Even the basic narrative of Killing Eve rejects the familiar. Eve has the appetite of Walter White, pursuing a life that’s more thrilling but also more dangerous without considering the way the consequences might ripple onto the people around her. She makes choices that end up leading to tragedy, going after Villanelle even when she’s not supposed to, and then keeps making them anyway. But that semi-antihero thread is less interesting than the obsession driving it. Everything she does -- including wading into gunfire rather than trying to get away from it, despite having a witness in tow -- she does in order to get closer to the killer of her affection. Villanelle is doing the same, starting to veer off of the course that her handlers have set for her in order to find Eve in the metaphorical garden.
Like every great drama about obsession, there’s a thread of, “Do I want to be you, or be with you?” running through the whole thing. Here, however, those two questions aren’t mutually exclusive. Each woman wants something out of life that seems to be embodied by the other, and that desire weighs both ends of the scale (though, as the series progresses, that scale starts to tip). What makes Killing Eve so enticing to watch is the height to which that obsession climbs: The closer the two women get to each other, the more psychosexual their relationship becomes. For once, these changes aren’t being made in a vacuum; it isn’t a case of one woman trying to ape the other, as per Hedy Carlson’s slow transformation into Allie Jones in Single White Female. Instead, Eve and Villanelle push and pull at each other, each woman imposing her desires onto the other, rather than just internalizing them and trying to change themselves. At one point, Villanelle steals Eve’s suitcase, later returning it with an entirely new set of clothes, all in Eve’s size.
To that end, it feels wrong to speak of Eve and Villanelle as opposing forces. They’re not friends, either, though it feels like a more apt description. They’re Batman and the Joker, with a little more flexibility as to which character does what. There’s no winning or losing in the game between them, at least not in any way that can be clearly defined.