Season 3 promises more tough, independent women
I’m in love with Killing Eve. I’m in love with it in the way school kids pine over their first crushes. People in all of my friend circles, I strongly suggest, should stop what they’re doing and start watching it now. I text and tweet them GIFs from the show at random. The often underused Sandra Oh, finally getting a leading role, first drew me to the show. And I’m a fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s dark brand of feminist humor. But I realized early on that Killing Eve, whose third season begins airing Sunday, is revolutionary in too many ways to list.
While the second season saw Waller-Bridge pass the showrunning baton to Emerald Fennell, it managed to maintain its sick sense of humor, the complex relationship between our hero Eve (Sandra Oh) and the assassin known as Villanelle (Jodie Comer) who’s courting her. It continued to surprise us, which is admittedly easy to do when one of the two lead characters is open about being a sociopath, while moving all of the characters forward in their respective arcs. The second season very clearly stood out as one of the best shows on TV last year, and was arguably as good as the first season.
Women of Color With Actual Roles
In addition to Sandra Oh (who made award show history last year) Season 2 added substantial roles for other women of color. Jess (Nina Sosanya) joined Eve as a fellow intelligence officer. She’s funny, she’s no nonsense, and one of the smartest people in the office. She’s also pregnant but not stuck talking about it, or letting it get in the way of her investigating both of the assassins MI6 is tracking this season.
The second season of Killing Eve also introduces another assassin known as The Ghost. After Jess and Eve’s conversations with witnesses lead to dead ends, Eve starts to build a profile of who they’re mystery person could be. “They’re not important; they’re invisible. It’s the kind of woman who people look at every day and never see.” As she’s pitching her theory to the team she adds that The Ghost is “late to middle age, looks like an immigrant worker, so she’s not white.” Hugo (Edward Bluemel) cuts Eve off asking ““What makes you think that?” To which Eve replies “The fact that you just interrupted me mid-sentence makes me think that,” without missing a beat. Turns out Eve was right because The Ghost/Jin (Jung Sun den Hollander), is also a mother who makes time to drop her kid off at school before going on her missions.
In episode 5 Eve interrogates Jin/The Ghost and I nearly forgot to breathe. How often do we see two women of color across from each other in one of these scenes? How often are they two fierce Asian actors? There is no male partner sitting next to Eve being gruff and taking the lead. She’s in charge of this interrogation because she figured out who they were looking for and tracked her down. Meanwhile, Jin refuses to snitch on her employer because she’s unafraid of MI6. This is when Eve discovers that the only thing Jin is afraid of is Villanelle.
What Do Women Do Without Men?
Killing Eve is one of very few well-crafted shows featuring women characters who own their intersectionality. The sexual tension between Eve and Villanelle has been palpable since the first episode aired. While Eve has a husband, and we’ve seen Villanelle use men (seemingly out of boredom), neither of them have given us the cliché monologue explaining their sexuality. Much like strangers in real life, neither character owes any of us a detailed diatribe on the how and why of who they’re attracted to.
The relationship between Eve and Villanelle is also unique in that we don’t often see women of color exploring their sexuality in the media, unless it’s almost exclusively for the male gaze. I literally cannot think of another show featuring a Korean woman character who isn’t straight, and I’m sure if I could they wouldn’t be the lead and/or would be navigating some serious stereotypes. This relationship also takes several steps forward when both times Eve has sex this season Villanelle instigates it and is somehow a part of it, albeit from a distance, watching through a window or talking to Eve through the microphone they’ve hid on her person. After Eve discards Hugo the morning after he refers to the night before as a three-way knowing that she was more interested in the sound of Villanelle’s voice than anything than transpired between him and her during this stakeout.
This is something I think about as Villanelle turns up at Eve’s house this season to kill her, and ends up holding her in her kitchen. This is also something I think about at the end after Eve runs to save Villanelle, leaving Hugo bleeding out in the hotel they were staying in, and again as she turns her back on her boss Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) after finding out Carolyn wants to leave Villanelle to take the blame for the mess she’s orchestrated. Eve’s actions throughout the series prove that her obsession for Villanelle goes way above and beyond being a workaholic.
As the season winds down, the finale leaves us with Villanelle and Eve seemingly about to run off into the sunset together after turning their backs on the lives they know. As they wander through beautiful scenery Villanelle begins to paint a picture of what they’re lives will look like if they run off to Alaska together. This is a talk reminiscent of the many star-crossed lovers we’ve encountered in film, theatre, and novels. Even though our two leads haven’t made it official verbally, their actions are speaking much, much, louder than their words.
Here’s hoping our magnificent duo verbalize their feelings, before they kill each other and make it official when season 3 debuts this weekend. Or, at the very least, when the recently-announced season 4 airs next year.