*Spoilers ahead for the final episode of season 4*

After four seasons of the chaotic cat and mouse thriller, Killing Eve recently delivered its anticipated show finale - only to receive a backlash from fans and critics, many of whom were left unhappy with its brutal ending.

The BBC One drama follows the feud/twisted romance between Russian assassin Villanelle, played by BAFTA winner Jodie Comer, and MI5 agent Eve Polastri, played by Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh, with the finale episode shocking viewers as Villanelle is gunned down and killed.

However, Luke Jennings, the author of the Villanelle series of novels, has responded to the backlash to say that Villanelle is very much alive and well, on paper at least.

"I learned the outcome of the final episode in advance, and suspected, rightly, that fans would be upset. But to those fans, I would say this: Villanelle lives. And on the page, if not on the screen, she will be back," he wrote for The Guardian.

Eve Polastri and Villanelle lie down in Killing Eve
Eve Polastri (SANDRA OH), Villanelle (JODIE COMER) BBC America/Anika Molnar

Jennings suggested that the finale was "bowing to convention" and opined that a "truly subversive storyline would have defied the trope which sees same-sex lovers in TV dramas permitted only the most fleeting of relationships before one of them is killed off."

"When Phoebe Waller-Bridge and I first discussed Villanelle's character five years ago, we agreed that she was defined by what Phoebe called her 'glory': her subversiveness, her savage power, her insistence on lovely things. That’s the Villanelle that I wrote, that Phoebe turned into a screen character, and that Jodie ran with so gloriously," he added.

Fleabag's Waller-Bridge wrote season one, before Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell took over to write season 2. Suzanne Heathcote wrote series 3, while Laura Neal wrote the final season 4.

On Villanelle's death, Comer told Elle: "It was inevitable. She’s like a cat with nine lives. What I loved about the moment was that was a really selfless act that she did that caused it. It felt right that in that moment she protected Eve. There was something about that shielding, I think, that signified how much she had changed. She was trying so desperately to change at the beginning and I don’t think she ever realised how much she had, which is so sad. That moment really shows how Eve changed her life."

Oh added: "Villanelle had to die to bring the show to an end point. Honestly at the beginning of 2020 when discussing the finale it was the other way around, but through the pandemic we changed tracks. Villanelle goes onto more ethereal realms. And Eve is left to survive."

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Killing Eve executive producer Sally Gentle previously said that she knew "quite early on" what was going to happen in the finale, and it "never really changed", according to Deadline.

"When you consider that Villanelle has always worked in a high-risk industry, there was a degree of inevitability about it. We were keen, in terms of the arc for this season, was a sense that Villanelle had embraced humanity. Her selfless shoving of Eve over the side of the boat was something that we felt connected to where she started in episode one, trying to prove to other people that she could be a good human being,: Gentle explained.

"It also felt right that Eve should survive as the sort of extraordinary every woman, that she should be reborn out of this sort of extraordinary performance and adventure that she’s been on."

Killing Eve is on BBC iPlayer. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide, or visit our Drama Hub for all the latest news.

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