Photo: Killing Eve Season 4
Episode 1: “Just Dunk Me”
A helmeted, racer-chic woman dismounts her motorcycle, strolls herself through the doors of a secured municipal building with the help of her handgun, and threatens the corrupt mayor for information about the world’s most dangerous assassination organization. The mayor has on his head an electric head massager. ‘Killing Eve’ is back, in all its manic glory.
‘Killing Eve’ has had a different showrunner for each of its seasons. Under the creative guidance of Phoebe Waller-Bridge (‘Fleabag’ visionary), the show’s first season made an indelible impression with its dark sense of humor, unhinged main characters, and a plot that rivets you to your seat and steals your day in a 6-hour instant. It did that to me anyway, and I thanked it. Much like Eve (Sandra Oh), many viewers just couldn’t turn away from the hunt for Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the theatrical psychopath leaving a trail of dead bodies all over Europe.
Seasons 2 and 3 steadily unveiled more about MI6 and The Twelve, the two organizations at play behind the actions of Eve and Villanelle. They also grew progressively more character-focused, paying special attention to Eve and Villanelle’s demented relationship, and delving into the workings of their minds. For many, that progression felt like a departure from the thrilling absurdity of the first season, and as the scope of the story expanded it required more suspension of belief.
The second and third seasons were not at all bad or boring. They just felt a little less singular. After the season 4 premiere, however, I suspect they will be vindicated as the necessary chain lift to the dive coaster this final season promises to be.
At the end of season 2, Villanelle killed Eve. Or so she thought. Season 3 kicks off with Villanelle’s wedding reception, where she announces that she’s so much happier now that her ex is dead before her mentor Dasha (Harriet Walter) crashes the party. Eve, meanwhile, has sworn off involvement with MI6 as she recovers from leaving someone to die, killing someone else, and nearly dying herself.
Right when Eve seems ready to leave it all behind, Kenny (Sean Delaney) dies, sending Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) and Eve on a hunt for his killer. Villanelle finds Eve after discovering that she survived, and we get more of that electric, scary chemistry between the two that has powered so much of the series. Dasha, party-crasher extraordinaire, tries to separate the two by framing Villanelle for murdering Eve’s husband Niko (Owen McDonnell). Niko barely survives a pitchfork through his throat, and tells Eve with a computer-generated voice to “piss off forever.” Villanelle finds her family and winds up burning down their house after feeling betrayed by her mother. In the meantime, Villanelle’s old handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia), fails to escape from his involvement with The Twelve with his daughter Irina (Yuli Lagodinsky) after she gets herself detained for running over her step-dad with a car.
This series of devastating losses leaves the main cast of characters feeling stranded and desperate for answers. By the end of the season, everything is in tatters. Carolyn has killed Paul (Steve Pemberton), her replacement as head of MI6’s Russian desk and double agent for The Twelve. Konstantin has survived a heart attack induced by being the target of a multitude of dangerous people. Villanelle and Eve have jointly killed Dasha and have run from their respective teams. The two decide to break off their involvement with one another, and the season ends with them deliberately walking in opposite directions before turning around and locking eyes.
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Killing Eve Season 4 – Prepare To Be Riveted
Season 4’s showrunner, Laura Neal had a major hand in writing season 3, and has some excellent writing credits under her belt, including an episode of ‘My Mad Fat Diary,’ a series I highly recommend that features Jodie Comer earlier in her career.
In an interview with Collider, Neal shared her excitement about running the final season, as well as the core character questions that came up in the writers’ room. When asked about the final episode, she offered, “I would describe the final episode as glorious.”
The season premiere gave us reason to believe her. We see a nihilistic Eve hellbent on taking down The Twelve, a terrifying phoenix risen from the ashes of her incinerated life. We see a churchgoing Villanelle envisioning Jesus as a costumed version of herself. She claims that she’s trying to better herself, and in the process wants to prove to Eve that she can be a good person. We see Carolyn, no longer the head of MI6’s Russia desk, smilingly drunk on power while she conducts her first investigation since being cut off from the wealth of information she’s used to having. After seeing out the obsessions that kept Eve and Villanelle gravitating toward one another, we get to watch the characters go in new and fascinating directions, and it looks like it’ll be a fun time.
The Big Question: Is Villanelle Really Psychopathic?
Many viewers have questioned whether Villanelle is an accurate psychopath. The argument usually runs that Villanelle seems to have significant feelings for Eve that a psychopath wouldn’t demonstrate. She seems to care in a way that’s deeper than just fascination, the feeling most commonly attributed to psychopaths who seem uncharacteristically attached to someone. This misconception is not entirely true. There are different kinds of psychopathy, and it’s likely that a “primary” psychopath like Villanelle thinks the way she does because her brain has set up an elaborate defense system for something vulnerable inside her. The kind of defense system most of us have, ramped up to its most extreme.
I don’t want to call an entire subpopulation of commenters armchair experts without grounds, so don’t take this information from me. Take it from Dr. Mark Freestone, the show’s psychiatry consultant. In an interview with BBC America, Dr. Freestone discusses how Luke Jennings, the author of the Codename Villanelle novellas upon which the series is based, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and himself worked together to portray a nuanced, but accurate psychopathic character. He talks about some differences between sociopaths and psychopaths, and describes Villanelle’s complex in particular.
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The following is something Dr. Freestone said in the interview that pertains particularly to the fourth season: “Psychopaths are not super-human predators who are immune to fear and other emotions; they are missing something quite fundamental that helps define what makes everyone else human.” It seems that Laura Neal is interested in continuing Villanelle’s quest to find or develop that missing something, and by the end of season 4 we may know whether she succeeds.
Where To Watch ‘Killing Eve’
You won’t want to miss it when this series unfolds and comes to its finale. If you haven’t caught up and the season 3 recap didn’t ruin the fun for you, you can watch past seasons on Hulu, AMC+, or BBC iPlayer, or purchase them on Amazon Prime or Vudu.
The selection is more limited for the fourth season, which will air weekly. First on BBC America, Sundays at 8 pm EST/5 pm PST, then on AMC, Mondays at 9 pm EST/6 pm PST. You can watch the episodes on BBC America with your cable provider, or stream the episodes live with an AMC+ subscription on Amazon Prime.
By Kevin Hauger
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