Photo: BBC AMERICA/Sid Gentle Films Ltd 2018/Robert Viglasky
The most striking scene in Killing Eve’s season finale is the one writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been leading up to for the last eight episodes. Eve finds and sneaks into Villanelle’s fashionably crumbling Parisian apartment, and the twice-fired intelligence agent and the heavily bruised assassin end up lying in bed next to one another, Sapphic sparks crackling in the slim space between them. This first season has been about the whirling dervishes of passion and energy within each woman: The formerly desk-bound MI5 officer no one would take seriously, and the contract killer eager to announce to the world, or at least her bosses, how good she is at her job. Their obsessions make Eve and Villanelle restless and rash, but also open to explore new facets of themselves.
More than any other episode this season, the finale — which also happens to be the funniest hour since the pilot — shows that Waller-Bridge has succeeded in putting her own comic and thematic stamp on the cat-and-mouse-chase genre. The logical leaps in Eve’s pursuit haven’t always made sense and the tonal swings sometimes veer toward the reckless, but it’s been a treat watching Waller-Bridge puncture the self-seriousness of TV mysteries while playing up the psychosexual dynamics inherent to the dual-obsession genre.
“God, I’m Tired” begins with what feels like a classic Waller-Bridge setup: A kidnapper (Villanelle) and her victim (Konstantin’s preteen daughter, Irina) sniping at one another. Irina’s full of questions: “Are you a bad person?” “Is my dad bad?” “Is it hard to be bad?” Across town, Konstantin is worried that his Irina’s tendency to be annoying — a quality the graying father clearly adores in his daughter — will make the girl a desirable target for the generally short-fused Villanelle. (Konstantin’s wife is undoubtedly going mad somewhere, locked up by Villanelle and worried about the status of her daughter and her husband, but she’s effectively written out of the plot.)
Eve and Kenny discover Konstantin in Carolyn’s hotel room, but it seems to be Eve’s help he wants. Konstantin ‘fesses up that he’s Villanelle’s next target, and that the mercenary took his daughter. He knows of Villanelle’s obsession with Eve, and thought his protege might have contacted the agent. Konstantin and Eve pair up and head to Anna’s. Their odd-couple matchup is pretty fun in the car. Kim Bodnia’s winking matter-of-factness bounces off ebulliently against Sandra Oh’s serious puppy-eagerness. “Why does [Villanelle] want to kill you?” Eve asks. “If I told you, I would really have to kill you, you know?” Konstantin responds with a guffaw. “Okay,” she says, at this point her curiosity overwhelming her instinct for self-preservation.
Villanelle and Irina beat Eve and Konstantin to Anna’s. Posing as a lost child, Irina gains entry into Anna’s apartment, then presumably lets in Villanelle quietly. Villanelle searches for the passport and money she’d sewed into the coat she gave Anna, but only finds the note that Eve left her inside the lining: “Sorry baby.” Anna discovers Villanelle in her bedroom, and Villanelle points a gun at her French teacher’s head and demands Eve’s phone number.
Thus begins the first of many, many scenes in which a character points a gun at another’s head. While Villanelle is distracted, Anna aims her own pistol at Villanelle. The killer is convinced the older woman doesn’t have it in her to pull the trigger. “Did you two used to go out?” Irina asks as the two adults discuss the past injuries that have led to this encounter. “She seduced me!” they say simultaneously, until Villanelle admits she was the instigator. They stand in Anna’s living room, pointing guns at one another, until Anna decides to deprive Villanelle the pleasure of killing her by pressing the barrel of her gun against her chin and firing it. Villanelle calls Eve — while the agent has her own gun trained on a grouchy, uncooperative Konstantin — and offers a trade: The kid for her passport and cash.
When Eve and Konstantin arrive, Villanelle aims her revolver at Irina, and Eve, and Konstantin. Villanelle gets what she came for: her passport, her savings, and the completion of her assignment to kill Konstantin. Eve and Villanelle train their guns at each other, but the assassin knows that Eve can’t pull the trigger, either. Turning her back to Eve, Villanelle makes a run for it while Irina rushes over to her fallen father.
Given Eve’s constant subordination to Carolyn — including ordering Kenny to break into his mother’s house, steal her personal documents, and trade them in for a favor — it’s no surprise that the disgraced MI5 agent finds herself fired. Eve is devastated, of course, but also liberated. When her friend Elena tracks down Villanelle’s apartment in Paris, Eve is unobstructed from flying from Russia to France to confront the mercenary once more.
Luckily for the free agent, she gets some unexpected help from Villanelle’s disgruntled neighbor, an elderly lady who’s been logging the unusual activities of the chic young woman who lives down the hall. The neighbor also provides Eve with a key to Villanelle’s apartment, inside of which the frumpy law-enforcement just. Fucking. Loses. It. Beholding the frills that are the hired killer’s rewards — that stylish apartment, the designer clothes, a fridge full of Champagne — Eve takes a swig of bubbly and starts destroying Villanelle’s residence. She’s no less intoxicated on the idea of revenge when Villanelle arrives home. Eve tells her, “I have lost two jobs, a husband, and a best friend because of you.” Villanelle just shrugs: “Yeah, but you got some really nice clothes out of it.” Eve threatens to kill her with a pistol she found in Villanelle’s mini-armory, but her aggression suddenly gives way to total honesty.
“I think about you all the time,” Eve concedes, somehow sounding both crazed and businesslike. “I think about you too,” Villanelle responds. “I masturbate about you a lot.” Eve is surprised, but not repulsed. Softly dropping the gun she’d trained on Villanelle just moments ago, she collapses into her target’s bed. Villanelle gingerly makes her way next to Eve, and the two women lie next to one another, exhausted and uneasy. “Are you going to kill me?” Eve asks. Then: “I’ve never done anything like this before.” Villanelle is all reassurances: “I know what I’m doing.” But job or no job, Eve’s mission is to prevent Villanelle from having what she wants. Eve pulls a retractable knife she’d found in one of the assassin’s drawers and jams it into Villanelle’s belly. When the killer screams at her to leave it in, Eve pulls it out, though more out of panic and a desire to help than sadism. Eve frantically runs to the kitchen to look for something that might help Villanelle, who picks up the discarded gun and shoots at her from the bedroom. When Eve finally returns, Villanelle has disappeared, to be pursued once again in season two.