallible comedic timing and intelligent story-lines. I have no exact expectation for the story-line except for the pursuit of the truth about the Twelve, and seeing Konstantin being a bigger player in the game than he ever has been. What makes Killing Eve so special is that it spins us curve balls that are unexpected but not unrealistic – will season three continue to keep us on our toes without disorientating us?
If this season of Killing Eve resists the temptation to turn the shock-factor up to 100% and avoids ending the season with another death-that-isn’t-a-death, we just might be in for yet another treat. But, if this is a season of obvious jokes and low blows for quick satisfaction, Killing Eve might finally lose its spark. I guess only time will tell.