Warning: This story contains plot details from Sunday’s season 2 finale of Killing Eve.
A settling of the score. A taste of your own medicine. An eye for an eye. A shooting for a, well, stabbing. However you wish to describe that charged final moment of Killing Eve’s second season — revenge served cold, with a side of spaghetti? — it harkened back to the first, a murder-ish mirror image of sorts.
Exceptional, maladjusted assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) journeyed to Rome as a guest of tech guru/dead-faced “I like to watch” psychopath Aaron Peel (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), while instinctive, overextended MI6 operative Eve (Sandra Oh) trailed close behind to monitor this most unstable and ominous situation. When the operation went pear-shaped, Aaron tried to hire Villanelle on the spot and requested that she kill Eve. Villanelle asked him if he’d like to watch; he would. So Villanelle rose from her chair with her knife and… slit his throat, showing him his reflection as he bled out. Before he expired — and perhaps for the first time in his life — he smiled.
The season 2 finale of BBC America’s spy thriller, titled “You’re Mine,” spilled other blood and packed further twists. We learned that Raymond (Adrian Scarborough) — who was posing as a prospective buyer for the super special spyware that Aaron was selling — came to Rome to kill Villanelle. But in a deal that he struck with inscrutable MI6 overlord Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), he wouldn’t eliminate her until after Villanelle killed Aaron. Moreover, Carolyn had manipulated the situation so that Eve would pitch the Rome mission with Villanelle, and she was fine with losing Eve in this tying up of loose ends. (By the way, did Kim Bodnia’s Konstantin tell Villanelle that she still has another living relative? Perhaps a… Twinvanelle?)
But Carolyn wasn’t the only close contact who played Eve; Villanelle devised her own perverse plan to further bond herself to Eve. When ax-wielding Raymond greeted her at Eve’s hotel — shades of The Shining — Villanelle didn’t pull out her gun, and soon found herself in his deadly chokehold. As he drained the life from her (shades of season 2, episode 2), Eve appeared on the scene, and Villanelle begged her to hack Raymond with the ax. After much handwringing, Eve did some hand-swinging and lodged the blade in his shoulder. Villanelle then prodded Eve to yank the ax out of him (this was Eve’s second blade-removal; see: season 1, episode 8) and finish the nauseating job.
Time to run. Villanelle led a still-in-shock Eve through the literal underworld of Rome before they resurfaced in ancient ruins. As Villanelle talked of their new life together, which seemed to involve spaghetti and Alaska, Eve discovered that Villanelle had been carrying a gun the whole time. She pieced together that Villanelle wanted her to experience a kill, and with the fog of shock evaporating, Eve came to her senses and wanted to go home. They argued. “What exactly do you think is going on here?” snipped Eve. “You love me,” Villanelle pleaded. “I love you.” Retorted Eve: “You don’t understand what that is.” “I do — you’re mine” returned Villanelle, and when Eve rejected that notion, Villanelle turned more petulant. “You are. You’re mine!”
When there was nothing left to say, Villanelle tried this: “I thought you were special.” A tear streaming down her cheek, Eve said, “I’m sorry to disappoint,” and walked away. But… you don’t walk away from Villanelle. She raised her gun and shot Eve, leaving the distorted, twisted love of her life lying on the ground as Villanelle walked away. When expectation came face-to-face with reality, there was considerable collateral damage.
Given that Killing Eve has already been renewed for a third season, it seems a safe bet on this unpredictable ride that Eve will be back, along with Villanelle. But still, questions hover over Eve’s body. How gravely is she wounded? What was she thinking when she walked away, and what was racing through Villanelle’s mind when she pulled the trigger? What will this bullet do to their twisted relationship? EW rang up Eve’s Eve, Sandra Oh, to take us behind the drama of season 2’s near-killer finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First things first: You okay? That looked like a nasty bullet.
SANDRA OH: I’m fine! I’m fine! We’ll see if Eve was fine — later…. You know what I was thinking when we were doing that? I’m like, “Oh, that great shot in French Connection, when he shoots the French guy.” That’s what I was working with. It’s not so much the shot that in any form was difficult, it was the scene. I mean, it was all the leading up to it. Seven and eight [the last two episodes of season 2] were so emotionally difficult for me, so profoundly difficult.
That scene turns the title on its head and makes one look at the “killing” in the show’s title both as gerund and adjective. Is it now more that Villanelle is killing Eve, or is it that she became killing Eve — an Eve who kills?
I don’t know. It can be both; obviously, she is trying to kill Eve. But also what’s so heartbreaking to Eve is that Eve is also killing. Eve enters into that title — and that discovery of “You wanted me to do it???” is so brutal for Eve. It’s so brutal that she now becomes the killing Eve. The Eve who kills.
Villanelle doesn’t necessarily want her dead or she would’ve shot her multiple times. This felt somewhat like a child acting out when she doesn’t get what she wants — maybe a bit of, “If I can’t have her, no one can.” How did you interpret that action?
Honestly, that interpretation can only be explored in the third season. I totally understand that question, because even as the third season is forming, that is a question. What was Villanelle thinking at that moment? Was she really wanting to kill her? Was she not? We have not yet decided. I will say the blood is coming from a certain area, and I think that we may move that around, the area of the shot. [Laughs.] All that stuff is really being creatively decided right now. What is the meaning of where she shot her? Obviously, it’s somewhere in her back, and in her body, but where it is and how close to the kill. I want to answer this question… next year. I have an idea, but we haven’t shot it yet.
One also can’t help but draw parallels to the season 1 finale, where Eve impulsively stabbed Villanelle, and now we see that scenario in reverse. In terms of her motivations for shooting Eve, how conscious of that was Villanelle when she fired that gun — and how might Eve see it when she wakes up?
That obviously is a question for Jodie. I think that Emerald [Fennell, head writer for season 2] was always heading toward that point. When the stabbing came about, it was actually quite spontaneous in the writing of it. I do think that it was more formulated with Emerald. If Eve survives [laughs] — it’s tricky because we haven’t shot it — but I would imagine we know each other so much better now it would be like, “Of course you shot me. Of course she tried to kill me.” But honestly, in the beat before the shot happens, there’s something in Eve that I think knows that it could happen, but she’s willing to walk away from that dynamic.
When she’s saying “no,” she is so profoundly saying “no” that if Eve woke up from it, she would say it was worth it. It was worth the risk because she was saying “no” to Villanelle and she was walking away from her. In that way, that demonstrates growth — at least for Eve’s part. When she awakens from this brutal kind of betrayal of Carolyn and then also being completely played by Villanelle, it’s like, “I’m out.” [Laughs.]
This feels like the first hard boundary that Eve has put up with Villanelle.
Correct — and that’s why she gets such a huge reaction from Villanelle. Because who knows how much of a killer shot Villanelle does, right? But she walks away from it. Who knows if anyone ever finds Eve? She could bleed out. She’s walking away not knowing. Villanelle is walking away not knowing the outcome, but obviously being fine about it. Just like Eve is walking away from saying “no” to Villanelle and going to be fine with whatever happens in some way.
Eve finds out in this episode that she’s manipulated by both Carolyn — who seems fine with losing her as collateral damage — and Villanelle. How will she respond to that? Being betrayed or at least played by these two women who are important to her is a huge thing for Eve to process.
Absolutely. She has a strong relationship with Carolyn and obviously a very deep relationship with Villanelle. Eve said this line to Villanelle, “What do you think this is? What do you think is going on? You think we are just going to walk off into the sunset like Bonnie and Clyde?” And by the way, look what happened to them. [Laughs.] It’s almost like Carolyn is saying to Eve, “This is how dark the game is,” and Eve is just saying, “No.” Because she does feel a responsibility that she did bring Villanelle in. She won’t let Carolyn betray Villanelle, because of her loyalty to Villanelle, which is f—ed up and all that, but also I think Eve’s sense of morality. You can’t bring someone in and then set them up for the entire fall. You really see a stark difference between the levels of morality of where Eve draws the line — actually, Eve draws the line with Carolyn and she also draws the line with Villanelle.
When he was wounded in the hallway, Hugo (Edward Bluemel) said to Eve that he was pretending to play dead. Did Eve possibly take a page from him and she’s doing the same after being shot?
No. The moments after that, I can’t really comment because it would be the next season. Anything after that shot is really for the next season. If I were to guess, right now, no, she’s not playing dead. Either she is dead, or she’s lying there shot. And bleeding to death. [Laughs.]
Unfortunately, this is another forward-looking question: Eve’s killing of Raymond is such a huge crossing of the line. How might this act damage Eve’s psyche? She clearly is in shock and trauma…
I would love to talk to you about that, but that’s such a tricky question because honestly, Suzanne [Heathcote, who will be the head writer in season 3] and I have been talking about that non-stop: What happens to someone’s psyche? Where do we find Eve? I can’t even honestly talk to you about that because I can’t say whether she’s alive or not. Although if I say I’m going back to shoot [laughs], maybe we’re going to surmise something. “There’s a third season. I don’t know, maybe Sandra’s in it, maybe not?”
Villanelle has lured Eve into deadly territory before. How much agency does Eve have in the heat of the moment, when Villanelle is begging her to kill Raymond? And does Eve need to believe that she was pushed by Villanelle?
I think that you’re hitting it right on the head. I very much struggled with the killing of Raymond. I really, really needed it to hit the point where you can’t see that Eve has any agency in the moment. It’s trying to be that frenetic — it’s basically like: your life or this other person’s life. And what are you going to do at that moment? That survival kicks over. And if she didn’t have Villanelle — egging her on is not the right word. What’s a better word? — pleading for her to save the both of them, Eve would never have done that.
She picks up the ax because it’s the only thing she has, but even the way that she says, “Stop it, please stop it,” it’s very, very small. And he’s correct — she’s not going to do it. I will say that a similar thing between the seasons is that there are things that people believe that Eve cannot do, that she can believe that she cannot do, but she actually does. And then it is from that point on, the trauma of what that is. Even though, in an interior way, Villanelle just has so much delight that she gets so much of what she wants. That’s why she’s so kind of girlish and giddy at the end; she got all the things that she wanted. She thinks.
At the end, Villanelle says to Eve, “I thought you were special.” And what’s interesting is that there’s a line in episode 6 where Villanelle lacerates her with the line, “The only thing interesting about you is me.” By that last scene in the finale, though, is Villanelle actually worried that she’s less interesting without Eve and that she needs Eve to go on?
I don’t know. This is probably a better question for Jodie, but in the large picture of it, we have these fantasies and projections on other people. And we want them to be what they’re not. They are both doing that to each other. They really need the person to be who they are — and also to not be who they are. [Laughs.] To not behave in the way that they want them to, but that’s against their nature. It’s against Eve’s nature to really be like Villanelle, to go off on some fantasy. That’s the brutal lesson; Eve kind of wakes up from this thing. It’s like “Oh, this whole time I was really just kind of deluding myself.”
It’s almost more that it could be an immature disappointment. It is a deeply immature disappointment when people don’t behave the way that you want them to behave. And that is, again, the beautiful dynamic between the two. There’s so much vitality and power that Villanelle has — also because in her youth, in her power, she presents that, and those are also the things that I think Eve needs. On the other side, Eve has the maturity to walk away. She has the wisdom to do so. I mean, power takes power over, but when it comes down to it, who is probably more stable? Eve. Even though she gets shot for it.
This gun revelation really snaps Eve out of almost a trance. She’s in shock too, realizing that this woman all but turned her into a killer and perhaps she realizes the impossibility in that moment of this connection. If Eve, who is still in shock, never saw the gun, how long would she seriously consider running away with her? How long would that trauma trance go on?
Oh! I think it could just continue on! After she kills Raymond, she’s so vulnerable, she actually reaches out to Villanelle, like, “help me.” Which Villanelle absolutely takes the moment, zips her out of the costume. It’s such a strange reversal in the moment. It’s almost like Eve is a child and Villanelle comes in as the parental figure, takes off her clothes. “It’s okay, come in to my arms, I will take care of you.”
After the killing of Raymond, you see them going through — they’re amazing, these frickin’ tunnels! — you see them going on and on through these dark tunnels. And then it was just really kind of playing the shock and this kind of sweatiness until Eve actually physically breaks down these planks of wood — oh my God, I could talk to you about that, when we shot that! — to get out. Until she sees the gun she’s in, like, a trauma dream. And it’s almost like these words — dinner… Alaska… — I feel like I understand what those words are, and it’s only when she sees the gun that certain things are starting to come into view. “How long have you had that gun?” And then she can tell that she’s lying immediately. And then it was like, “Oh my God, I made a terrible mistake.”
How do you think Eve rationalizes working with Villanelle in season 2 up until this moment? She knows what she’s capable of. She even watched her push that woman — who poses no real threat, and isn’t on her hit list — into traffic. And then she watches Villanelle slit Aaron’s throat…
In the realms of the TV-showness of it, I have to salt it really well with that. Because there’s a lot of dramatic license. All I’m trying to do is keep an honest psychological line. For me, it’s about Eve’s ultimately misguided belief that she can control her. And that Eve is special enough to be the one to control Villanelle. That’s what she learns — is that I’m not special. This entire time, she’s like, “ She won’t kill me, I can control her, I can handle her, because I believe we have this special connection. I believe I am special.” And what she realizes is that she’s not. And then when she really realizes that, Villanelle tries to kill her!
Episode 7 left us with a pretty big cliffhanger, where Villanelle has killed Gemma (Emma Pierson) and wounded Nico (Owen McDonnell) in the storage locker, and he might even be framed for Gemma’s murder. Nico had left Eve prior to that, but she brought the chaos and violence of Villanelle into their lives. Is there any coming back from this for them?
What you’re saying is correct. What I like to think about in terms of the Nico and Eve relationship is like that of a marriage. How far can you go and still come back? It’s like someone brings chaos into the house, you stop communicating well. Someone is now thinking that they can find stability outside of the marriage. You don’t really have to go that far to be able to wonder: How can you figure this out in terms of a marriage? That’s what I’m so interested in in the relationship between Eve and Nico. How can you continue being a whole person and remain in partnership?
Can you leave viewers with a cryptic one-sentence tease for what’s to come on Killing Eve, or maybe even a question that viewers should be obsessing over until the show returns next year?
How can you come back when you said “no”? How can you come back when you really know the truth about someone? Honestly, I’m trying to figure out: how does Eve come back to any of her life? I don’t know yet. We’re going to work that out. Or not. If she survives.
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