(Spoiler alert: Many spoilers for Killing Eve season 4)
There’s no doubt Killing Eve became an instant hit after its release on BBC in 2018. With its fourth and final season, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer reprise their roles as Eve Polastri and Villanelle under new head writer and executive producer, Laura Neal. Season three left the two main characters walking away from each other on London Bridge, with neither able to resist turning around to lock eyes. The romance that season 3 hints at is delivered in this final season, though this long-awaited pairing is overshadowed by a subpar ending. The plot struggles forwards to the ending, while the series is mainly held afloat by the incomparable performances of the cast.
Season 4 begins with its main characters surprisingly far apart. While the previous season ended with a moment of tenderness, there is now an emotional and physical distance between Eve and Villanelle. While Eve is even hungrier for revenge on The Twelve, Villanelle starts out the season on a mission of redemption at a church. This soon turns out to be more of a mission to gain Eve’s attention. She desperately tries to convince Eve that she has changed but soon falls back into old habits by murdering her only friend at church. Although Villanelle speaking to a version of herself as drag Jesus is entertaining, the apparent disconnect between the characters is a disappointing progression from where season 3 left off. The cat-and-mouse game between Eve and Villanelle that fuelled season 1 is lacking, becoming more apparent between Eve and Helen (Camille Cottin). Both Sandra Oh and Camille Cottin give outstanding performances, and the overall chase adds a sense of thrill that the season has otherwise mitigated.
Jodie Comer still gives a steady performance as Villanelle. Although missing some of the mystique and finesse from earlier seasons, Comer still gives Villanelle the usual mixture of insanity and humour. Highlights of the season include Villanelle’s rushed baptism and her and Eve’s pinnacle road trip that features a memorable yet hilarious attempt at a British accent. Villanelle’s relationship with Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) after her attempted kidnapping and murder is also a joy to watch, reminding us of the carefully and elegantly written dialogue of Killing Eve‘s earlier seasons.
The exploration of Carolyn’s past is one of the season’s most intriguing elements. Flashbacks provide some background to the interesting dynamic between Carolyn and Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) that we’ve seen throughout Killing Eve. Bodnia also gives a solid performance, and Konstantin remains one of the show’s most likeable characters. Season 4 sees Konstantin responsible for training another assassin, Pam (Anjana Vasan). Vasan creates an effortless quiet yet deadly character, acting as a much-needed contrast to Villanelle’s behaviour and personality.
The second prominent new actress, although only featured in a few episodes, is Marie-Sophie Ferdane as Gunn. Although Villanelle spends an entire episode on Gunn’s Island, her time there seems entirely arbitrary to the overall narrative. Unfortunately, Gunn’s character seems to function only to give Eve and Villanelle a reason to reunite and take the road trip that leads to the pair’s long-awaited romance.
The season’s finale, and its final episodes, sadly end with disappointment. Season 4 has seen each character on a mission to take down The Twelve—including Eve, Villanelle and Carolyn. However, when the moment finally arrives, it feels rushed and seemingly random. There is no suspense created towards the end; Villanelle simply kills all of The Twelve with no trouble while Eve distracts the nearby crowd of wedding guests. The decision to leave Eve to act merely as a distraction misses the mark, particularly considering her character arc across the four seasons. Taking down The Twelve seems entirely too easy, given how the characters have struggled to do so across each series.
What is perhaps the most disappointing is Villanelle’s death. As Eve and Villanelle celebrate their success with an embrace, Villanelle is shot by a sniper. The pair jump into the water where Villanelle is shot several more times, directly in front of Eve. With the season having queerbaited the audience with the Eve-Villanelle relationship since the beginning—and having seemed to finally end this queerbaiting earlier in the same episode—it’s disappointing to see the series succumb to the ‘bury your gays’ trope. Although viewers might not be surprised to see the season end in this way, it is disheartening to see a show that has had great LGBTQ+ representation kill off one of its queer protagonists.
Unfortunately, the need to wrap up all the season’s loose ends is all too obvious on the screen, and the ending is a disappointing one. However, the impeccable cast performances still make Killing Eve an enjoyable watch and enable us to ignore some of the narrative shortcomings.