Rewatching Killing Eve with a little perspective

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve

The last episodes of Killing Eve aired in April of 2022, about a year ago. I loved every minute of the series and dreaded the coming of the end. Mostly, I was dreading what would happen to Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) because I thought the season 4 writers were going to do something horrible. And they did.

I thought I’d take a second look at Killing Eve now that my temper had cooled down about the ending. I spent a few days binge watching all four seasons. I find I still have more to say about the series.

The Killing Eve poster with Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh.

At the end of season 1, I was quite unhappy that Phoebe Waller Bridge turned over the writing job to another writer. Season 1 was so outstanding, and Phoebe Waller Bridge is so brilliant, I wanted it to stay that way, guaranteed. In rewatching season 1, I realized that Phoebe Waller Bridge laid it all out in season 1. All the foreshadowing, all the personal stakes of the characters, all the hints about what was to come in terms of both story and character.

The writers of the next three seasons followed her blueprint quite well. They followed her lead (except for the ending).

Sandra Oh was a known commodity to me then. But Jodie Comer was not. It was my first exposure to her and she was dazzling. Talent just dripped off her. Even now that I’ve watched Jodie Comer in a number of other things, I continue to be amazed by her acting ability.

I loved the character Villanelle. I know she was a cold-blooded killer, but she was so charming and likeable. I didn’t want to see her killed off – I was rooting for her all the way.

On rewatching, now that the Jodie Comer amazement has broadened a bit, I realized I had completely ignored how good Sandra Oh was in this. When I turned my attention to Sandra Oh I was delighted and impressed with her talent and skill in this role. I was distracted by the shiny new girl, but watching it again I was able to give Sandra Oh the credit she deserved. She was both intense and nuanced. She showed Eve’s journey of self-discovery expertly.

Fiona Shaw as Carolyn and Kim Bodnia as Konstantin had tough parts. They had to play it really close to the chest in every season. They never knew what big revelation about their role in the political intrigues and assassinations would be. They were both superb. It was easy to see and appreciate what they did in retrospect when I wasn’t so impatient to learn what the next plot twist was going to be.

I have a page turner mentality. I’m in a hurry to see what happens next. Going back when it’s all over and taking another look is always revealing. I do that with books, and with movies and television. I’m glad I did it with Killing Eve. I gained a whole new appreciation for this outstanding series.

Killing Eve remains one of my all time favorite television shows. But I’m still not happy with the ending.

6 thoughts on “Rewatching Killing Eve with a little perspective”

  1. Very interesting, Virginia. This blog grabbed my attention mainly because I am toward the very end of doing the same (or similar) with another program — Happy Valley.

    [I was deeply disappointed with Happy Valley series 3, so much so that it’s haunted me. To banish the ghost, I decided to re-watch it. Three viewings so far. I figured that even if I never grew to love series 3 the way I love the first two series, I’d learn to appreciate it. Hasn’t happened, though. With each viewing, I’ve moved from passive disappointment to active dislike. I did discover why series 3 didn’t work (for me). I’ve made peace with it. Mostly. But I digress!!]

    BACK ON TOPIC: As for Killing Eve, I’m in total agreement with you, though our “mentality”, and thus motivation, for viewing the series again were different. Drawn more to character (why things happen), than plot (what happens), the psychological dynamics of Eve and Villanelle, and between them, compels me to re-watch. Like you, I was so captivated by Jodie Comer’s performance and fascinated by the psychopathic Villanelle, that I largely overlooked Sandra Oh’s performance. Second time around, though, I did notice just how good Oh was as Eve.

    Recently, I read an interview with Waller Bridge where she explained that she wrote Eve and Villanelle with the particular talents of the actresses in mind. Waller Bridge felt she could write Eve more subtly, and let Oh’s innate intelligence convey Eve’s “light bulb” moments and motives. With Comer, Waller Bridge felt confident that she could write Villanelle boldly, outrageously and trust Comer’s talent to make Villanelle real and likable. They all nailed it!

    As for the blueprint for the show, much credit has been given to Waller Bridge, but it was CEO of Sid Gentle Film, Sally Woodward Gentle, who held the vision for the show. Gentle bought the rights to the novella (notably written by a man, Luke Jennings) and *hired* Waller Bridge to write season 1. Gentle hired different women writers/show runners for each season with the understanding that each would bring their own voice. (Waller Bridge was not available beyond season 1 because of her commitment to write Season 2 of Fleabag.) Sally Gentle was very aware of the challenges that would come with using four different writers/show runners. The result of this approach was mixed. Season 2 (written by Emerald Fennell) continued at the same level of brilliance as season 1; but the writing dropped off in season 3. From my perspective, there’s not any number of re-watches of season 4 that will make it anything other than the unmitigated disaster that it was.

    Still, Killing Eve is on my list of best shows ever. Come to think of it, I’m due for another re-watch!

  2. Yep. Initially, I had difficulty separating out what I didn’t like about the characters in season 3 from what I didn’t like about the writing. It was such a sloppy stew. Nothing added up. (Sorry, but there is no way anyone is going to put out a gasoline fire with a crochet blanket!)

    Given what I’d read about Sally Wainwright’s intention for the finale (a Catherine character study), and for the entire series (exploration of the nature vs nurture question), from my perspective, she didn’t achieve what she intended.

    Everything, and I do mean everything, fell apart in season 3. Seasons 1 and 2 gave us great entertainment and an unforgettable, truly admirable female protagonist. For these things I am grateful.

    Thanks for reading!

    1. Sally Wainwright fans tend to expect perfection from her every single time. Makes us unhappy when that isn’t how it turns out according to what we wanted her to do. I do love her women characters!

      1. On the contrary. I wasn’t expecting perfection, only that she’d do what she publicly said she’d do — and do it reasonably well; particularly given the higher expectations she set for series 3 by deliberately delaying writing it until the young actor who played Ryan grew older. After watching series 3, I simply don’t see what purpose that served.

        To be honest, after LTiH, I lowered my expectations of Wainwright, or at least changed them; which is in no way to say that I don’t respect her talent — because I do. I don’t have her on a pedestal, and I am sure that is more than fine with her, LOL!

        Happy viewing(s)!

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