warning: this review contains spoilers for season 4 and the finale of Killing Eve. Read at your own risk
I was excited to write my review of the final season of Killing Eve.
As the minutes of the finale ticked onwards, I became even more excited. It was GOOD. We were finally getting the payoff we deserved after four long seasons.
I was excited to share my joy with you all.
And then I wasn’t.
The “Killing Eve” finale had a lot of ground to cover. It needed to solve the open ended-ness of Eve and Villanelle’s relationship. It needed to tell us who the 12 are. Short of that, it at least needed to answer the question of who killed Kenny. What it absolutely did not need to do was play into tired tropes of Burying Their Gays right when they were on the verge of getting a happy ending.
For the uninitiated, Bury Your Gays is a trope where gay characters are killed off right before / right after they get their happy ending. There’s a longggggg history of this in television, one LGBTQ+ people are all too familiar with. TV writers/showrunners kill off comfort characters, giving the illusion that no LGBTQ+ people actually get happy endings.
Killing Eve did exactly that. It did finally give us payoff in terms of the Villaneve relationship, but right when it looked like they were going to have their happy ending, Villanelle was murdered. For literally no reason.
It was cruel to take a character whose entire season arc was about her finding her humanity and then kill her right when she had done exactly that, especially when there was no point. It wasn’t as though Villanelle’s death served any real purpose, beyond setting Carolyn up to rejoin mi6? Which is unnecessary now that the show has completely ended? The show could have just as easily ended with that hug on the bridge and left us in the ambiguity of what happened next.
Especially when so many horrible things are happening to LGBTQ+ people this year, especially when Laura Neal (the head writer) is aware of the history of Bury Your Gays, especially when Villanelle has meant so much to so many people. I do not need a happy ending, but I don’t need this either.
I am not someone who thinks it would have been possible for Villanelle and Eve to live happily ever after without murdering again. I don’t think they are the type of people who would have been happy that way. But I think the show could have allowed us to live in the unknown. It would have been satisfying to see them together finally, getting the payoff we deserved after all of these seasons.
Killing the main gay character was cruel. Perhaps in a show as murder-y as Killing Eve, it is ultimately the right decision to have someone die in the finale. But in doing so, she ignores the trauma that the LGBTQ+ community has endured at the hands of TV shows which refuse to give us a happy ending. Villanelle was a serial killer, yes, but she was also a character struggling to find her humanity in a world that had often discarded her. She had been cast aside by so many people so many times, and she was still hopeful enough to wonder if there could be a better world out there for her. That’s a fate that so many queer people can empathize with and relate to. Queer people who worried that they were not worthy of love saw that they were when they watched Eve and Villanelle kiss on the street. Then, Neal took that away. There are no happy endings for queer characters.
The LGBTQ+ community deserves better. Especially when it serves no purpose in the plot. If Eve had died in Villanelle’s arms, maybe we could have seen her true humanity (or a reversion to a complete lack of it). If the boat had exploded and they had died together, it would have been a poetic ending at least. Had Eve killed Villanelle or vice versa, then it would have been the scorpion and the frog metaphor come to fruition. But Carolyn shooting Villanelle from afar? It was such a pointless act of violence.
Yes, this show is good at pointless violence. That is what this show is about. The whole point of the show is that power corrupts, that the CIA/MI6/The Twelve are all killing machines regardless of the name they go by. That is why, when the show killed other queer women– Anna, Nadia, Francesca, and Helene– I did not feel hurt by that. This is what the show does. It kills. The violence that I’m talking about here is the violence against the queer community. It is violent to kill a queer character on the verge of her happy ending for no reason. To act as though this was the right choice (as Neal has done in interviews and on her Instagram) is to ignore a history that has led to queer people to believe that their own happy endings are impossible.
It is made even worse by the shortness of the payoff. There was an entire season to work with, and we were forced to wait until the last episode for Villanelle and Eve to even interact for any quantifiable length of time. Once again, I didn’t want a happy go lucky cottagecore season. But I do think that Villanelle and Eve working together to kill the Twelve for a longer period of time would have made sense. At least then maybe there would have been more good along with the bad.
I will give credit where credit is due. The kiss between Villanelle and Eve was everything I wanted in their first kiss. The implied van sex, the way Villanelle pulled Eve back to give her a final kiss before she went to officiate the wedding, their banter, the speech Eve gave about their relationship as Villanelle slowly took off her own jacket. It was good. It was so good. I haven’t yet wrapped my mind around whether that makes it better or worse. I have, however, chosen to include only these happy photos throughout this review, for your viewing pleasure.
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Let’s move on. Like I said earlier, there were three things that I wanted out of the finale. We already talked about the Villaneve payoff. But what about the way they handled Kenny/The Twelve? This was, if less emotionally painful, perhaps even more poorly written.
We spent four seasons building up to who The Twelve were, with perhaps even more emphasis on this particular point in this last season. The entire point of this season was to figure out who The Twelve were. I have never even CARED about who The Twelve were but this season at least made me feel like there was going to be a point. There needed to be a reveal about who was in the organization for any of it to even matter. But all we got was a MONTAGE. A. FREAKING. MONTAGE.
WHERE EVE WAS DANCING AT THE WEDDING LOOKING DELIGHTED!?!?!?!
It makes no sense. First off, we all know that Eve isn’t very capable of committing violence, but she loves to run to where it is happening. She would have gone to find Villanelle immediately. She is a naturally curious person and she was OBSESSED with discovering the identities of the Twelve. She would have been there to see their faces, to look into their eyes, to unmask them. At the very least she would have wanted to make sure that Villanelle was still alive.
The problem was that the show didn’t know who the Twelve were, and having Eve there would have necessitated showing their faces. Eve would have spoken to them. She would have wanted to know who killed Kenny, and she would have wanted to know why the group even existed. I actually cannot imagine an ending where Eve does not face the Twelve and just stand there with her head tilted slightly and say “but why?”. The show’s writers did not feel the same way. Since the show didn’t have answers to any of the questions that Eve would most certainly ask, she couldn’t be there at all.
In doing this, they not only betrayed the audience by leading us on a journey that went nowhere, but they also betrayed Eve’s character by having her behave in a way that was completely counter to the identity she had built up over the past four years. The last five minutes of the episode attempted to wrap up questions that the writers themselves had no answers to, and in doing so it was an incredibly unsatisfactory ending that left me disappointed.
This was a show about violence, but it was also a show about passion. The show was driven by the chemistry between Villanelle and Eve. Whether you watched the first 3.5 seasons and decided they were queerbaiting or you thought they were in love from the start, it is undeniable that the tension between the two was what made this show compelling. The mystery around the Twelve was interesting, yes, but this was a show about how people reacted.
To give us a montage ending removes that completely. We don’t actually care whether or not The Twelve are dead. What we care about is what that means for our cast. We want vengeance for Kenny. We want to see Eve’s face when she watches Villanelle kill the last person in the room and she realizes that she lost her purpose once again. We want to watch Villanelle and Eve react to each other’s suffering (or death, if we are going to have it). We want to see Eve and Carolyn and Villanelle make eye contact before anything happens.
I talked at length about how killing Villanelle was perpetuating trauma for the LGBTQ+ community. I fully believe that. But I also believe in a show as murder-y as Killing Eve, Laura Neal could have killed either or both of her leads without having that effect.
The final five minutes of the show (minus the 30 seconds of Villanelle and Eve on the bridge) all happened at a distance. It happened through montages and through water and across a bridge and over a walkie-talkie. It made a show that thrived on interpersonal connection as distant as it possibly could. And in doing so, it not only created an unsatisfactory ending, it retraumatized an entire community that was finally starting to believe it deserved better.