If you've been anywhere on the Internet for the last few days, you've probably heard about the shocking conclusion of Killing Eve. Judging by social media, a significant portion of fans were left confused, hurt, and angry. The showrunner for season 4, Laura Neal, sat for interviews in the days following the finale. But emotions are still running high for devoted fans of the show. Jodie Comer, who plays Villanelle, has talked about her character and her feelings about the end of the show. Keep reading for more on why the show means so much to fans and what Comer said about Villanelle's fate.
'I Don't Know How To Feel': Jodie Comer On Villanelle And That Shocking Finale
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The Meteoric Rise Of 'Killing Eve'
Killing Eve debuted in 2018 to critical acclaim and instantly became a hit among viewers. Comer was nominated for an Emmy award several times and won in 2019; her co-star, Sandra Oh, was nominated three times herself and also scooped up an Emmy in 2019. Despite the show's violent, dark content, a strange love story came to the forefront: Eve, a bored MI6 employee, becomes obsessed Villanelle, a tall Russian assassin with a childlike sense of humor. Villanelle soon shares Eve's obsession, and the two embark on an intense journey that does not resolve itself until the very last episode of the show. Part of what made the show exciting was the tension between love and malice that haunted their every interaction. For fans of the show, it was largely a waiting game: Would Eve be able to shake off her old life enough to be part of Villanelle's world? Could Villanelle tame her brutal side enough to feel worthy of Eve's love? These are questions that hung over each season and weighed on the mind of fans.
For a dedicated viewer of Killing Eve, it seems that the show was about women who grappled with violence and lived with a certain darkness inside of themselves. They were lovable, loved, and oddly loving despite their own brutality, and the show made sure that the audience recognized the idea of love and brutality being uncomfortable bedfellows, but bedfellows nonetheless.
The show didn't just appeal to viewers because of lesbian or queer themes, or because the show was wildly, outrageously original. It appealed to them because it was about lovable women who embraced their darker impulses and were lovable anyway.
When the show wrapped season 3, it left Eve and Villanelle together on a bridge, facing each other as they tried to turn away and failed. This left fans with the expectation that the two women would be united for season 4 and were choosing each other over their former lives. But when the show aired season 4, it opened with the two women again estranged and apart. Perhaps there was the expectation among fans that the ending would not be a happy one - but it ended on an unexpectedly sour note for fans, nonetheless. Keep reading for Comer's take on the finale.
Killing Villanelle: Comer Weighs In
Comer sat for a series of interviews earlier in the year leading up to the finale of Killing Eve. In February, she and Sandra Oh did a joint interview with the New York Times. She noted that she was experiencing "mixed feelings" and "didn't know how to feel". Several months later, she spoke with Elle magazine just before the finale aired, saying she felt that the ending was thematically and tonally correct for Villanelle, given that she had tried to quit killing and was unwilling (or unable) to stop herself.
Villanelle is "a cat with nine lives", according to Comer, and yet the finale saw Villanelle use up all her chances. Comer thinks that Villanelle's moral change happened in the moments before her death, as she tried to shield Eve from bullets. Her response to violence at that moment is protectiveness and not brutality. But it is a fleeting moment instantly subsumed by her death and Eve's broken-hearted screaming. If Villanelle's death was meant to be her moment of redemption, then it was obscured by punishing grief, both for Eve and for fans of the show.
Scroll down for more on what fans and critics had to say, and how showrunner Laura Neal conceptualized Villanelle's death.
Fans And Critics Speak Out
Within moments of the end of the show, Twitter and other social media platforms were overrun with angry, pained comments by viewers. The LGTB+ community seemed especially affected by the death of Villanelle, and many accused the show of giving in to stereotypical tropes like "bury your gays". One could argue that the trope was indeed at work here in the way that Eve and Villanelle were denied their happy ending. But the betrayal felt by all fans ran deeper and was summed up by Vanity Fair writer Jennifer Still when she noted that showrunner Laura Neal "killed off Villanelle so seemingly carelessly, after dangling the carrot of a fully realized and happy (if not somewhat dysfunctional) lesbian relationship in viewers’ faces. It didn’t just feel like sloppy storytelling—it felt personal".
Perhaps, as Still asserted, Neal lacked a basic understanding of Eve and Villanelle as characters. Either way, fans were left feeling personally betrayed and wondering if Neal had lazily pushed a tired trope instead of working out a happy, if unorthodox, ending. But maybe something more general and more devastating is at work in the ending: Dead Lesbian syndrome can expand to include all women who try to break out of heteronormative society and the chains that bind them. Eve, whether or not she wanted to be "normal", left her marriage and her job in pursuit of Villanelle.
Villanelle killed The Twelve, the secretive and murderous organization that trained and employed her, and the killing was an act of emancipation. It wasn't gratuitous violence for Villanelle - it was justice and freedom from the group that had treated her like an attack dog. The moment Eve and Villanelle found freedom, they also found pain and death. There was no happy ending but more importantly, there would be no freedom for either of them. The only woman left standing, Carolyn Martens, is the one who refused to break rank or rebel in any way. She likely killed Villanelle to re-establish her career, as she mentioned in the finale by saying "you don't go back to MI6 empty-handed". But she did go back to her role and her life, and the things Eve was desperate to escape.
Fans were quick to assert their theories and express their anger, which did not go unnoticed by the writers of Killing Eve. Keep scrolling to the last section to find out what Laura Neal was thinking when she crafted that finale.
Laura Neal Responds
Killing Eve featured an all-female writers room, with a different writer heading up the team every season. Each showrunner had a slightly different take on how Eve and Villanelle would behave and interact, but some felt Neal's take on the two women was terribly off-kilter and lacking. Neal talked to Decider magazine about how she viewed Villanelle's death, saying that Villanelle very definitely dies saving Eve and that her death saves Eve in a two-fold way, as Eve would be free to resume a normal life. Eve's screaming in the final moments was, according to Neal, a scream of someone reborn and not of someone in pain. Fans could not have disagreed more.
Neal envisioned Villanelle's death as something transcendent and tried to depict it accordingly, at least from a visual standpoint. It would seem many viewers did not notice the blood pouring from Villanelle's bullet wounds formed bloody angel wings that unfurled behind her. For fans, Eve's scream echoed their own grief at losing Villanelle. Nothing could possibly transcend the loss of a happy future.
Fans have responded to the ending with an outpouring of fan fiction revisions and fan art, most depicting the two women living in domestic bliss together - something Neal thought wouldn't be realistic. And yet, in the trilogy of books by Luke Jennings that served as the basis for the show, Villanelle and Eve do get their happy future together. So, while it's impossible to say for sure why Neal made certain plot decisions, it can at least be said with certainty that a happy ending was not implausible for the couple.
Regardless of how the end is interpreted, Comer's Villanelle and Sandra Oh's Eve will continue to continue to be some of the most thought-provoking and engaging couples to grace the small screen.