Killing Eve ended its second season on Sunday and here’s its showrunner Sally Woodward Gentle talking about the second season and ramifications for its third season. Warning: major spoilers ahead for the season finale…
Despite how much of a fan favourite coupling the pair are, Eve realizing that Villanelle wanted a broken, damaged version of her was a powerful moment. Was that a big revelation for Eve? And what does it change in her head?
Yep, yep. I really think that it was. That was something that [co-showurnner and head writer] Emerald [Fennell] worked really hard on with Damon [Thomas, the director] and with Sandra and Jodie of sort of make that moment feel as real and as immense as possible. Because that’s the difference between being a psychopath and being a human being, and I think that’s quite existential. That’s a huge moment to realize that you’re actually layered, complex and no way near as reductive as Villanelle has fantasized that she is.
Of course, the big shock here is Villanelle apparently shooting Eve. It’s a reflection of the end of last season but feels more final. How early on did you know this would be the outcome?
I can’t remember exactly, but it was quite early on because we always knew that we were working toward this moment where Villanelle would con Eve into killing someone and Villanelle would think that it was going to be this massive romance where they’d ride into the sunset.
Let’s talk about that seemingly massive reveal in the cold open: How did you decide that’s how you wanted to cement Aaron Peel (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) as a true sociopathic killer?
We really wanted a moment that showed just how much of a dangerous boy Aaron truly was, and we’d had a conversation about whether there’s actually anyone more dangerous than Villanelle and what that might look like. Because when she’s in that role as Billie, does that make her more vulnerable? And if she’s then put in a dangerous position and has to break her cover and turn back into Villanelle, what happens? It’s dangerous for her when she’s Billie, but if she flips out and becomes Villanelle again then, as we saw, Aaron has absolutely no chance.
Aaron feels particularly relevant in an age of massive digital oversight, corporations like Facebook and concepts like revenge porn. What did he represent for Eve and Villanelle?
That’s definitely something that Emerald wanted to play with this season. To have a guy who already had a sense of entitlement but is now working in a world where he can sort of manipulate everything to your end amplifies that entitlement to 1,000. We also wanted to play with the idea of Villanelle belonging to him, something that was a commodity that had no humanity to him. He wanted her to explore the sensual extremes that she opens for him. At the same time, those terrify him though as he’s incredibly controlling. The theme of controlling men is something that definitely runs through this season in a way that it didn’t in the first. There we didn’t really explore the political idea of men, but here Emerald definitely politicized that.
Before that massive twist, the season really feels like it’s been building up to Eve and Villanelle versus truly evil men. Why was that thread one that you and Emerald were so keen to explore this season?
It wasn’t a conscious decision or reaction to the things that are going on, but I think that Killing Eve does give you — and this is something we were talking about for season three — it’s a vessel to explore big ideas and politicize them with a little “p.” Because the characters are really complex and quite gray because of their moral outlook, you don’t have to be too tub-thumping about it and can just have fun while pushing stuff to the extremes. If it gets too obviously, overtly political, I think it’s going a bit wrong.
With Aaron dead the women face down Raymond (Adrian Scarborough). It seems like a twisted sort of girl power moment as Eve kills Villanelle’s misogynist handler. Why was it key that he was Eve’s first kill?
Do you know what? I don’t know. I’m sure we could work it out if we analyzed ourselves, but actually, I think we liked the notion of it because he was so horrible. He taunts Eve and Villanelle and he’s completely sadistic, and we wanted to create a moment where you’d cheer at the end of it. If Eve is going to kill anybody, you have to think about what it’s going to do to her. It shouldn’t be about emotion, she doesn’t feel anything for him, so it is all about what the action of killing another human being does to her, and the impact that has. So I think that’s probably why it happened.
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