Right from the start, Killing Eve season three was all about solving Kenny’s murder. His death was even cause enough to reconcile Eve Polastri and Carolyn Martens, Kenny’s ruthless mother and the Russia boss at MI6. The pair worked on the covert investigation together, with episode three proving a real high point as Carolyn took a ‘bath meeting’ (poor Mo), seduced an old Cold War buddy, and then survived a shooting.
Much as we all love Villanelle, I’ve already forgotten much of what she got up to (apart from committing fiery matricide) before finally arriving in London and reuniting with Eve and Carolyn in the series finale, where we finally discovered who killed Kenny.
We’ve long known that Konstantin – Villanelle’s former handler with gruff teddy bear vibes – had a ‘thing’ with Carolyn, probably starting back in the ’80s when she was busy accumulating her “Cold War boyfriends”. There was even the suggestion that he was Kenny’s real father. So imagine Carolyn’s shock (or at least, you’d assume it was shock – the woman is a stone) when she was shown footage of Kenny on the day of his death – accompanied by Konstantin.
The betrayal seemed to be the last straw following the death of Mo, Carolyn’s MI6 protégée, who was apparently murdered after finding a link between Paul (Carolyn’s insufferable boss) and The Twelve – the same shadowy organisation Kenny had been investigating prior to his death.
Everything culminated at Paul’s house, where Carolyn held both her boss and Konstantin at gunpoint, while the horrified-yet-excited duo Eve and Villanelle looked on. Carolyn made Konstantin confess to ordering Kenny’s murder, before shooting Paul instead of him at the last moment. Finally, it seemed, the bereaved Carolyn had cracked.
Or had she? Because throughout the series, there have been hints, whispers, of a bigger story at play. A series four twist that would upset everything we know – and yet make complete sense. What if – and it’s a big ‘if’ – Carolyn is part of The Twelve?
Let’s take stock. Just as Carolyn had her suspicions about Paul, he had the same suspicions about her, even asking her point blank if she was a member of The Twelve. At his house, and at gunpoint, he told everyone that he had actually been working for The Twelve while undercover – a story that seemed like a big fib to save his own skin. But what if it was the truth? He truly didn’t seem to recognise any of the names Villanelle asked him about (including her “sexy” former French boss, who also worked for The Twelve).
Carolyn then shot Paul, which she passed off as a last-minute switch after she took pity on former lover Konstantin – but what if it was always her intention to shoot Paul? She saw him as a ‘traitor’ – but a traitor to MI6, or The Twelve?
And Mo. To our knowledge, we only know for sure that Mo called Carolyn revealing that he’d found a link between “the thing and the thingy” – presumably Paul and The Twelve – and then he was murdered. Could Carolyn have ordered his death herself?
Alright then, I hear you say. We could potentially see Carolyn ordering the death of Mo (it wouldn’t be the first protégée she’s betrayed). But Kenny? Her own son?
Yes, yes, I know. It seems unlikely. But hear me out. First off, she could still be in The Twelve, but another member ordered Kenny’s death without her knowledge. But if she was responsible for her own son’s death, it might explain why her grieving process has been so, well, off. We know she’s ruthless, brutal, far-sighted (in addition to her impeccable dress sense). I could completely see her justifying the death as a necessary sacrifice – not on Kenny’s part, but her own.
Second, I’ve been wondering what the point of that standalone episode in Russia was all about. In the episode, Villanelle reunited with her family and her psychopath mother, before eventually realising she couldn’t take it anymore, killing her mother and the rest of her family except for her brother and half-brother (the one with the unhealthy Elton John obsession).
We already knew that Villanelle was cruel, violent, and completely capable of committing even the most unspeakable crimes. We already knew she was beginning to have doubts about her profession, and we didn’t need the standalone episode to tell us that. The detour to Russia could have just been an excuse to see Villanelle among ‘her people’ – but if you take a broader view, it might have hinted at something different.
The whole show has been about mothers and maternal grief, even pitting Villanelle’s mother’s hysterical crying (when she realised her daughter was alive) against Carolyn’s thin-lipped acceptance of Kenny’s death. The two older women are mirrors of each other. And what if Villanelle committing matricide was a hint at the exact reverse: Carolyn’s filicide.
Finally, at the end of the episode Carolyn told Eve and Villanelle to stop trying to find – or take down – The Twelve. It seemed such an incongruous statement to make, especially with Paul (a supposed Twelve agent) lying dead behind them.
As we know from season two, everything Carolyn does has long-reaching implications – she plans things out meticulously, always one step ahead of every other character. Is it such a reach that she’s been one step ahead of the viewers, too?
UK viewers can watch Killing Eve season three on BBC iPlayer. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.