First look UK TV review: Killing Eve Season 3
James R | On 13, Apr 2020
Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1 and 2 of Killing Eve. Not caught up? Read our spoiler-free review of Season 1 here.
Is she or isn’t she? That was the question left hanging by the end of Killing Eve Season 2, as Eve (Sandra Oh) was left by Villanelle (Jodie Comer) bleeding out in Rome. It was also a question that we all knew the answer too, with Season 3 on the horizon once again pitting the two women head to head. The very fact that there was no suspense or surprise in the build-up to Season 3 is perhaps a sign that Killing Eve – once a thrillingly unpredictable original – is starting to become a bit, well, predictable. But its darkly funny edge and stylish wit are still on display in the opening episodes, which find a fresh sense of a focus after the show’s occasionally uneven sophomore run.
Season 2, which began a tradition of handing over the showrunner reins to a new writer each season, sought to up the scale of Killing Eve’s world, expanding things away from the initial hunt for the mysterious organisation The Twelve and bringing in a new villain and a new handler for Villanelle (Raymond, who Eve killed at Season 2’s climax). Season 3, which is now overseen by showrunner Suzanne Heathcote, makes the smart move of circling back to the conspiracy surrounding The Twelve, which gives things a leaner, sharper scope.
That means – yes – more chance for Fiona Shaw to steal every scene she’s in with the put-upon Carolyn, whose frosty spy boss is now facing opposition from her new chief (a delightfully knowing Steve Pemberton). With Sean Delaney’s Kenny the initial driver behind the investigation into The Twelve, the added screen-time for the buttoned-down Carolyn is supported by the ever-excellent Gemma Whelan as her affectionate, emotionally available daughter.
Opening up the supporting roster and developing these characters is vital for Killing Eve to keep up its momentum, and Season 3 balances that with some promising new additions to the cast, including former Soviet gym prodigy Dasha (a wonderful Harriet Walter), who was Villanelle’s mother-like trainer. Adding in more complicated and eccentric women to the ensemble brings fresh humour and tension to the dynamics on display – Villanelle attempting to manage someone else is a treat – not to mention a whole host of opportunities for Jodie Comer to remind us why Villanelle was such a star-making role.
Season 2 seemed not sure what to do with Comer’s chameleonic killer, but she’s having more fun than ever here when she’s unleashed, with directors Terry McDonough (The Expanse) and Miranda Bowen (Gozo) creating some of the show’s best set pieces yet, including a barn-storming wedding sequence and a hilariously twisted birthday party. The deaths, too, are as inventively gruesome – one word: piano – and gasp-inducing as ever.
All of which only highlights the one potential stumbling block for Season 3: what to do with Eve. Sandra Oh is fantastic as the traumatised agent unsure how to get back either her personal or professional purpose, but it’s not until the second and third episode that you get a sense that the show might actually know how she could do so, as she falls in with the colleagues of Kenny at journo outfit Bitter Pill. It’s only a matter of time, of course, until our two leads cross paths again, and there’s a sense that the show is actually going to deliver on the emotional pull between them for once – and not just in the form of a teasing voicemail.
From a showdown on a bus to an encounter with a motorcycle, when Killing Eve’s third season is firing on all cylinders, it still has depraved imagination and comic violence to spare. If it can weave Eve into that tapestry of obsession and revenge once more, there is promise for Season 3 to return to the form of Season 1. Even if the novelty has worn off, though, there’s still a lot of fun to be had.
Killing Eve premieres on BBC iPlayer at 6am on Mondays, with episodes repeatedly weekly on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One.