Killing Eve: Even the best TV eventually wears out its welcome

TV review: This concluding series is flailing, silly and, worse yet, often simply dreary

Even the best television eventually wears out its welcome and turns tatty at the edges. From Mad Man to Sherlock, there is a sad secret history of acclaimed shows tarrying too long before eventually bowing out as a shadow of their former selves. Obviously the less said about the end of Game of Thrones the better (actually, let us never speak of it again).

Likewise prisoner to the law of diminishing returns is quirky espionage thriller Killing Eve (RTÉ One, 10.15pm). After a pandemic-mandated hiatus, it limps back for a fourth and final run of episodes that, truth be told, few outside its diehard fanbase will really have wanted.

Rather than burning out brightly, Killing Eve has lingered too long

Killing Eve started as a wry vehicle for its writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge (long since departed for pastures more lucrative). And in its early years its spark flowed from the chemistry between Jodie Comer’s super-assassin Villanelle and Sandra Oh’s fed-up MI6 operative Eve Polastri. Yet, having arrived at its fourth show runner in as many seasons in Sex Education writer Laura Neal, this concluding chapter is flailing, silly and, worse yet, often simply dreary.

Villanelle has returned to London, after her trip to Russia to reconnect with her family (most of whom she ended up killing). Back in Blighty she is trying to be good and has joined an Anglican community (to the exasperation of its priest and the ill-fortune of the cat she accidentally kills). As ever, however, her true fixation is not Jesus but Eve, now working for a private security firm, where she enjoys lunch-break canoodles with a colleague.


And yet, our favourite spook hasn’t quite given up the ghost regarding her previous obsession with the “the Twelve”, the global order of assassins which trained and deployed Villanelle. Nor is she the only one on their trail. Also determined to unmask the murderous conspiracy is her former MI6 boss Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), who, despite a sideways promotion to a consulate in Majorca, has made it her life’s work to avenge slain son Kenny.

Killing Eve in its pomp was a stunning triumph of dazzle over depth. This was classy cocktail hour telly, in which David Holmes’s retro score and the super-sized typeface were as essential to the mood as plot or dialogue. And then there was Comer’s Villanelle, who, with billowing pink dresses and tar-black wit, reminded us that, if evil can be banal, it can be frivolous too.

But rather than burning out brightly, it has lingered too long. Killing Eve was celebrated for the creative ways in which Villanelle eliminated her targets (stabbing by tuning fork, asphyxiation by weaponised perfume, etc). How ironic that, in the end – and not to downplay the still compelling central performances – it is the series itself which clamours to be put out of its misery.