Well look at that! Villanelle and Eve Polastri managed to close out a season of Killing Eve without trying to kill each other! A first!
The finale dealt with the aftermath of Kenny’s death, culminating in a brilliantly tense scene where Carolyn contemplates killing Konstantin after learning he was probably responsible. The tension is cut by some humor by way of Villanelle, who’s genuinely thrilled to be watching the whole thing go down. She’s also, notably, sitting very very close to Eve. Indeed, these two are very close in this episode.
The episode’s titular line — “are you leading or am I?” — happens early on. On a dance floor. Villanelle and Eve briefly step outside of their lives to share a dance. Oh how far these two have come. They’re talking about who’s leading the dance, but there’s the looming question of who’s in control of their relationship. Their hard-to-define, in-constant-motion relationship. Killing Eve is far from its cat-and-mouse beginnings. Villanelle and Eve are each other’s captors and captives. All at once. They’re practically symbiotic at this point. What do they have other than each other anymore?
Villanelle’s family is, after all, dead now. Niko’s alive, but he doesn’t want anything to do with Eve, and why should he? Eve’s honestly a nightmare this season. Selfish and self-destructive and self-important. She’s not like Villanelle; she still feels. She may want to numb it all out, but she can’t. Eve’s fatigue has been palpable all season.
In addition to dancing together and imagining a future together, Eve and Villanelle realize in the finale that they killed together. Dascha is dead, and they both had a hand in it. Villanelle naturally revels in this. It’s an intimacy for her. Eve’s kill count is going up, and the two of them seem to merge more and more with every meeting. In their attempts to understand one another, they’re getting closer and closer. The beginning of this season feels like the reconciling of a breakup, but now in the finale, Eve and Villanelle almost seem like codependent long-time lovers.
The show’s blurry lines are paradoxically its sharpest ones. There’s no real word to describe what Villanelle and Eve’s relationship is. This show definitely transcends ideas of good guys and bad guys and heroes and villains. It increasingly leans into the idea that they’re all the same — MI6, the 12, any systems of power. Where there’s a power struggle, there’s violence.
“Are You Leading Or Am I?” brims with chaos and catharsis, all wrapped up in the stylish dressings of this show and a sharp sense of humor that coexists with the show’s gloom. And where does it leave its magnetic duo? Together, on a bridge, talking about their inner monsters. Both quietly wanting, it seems, to be a little more like the other. Both realizing that they’re codependent as fuck.
They try to literally walk away from each other and can’t. Not without another look back at each other. The voyeurism of this show is absolutely scintillating. These two could probably watch each other forever. That final scene is more of a gentle question mark than this show tends to end on in its season finales. There’s no stabbing, no gunfire. Just a failed attempt at letting go. It’s dizzying and intoxicating to watch this relationship, and even when Killing Eve sometimes gets bogged down in its thriller plotting, it always has this going for it. Whatever this is, this thing between Villanelle and Eve that fuels the show. Watching these two watch each other is a true pleasure.
You’ve described Eve and Villanelle’s relationship, whatever it is, beautifully. I could watch them watching each other for ever.
Hi, was it just me or was this season gayer than the last ones?
I mean, don’t get me wrong, they were always pretty obviously sexually smitten with one another, too, but it felt a little bit like this season the showrunner threw all pretense out of the window and was like „Yeah, this is gay. This show is gay. We’re a gay show.About gays.“ no more hinting and winking and nudge,nudge.
Instead Villanelle‘s suit in that dance scene almost had literal rainbows on it.
Also, Jodie Comer needs another Emmy, or two.
It was like last season they saw that she could run, so this season they handed her the football and told her to go for it, and boy did she touch down.
I liked this season a lot more than the last, it had an overarching plot of character development that I really appreciated. Eve wasn’t in a constant state of shock anymore, Villanelle wasn’t just going to different locations creatively murdering people anymore, Carolyn wasn’t just the enigmatic slightly loopy boss anymore. All of them touched base with their inner monsters and somehow came out more well rounded.
Their whole dynamic also shifted from obsession and fascination and from Villanelle shouting „You‘re mine!“ and shooting Eve to telling her to stand up tall and walk away.
I wonder if next season we‘ll get more of them watching each other or more of them in the same frame. It was exhilarating just watching them sit on a couch together.
What a great, insightful article. Best one of the finale I\\\\\\\’ve read yet.