7:03pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Killing Eve': How That Deadly Finale Builds a Bridge Toward Season 4
[This story contains spoilers for the season three finale of BBC America's Killing Eve.]
In its previous two season finales, Killing Eve closed out the proceedings in violent fashion: with Eve (Sandra Oh) stabbing Villanelle (Jodie Comer) in the gut in the first year, and with international assassin Villanelle returning the favor by shooting Eve in the back at the end of the second.
Somehow, there's an argument that season three ended with the worst wound of them all: Eve and Villanelle mutually striking each other with an inability to let the other one go.
The season three finale of the BBC America thriller features several twists, turns and three major fatalities: Dasha (Harriet Walter), killed by a veritable three-two-one punch from Villanelle, Eve and even Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) on three separate occasions; Rhian (Alexandra Roach), the novice assassin who dies howling beneath a speeding train; and MI6 higher-up Paul (Steve Pemberton), whom Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) shoots in the head with a bullet originally intended for her son's supposed killer: Konstantin, who either scared the late great Kenny Stowton (Sean Delaney) off the roof of a building or actively pushed him to his death, depending on whom you believe.
But as far as the series' future, the violence pales in comparison to the potential death blow of the final scene: Eve and Villanelle, together on the London Bridge, deciding to turn their backs on one another once and for all and walk away. Except, in the very last moments of the season, both women find that they cannot walk away, not entirely. They both turn around, still on the bridge, a bridgeable distance between them. Whatever the future holds in season four and beyond, it will clearly include both Eve and Villanelle unavoidably sucked into their mutual vortex — a fate that could prove deadlier than the knife and bullet wounds they've sustained previously.
"If Eve looked deep down, she would know that a long-standing healthy relationship with Villanelle is probably not going to happen," executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle tells The Hollywood Reporter. "So what does that mean for her life if she can't turn away from her? And how much of this is about what Villanelle has awoken in Eve that she can't turn her back on? What if the genie is out of the bottle? What does she do with that?"
Fans are sure to have their theories about what Eve and Villanelle's final look means for their future, just as it was among the cast and crew, as Gentle notes: "There was of course a big debate about that final shot. Even the actors had their own versions and interpretations of what it means. There was a lot of debate about who turns around. Does Villanelle turn around? Does Eve? Does one of them keep walking? We all knew Eve wouldn't be able to walk away, but how much satisfaction does Villanelle get from Eve not being able to walk away? Is it just point-scoring, or does it mean much more?"
The ending may prove ominous for the two Killing Eve leads moving forward, but it's welcome news for the fandom, as Eve and Villanelle spent most of the third season apart — which was very much by design, according to Suzanne Heathcote, head writer for season three.
"Villanelle and Eve spent so much time together in season two," she says. "By the end, the relationship imploded. Villanelle tried to kill Eve and she was left for dead. For that relationship to rebuild, they had to rebuild themselves individually. The tether was still there, but to overcome the actions they took previously — including Eve stabbing Villanelle — they both needed to come to terms with who they were now. They were different now than who they were when the first season began."
Says Gentle "So much of what Villanelle has done [this season] has been about her trying to discover who she is, what made her, whether she was born like she is or it was something that came from her parents and her mother. For Eve, she's carrying this extraordinary thing where she was compelled by Villanelle to slaughter someone at the end of season two. She thinks she's safe from Villanelle now. But she can't help but be drawn back in, particularly off the back of the death of Kenny. It became very personal for her. There's this constant question for Eve: Who is she, really? For us, we felt the end of the season was about looking at how both women acknowledge that the other sees them in a way nobody else does. That's intoxicating. But does that add up to a relationship?"
The answer to that question resides somewhere off in the distance, whenever Killing Eve returns, with a new head writer at the helm: Laura Neal, who was part of the writing staff for season three.
"She was on the journey all of season three and has been with these characters longer than any of the other lead writers, because they all joined fresh," says Gentle. "She comes with a year's worth of knowledge of these characters, plus a fan's appreciation of the earlier episodes."
For Heathcote, at least, it's time to walk away from Killing Eve — but will she, like the central characters, be able to resist turning around for one last look?
"It's so strange," she says. "You become so attached to these characters when you're writing them. You embody them as a writer. Working with the actors so closely, you become part of that world. That's hard to walk away from. Leaving any job, or graduating from a program, you feel the loss of it. But at the same time, it's such a natural progression. It feels right. To me, I'm very excited about creating my own world and characters from the ground up. There's something in that challenge that's very different and exciting in its own way. But it's bittersweet. It's sad, but it feels right at the same time."
Follow THR.com/KillingEve for more coverage.