How Killing Eve’s Disappointing Finale Missed The Mark

Photo Courtesy of BBC.
This article contains spoilers for the Killing Eve finale.
Throughout its rising and dwindling fanbase over the years, one thing is for sure: Killing Eve ushered in a new kind of violent, bold and unapologetic portrayal of female sexuality.
From the get-go, Villanelle was the kind of lesbian representation I had dreamed of (obviously minus the assassinations): fearless and self-assured, her desires were never toned down to be soft, sexless or appease a heterosexual audience. Her sexuality was just part of her DNA; she never had a 'coming out' story arc and was never 'othered' for being attracted to women. She was a rare breed of fictional lesbian who wasn’t defined by the trauma of being closeted and remained true to herself right until the end. So when Killing Eve’s writers decided to end such a thrilling series on a stale note with a 'bury your gays' trope, it felt like the ultimate betrayal.
Time and time again we have witnessed queer characters killed off when they are within touching distance of happiness. The CW’s Jane the Virgin murdered Rose before the controversial killing of Lexa in The 100. Kira was killed in The Magicians and Root was killed in Person of Interest. Even much-loved soaps like Coronation Street have made me unable to tune in to a TV show with a lesbian character without anxiety, following the death of Rana on her wedding day. I can’t become invested in the plot because I am preparing myself for the unnecessary death of yet another queer female character.
Photo Courtesy of BBC.
The show always carried a fundamentally queer narrative and a refreshing one at that. It told the story of two women revelling in their chaos, messiness and darkness. The finale saw Villanelle and Eve get together at long last, sharing one of the most beautiful kisses I have ever seen on television – filled with urgency, longing and disbelief that everything they had yearned for had come to fruition. Maybe the pair wouldn’t have had the most conventional relationship had they been allowed to pursue it, but it would have been a queer love story for the ages.
The dynamic between Villanelle and Eve has been complex since the show began, and it would be unrealistic to expect their romance to be straightforward once they finally got together. However, when the traumatising season 4 finale ended with MI6 spymaster Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) ordering a kill on Villanelle (Jodie Comer), and Eve (Sandra Oh) screaming out in agony over her tragic loss, it felt like the writers had destroyed one of the collective queer community's mainstream TV obsessions in recent years and spat it out with zero consideration for the disappointment that would cause.

If they were a heterosexual couple, they would have driven off into the sunset together.

The BBC Three series has long been marred with accusations of queerbaiting, with their game of cat-and-mouse previously branded a “marketing ploy”, propelled by two women who clearly desired one another not sharing so much as a touch for two seasons. In interviews, even Sandra Oh herself previously dismissed a relationship blossoming with Villanelle, suggesting it was being made into something “it just isn’t” by viewers. So, when it became clear that queer fans weren’t switching off but were tuning in in their millions, hoping for the palpable sapphic sexual tension to catch fire, why did the lightbulb moment in the writers’ room lead to one of the most unsatisfying TV endings of all time?
As well as seeming rushed, the finale seemed to have been written out of fear of leaning into what could have been an unconventional yet exciting romance between two women who, at a glance, were polar opposites but, when you dig deeper, you realise they were two halves of a whole. On paper, they were meant to be. If they were a heterosexual couple, they would have driven off into the sunset together.

Ultimately, the message the series ending sends is that any queer woman who dares to live outside the norm and embrace parts of herself that others find unsavoury is setting herself up for a violent end.

Villanelle and Eve understood one another. They saw the humanity in each other when no one else did and their individual light honours the darkness of the other. They both had reached a point of not caring about what was right or wrong and chose to liberate themselves from other people’s expectations to be with the person they love. 
Who knows what their relationship could’ve turned into? It's doubtful they would have ever lived a conventional life in a cottage with two children and a dog. But they were never even given a chance to explore normality together, their own version of normality. They never got to grow old, as queer characters seldom do, and their future remains in viewers’ imaginations as we are left to lie awake at night wondering “what if…”
Showrunner Laura Neal describes Villanelle’s death as “Eve’s rebirth” but the reality is that Villanelle herself was Eve’s rebirth. She was the catalyst for Eve’s change. The decimation of Eve’s past life of mundanity and control led her to Villanelle. She destroyed everything she felt comfortable with to find fulfilment in that destruction. Eve could never live without Villanelle, as has been made clear. For the writers to say she merely wanted to wash clean of her in the end is totally inaccurate when, for four seasons, she has wanted nothing but to be alone in a room with her.
Ultimately, the message the series ending sends is that any queer woman who dares to live outside the norm and embrace parts of herself that others find unsavoury is setting herself up for a violent end. It felt like Eve was being punished for accepting herself and Villanelle paid the ultimate price for daring to believe happiness was possible.
In the show's final minutes we are given a glimpse of that happiness before it is ripped from under us with such brutality. We see the gentle stroking of hair, pet names, giggling, sharing inside jokes as well as curly fries – everything is domestic and blissful. So, when Villanelle is fatally shot in an unnecessarily gory ending, it feels lazy and disappointing.
It isn’t just me feeling betrayed by the ending of Killing Eve. Thousands of diehard fans have expressed their devastation and fury over what was supposed to be a satisfying ending, turned sour.
“It felt like Eve was being scolded for what happens when you don’t stay within the confines of a heteronormative world,” one wrote, referring to how Eve broke out of her lifeless marriage to a man to pursue adventure and thrill with a woman.
“They abruptly slapped a horror film ending onto a love story. It’s cruel just for the sake of cruelty,” the Twitter thread laments.
Perhaps the final scene of Villanelle’s blood filling the Thames would have been less traumatising had the couple had more time. No one is saying LGBTQ+ characters should be immortal; that isn’t the point. The fact is that the show withheld love from two queer women for four years, before letting them experience it for all of five minutes before killing one of them off.
In the original books, Villanelle and Eve live in Russia together. They have new identities and set up home in an apartment overlooking a park. Villanelle studies at university while Eve works for an online translation bureau before embarking on a psychology course. They get to sit in comfortable silence on the couch and Villanelle holds Eve when she has night terrors. That is how their story was supposed to end, with them blending into crowds as they hold hands and walk along the embankment. Instead, the 'bury your gays' trope strikes again, which was made all the more twisted by having Fiona Shaw (a lesbian actor) responsible for the murder of one of the most iconic lesbians in the history of television.
Photo Courtesy of BBC.
Killing Eve was never going to have a conventional rom-com ending but its destructive finale has a wider impact than a furious Twitter maelstrom. So long as narratives like this continue, queer kids will grow up frightened of being happy. They will fear finding love, constantly anticipating someone pulling the rug from beneath their feet. The ending of Killing Eve makes a mockery of queer love, implying that it is only deserved if it leads to a bullet in someone’s back or a knife through their heart. 
I doubt I’ll be able to rewatch Killing Eve in the same way now I anticipate its traumatising ending, which does a complete disservice to the incredible performances of Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh throughout. Please, for the sake of progressive television and the mental wellbeing of LGBTQ+ folk everywhere, bury the 'bury your gays' trope and let lesbians have their joy. Let us have a happy ending.
Killing Eve was a once-in-a-lifetime creation with depth and heart. While it leaves behind a powerful legacy, it also leaves a wound. The ending was neither poetic nor well-founded but instead disrespectful to the queer fans who breathed life into the show and, for the first time, felt seen.
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