Killing Eve - Beautiful Monsters and Are You Leading or Am I? - Review: What Was the Point By DJRiter (June 12, 2020, 6:00 pm)
*NOTE – This review may contain spoilers.
There is a scene in the Season 3 finale of Killing Eve that perfectly describes this entire season. Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) are seated on a couch somewhat dumbfounded watching a Greek tragedy play out before them between Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) and a supposed leader of The 12, turncoat Paul (Steve Pemberton). All they were missing was the popcorn. Instead of giving us answers to this incohesive, all over the place season, the final two episodes Beautiful MonstersAre You Leading or Am I? just left us with more questions. To be honest, the most intriguing thing about Beautiful Monsters was the drama surrounding the cover by an obscure band of a Taylor Swift song in the episode title, only to discover the band didn't exist and was created by Swift herself to get around her current copyright battles with a former producer. It was a mystery filled with a delicious and cleverly crafted plot to the point that one wonders if maybe she shouldn't have been hired to write episodes this season. In the end, the biggest question in my opinion is - What was the point of this season at all?
What was the point of having Geraldine (Gemma Whelan), a character who contributed extraordinarily little if anything to the overall story and wasting the talents of such a wonderful actress as Whelan? What was the point of killing Kenny (Sean Delaney) if you were going to end up contending his death was an accident? What was the point of having Villanelle and Carolyn meet at the Royal Albert to talk about Villanelle coming to work for MI-6 especially if she wasn't going to be an assassin any longer? And the biggest question, what was the point of having two of the most dynamic and energizing actors on television today, Oh and Comer, and putting them together in just a bare handful of scenes the entire season?
Both lead actors barely had a character arc this season. Eve was reduced to a very passive character all season and she ends up in the same conflicted place she's been in for the past couple of seasons, only perhaps, even more, conflicted and less active than before. The only times there were real sparks of life from the character were when she was working with Jamie (Danny Sapani) at The Bitter Pill. Their scenes crackled with energy and he challenged her more than just about anyone all season. The other times we saw signs of the Eve we had grown to know and love were in two sure to become iconic scenes with Villanelle in Are You Leading, or Am I? The first being her tea dance with Villanelle. Both characters came to life at that moment and for the first time all season both seemed to be at peace with their chaotic worlds. The other is their final moments on the Tower Bridge in London where they muse about how their monsters feed off one another and decide the way to make it stop is to walk away from one another. They take a few steps then the season ends with them turning and looking back at one another. Of course, we know that despite how far away they walk from one another now they will find their way back into each other's lives because it was only then they were the most alive.
Villanelle had the closest thing that could be described as a character arc with her conflicting emotions about not wanting to kill anymore. She seemed off-kilter the entire season and despite her best efforts and the efforts of Dasha (Harriet Walter in a deliciously wicked guest role) and the 12 she still seemed to lose her thrill of the kill. That is until Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) offered her a way out and to grab it she had to become ruthless and kill the 12's new assassin Rhian (Alexandra Roach) in classic Villanelle style. It only took 7 ½ episodes for the real Villanelle to emerge this season and that's 7 episodes too long.
All was not terrible on this season of Killing Eve, with the leads being pushed to the background, two supporting players had the opportunity to step up and shine. Beautiful Monsters was a showcase for Bodnia's Konstantin. He was masterful showing us a man desperate to escape, who kept being pulled back in. He tried to be the good father and mentor to Irina (Yuli Lagodinsky) and Villanelle only to fail at both. He tried to play both ends against the middle by stealing from the 12 to fund his and his daughter's getaway, and in trying to protect Carolyn's son from the ruthless organization ended up being the vehicle of his death. Ultimately even his beloved Villanelle deserted him telling him coldly, "You're not family."
If there was an MVP to this season it most certainly would be Fiona Shaw. Episode after episode she kept up engaged in Carolyn's journey as a grieving mother using all her spy resources to discover who was responsible for her son's death. Her emotional control was on edge the entire season but exploded in motherly rage in Are You Leading or Am I?. Her grief and rage were palpable when Jamie and the staff at the Bitter Pill showed her the newly discovered footage of Kenny's final moments. She fought to remain calm and in control in front of them, but lets that rage explode in all her motherly spy fury in that incredible final confrontation at Paul's. Once she did what she had to do, she was all back to business and the wry in control Carolyn that has kept us interested since Season One.
All in all, it was a very disappointing season for the once edgy Killing Eve. There were signs that the spark it had been missing in most episodes was still there, particularly in those written by next season's showrunner Laura Neal. Here's hoping she can help give Eve and Villanelle their spark back and take us on an exciting journey next season. Share your thoughts on the final two episodes of Season 3 of Killing Eve in the comments below. What do you hope to see in Season 4?