This post contains spoilers for the Killing Eve Season 3 premiere.
“Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey” is a fitting title for Killing Eve’s latest premiere. The old English proverb calls for patience, and that’s precisely what the BBC America drama’s third season demands. In the five episodes of Season 3 given to critics, Killing Eve finds a new, fascinating direction after its somewhat muddled sophomore season—but getting there requires some recalibration.
As we saw in Sunday’s premiere, this season’s fresh start begins with a blood sacrifice. Eve’s former MI5 colleague and friend, Kenny Stowton, falls off the roof of his office building—although it seems pretty likely he did not jump on his own.
At this point in the series, Kenny was the last remaining central character whose motivations were largely pure. Killing Eve’s primary fascination has always been exposing Sandra Oh’s buttoned-down investigator to the darker side of herself she’s spent her life denying. Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is obviously not winning any morality awards, and neither are Eve’s former boss and Kenny’s mother, Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), and Villanelle’s handler, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia).
Losing Kenny destabilizes this world even further; at this point, every character knows that they and everyone around them are in it for themselves.
Killing Eve’s second season sacrificed narrative momentum as it invented reasons for Eve and Villanelle to circle one another—and also lost sight of Eve’s strengths as a protagonist. Season 3’s Eve, once hypnotized by Villanelle’s murderous narcissism, responds to Kenny’s death by contemplating all the bad choices she’s made in the past. She’s not back to her old self, and perhaps never will be; instead, this season seems to hint that the trauma will stay with her—and change her—forever. As one character tells Eve, when a bullet has been through one’s body “it leaves something behind.”
Still, Eve and Villanelle obviously cannot stay apart forever. During their final conversation before his death, Kenny asked Eve how she and Niko were doing—and for a moment, she thought he’d asked about Villanelle. As Eve continues to grapple with the kind of person she will choose to become this season, Villanelle finds herself looking backward. An old mentor named Dasha—played by a stone cold, tracksuit-clad Harriet Walter—has returned. Dasha, a Russian gymnast turned assassin, is bent on getting Villanelle back to work—although she, like everyone else, has her own motivations at play.
The most refreshing part of Killing Eve Season 3 might be its willingness to let Eve and Villanelle spend some time apart. Obviously they cannot—and will not—stay apart forever. But this season, the drama has found even more nuance and narrative complexity within its supporting cast.
Eve’s struggle to resist Villanelle’s toxic spell has become a holding pattern for the show—one that’s unjustly suffocated Sandra Oh with bad material. In Season 3, it seems both women will have to look inward in new ways. And perhaps most importantly, yes: With a parade of silky blouses and gauzy gowns as well as at least one killer denim jumpsuit, Villanelle’s wardrobe is as stunning as ever.