The divisive “Killing Eve” series finale even shocked author Luke Jennings, whose “Codename Villanelle” trilogy inspired the BBC America and AMC+ series.
The critically-acclaimed spy thriller stars Sandra Oh as MI5 agent Eve who is caught in an erotic cat-and-mouse game with assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Yet after four seasons of “will they, won’t they” tension, the last episode of the series, which aired April 10, offered a fatal finale to the would-be love story. Spoilers: Mere hours after sharing their first kiss, Villanelle is shot and killed as she and Eve try to escape through a river.
Fans took to social media to voice their disdain at the shocking finale, and Vanity Fair ran an article arguing “Killing Eve” ultimately bent to the “bury your gays” trope. Why couldn’t Villanelle and Eve finally just be happy in a relationship together?
Now, novelist Jennings penned an opinion piece for The Guardian breaking his silence on the TV adaptation. After applauding the “crackling” sexual tension between lead stars Comer and Oh, Jennings wrote, “It’s an extraordinary privilege to see your characters brought to life so compellingly. But the final series ending took me aback.”
He continued that while “you’re never going to love everything the screenwriting team does,” the finale betrayed fans of the series who had followed Villanelle and Eve’s romance for three and a half years.
“The charged looks, the tears, the lovingly fetishized wounds, the endlessly deferred consummation,” Jennings added. “When Phoebe Waller-Bridge and I first discussed Villanelle’s character five years ago, we agreed that she was defined by what Phoebe called her ‘glory’: her subversiveness, her savage power, her insistence on lovely things. That’s the Villanelle that I wrote, that Phoebe turned into a screen character, and that Jodie ran with so gloriously.”
Jennings wrote, “But the Season 4 ending was a bowing to convention. A punishing of Villanelle and Eve for the bloody, erotically impelled chaos they have caused.”
The author noted that a “truly subversive storyline would have defied the trope which sees same-sex lovers in TV dramas permitted only the most fleeting of relationships before one of them is killed off,” citing “The 100” as an example of stifling a same-sex lesbian love story onscreen.
“How much more darkly satisfying, and true to Killing Eve’s original spirit, for the couple to walk off into the sunset together?” Jennings said. “Spoiler alert, but that’s how it seemed to me when writing the books.”
Even queer fans of “Killing Eve” have contacted Jennings to commemorate the characters he created, with one “young gay woman living in Russia” writing Jennings to share that “no TV writers can take [Villanelle] away because she’s ours – all of ours – and thanks to your books and our love she will live on forever.”
Jennings concluded, “I learned the outcome of the final episode in advance, and suspected, rightly, that fans would be upset. But to those fans, I would say this: Villanelle lives. And on the page, if not on the screen, she will be back.”
“Killing Eve” showrunner Laura Neal previously told Decider that the final scene was “really important” and meant to signify Eve’s “rebirth” free of Villanelle. “We really wanted a sense of her washing off everything that had happened in the past four seasons and being able to begin again,” Neal said, “but take everything that she has learnt and everything that Villanelle has given her into a new life.”
Neal added, “It felt right to us that Eve survives and Villanelle dies, but dies in a way that feels, I think, triumphant for her, because she achieves something that she wanted to achieve at the very beginning of Season 4 in the moment of her death, which is to do something good.”
A “Killing Eve” spin-off series is in the works, sans Neal. The yet-untitled show will follow Fiona Shaw’s MI6 character Carolyn Mertens.