Sunday, 17 April 2022

Killing Eve Series Four

The Eve Of War

Killing Eve
Series Four

USA/UK BBC iPlayer
Air Date
28th February - 11 April 2022

So Series Four is the final series for our two constant heroines of Killing Eve, namely Sandra Oh as government spy gone slightly rogue Eve and Jodie Comer as psychotic assassin Villanelle. Now, I have to say I wasn’t expecting much from a fourth series since, as the years have gone by, the content has gotten a bit ‘the same old same old’, to say the least. Well this one had two surprises in store for me, which I’ll get to in a minute. Rejoining Eve and Villanelle are series regulars Fiona Shaw as big boss (now also gone rogue and treacherous) Carolyn and Kim Bodnia as Konstantin. We also have newcomer character Pam, a psychotic assassin in training and taken under Konstantin’s wing, so to speak, played brilliantly by Anjana Vasan.

Okay, the good news, which will be tempered by the bad stuff I’ll get to later, I’m sure, is that the new series, while following some of the same patterns and set ups of the previous years, really managed to elevate it’s game this time around. There were character reveals, close calls and various other surprising moments which heightened the show and freshened it  up. They didn’t always pan out as being significant to the storyline but, hey, they were very entertaining. For instance, we get to see a lot of flashbacks to when Carolyn was in her twenties and infiltrating the shady organisation known as The Twelve, even coming up with their name in those early days. Her personal mission now is to find which one of the mysterious shadow intelligence kingpins ordered the death of her son, as seen in a previous series. And these black and white flashbacks really give a sense of depth to both her and, to an extent, Konstantin’s characters.

However, one of the things this show does this time around is throw away a lot of the good work it’s doing by not following through and giving us a pay off. For example, in the first couple of episodes, an angel from God who looks exactly like Villanelle (with dark hair, beard and moustache) and also played by Jodie Comer, is trying to help her redeem for her past sins... until Villanelle realises it’s just taking the piss and ends up killing the angel (or God... or it could be the devil), more or less, herself. The show doesn’t present more than two options to the audience here... we know Villanelle is a psychopath but she never comes across as someone given to hallucinations so, either she really is speaking to a messenger for God or her mental health has deteriorated. However, at no point other than these scenes scattered randomly in the first couple of episodes, is it suggested her mental faculties are in any way changed from her normal state. Alas, this promising development of a spiritual aspect brought into play for one of the characters is ditched as quickly as it started and is not mentioned again. A shame, really.

And then there’s new girl Pam. A mortuary lady who is really good at killing people and who is recruited to work with Konstantin. She’s a great character and while she does have a satisfying personal arc of rejecting those who would employ her, ultimately... she’s kind of a pointless addition to the show and doesn’t seem to serve much purpose other than to kill a key person at a point and, also, find some kind of redemption in the act. I mean, yeah, Vasan plays the character well and she’s really interesting but... hmm... by this stage of the show you’d think everything should be coming together to reach a clear end game, rather than just be an addition or, dare I say it, padding to get the show to eight episodes. And I say that knowing that I’m now going to say that the ending of the last episode seems completely rushed.

Yeah, okay, the last episode seemed completely hurried and, frankly, like a truly cop out ending. Things don’t necessarily go as you might think (although certain things are sadly inevitable) and you may be forgiven for wondering why the series is called Killing Eve at all... but the way the end treats the two main characters seems something of a joke. And, also, even though it’s a clear ending and there will probably be no more shows, it actually manages to leave things open for one of the characters to return for a sequel should she want to... which is crazy but, yeah, the whole thing feels like there’s a lot of unfinished business by the final credits. You kind of want to see what happens next.

I also suspect there may have been some major interference in the censorship department too, it has to be said. For instance, in a scene where Villanelle goes to take out The Twelve in a slaughter filled scene on a boat, you don’t actually see anything of what she’s doing to The Twelve other than at the periphery of a slow motion shot, because it’s just concentrating on her face and upper body. You don’t see the faces or fates of any of her victims (apart form a few stabbings) and this has the effect... at a point when the audience needs a cathartic release of on screen violence to show the ‘The Twelve’ have all died horrible deaths... of giving a kind of tempered, watered down, unrevealing moment cross cut with Eve dancing at a wedding party on the deck above. I can’t help but think, since this seems like a huge error in terms of the presentation, that there was originally a proper sequence shot entirely differently (or from a wider angle, maybe) which would have made for a stronger prelude to the final scene of the show but... yeah, was maybe compromised by the show’s producers, perhaps.

And then there’s the sudden ending where one of the characters is picked off with a sniper’s rifle in a completely unnecessary and somewhat subdued moment, as her body sinks deeper into the Thames. By the way guys, the Thames isn’t all crystal clear water and you’d be swept away on the currents of that particular river in seconds. This is not a realistic moment at all and, that would be fine (I’m all for artistic expression) except... well, the death seemed unnecessary by this point and it leaves one of the characters dangling on a revenge arc which, I suspect, the audience now wants to see. And it was just such a clumsy way of winding it all up... it felt completely wrong and, yeah, oh well, that’s that I guess.

So, Killing Eve Series Four kept me entertained for seven out of the eight episodes and, as usual, was filled with strong acting, out of left field surprises and clever cuts but, nope, for me this resolution was like a back stab of betrayal... an unjust dessert to a pretty good series. It left me a little disappointed after I’d found myself in a position, a couple of times over the last six or seven weeks, of defending the choices the writers were making on the show to others. At the end of the day they really needed to get the ending right on this one and, frankly, they didn’t come close. So, half recommended for some excellent foreplay but, alas, no really satisfying climax on this occasion.

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