Since we’ve talked so much about the first season of Killing Eve, we don’t wanna leave the big question unanswered, why the second season wasn’t perceived as good as the first one. Or as the Rolling Stones Magazine said: that spark from Season One never fully reignited.
It’s gonna be just this one episode where we focus on the global story and will answer and discuss the most important questions to see where Killing Eve Season 2 didn’t work – which means not having satisfied the viewer’s expectations.
For discussing the second season, we use the Story Grid 6 core questions to get a better sense of genre, expectations, and the beginning hook, middle build and ending payoff of the TV series.
Recap: What happened in Season 1:
An MI5 security operative, Eve Polastri, receives the opportunity to hunt down a female serial killer by joining a secret task force.
She gets obsessed with this particular female assassin, Villanelle, because her murders are committed so well and in a way that excites Eve
Eve gets personally involved as her affection for the investigation and the assassin grow bigger
She continues the investigation knowing that V. leaves clues only for her (new clothes in her suitcase, name of a nurse in Berlin Sex Hospital)
People close to Eve die (Bill, Frank)
Eve breaks the rules, loses her job but still follows one more clue that takes her to Paris, where she breaks the apartment of the assassin and tells her that she’s so exhausted. But the assassin is not able to seduce Eve. Eve stabs Villanelle, but Villanelle manages to get away badly wounded
What are the beginning hook, middle build and ending payoff?
Beginning Hook (Ep 1-2)
After Villanelle is severely injured by Eve last season, Villanelle tries to get help and make her way to London to find Eve, and after avoiding detection by the 12 and trying to heal, she finds herself under the power of a psycho in England named Julian. Trying to escape, she first calls the 12 but is turned down and then calls MI6 to speak with Eve and leaves a message which Carolyn receives. After Carolyn tells Eve, they try to search the neighborhood to find Villanelle, only to arrive just after Villanelle has killed Julian and met her new handler Raymond who drives her away from the area.
II: Villanelle is injured severely
TP: Villanelle calls Eve for help at MI6 and Carolyn gets the message
CR: Does Carolyn give the message to Eve, knowing her obsession
CL: Carolyn tells Eve
RE: They go to find her house to house in the area where the call was made with a lot of security, but they just miss her as Raymond picks her up as Villanelle’s new handler.
Middle Build (Ep 3-6.5)
After Villanelle heals and starts killing for the 12 again, Eve succeeds in capturing the Ghost, but can’t break her and determines the best way to get information from the Ghost is to hire Villanelle. Eve uses herself as bait to meet Villanelle and convinces Villanelle to work for MI6 and break the Ghost, which she does, and get information about a special weapon and Peel’s involvement in the assassinations.
II: Villanelle is killing again for the 12 under a short leash under Raymond and is bored
TP: Eve captures the Ghost, Eve can’t break the Ghost, need Villanelle
CR: Does Eve use herself as bait?
CL: She does
RE: Villanelle agrees, they break the Ghost and learn about a weapon and Peel’s involvement in the assassinations.
Ending Payoff (Ep 6.5-8)
II: MI6 uses Villanelle to get close to Peel in order to learn more about his plan
TP: Eve learns that Carolyn always meant to use Villanelle as a patsy to kill Peel
CR: Does Eve stay with MI6 or not
CL: Eve quits
RE: Eve is forced to kill a man with an ax to save Villanelle from Raymond, then goes on the run with Villanelle before learning that Villanelle set her up to make the kill, then she decides to leave Villanelle and gets shot by Villanelle
What’s the global genre?
Thriller/ Serial Killer
What are the obligatory scenes of the global genre?
Inciting Crime Indicative of a Master Villain – This remains unknown for most of the series until the Ending Payoff, it is unknown why the Ghost is killing and who she is killing for – she is killing for Peel in order to secure his information weapon
Speech in Praise of the Villain – in Ep 2, Eve speaks about Villanelle – “She is Flamboyant, instinctive, spoiled, easily bored, not sloppy”; and the Ghost – “Careful, anonymous, meticulous, and discreet – the opposite of Villanelle”
The Hero becomes the victim – When Peel’s men come to kill Eve and she hides under the bed
The Hero at the Mercy of the Villain – When Peel tries to convince Villanelle to join him and Eve thinks it’s possible; In this case, Eve uses her ability to understand Psychopaths and thinks that Villanelle might actually kill her OR this scene is when Eve kills Raymond. The Core Event is where the genres intersect, and Eve doesn’t have an active role in the Peel scene, but she has an active role in the axe scene
False ending – Eve saves Villanelle and it looks like they might end up together, but Eve betrays Villanelle’s love in the end and Villanelle shoots her
What are the conventions of the global genre?
MacGuffin – Villanelle wants Eve
Red Herrings – Will the ghost replace Villanelle, Will Raymond best Villanelle, Will Eve end up with Villanelle, Will Villanelle join Peel
Making it Personal – Villanelle confesses her love for Eve, tells Eve that Eve is hers
Clock – When Villanelle says the safe word, then Eve thinks she must rescue Villanelle and then the bad guys close in
What’s the point of view?
Carolyn and Constantin
What are the objects of desire?
Eve Polastri: Even though Eve investigates the ‘Ghost’ now, she still wants to see Villanelle again. At first, she always checks french police reports and news for any sign of Villanelle. They finally meet in episode 5. We’ve waited a long time for this and suddenly Villanelle, who is a proven psychopath, is allowed to help out on an investigation? It’s like she got the jail free card. And Eve’s more motivated to watch Villanelle, than working on the case. The case just seems like the means to be with Villanelle.
But anyway, Eve is obsessed with Villanelle and sexually aroused by listening to her or thinking of her. So some part of her is telling her not to fall for Villanelle, but being in love you do stupid things. Which ultimately lead to Eve’s wake up call in the last episode.
Villanelle: Eliminate skilled mystery woman ‘The Ghost’ who could take Villanelle’s job if you believe her new handler Raymond (i guess an organization like the 12 has more assassins for hire. So why kill Villanelle when they could have 2?) But what really bothers Villanelle is that Eve is investigating someone else. She wants Eve for herself. It’s an obsession love story on her end, too.
Note: In episode 1 the side of Good and Evil was clearly recognizable. Eve was the protagonist and Villanelle her antagonist.
But who’s the antagonist in Season 2?
There are several but there’s none that pushes the plot forward from the beginning of the story to its ending?
Is it Villanelle’s new handler? Hardly, he doesn’t show for most of the episodes?
Is it Aaron Peel? The plot certainly revolves around this guy but the power divide between the combo of Eve and Villanelle and this guy is just not strong enough. And he’s killed so easily by Villanelle.
Is it the 12? Doubtful, there’s not much to go on to say how much they’ve been involved?
Is it the new female assassin? The Ghost? She’s so scared of Villanelle (no suspense and the promise was not kept that the Ghost could be the one who threatens Villanelle’s life) and was so easily found (like magic). Hardly a match for Villanelle.
Antagonist’s objects of desire:
Villanelle wants to push Eve closer to her by all means necessary.
Aaron Peel wants to sell his weapon, but I have no idea what he gets out of it. Why should he sell something that gives him the biggest pleasure?
The 12 want Peel’s weapon because information is power. But they are so far in the background of this story that they’re almost left out if they weren’t mentioned once or twice.
The Ghost probably just wants to make a living to get her kid to school.
And the handler rather kills someone than buying a weapon.
And Carolyne loves to play people as if she was playing a game of chess and cheating because she knows all the moves already.
Having no clear antagonist is the heart of the problem. Our previous villains have becomes victims. Constantin is now helpless without his family and has to hustle for work. Villanelle remains unhinged, but it’s clear her power is limited, she’s no master villain. The Twelve have diminished as a villain save for the pasty-faced Raymond, who is dangerous but he lacks the threat and that Constantin displayed in Season 1.
Worse still, we have no hero. Eve’s descent into immorality tilts the balance. In a sea of semi-villains, we have no lightning rod for morality, apart from Kenny.
In short, we are lacking a master villain.
What is the controlling idea/theme?
Death triumphs if love gets in the way of being able to use your gift to the fullest (Eve’s psychoanalysis capabilities) and see the one you love for who they truly are.
Summary: Killing Eve Season 2
Did it work?
Melanie: Lots of open questions left:
What about Eve? The cliffhanger seems too designed. Eve won’t be dead. There’s no blood.
How will Eve react when she finds out Villanelle attacked Nico.
What about the software?
The Ghost is still alive but there’s no telling what Villanelle did to make her talk. Maybe they didn’t know themselves so they left that crucial part out. And that’s devastating, especially after being told how much of a threat The Ghost is to Villanelle and then the confrontation between those exceptional women is just skipped over.
Villanelle broke into Eve’s apartment to use her toothbrush and move things around—you know, just for fun, but we never got Eve’s reaction to it.
And there was no shepherd pie cooked by Villanelle.
And at the hotel in the last episode, Villanelle just walked into the surveillance room. Just like this? So easily.
Furthermore, the objects of desire are not clearly defined. And there’s a lack of a clear antagonist. And it seemed more of a love story than a thriller.
But listen in to the podcast, we have a theory that Carolyn might be the Master Villain in the overarching story.
Not as good as Season One, but still quite good.
We’ve changed our format because we’ve noticed that going through each episode might be too micro. We want to focus more on the global story of the seasons of TV Series.
We’re gonna try this new format beginning with the next TV Series which will be The Umbrella Academy Season 1.
The first one is the introduction to the series and about our expectations based on the trailer and the wikipedia descriptions.
Then, two weeks later, we’ll do a full 6 Core Question analysis on the whole series.
In this way, we’ll cover 12 series within a year and then do a comparison of similarities between action / thriller series at the end of the year.
The Story Grid
For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.