Dear Killing Eve, queer people deserve happy endings too
Massive Killing Eve Spoilers ahead- you’ve been warned
Killing Eve first came to our screens back in 2018 with one of the most loyal and devoted fan bases since Game of Thrones. The BBC America thriller series is based off the book series Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings and centres on a sensual and deadly game between MI6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and jet set assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). It was one of the most mainstream portrayals of layered sapphic longing to grace our screens since The L Word and Orange is the New Black, drawing in a cult following over its 5 year run. The show came to its highly anticipated close on Monday and, *massive spoilers ahead*, it disappointed fans massively.
We’ll say it one more time- big Killing Eve spoilers ahead!
Unfortunately, Killing Eve fell into one of the biggest cliches of queer media that I thought we had passed, ending in the tragic death of one of the queer protagonists. With 2 minutes left of the final episode, after a painfully long awaited kiss between Eve and Villanelle we’re buckled in on a final hunt to eliminate the elusive 12. For those of you who haven’t dedicated 5 years of your life to this show, the 12 are basically the illuminati with less triangle imagery and more murder. Eve and Villanelle track them down to a boat on the Thames where our favourite assassin dispatches them efficiently. When our two antiheroes reunite, they embrace before an unseen sniper shoots Villanelle. Our two protagonists lose grip in the Thames with Villanelle slowly bleeding out and we are reminded once again that so many same-sex love stories end in tragedy on our screens.
From Jenny Schecter’s still unsolved murder in the original The L Word series to the heart wrenching ends of Call Me By Your Name (finally one where at least nobody dies) and Brokeback Mountain, queer love stories on screen so often feel doomed. One slight ray of light in all this gloom is the fact Alex and Piper make it work at the end of Orange is the New Black, but honestly the fact one of them is still in prison in the end is certainly a fly in the ointment. This trend leaves me asking why. Why is it that even now in 2022 are we still hinged on tragic ends to queer love stories? Now is a good time to add that in the book series Eve and Villanelle actually have a happy ending, settling down together in a peaceful routine.
‘A happy ending for queer characters means something’
While disappointing endings to deeply loved shows are nothing new in the world of blockbuster TV (I’m still mad about how bad my girl Daenerys was done in the Game of Thrones finale), it stings all the more that the source material literally gives us the happy ending we wanted. We all get it, shocking the audience is the goal of most showrunners these days, but honestly given the trend, wouldn’t a happy ending for Eve and Villanelle have been the real shock? Here’s the thing, a happy ending is sometimes the right ending. As much as we all love the gritty realism of shows that fearlessly snatch away our most beloved characters, I just want a sapphic love story that ends with wholesome bliss, not crushing heartbreak and tragedy.
I yearn for it so much because as a queer person, seeing a happy ending for queer characters means something. We still rarely see ourselves as leading characters and even more so in media that isn’t explicitly geared towards a teen/early adult audience. When we do see ourselves as protagonists, as complex characters with challenges and fleshed out emotions, it’s important. Killing Eve achieved this more effectively than almost any other show. Despite only seeing our two leading ladies act on their feelings in the final episode, throughout the show we have seen their complicated feelings grow, shift, and persevere. We have seen a queer love story defined by angst, yearning, violence, and betrayal. We have also seen a queer love story that prevailed through all of this, only to stumble and die in the last 2 minutes of screen time.
On screen representation of love stories like this are important because they ring true to many queer people’s experiences of romance. Granted most of us aren’t badass MI6 agents or glamorous fashionista assassins (guess which one I want to be), but many of us battle with complex emotions of longing and complications that hinder our ability to just be with the person we love. This is all the more true for those of us who live in more socially conservative areas or cultures. Shows and movies like Killing Eve give us characters to root for, invest in, and ultimately for some of us to live vicariously through.
When a vast majority of the most popular media centring on same-sex love ends tragically it doesn’t instill much confidence in the queer community that happy endings exist for us. While there is more media than ever before breaking this trend, it is so disappointing that in a show that returned women loving women relationships to the forefront of the media, we once again see a promising romance snuffed out by the writing room. This show means to tell us the straight man love interest survives a pitchfork to the neck (yes this for real happens) but the world’s best lesbian assassin is taken out by an off screen sniper. I can’t help but feel sour about it.
‘Queer people deserve happy endings’
In some countries there are literal honour codes in the entertainment industry that determine any same-sex love stories have to end in tragedy to discourage such a lifestyle. In the UK and USA, where showrunners are not fenced in by such limitations, it matters that we can see ourselves represented in a happy ending. Ultimately here is my hot take, a happy ending is sometimes the right ending. This is especially true when frankly that would have been the real shocker to an audience that is jaded by same-sex relationships on the screen ending with death or heartbreak. Killing Eve’s finale was not, up until the last 2 minutes, a disappointment at all, and I personally feel that the cast were brilliant as always. I will however be pausing the final episode just before the very end in the future. In my head I’m opting to follow the ending as Luke Jennings intended, with Eve and Villanelle enjoying a quiet life together in sapphic bliss. That’s just my fantasy and I refuse to budge from my position, I loved this show and I refuse to believe another TV show could do me so dirty (I am still really salty about Daenerys, she’s still my queen of Westeros huns). Queer people deserve happy endings on and off the screen, and until that is no longer a radical way to conclude queer love stories, the tragedy will always be to a degree problematic and frankly pretty boring.