"While that isn't necessarily welcome — fans were initially hooked by Killing Eve's amusing cat-and-mouse games — this more sober season is also its natural progression, given all that the characters have been through," says Jeva Lange. "Keeping the same tone of its first two seasons would have been awkward at best, and farcical at worst. The result is less fun, more human and raw. And it will be up to you if that's a trade-off you're willing to accept. Killing Eve's tonal shift can be attributed in part to its tradition of passing the baton off to a new showrunner every season. Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge helmed the brilliant debut season in 2018, injecting it with her spicy trademark humor; Emerald Fennell took over for the second season, an entertaining, if somewhat more plodding, structural reversal of the first. The third season, now in the hands of Fear the Walking Dead writer Suzanne Heathcote, is, then, a natural place for a reset. Season two ended with a cliffhanger: rogue MI6 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) gets shot through the chest in Rome by the glamorous, diabolical assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Sticking to the truism of television, though (if you don't see a body actually buried, the person isn't dead), sure enough, Eve has not been killed quite yet. But things can't simply go back to the blood-and-glitter concoction of season one; season two complicated the pulpy enjoyment of the first."
Season 3 settles into an edgeless groove: "Killing Eve has always been a procedural at heart, first as Eve studied Villanelle’s murders to get closer to her, and then as they teamed up to track down a new, unknown killer," says Ben Travers. "As much as its serialized aspects made the BBC America drama out to be a new kind of crime show, the bones of a procedural have kept it alive. Serialization got everything twisted up, and procedure is the work of detangling. What’s left may not provide the anything-can-happen rush of early episodes, but for those happy just to spend a little time with their favorite ex-agent and ultra-assassin, Killing Eve Season 3 should suffice. For those looking to be wowed week-in and week-out, well, it’s just not that kind of show anymore."
It can’t be stressed enough that Killing Eve Season 3 does not pull its punches, emotionally or when it comes to violence: "In the five episodes sent to critics, there are truly grisly kills, horrific acts of cruelty, and some really shocking deaths," says Meghan O'Keefe. "Killing Eve Season 3 manages to heighten the stakes once more. No one is safe, and you get the sense that the show is trying to expand itself beyond Eve and Villanelle’s relationship. Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) gets a juicy storyline that sees her challenged when her personal and professional lives become intertwined. Similarly, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) is torn between his dangerous work and his guilt over not being there for his daughter Irina. This heightened emphasis on everyone’s personal life and what matters to them makes the drama feel all the more urgent."
Killing Eve is an overall better show in Season 3, but it's less exhilarating: "Let’s make one thing clear: Eve and Villanelle’s dynamic, if both of them are to stay alive — and the trailers made clear that Eve survived what went down in Rome — can only ride the cat-and-mouse game so far," says Kimberly Ricci. "Dragging that out, full-on, through a third season would be exhausting, so there’s no room for a True Detective-style attempt to go back-to-basics in an effort to re-bottle lightning. That method churned out a respectable product for HBO, though not a magical one, and BBC America resists that temptation with Killing Eve. Instead, it tweaks itself to survive through (at least) year four. Mainly, Killing Eve accepts the challenge by diving inward and reflecting upon itself. It does not struggle to maintain the game. It doesn’t even try to make the cat and mouse get along like Season 2 did. All of that would be too played-out to sustain in an engaging way. And this is where Killing Eve decides to start running a marathon, rather than a sprint. So, the flashier aspects of the show still exist, but they’re fueled differently. This might make the show less exhilarating for some viewers, but overall, there’s a more solid construction. It really was the wisest way to go to keep these characters going and, in the process, to give the people want they demand: more Villanelle and Eve."
Killing Eve is stuck in an impossible situation with Eve and Villanelle: "The problem, as it always is in inherently flawed relationships, is that Killing Eve‘s greatest asset is the dynamic between its two lead characters and yet we know for a fact that they simply can’t work together," says Brandon Katz. "That puts the show in an impossible position—forcing Eve and Villanelle to repeatedly collide like supercharged molecules while also needing to break them apart the moment they start to fuse. It’s not sustainable. Here, especially, the cat eventually has to catch the mouse."
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer talk Season 3: "At the top of season three, you see Eve in recovery," says Oh. "Although in some ways it doesn't look like recovery, it's still a type of recovery. It's a retreat. She's retreating into a place where she feels safe, where she feels anonymous, where her tasks in some ways are very simple and very grounding." Comer says Villanelle is "having to face a lot of her truths this year, a lot of her past. A lot of it involves flickers of moments we've seen previously in the series — those times where you wonder if she actually feels anything in a moment, is she remorseful, does she have any sense of mortality — and all of that is delved into (this season). But I also think we see her in some very vulnerable situations. It was really fun for me to play, actually. I'm so aware that the person who we met in season one is the same person she is now, but also very different. It's very important that we as a production grow and listen to what it is (that Villanelle) is saying and experiencing, and trying to stay true to that."
New showrunner Suzanne Heathcote on Eve's Season 3 journey: “I wanted to know what happened to her emotionally in the time between her being shot and us seeing her,” says Heathcote. “I felt strongly that we really needed to see consequences. Not just for Eve, but for all the characters, including Carolyn. A huge amount has happened in the past two seasons, and those two seasons happen over a relatively short period of time. So I felt we needed to take a moment and take stock and see some of the effects of what happened, before we could launch into the new area that we were going to delve into for this season.”