Killing Eve’s fourth season is also its last, but you wouldn’t know that based on its premiere. The episode picks up sometime after the events of the Season 3 finale and finds Eve (Sandra Oh) working for a private security company while investigating The Twelve in her free time. Meanwhile, Villanelle (Jodie Comer) has embedded herself in a church community in the hopes of finding salvation through spiritual rebirth.
To say that these are surprising new starting points would be an understatement, but things only get more confusing. The steps that both Eve and Villanelle took towards better understanding themselves in Killing Eve Season 3 appear to have been erased.
Watching its premiere, it’s hard not to feel like Killing Eve Season 4 is falling victim to the same mistake that notoriously plagued Lucasfilm’s failed Star Wars sequel trilogy. If Killing Eve’s third season was The Last Jedi, then its fourth is shaping up to be The Rise of Skywalker, a follow-up that feels intent on either ignoring or retroactively erasing the events of its predecessor.
The Season 3 finale ended on a powerful, charged image: Eve and Villanelle attempting to literally walk away from each other on a London bridge only to turn around and find themselves sharing another longing glance. It left the characters’ future together up in the air, but also marked the first time that Villanelle and Eve seemed to both accept the connection they share.
For fans hoping to see Killing Eve continue where that moment left off, the first installments of the show’s fourth season will be sorely disappointing. Not only does the Season 4’s premiere avoid addressing Eve and Villanelle’s loaded moment together, it also finds the two on decidedly bad terms. Despite all the work Season 3 did to develop and deepen their bond, Eve and Villanelle are once again pretending to be people they aren’t. That’s a strange way to pick back up with the duo considering that the last time we saw them they were being more honest with each other than they’ve ever been before.
Killing Eve has always been interested in reinventing itself, both in its story and behind the scenes. Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge exited as the series’ showrunner after its stellar first season and handed the reigns over to Promising Young Woman filmmaker Emerald Fennell for its second. Fennell, in turn, left the show after its sophomore season so that Suzanne Heathcote could helm its third, while Laura Neal was eventually appointed to oversee its fourth.
Both Fennell and Heathcote brought their own specific interests and tastes to their seasons, but they also acknowledged the work of their predecessors. Fennell’s season picks up immediately after the events of the show’s Season 1 finale, while Heathcote’s spends a lot of time dealing with the ramifications of what transpires in the final minutes of Season 2. The show’s fourth season, however, doesn’t continue this tradition.
The new season — at least the three installments I’ve seen of it — seems intent on separating itself as much as possible from its previous chapters. That’s a decision that would be hard to understand under normal circumstances, but even more so when it’s being done at the start of a show’s final year. Unfortunately, it also seems like an inevitable byproduct of one show experiencing so many behind-the-scenes leadership changes.
When a new showrunner takes over every year, it becomes increasingly difficult for a TV series to keep the connective tissue between its seasons intact. In the case of Killing Eve Season 4, the elements that connect it to its predecessor feel tenuous at best.
To be fair to Season 4, its use of Fiona Shaw’s reliably brilliant Carolyn Martens does seem like a natural progression of her character coming off the unspeakable tragedy she experienced in Season 3. The new season also seems primed to actually give fans some answers about The Twelve, though the importance of the mysterious organization to Killing Eve’s story has always felt minimal.
But when it comes to the storyline that matters most to the show — the relationship between Eve and Villanelle — Killing Eve seems more interested in retracing its own footsteps rather than moving forward in any substantial way. Up to this point, the series’ lead women have spent more episodes apart than together. While the show’s first season thrived off the cat-and-mouse energy of Villanelle and Eve’s unconventional courtship, its subsequent seasons have struggled to keep the thrill of the chase alive.
That’s what made the end of Season 3 so promising: It didn’t tear Villanelle and Eve apart again, but finally put them in a position to come together. By not having them actually do that, the Season 4 writers aren’t allowing Villanelle or Eve to really grow. They’re just doing the same things we’ve already seen them do for three seasons now. That’s why it’s hard to watch the show’s return and not be reminded of the problems that arose with Lucasfilm’s sequel trilogy because of J.J. Abrams’ and Rian Johnson’s conflicting visions.
For all its faults, The Last Jedi brought its trilogy to a place where its follow-up could venture into new territory. Rather than capitalizing on that, The Rise of Skywalker walked back many of the decisions that were made in its predecessor, from rewriting the truth of one character’s parentage to reforging a broken helmet for no apparent reason.
With that in mind, Killing Eve’s decision to keep Villanelle and Eve apart feels similar to how The Rise of Skywalker had Rey use Luke’s broken lightsaber for most of its runtime, only for her to build her own off-screen in its final act. At best, it feels like the postponement of gratification merely for the sake of it. At worst, it feels like the result of a show’s creative team being too afraid to try something new.
New episodes of Killing Eve Season 4 air Sundays on BBC America.