Killing Eve: from creative ecstasy to narrative purgatory.

A recurring problem in many series is to start with an excellent season, as was the case with ‘Killing Eve’, which received all the praise it has received, to then lose all that magic by running out of narrative air and ending up completely devastated in its fourth and final season.

Created and controlled in its 1T by the darling of British television, the fabulous Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), ‘Killing Eve’ developed in its first installment a passionate and very unconventional spy story, starring two women, Villanelle, a ruthless Russian espionage assassin and Eve a British counterintelligence agent.

The problem is that the creator, after the initial season, decided to pass the baton to other managers who were going to rotate each new season, so that they could give their personal vision of that dog-faced confrontation throughout Europe between these two women, but nothing was the same as I am going to analyze below.

File: Killing Eve 32 ep ( 4T) 43 m Apr 2018-Apr 2022 String: BBC America (UK) / HBOMax (E)

Synopsis: Villanelle is a ruthless hit man controlled by a secret society called ‘The Twelve’ that operates with impunity throughout Europe. Her commissions are received from Konstantin Vasilev who sets the objectives for her in exchange for substantial amounts of money.

Her clandestine activities begin to draw the attention of the British intelligence services and specifically the agent Eve Polastri who begins to pursue her relentlessly, which makes her precisely a target for Villanelle herself, honoring her attempt to fulfill the title of the series. ‘Killing Eve’.

The beggining:

Luke Jennings began his career as a journalist specializing in the field of dance and ballet, writing for places as prestigious as ‘The Observer’ or ‘The New Yorker’. In the early nineties he began to write novels with some success until in 2014 he published a series of novels in electronic format starring Villanelle, a psychopathic serial killer.

The author himself has declared that the inspiration for his character Villanelle was the Basque terrorist Idoia Lopez Riaño, alias the Tigress, for her ability to kill in cold blood and with a great sexualization of her figure.

Shortly after the first book came out, producer Sally Woodward of Sid Gentle Films bought the rights to the Villanelle character to make a series based on it and began canvassing young female writers to develop the project.

Among the possible candidates was an unknown young screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge who was having quite a success with her stage play ‘Fleabag’, so they arranged for her to meet with author Luke Jennings after a performance of her play, to see if they could tune in. in order to create the series.

Jennings was delighted with the ideas of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and did not hesitate to propose her as the one chosen to adapt her work, something that the creator did simultaneously with the writing and filming of the television series ‘Fleabag’, which was the one that propelled her to star fame.

Both collaborated on many details of the 1T, including the choice of the cast. In the first case, it was very evident in the case of Sandra Oh, when looking for an important name for the US, since the series was going to be released on BBCAmerica, the US branch of the British public channel.

It took them a lot longer to find Villanelle, to the point that Phoebe Waller-Bridge herself considered playing her, but when they saw Jodie Comer’s audition, they had no doubt that they had found the perfect actress for that character.

Its premiere was in the spring of 2018, a year after the premiere of the 1T of ‘Fleabag’, which generated enormous expectations that were endorsed from the first promotional trailer of the BBC.

Its premiere aroused great enthusiasm from critics on both sides of the ocean, being endorsed by a wide crop of nominations and awards at the BAFTAs and Emmys, especially at the level of interpretation for its leading duo.

The success has allowed Luke Jennings to continue exploiting the vein of that character with new novels, although divergent from the development of the ‘Killing Eve’ series.

The plot:

‘Killing Eve’ plays from the beginning with a merciless fight between two completely antagonistic characters.

On the one hand we have the murderer Villanelle, a true psychopath, cold as ice and for whom murdering people is a job like any other without any pangs of conscience, but she is also quite a funny person with full outbursts. in black humor, as you can see in his first scene of ‘Killing Eve’ interacting with a little girl in a magnificent presentation of his character,

That funny and scoundrel point, together with her passion for dressing with the most exclusive models make it not difficult to empathize with such a murderer, despite the fact that our first instincts should make us despise such an abject character.

On the other side of the ring we have Eve Polastri, a person with whom it is much easier to identify, being a dark and imperfect official, but thanks to her enormous tenacity, she manages to be transferred from MI5 to MI6, to persecute the elusive Villanelle following the clues left by his trail of murders across Europe.

Villanelle’s work as an effective and original serial killer is based on three fundamental pillars: how has she been able to get in until she reaches the victim? With what weapon and in what way is she going to kill him? and finally, how is she going to escape from the scene of the crime without being detected?, something that they develop with great care in the numerous commissions of the 1T.

The impunity with which Villanelle is used to acting begins to be compromised when she feels the encouragement of Eve Polastri behind her perfect crimes, as this video demonstrates in which she shows her ability to be hyperviolent.

Those doubts make her start to question her relationship with Constantin, the only person she trusts and who has been her mentor to teach her that very special trade of killing in cold blood, with scenes as delirious as the following psychological evaluation of Villanelle, stuffed into an impossible dress.

Little by little and very skilfully, the two lives of Eve and Villanelle will converge, always guided by that mutual obsession that consumes them, especially Eve who must combine her private life with her husband Niko, with trying to capture her nemesis Villanelle, until reaching the first great confrontation between the two in that 1T.

The problems began when due to the workload of the suddenly famous Phoebe Waller-Bridge, she had to leave the helm of ‘Killing Eve’ and decided to recommend her great friend Emerald Fennell, an actress who was doing her first steps as a screenwriter as responsible of the 2T, but being partly supervised by her friend.

In her 2T, the new manager Emerald Fennell tried to maintain that great dynamic between the two women, but at the cost of losing a lot of interest in the espionage plot that was the best of her initial installment, although I have to admit that she did a good job which he later endorsed by winning the Oscar for best screenplay for his second film ‘Promising Young Woman’

In 2T we see Eve and Villanelle interact much more in one of those love-hate relationships that even had some sexual tension, a very interesting path to explore, with joint scenes like the one in the following video.

The serious problems began in his 3T with the entry of Suzanne Heathcote at the forefront, with absolutely incoherent stories and without continuity, where the only incentive is to see these two great actresses wandering around the screen in places like Barcelona, ​​waiting for the imaginative way in that Villanelle was going to kill her next victim.

The only hallmark that remained intact was the incredible wardrobe that Villanelle wore on all the occasions that she appeared on the screen, as you can see in the following summary.

In this case, the saying ‘if something can get worse, it will’ was fulfilled to the letter in the 4T of ‘Killing Eve’ with a new person in charge, Laura Neal, who did well the bad job of Suzanne Heatcotte in the previous season, with plots that made no sense, full of traps and without the subtlety and brilliance of its two initial installments, focusing on ending that secret organization of ‘The Twelve’ that nobody gave a damn about.

The 4T trailer shows us that lack of an effective creator behind the wheel of ‘Killing Eve’.

At the beginning of the fourth season they already announced that it was going to be the last and in fact they have done so with a closure that at least gives a more or less dignified ending to the journey of the two protagonists and that I thought was much better than the previous one. remainder of a truly forgettable season.

I wanted to make clear and clear in the title of the article, my general impression of ‘Killing Eve’ as it went from that initial creative ecstasy to a final narrative purgatory, in one of the worst evolutions of a television series that I can remember.

Actors:

Sandra Oh is a television star after her long stay on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ as the protagonist’s best friend and confidante, creating a major void after leaving the long-running medical series at the end of the tenth season.

Her choice of the role of Eve Polastri to return to a television series has been revealed as excellent and has returned her to the wheel of popular recognition in a performance that is the perfect counterpoint to the crazy Villanelle.

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Her last job as a professor at a prestigious university in ‘The director’ It has been really brilliant and it shows how great a form Sandra Oh is in.

Jodie Comer, despite not even being thirty years old, has been chaining great characters for ten years since her debut, as a rather insufferable posh in ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ and later in a great dramatic role in ‘Thirteen’ and as the young lover in ‘Dr Foster’, a solid career that allowed her to be chosen for her consecration in the role of Villanelle.

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Jodie Comer is magnetic as that heartless psychopath but who we end up growing fond of, due to her ability to show us funny and even human aspects within her ruthless behavior, but always dressed in a way that is rather dead than simple.

It is always a pleasure to meet the great Danish actor Kim Bodnia, the unforgettable detective Martin Rohde in the first two seasons of ‘Bron’. On this occasion he is impeccable as Konstantin, the mentor and watchman of the assassin Villanelle, with a little more conscience than his disciple but not much more.

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After his somewhat complicated departure from Bron, Bodnia has focused mainly on the cinematographic field and has hardly been lavished on television until this good character from ‘Killing Eve’.

The Irish Fiona Shaw is one of the great secondary players who has been propping up all kinds of deals for a long time, although for many people she will only be remembered for her character as Petunia Dursley in the ‘Harry Potter’ film saga, despite appearing in countless series like ‘True Blood’, ‘Mrs Wilson’ or ‘Baptiste’.

blankIn ‘Killing Eve’ she plays Carolyn Martens, the person in charge of the Russian section of the British MI6 and for this reason she becomes the direct boss of Eve Polastri, when she discovers a Russian plot in that secret organization that is ‘The Twelve’, although as every good spy has her own hidden agenda.

Epilogue:

Sometimes I recommend starting a series as in the case of ‘Killing Eve’ for its exceptional first season and then leaving it when you get tired or lose its charm, something that will probably happen to you as in my case in the 3T, but at least that take away what has been danced up to that moment, as you can see on the HBOMax platform, which premiered it in Spain with the following trailer.

We await your opinions and comments, here or on our twitter account (@lmejino). Until next time

Lorenzo Mejino

Killing Eve: from creative ecstasy to narrative purgatory. – Series for gourmets