Killing Eve season 3 review: BBC series stumbles with imbalanced plot, inauthentic character arcs
Killing Eve season 3 showrunner Suzanne Heathcote mainly turns her creative lens towards the evolution of Killing Eve’s double protagonists.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s edgy thriller began with all the necessary zing that came with unhealthy, co-dependency between an MI6 agent and her nemesis, a cut-throat Russian hitwoman. Killing Eve had already failed to tap into its glorious first-season USP with a second round. But with the third season, the creators (that included an obvious Waller-Bridge absence) seems to have completely shied away from the mutual obsessiveness that Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) thrived on.
Showrunner Suzanne Heathcote mainly turns her creative lens towards the evolution of Killing Eve’s double protagonists, but while one evolves while the other mopes and whines. Season 3 runs on parallel storylines that begin on the now-famous endpoint of season 2 where Villanelle shoots Eve.
The aftermath of the second season’s climax is hardly a MacGuffin for season 3. It neither attempts to decode Eve’s mental state post the incident, nor does it justify how Villanelle could walk past the episode in an awkward hurry.
However, the series devotes ample screen space for Comer’s character to take flight. Her serial killer instincts are put to test yet again. Something akin to an origin story is created — with Villanelle confronting members of her family, trying to unearth her roots, succeeding professionally, and in essence building herself up from the unidimensional fixation on Eve.
Villanelle’s story is a perfect amalgam of broken insecurities and soaring triumphs, of decisions made after cruel unlearnings. But with every beautiful insight into her story, viewers are bound to draw an excruciating blank with regard to Eve.
Oh’s character is obviously devastated, and the writers spend more-than-necessary time to establish and consolidate the fact. But Eve’s sadness feels ingenuine, mostly because it is steeped in inaction. After two seasons of dog-eat-dog chases and ruthless fight sequences, this sudden slump feels odd. Even if her complete dejection and lack of motivation were taken into account, the stubborn decision of staying within it, is a complete U-turn from her otherwise ambitious self.
Character arcs aside, the series also refuses to address its own scenes of brilliance. Staccato narrative threads, with fast-paced developments, is always a plus (Exhibit A: Oceans’ Eleven), but snazzy plots don’t necessarily have to ignore attention to genius moments. A particularly criminal of such instances come in mind when Villanelle and her mentor Dasha (Harriet Mary Walter) stand locked in a mutual (almost) chokeslam stance seconds after casually ‘catching up’ about each other’s lives. Dramatic pause, which was one of the biggest pluses in the earlier episodes of the series, seems to be completely absent in the new instalment.
Bizarre character arcs do not necessarily require ostentatious moves, but Killing Eve could always blend the two perfectly, stitching those moments with incisive humour as an add-on — almost like a Christmas bonus that keeps giving. Season 3 seems wanting even on this front. Even though the production value jumps notches (the crew waltzes between European destinations), the extravagance does little to an imbalanced plot.
That is not to say that Killing Eve’s third season misses the mark completely. The series attempts to dethrone the two protagonists and portray them in a different light. Even though the experiment may not have been completely successful, the effort is praiseworthy.
The season finale proves that the two characters ought to stop contending whether they can survive without the other and finally come to a resolution. Having reached a climactic standpoint that it does this season, it’ll be interesting to watch how the creators want to extrapolate the arcs into its upcoming fourth part.
Killing Eve season 3 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
(All images from Twitter)
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