Killing Eve: Season 4 REVIEW – A Betrayal Of Identity

Killing Eve flubs the finale on a truly Game of Thronesian scale.

Killing Eve
Killing Eve

Cultured Vultures spoilers

Game of Thrones eat your heart out: we have a new worst finale in television history.

Season 4 showrunner Laura Neal acknowledged in an interview with Decider that she couldn’t please everyone with the season finale (she was right there), but she managed to leave only a slither of the audience happy.

Maybe having a unique showrunner for each season didn’t work, or maybe the choice of Laura Neal as the last season’s showrunner was the problem. Neal’s flawed creation is a far cry from the masterpiece moulded by Phoebe Waller-Bridge back in Season 1.

In the Season 4 finale, after Villanelle (Jodie Comer) murdered the lead members of The Twelve, she shared an embrace with Eve (Sandra Oh). With a symbolic shot of Tower Bridge, Season 3’s everlasting finale, in the background I was convinced we finally had our happy ending. However, mere seconds after Villanelle and Eve passionately hugged, Villanelle was shot by a sniper.

They jumped into the River Thames, Villanelle bled and Eve desperately tried to save her. Her blood converged into angelic wings around her body, as Eve failed to reach out far enough to save the life of her most loved Villanelle.

Perhaps Killing Eve was never destined for a happy ending, but the ending that the fans were given felt more like a kick in the teeth than it did a sensible conclusion to a long, intense story. It was clear that the endgame of the show was Villanelle and Eve finally coming together (the queerbaiting couldn’t go on forever, right?), but the show’s final moments undermined the whole journey fans were taken on.

Killing Eve’s queerbaiting (the act of implying same-sex or other LGBTQ+ stories without realising them) finally ended in Season 4 – Episode 8 when we were shown what the Eve and Villanelle relationship truly was, as they flourished as a couple in long kisses, road trips, laughs and pure joy. However, just minutes later, the season finale did something much worse than baiting the audience, it spat right in their faces by succumbing to one of the most tired and shameful tropes of all: “bury your gays”.

This is the trope where LGBTQ+ characters are seen as more expendable than heterosexual character. For a show which has been seen as a beacon of queer representation in television, through its centralised focus on the Villanelle-Eve love story, using this trope was a sheer betrayal of the show’s nature.

The whole identity of Killing Eve was forgotten in the show’s dying seconds, in an attempt at shock value and surprise. Neal describes (in the Decider interview) Eve’s scream after Villanelle died as one of “rebirth” as the death was “washing off everything that had happened in the past four seasons”. She saw the ending as Eve surviving.

This implies that the relationship between Eve and Villanelle was one that Eve had to survive, not embrace. Betraying the very nature of their relationship, and the meaning behind it, is exactly what the show’s writers did with the disgraced ending. The years of queerbaiting led to the glorious moment of Killing Eve’s co-leads eventually developing a relationship, but to see the showrunner view this as something Eve had to survive was deeply frustrating and saddening to its audience.

This betrayed the LGBTQ+ representation that has been central to Killing Eve ever since the tantalising game of sexual tension-driven cat-and-mouse began. For a show to build strong emotions of a bond between two characters only to remove this at the bitter end is a sore mistake. Everything the show built up over 5 years was damaged by an ending which fell like an executioner’s axe over the neck of an adored LGBTQ+ storyline.

However, it would be wrong to suggest Killing Eve’s final season was without highlights, was without merit, was without good writing, but the ending was written so unforgivingly that all else may be forgotten. A poor ending casts a shadow across the entire season.

The short, yet wholly joyous, look into Villanelle-Eve’s closer relationship will live long in the hearts of the audience. Their shared screen time was the absolute highlight of Season 4. Killing Eve’s fans had been dying to see it, and after much anticipation we thankfully did.

Despite the season’s conclusion, it can’t take away everything from the raw feeling of Villanelle and Eve finding a deep connection together.

Admittedly, the season meandered through the first four episodes, though this was a very enjoyable journey. Who could forget “drag Jesus”?

It seemed as if the first half of the season was convinced it had a lot longer to go than just a matter of four episodes, while the second half was playing a haphazard, desperately rushed game of catch-up, before the unfitting finale.

The fourth episode showcased a beautiful dynamic between Villanelle and Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), something that really ignited the season into a more deliberate pace. This was an example of what the season was when it reached its best. Carolyn was a pure joy in Season 4, and Fiona Shaw played the witty, straight-talking, compromised former-MI6 agent with grace and elegance, in what became a standout performance beside Comer and Oh’s headline-grabbing acting.

Pam (Anjana Vasan) got slowly more engaging throughout the season, after being a victim of the drawn-out, trudging first few episodes. Her character arc was clever – presenting a circular narrative, which showed the collapse of The Twelve. At the start of the season she was recruited as an assassin by the villainous organisation, but by the end she turned her back on the murder-ridden lifestyle and returned to an ordinary life.

Hélène (Camille Cottin) and Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) were written and played beautifully throughout the season. Though I never doubted Konstantin, who was given an interesting, more in-depth, story in the final season, I was surprised by how engaging Hélène was as a central character. She was one of the most engaging characters in the season, weaving throughout the underpinning story of Eve finally realising Villanelle was the path she desired to take. The elegance and poise of Hélène was very interesting, as she seemed like one of The Twelve’s head-honchos before we eventually witnessed her dramatic downfall.

Some of the stellar work done within the show’s fourth season will go forgotten and the conclusion’s drastic departure from what made Killing Eve great will forever haunt the show. It casts a regretful shadow over the thrilling, groundbreaking and glass-ceiling shattering show that was Killing Eve.

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Killing Eve
Killing Eve: Season 4 has thrilling drama and superb acting, but its emotional journey concludes in the most unsavoury fashion imaginable.