Killing Eve very nearly lost its way last season when it kept Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) apart for almost every episode. Season one gifted us with a thrilling game of cat and mouse, season two saw an unexpected partnership form, and season three sent everyone on their own paths, digging deeper into backstories and personal drama. The series has struggled to hold onto the magic of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s first season for some time now, but thanks to Oh and Comer’s performances, Killing Eve has remained watchable throughout. The fourth and final season picks up shortly after the events of the Season 3 finale that saw our leading ladies finally realize they may want the same things after all.
Eve, on a revenge mission against The Twelve and still desperate for answers about Kenny’s death, hunts down targets in the hopes of getting closer to the truth. It’s quite the leap from the deskbound, desperate-for-action MI6 agent we met in Season 1; her time in this world and with Villanelle has hardened her. She may even have a death wish, but not before she gets to the truth (and brings a few perpetrators to justice). Oh’s performance remains as sensational as ever, as we see Eve transformed from an often frazzled do-gooder to a vengeful, ruthless (if occasionally ungraceful) badass on a mission. She’s sexually liberated, physically tough, and doesn’t take shit from anyone anymore. In fact, Eve is acting more like Villanelle these days than Villanelle is.
That's because Villanelle, our “perfect killing machine”, is now trying her very best to be good. She spends much of the season four premiere, “Just Dunk Me”, shrouded in unsubtle religious imagery as she ingratiates herself with a church community and befriends a vicar’s sweet daughter. She seems to have pretty much everyone fooled, with the exception of the vicar, who eyes her with (let’s face it, much deserved) skepticism. Villanelle wants a new life, but more than anything, she wants Eve to know she’s changed. Comer, fresh off Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, settles back into Villanelle’s shoes like she’s come home, effortlessly donning her Russian accent and eerie talent for manipulation. After playing a woman who has maybe only had a sprinkling of guilt and a handful of moral misgivings her entire life, it’s fascinating to watch her try to do the right thing, even if it is for the wrong reasons. It can only be a matter of time before lethal instinct wins over our favorite fashionable femme fatale, but for now she seems determined to redeem her broken soul.
Of course Killing Eve has always been at its most interesting when it's indulged in the dangerous, dazzling chemistry that still sizzles between Oh and Comer, and embracing this is the best possible move the show could make as it comes to a close. They might be moving in opposite directions as season four begins, but we have a feeling they’re only going to grow closer as the drama progresses; so much of the fun of Killing Eve comes from just how damn difficult it is for these two to stay away from each other - even if leaves (or perhaps because it leaves) death and destruction in their wake.
While Eve and Villanelle navigate their new agendas, Carolyn (show MVP Fiona Shaw) continues her own mission to dig deeper into The Twelve and find out who was responsible for her son’s death, despite the urging of those above her to give it a rest. The women of Killing Eve are done taking orders; they’ve been failed time and time again by the system, their hands covered in the blood (both literally and figuratively) of those closest to them as they pay the price for getting too close to the truth. We’ve seen these characters disregard direction and go off on their own before, but there’s a tonal pivot now that they no longer have the protection that was once in place when they acted behind a badge. Not that they want that protection. This is no longer about the greater good, if it ever was; it’s about personal desire and self-actualization. And maybe this selfish shift is long overdue.
Killing Eve returns to BBC America Sunday February 26th at 8:00 PM ET. Following the premiere, episodes will stream a week early on AMC+.
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Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. She was previously a reporter/producer at Decider and is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.