Welp, she ain’t dead yet. When the second half of the final ever season of Killing Eve opens, Villanelle is lying facedown on a low-thread-count bedspread on a twin bed in a budget hotel room in a seaside town in decline. Facedown because there remains an arrow protruding from her back, which will soon be removed by Pam, a mortician-cum-assassin whose practical knowledge of anatomy is limited to the already dead. In lieu of an anesthetic, Eve offers her a hand to grip. Even in her pained and punctured state, Villanelle makes some effort to refuse the traitor’s touch. Good for you, Villanelle. Stay strong.
We won’t linger in gloomy Margate long. “Oh Goodie, I’m the Winner” is the first episode of the season to really feel like a spy show, with all agents urgently crisscrossing Europe in glamorous defiance of time zones and how long train journeys and immigration controls actually take. Konstantin tells Villanelle that the Katniss Everdeen behind her maiming is Gunn, the same assassin he suggested she find in the last episode. As the series draws to a close, coincidence plays a conspicuous role. For example, that Gunn, a person we’ve never heard of and who lives in Scotland, would be (arguably) referenced in three different ways by three characters in three episodes (Konstantin suggesting her as a lead, Hélène contracting her to kill Villanelle, and Carolyn discovering a rare Caledonian peat moss in the vicinity of a murdered member of the Twelve). For another example, that Yusuf exists, Eve’s under-developed co-worker whose skill set is as inexhaustible as his affection for a woman who pays him only the slightest regard.
When Villanelle wakes up from meatball surgery, she’s annoyed to find Eve sitting vigil. The show has always been at its headiest, most electric best when they’re together, but watching Villanelle reduced in this way — reliant on Eve to button her shirt and clear the slut strands from her face — robs the thrill. “I thought locking you away might be good for me,” Eve tells her by way of explanation. It’s a good line, fine, but “breakup by cop” is detestable even by the bargain-bin standards of modern dating. They finally part on the boardwalk, Villanelle on a motorized shopping-cart scooter because they cannot stop dragging this woman down. The estrangement is brief. Soon Villanelle phones to tell Eve that Carolyn is in Berlin; she does it just after Gunn feeds Villanelle the name of the Berlin hotel where Hélène is staying. Pack your lederhosen, people; Deutschland is calling.
Lars/Jonah and Carolyn/Janice have a head start, of course. They’re getting to know each other again after all these years. Jonah still isn’t over the fact his ex-girl tried to kill him, then dedicated her MI6 career to disabling his international crime ring because men are very sensitive. He’s reluctant to play Let’s Make a Deal with a person whose most reliable characteristic over the course of her life is that she lies, over and over, to him and to everyone. So instead, Carolyn attempts to build goodwill, revealing Hélène is after The Twelve and even agreeing to rendezvous with her on his behalf.
That meeting goes far better than a meeting between a mark and the person who ordered the hit has any right to go. Hélène and Carolyn’s fathers knew each other, Hélène says. She’s not a sentimental person, so one must assume she’s appealing to Carolyn’s sentimentality. She allows her to return to Lars with the price for sparing his life: The name of Lars’ superior. Suffice to say, he does not like the terms, vowing to kill himself rather than betray The Twelve. That’s a good sign for Hélène, I think. She’s worked her way sufficiently up the totem pole to the point where she encounters men who keep silent not for fear of consequences but for loyalty to a higher cause.
Eve pulls up a moment too late, just as their meeting ends, which is such a spy-show thing to happen. She tails Hélène back to her hotel, where Villanelle is already installed under the bed, knife in hand, raring to murder. But when Villanelle hears Eve enter the room, she holds off long enough for Hélène to give an implausibly thorough account of their sapphic encounters to date: the bubble bath, the kiss. This show is ordinarily so meticulously original in its kills (I’d never seen a person stabbed to death with a tent spike before Killing Eve), but I’ve had nightmares of a behind-the-ankles slash since watching Urban Legend at the Menlo Park Mall. Contrary to what I would have imagined, Hélène is still rather spry after Villanelle’s initial cut. Apparently, you can really move even while bleeding prodigiously from both legs. The tussle that follows allows Eve to declare her true loyalty; no matter that Hélène might know where Carolyn drove off to, she’s #TeamVillanelle to the bone. She clumsily passes the assassin her knife, who uses it to slice her handler’s throat. It’s a nice little death.
Too little from Eve, too late, it seems. Villanelle again declares herself “done” with her. Hélène is dead. Our protagonist should be SOL, except YUSUF. There’s always Yusuf, toiling in the background, running plates, hacking mainframes, cleaning up pixelated images, etc. He discovers Carolyn booked her taxi with a credit card, and Eve uses the lead to trace her old boss all the way back to Karolina’s papa’s lakeside cabin, where they dispute a past that Eve doesn’t know shit about. She calls Carolyn a liar, which, yeah, she is. Carolyn explains that she was undercover back when she was chaying with The Twelve, which should be obvious. People can lie about some things and not others. “This isn’t about Kenny,” Eve tells Carolyn as the grieving mother begs for one more evening with Lars to find out who killed her son — she’s this close. Also, I kinda remember Eve saying a version of “That was for Kenny” when she shot Konstantin in the hand, so I’m mildly confused by the reversal. Surely this is at least a little bit about Kenny?
Guess not! Eve reneges on her promise to Carolyn almost immediately, barging into the cabin and shooting Lars just as he was telling Carolyn what a cute couple they used to make. “Well done,” Carolyn tells her, wry even in a moment of great disappointment. The Twelve will just replace him. There’s always another Lars, another Hélène. Always a new Carolyn to chase them, followed by another upstart like Eve, who thinks she knows best. It’s a tricky moment to parse. Carolyn is right that the Twelve will regenerate, but it is also true that if the goal is to shut them down, 40 years of mayhem demonstrates is decent evidence that the old methods don’t work. Carolyn mentions that in the ’70s, the Twelve’s own goal was nebulous — cause chaos and see what happens. In a way, that’s Eve’s strategy now. Cause enough chaos that the whole system is destabilized. As it turns out, they don’t have to choose. Eve can go on shooting people on sight, but Carolyn, with the address book tucked into Lars’s waistband, can continue her regularly programmed spy craft.
After dispatching with Hélène, Villanelle continues to the wee northern isle where Konstantin told her to find Gunn. She makes the final leg of the journey by rowboat, possibly on the same day she killed Hélène, which is maybe the same day Gunn’s arrow shot her? Europe is small, but not that small. She and Gunn (Marie Sophie Ferdane) have a nice little fight scene, Villanelle at least slightly incapacitated by having been pierced in the back. They’re getting to know each other really; hand-to-hand combat as a form of small talk. By the end, the co-workers are laughing in the grass like kids, drunk on the freedom of living in a world without Hélène to tell them who to kill and when to do it, but never why they have to.
Perhaps only Pam from Hélène’s crew of button women will miss her. In what’s quickly become my favorite storyline, an avuncular Konstantin tries one last time to warn Pam off this life of crime. But her commitment wavers only when she meets her first target — the generous, gregarious Fernanda, now supporting herself by handing out restaurant flyers south of the river. Pam poses as a new co-worker; Fernanda is as warm and open as she was with Eve. It bothers Pam that Fernanda doesn’t obviously deserve to die, but not enough to deter her from stabbing Hélène’s ex with poison. The mild guilt she feels after is easily appeased by Konstantin’s encouragement to seize what little joy there is in this washed-out world. She makes out with the carny at the roller rink because murder gives Pam a shiny, new swagger. Maybe that’s how it worked for Gunn, too. And whoever came before her and before her and before her.
Villanelles aren’t born; they’re made.