[Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for “Killing Eve” Season 2, Episode 8 finale, “You’re Mine.”]
The second season finale of “Killing Eve” reaches its inevitable conclusion when the assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) finally turns on MI6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), shooting her in the back and leaving her for dead. It’s the culmination of the women’s unique relationship that blended a cat-and-mouse dynamic with an intense, unhealthy attraction. And even though the show has already been renewed for a third season, Villanelle’s deadly act brings an air of finality to this particular story as viewers know it.
“As we did more work on [the series], we realized that Season 1 and 2 might be a really good as a pair,” said Woodward Gentle. “Having had in Season 1, Villanelle and Eve getting to know each other, in Season 2, they are now both fully aware of each other and fully in each other’s orbit. You can play with that, and they’re both deluded about what their relationship stands for.”
That delusion was sparked in last season’s finale when Eve stabs Villanelle and “dips her toe into the madness of Villanelle’s world,” said Thomas, who’s studied psychopaths for documentaries he’s directed. Over the course of the season, Eve becomes more like the object of her obsession: lying, cheating, and in the finale, killing Raymond (Adrian Scarborough), a member of the powerful group known as The Twelve.
“She’s obsessed with psychopaths, and Villanelle is particularly like catnip to her. Eve totally gets bound up with what a narcissist does. She’s done terrible things, she’s gone along with terrible things, but she’s not a psychopath,” said Thomas.
Villanelle is thrilled because Eve killing Raymond with an ax appears to be the ultimate demonstration of love, and now “they are going to run off into the sunset together.” This, however, is Eve’s breaking point. When she realizes that Villanelle had a gun all along, and therefore Eve did not need to commit murder, the romance of their partnership disintegrates.
“She’s come out of a dream, and suddenly, it can’t be real for her. She’s finding a moment of clarity in an insane world,” said Thomas. “And so she has to pull back, and that’s why Villanelle is saying, ‘You’re ruining it. You’re ruining it.’”
Although Villanelle tries valiantly to draw Eve back into the fantasy of running off to a cabin in Alaska and eating homemade shepherd’s pie, there’s no going back. But what is a return to reality for Eve spells the death of love for Villanelle.
“When psychopaths fall for people, they fall very, very deeply and passionately, but then that can turn it off like a light switch and move on,” said Woodward Gentle. “We really loved to explore that notion and also what that would feel like to Eve if suddenly that light had gone from her because she’s been bathed in this glorious adoration of this extraordinary being.”
What it feels like is a bullet in the back. As Villanelle walks away, she leaves Eve’s body facedown and bleeding among the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa. She appears dead, which would fulfill the show’s title, “Killing Eve,” but Woodward Gentle says that none of the producers had ever taken the title literally.
“Something that [Season 2 head writer Emerald Fennell] was keen on right from the beginning is the question of who really is killing Eve. Is it Villanelle, is it Carolyn? Is it Niko who is suffocating her, or is she killing herself? So it’s not just a revenge story,” she explained. “The other thing is, Eve is of course like all women, she’s the original woman. So you can take that as very metaphorical as well.”
That still doesn’t clear up whether the show finally has succeeded in “Killing Eve,” but no answers are forthcoming in that area. In contrast, two characters most certainly did meet their end, while two more are living in that ambiguous Eve ether between life and death. Here’s a look at who’s dead and whose fates are uncertain:
Who’s Really Dead
Aaron Peel (Henry Lloyd-Hughes): Even though Aaron was, as Villanelle puts it, “a dick,” it’s sad to see his bizarre dynamic with the assassin come to an end. The vicarious joy he gets by giving Villanelle fine foods and clothes is as entertaining as his need for control is annoying.
But it certainly sounds tempting when he offers her a partnership of sorts where he can continue to show her the good life while she helps him murder people on camera for kicks. For a moment Villanelle appears to consider the offer.
“I think that she probably loved his villa. That would’ve been very appealing. And I think she was massively entertained when she heard the level of information that he had on the Russian, but I really don’t think she would [take him up on his offer],” said Woodward Gentle. “I don’t think she can share the glory with anybody. Also, I don’t think she kills for pleasure. That’s not really what it’s about. I think her narcissism would’ve been damaged incredibly quickly working with him.”
In the end, Villanelle slits Aaron’s throat and gives him one last thrill to watch: his own death in the mirror.
“He wasn’t always going to die like that; at one point he was going to be shot,” said Woodward Gentle. “That was something that Emerald was quite keen on, but even though [Villanelle] shoots Eve at the end, she’s not really a gun girl. It’s not really what she does. She likes to be up close.”
Raymond: Although Villanelle does trick Eve into killing Raymond, he doesn’t help his case either. After Eve painfully but ineffectually buries the ax between his shoulder blades, this angers him, and he spews threats about hunting them and their loved ones down. She finishes the job.
“Well, I think if you’re hitting anyone over the head with an ax, it’s to kill,” said Thomas. “She’s just convinced to do it and it has an effect on her. She loses herself in the moment of what’s happened. It was a choice that she made and it was a wrong choice, of course.”
Whose Fate Is Uncertain
Hugo (Edward Bluemel): The last time viewers see Eve’s cheeky partner — and one night stand — it appears he’s been ambushed, shot, and left bleeding in a hotel hallway while Eve tries to find help. When she returns, the hallway is empty, with no trace of Hugo. Later, Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) reveals that MI6 had cleaned up the mess, but doesn’t mention Hugo.
“I think we’re of two minds about whether Hugo has died,” said Woodward Gentle. ”Who knows what’s happened to Hugo at the end of that? I think you should question who shot him, whether he was complicit, whether he knew anything about it, whether he’s somebody been sacrificed in the name of whatever multilayered government plot has been going on.”
Niko Polastri (Owen McDonnell): Eve’s mustachioed husband had tried to caution her about her uncharacteristic behavior and Villanelle’s influence, but had been ignored. If only Villanelle had done the same. Last he was seen is the penultimate episode, when the assassin suffocates his work colleague Gemma (Emma Pierson) and leaves Niko injured in a storage unit.
“We did shoot another scene that we then decided not to use, which I won’t tell you about right now,” said Thomas. “You would have had a little kind of closure of how if the story went on from here.”
For now, fans can only hope that he survives and his fate — along with Eve’s and Hugo’s — will be revealed in Season 3.
As for the next installment, Woodward Gentle confirmed that new head writer Suzanne Heathcote is already hard at work breaking stories, but would not hint at what’s coming next. Instead, she gave an endorsement for the playwright and “Fear the Walking Dead” executive story editor’s skills.
“She’s just really clever. She completely got the show,” said Woodward Gentle. “Her heritage worked for us. She’s come out of the Royal Court [Theatre], she’s cut her teeth in the States, she’s got something to say. She’s really wickedly funny, but forensic as well, and completely understands the characters. So I think she’s going to be a fantastic person for Emerald to have handed the baton on to.”