When we left Killing Eve at the end of season two, it seemed as if the show’s title had finally come true. MI6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) was crumpled in a heap on the cobbled ground, Roman sun beating down on her lifeless body. Her nemesis-cum-obsession Villanelle (Jodie Comer) loomed over her, finger still on the trigger of the gun she’d just aimed at the spy.
To kill off one of its main protagonists, though, would leave the show without much purpose and, so, Eve survived, found by unsuspecting tourists after Villanelle ran off without checking her pulse. When we meet her again at the top of season three, she’s taken the near-death experience as a wake-up call and wrenched herself out of the world of espionage and contracts killers. Now she wants a normal life and she’s trying to find it by working in the kitchen of a Korean restaurant, getting drunk alone on red wine in her cramped new flat, and visiting husband Niko (Owen McDonnell) every few days as he tries to recover from Villanelle-induced PTSD.
Without MI6, Eve might be out of danger but her existence is full of drudgery. That’s emphasised early on by grey skies, inane conversations as she makes endless stacks of dumplings, and the annoyance of her grocery bags splitting open and sending her incredibly nutritious haul of instant ramen and crisps spilling onto the floor. It’s no wonder then that, like most addicts, she finds it hard to quit the thing that made her feel so alive – even when it left her for dead. “I’m totally done with her, done with that, end of story,” she tells former colleague Kenny (Sean Delaney), but her hurried, almost defensive delivery suggests quite the opposite. Sure enough, one unforeseen tragedy later, Eve is pulled back into the pair’s old game of cat and mouse, taking turns in stalking each other and preparing to pounce.
This season sees a number of new faces introduced to its thrilling world, most notably Harriet Walter’s Dasha. The Russian agent is Villanelle’s old mentor and she’s here to get her back in line after the events that unfolded in Rome. For viewers, she provides a new link to the ominous Twelve and gives Villanelle a fresh sparring partner. When Dasha boasts about how “untouchable” her old murders are, she’s goading Villanelle into trying to top her. Of course, she responds in dramatic, deranged form.
There’s a new addition behind the scenes too. Lead writer Suzanne Heathcote takes over from season two’s Emerald Fennell and brings back the spark that went missing after season one. The show still isn’t quite back to its best but it’s getting there, delighting in the dark and leaving you giggling as the glamorous settings (luxury homes on the French Riviera, sun-kissed Spanish streets) are filled with gore. Coupled with Comer and Oh’s always-electrifying tug of war and a new batch of zippy one-liners, it’s a satisfying, entertaining return.