Killing Eve Prepares for a Final Bow

In the midst of their final season, stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer reflect on four life-changing years of spy-vs.-assassin

In the midst of their final season, stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer reflect on four life-changing years of spy-vs.-assassin

It feels like just yesterday when Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was hired to adapt Luke Jennings’ Codename Villanelle, a female-driven spy novel about MI5 analyst Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), who becomes so obsessed with international serial killer Villanelle (Jodie Comer) that her entire life is upended in the process of figuring out what makes the gleeful murderer tick. Five years later, with the introduction of the series’ fourth and final season, it is time to say goodbye. But not before one more thrill ride.

Last we saw Eve and Villanelle, they walked their separate ways after admitting they bring out the worst in each other. Unknown to the other, both have since gone to great lengths to try to change who they are—if such a thing is possible. “What we really played around with this season was this question of, ‘Can we change?’ And what I loved was that we actually see Villanelle putting that into action. We see her trying,” says Comer. “I think she’s so desperate to change at the beginning that I’m not sure that comes from a truthful place.”

Eve has also gone through a metamorphosis, but whether it’s for the better is worth questioning. “I really wanted to establish that Eve physically, energetically is very, very much changed,” says Oh. “You see her different in the way that she’s clearly gained skills, that she’s not afraid of violence in herself or inflicting it on others. She’s integrated a lot of elements from Villanelle.”

Looking back, Oh and Comer marvel over how far their characters have journeyed since that first season. “Jodie and I were looking at a picture of season one and could not believe those two characters. They’re completely changed,” says Oh. “At least for me, when I look at Eve, she had a complete innocence and she just doesn’t have that anymore.”

The show has its fourth showrunner in as many seasons, a move which has allowed Killing Eve to reinvent itself four times over. Having season-three contributor Laura Neal now at the helm allowed the actors to discover new aspects to their character. “It’s always surprising,” says Comer. “You never know what you’re going to get, which is amazing. The show definitely keeps you on your toes and it’s always so exciting getting to sit down with the script and see where it is that we’re headed. A lot of the time it gets figured out as you go along and it’s very organic in that way.”

The experience has been career-changing for both Comer, who won a Primetime Emmy for her performance, and Oh, who took home a Golden Globe for hers. It has also had a profound effect on their lives beyond work. “[Villanelle] changed my life in many ways,” says Comer. “In a very obvious way, in the work that I’m now able to do, but, in an acting sense, I really had to shed a skin with her. I was extremely self-conscious coming into this process and there was something about playing her, where I had to be a little fearless, and that has definitely filtered through my own life. She had some very bad qualities, but that lack of caring what people think and just being herself is something I really took with me.”

For her part, Oh says the opportunity was a great gift. “I’m grateful for it, because very rarely do you get the opportunity, as an actor, where you are able to grow in the act of creation,” says Oh. “The act of creating was very, very challenging for me. I was actively trying to grow Eve as a character, and in that process I had to grow as a person. Sometimes that doesn’t happen in the most comfortable ways. I don’t think it happened in comfortable ways for me. But when you’ve been around enough, you just know it’s a very special place to be.”

Their fondness for the series and their characters made saying goodbye all the harder. “The last shot I did was the last shot of Villanelle for the whole season. It suddenly felt very real,” says Comer. “The wonderful thing about that day was Sandra and I got to experience that together, which was really special. It was intense. It was a lot. It was overwhelming for sure.”

Since the show first premiered in 2018, there has been an influx of strong female characters on television. “I think people have really enjoyed seeing female characters act without shame, and without boundaries, and doing the things that make them feel good,” says Neal. “That was certainly a part of the attraction for me, so I wonder if that has been part of the reason there has been a glut of those characters in recent times. I’m interested in what happens next.”

Killing Eve airs Sundays at 6 p.m. on CTV Drama