[As the headline suggests, this piece contains spoilers from Killing Eve’s series finale.]
BBC’s Killing Eve came to its shocking and divisive end on April 10, with a finale episode that bows to the dreadful “bury your gays” trope. The finale infuriated not only fans and critics, but also Luke Jennings, the author who penned the trilogy that inspired the show.
“As an author, it’s a thrill having your work adapted for TV, as my Killing Eve novels were. You’re never going to love everything the screenwriting team does, that’s a given,” Jennings writes in a column for The Guardian.
“It’s an extraordinary privilege to see your characters brought to life so compellingly,” he continues, “But the final series ending took me aback.”
For more context, after four seasons of a murderous game of cat-and-mouse, the “will they, won’t they” tension finally breaks down between hired assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and intelligence investigator Eve (Sandra Oh)—the two share a kiss, solidifying their relationship. However, this honeymoon period is short-lived as Villanelle is then gunned down in a river as she and Eve try to escape. Her body sinks down to the bottom, and is not seen again by her paramour.
“We have followed their romance for three and a half years. The charged looks, the tears, the lovingly fetishized wounds, the endlessly deferred consummation,” Jennings writes. “When Phoebe Waller-Bridge and I first discussed Villanelle’s character five years ago, we agreed that she was defined by what Phoebe called her “glory”: her subversiveness, her savage power, her insistence on lovely things. That’s the Villanelle that I wrote, that Phoebe turned into a screen character, and that Jodie ran with so gloriously.”
While Killing Eve is far from the first television series to utilize this overwrought trope (it’s been used in The 100, Doctor Who, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, just to name a few), it’s always a disappointment to see modern writers lack creativity beyond “annnnnnnnnd she dies.” Some have rightfully pointed out that this situation differs a little, as Villanelle herself was a vicious murderer. However, she still did not receive a death worthy of her character, as is usually the case.
“The season four ending was a bowing to convention. A punishing of Villanelle and Eve for the bloody, erotically impelled chaos they have caused. A truly subversive storyline would have defied the trope which sees same-sex lovers in TV dramas permitted only the most fleeting of relationships before one of them is killed off,” Jennings writes. “How much more darkly satisfying, and true to Killing Eve’s original spirit, for the couple to walk off into the sunset together? Spoiler alert, but that’s how it seemed to me when writing the books.”
For Jennings, while Killing Eve may be over, it’s not the end of the Villanelle.
“I learned the outcome of the final episode in advance, and suspected, rightly, that fans would be upset. But to those fans, I would say this: Villanelle lives. And on the page, if not on the screen, she will be back.”