There was always that question in “Killing Eve.” It was pushed and delayed. At some points, viewers were given one answer, then the other. Does Eve (Sandra Oh) love Villanelle (Jodie Comer)? Villanelle loves Eve, but, throughout the show, there’s never been a concrete response from Eve. After all the turmoil and heartbreak the two have endured, will Villanelle, with all of her glamor, manage to win her over? Or, in what seems to be the direction the show is heading, will Eve be killing, or be killed?
Season four premieres with a simple answer: Eve’s on the hunt for the Twelve, in a leather riding suit. She’s accessorized with a gun, which she handles with newfound skill, and which she uses to shoot Konstantin (Kim Bodnia), now mayor of a Russian town, through the hand. Yowza. But regulars of the show would be right to expect that this story won’t have a straightforward ending.
There’s been a significant gap of time since audiences last viewed this ensemble. Eve and Villanelle, who looked like killers in love at the end of season three, are no more. They were a thing, it seems, and then they broke up. It’s messy. Villanelle keeps showing up at Eve’s door, and Eve won’t open up.
Villanelle, for the season’s first couple of episodes, is going by “Nell,” and trying to win the approval of a group of Christians, who she hopes will guide her to a life on the straight-and-narrow. But it’s pretty clear that won’t work out; Jesus, if Jesus were to appear as a Villanelle look-alike, is dead. Villanelle’s phantom messiah was clubbed with a pan by the real deal, just after the wanton stabbing of a priest and his daughter. Villanelle found Jesus, but she’s had enough of purgatory.
Rather, Villanelle wants therapy — and she really, really wants Eve back. She tried to compensate for the hole in her heart with church, playing the part of a good Christian who flirts with the priest’s daughter. It didn’t do it for her, so they’re dead in a tent, and now she’s back on Eve’s stoop.
Eve has, as her marksmanship might suggest, changed things up. She met a bulky, ex-military himbo, Yusuf (Robert Gilbert), who taught her how to spy. But she’s also missing any sort of emotional fulfillment. Recall the implosion that ended season three: Eve is without MI6 and on her own with Yusuf (who she sleeps with after work), still hunting the ever-opaque Twelve from a surveillance van. She has no friends, buries herself in her work and lives out of a hotel room. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched for the season to be building toward an ending where Eve dies, maybe with the Twelve in hand.
No matter how things go down, it’s shaping up to be a bleak season, and not just for the two exes. Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) has been collectively shunned by British and Russian intelligence after the season three hullabaloo. She works as a cultural attaché out of a decrepit hotel room in Mallorca — “a rat for a rat,” she says after finding a rodent in her cupboard — and seems to be labeled a traitor by all parties involved. But she hasn’t stopped hunting the Twelve either, and in her free time gets her hands dirty with a little spycraft.
There’s an important question trailing the season’s first three episodes. How committed are Eve and Villanelle to their reinvented selves? It’s a question that is tonally compounded by Carolyn’s readiness to bolt at a moment’s notice back into her old shoes. Will Eve and Villanelle get back together?
Villanelle’s dream of training herself out of her worst inclinations is reminiscent of one of the year’s best releases, “The Worst Person in the World,” where Julie (Renate Reinsve) laments she never sees anything through: “I move from one thing to another.” Maybe take that as the ethos for the first three episodes of season four of “Killing Eve.”
The series cuts fast, moves light, enshrouds and clouds. Three episodes in, and there’s no clearer picture about what exactly went down between Villanelle and Eve. As the season progresses, “Killing Eve” has viewers wondering whether this is just a pipe dream — and what will happen if Villanelle realizes that.