Killing Eve

Does the story of Killing Eve Season 1 work?

Copyright of used images: Killing Eve

The Editor's Six Core Questions

The editor's 6 core questions

Parul: Welcome to Episode 12, our final episode in this Season.

Have you watched Series 1 of Killing Eve.

Did you enjoy it?

In this series, we’re here to help you understand the series from an editor’s perspective. 

The Editor’s 6 core questions are 1of 2 key diagnostic tools from the Story Grid Universe.

The 6 core questions are a brilliant way of helping an editor or a showrunner to look at whether a story works.

We’re going to run the Core Questions for Killing Eve:

  • genre
  • conventions and obligatory scenes for that genre
  • Point of View
  • Objects of Desire
  • controlling idea/theme
  • Beginning Hook, Middle Build and Ending Payoff. 


The foolscap, the one-pager that explains and analyses the plot for Killing Eve, is available here: Download Foolscap


Parul: We still believe it is a thriller/ sub-genre serial killer and that the global value is life and death;

Randall: I have something to add here - is it a serial killer?  Is an assassin a serial killer? This is not your traditional cop pursues a serial killer, it’s MI-6 task force pursues assassin.  It’s like Blacklist and a number of other TV series out there. I’m wondering if this is another sub-category in itself?


Obligatory Scenes and Conventions

Parul: Obligatory Scenes include:

  • An inciting Crime indicative of a Master villain - Foreign diplomat is assassinated in Vienna, one of a long string of assassinations by a master assassin who has been killing for 2 years, and then the revelation of the 12. 
  • The Speech in Praise of the Villain - Eve telling Caroline that an assassin this good deserves to get away with it. Then in Eve’s kitchen.
  • The hero becomes the victim - when Villanelle gives Eve’s name at the German sex fetish shop, continues with stalking her, shopping for her, breaking into her house
  • Hero at the Mercy of the Villain - Eve is at the mercy of Villanelle when they meet when Villanelle is after Frank, when she breaks into her house, in the final episode when they are in Villanelle’s apartment
  • False Ending (two endings) - when Eve gets fired in the airport, stabbing in the apartment



  • A MacGuffin - the Villains’ Object of Desire - be good at her job of assassinating (Eve), The Twelve (unknown)
  • There must be Investigative Red Herrings - more like clues that are eliminated such as the diplomat’s girlfriend, Nadia, Frank, 
  • Making it Personal - A good example is when Villanelle is in Eve’s kitchen and threatens her husband
  • Clock - more important people are dying every day and Eve and Co have no idea what the real plan of the 12 is


Point of View

Randall: Every scene of the Killing Eve series has either the protagonist, Eve Polastri, or the villain, Villanelle, present.  By doing this, the writers have created an exquisite tension in the show because the viewer knows more than either character and can anticipate the battles as they come.

Parul: Dramatic Irony requires MORE information, giving the reader information that one or more of the characters don’t have. As a viewer, we can often see the clashes that are coming up, we know that Villanelle is about to kill. It keeps us at the edge of our seat.


Object of Desire

Randall: The objects of desire are the wants (external) and the needs (internal) of your protagonist. 

In Killing Eve, the protagonist, Eve, is trying to stop Villanelle from killing more people and also solve the mystery of who she works for.  This is what she wants to do. Notice that we didn’t say that Eve wants to capture Villanelle because she has several opportunities where they meet, but she can’t seem to bring herself to do what another clear-headed detective might.


Because of her internal need. 

Eve wants to know what it feels like to kill another human being, she wants to know what it would be like to be Villanelle.  And to do that she needs Villanelle alive to learn from her. Eve is fascinated by Villanelle.

Parul: (I think Eve wants to find meaning, she’s curious, she’s interested in psychology. She couldn’t harm a fly, and she’s fascinated by killers, even before she meets Villanelle).

There is something about the chase that makes her feel alive, and the mix of desire heightens this. 


Controlling Idea/ Theme:

Melanie: The theme of the story is what the story is actually about.  Robert McKee defines the controlling idea as the climactic value charge of the entire story, either positively or negatively.

In the case of a Thriller, where the global values of the story range from life to death to a fate worse than death, the positive and negative options for the controlling idea are:

Life is preserved when the Protagonist unleashes her gift and saves the victims.


Death or Damnation Triumphs when the Protagonist fails to unleash her gift and does not save the victims.


Now is the ending: positive or negative?

Villanelle got away.

And I don’t think life’s preserved. Villanelle is still on the run.

Is there damnation for Eve?

She has unleashed her gift by she psycho-analyzing Villanelle which brought her so close to that woman that she could stab her.

But it was because of Bill why she did it. She manages not to get seduced by Villanelle.

So where does that leave us with?

For Eve: Damnation can be avoided if the hero sticks to her moral compass and renounces her own feelings in order to bring a killer to justice even by failing to kill her. 


What is the Beginning Hook, the Middle Build, and Ending Payoff?

We already have talked about the five commandments for Beginning Hook, Middle Build and Ending Payoff in our previously released episodes 4, 10 and 11.

If you want to take a look at the 15 core scenes, download the Story Grid Foolscap of the global story here.

That’s why I wrap up the story using the 5 commandments for the global story:

When an MI5 security operative receives the opportunity to hunt down a female serial killer that turns the tables and threatens her in her own house, she has to decide whether to keep investigating or step back from a job that could get everyone close to her killed. Ignoring commands from her boss, she follows her own investigation, loses colleagues and her job. In the end, she is nearly derailed by her feelings for the villain but justice prevails and she badly wounds the villain although she fails to capture her.

Does the whole Series work?

Randall - as a Thriller:  I gotta say yes - lots of action, interesting characters, lots of twists, and a surprising by the inevitable ending.

Parul - as a love story: The love story gives us a narrative. Love is a secondary genre with desire as a sub-genre but it only goes as far as the confession of feelings.

Melanie - Worldview Perspective: Eve has to learn a hard truth: You can’t trust your bosses. Frank betrayed her and she has no idea what Carolyn is up to. So Eve went to Paris by herself.

And she has endangered the relationship with her husband by willingly putting him in danger. And he told her he’s scared. But Eve didn’t stop her investigation, even after Bill was killed.

She was too intrigued by Villanelle.

Niko holds her back. And she has outgrown him because she’s not the person he has to take care of anymore - like when her arm fell asleep in the first scene with Eve in the first episode.

Eve’s broken somehow now. And she’s stronger.

She’s still naive though in how she makes certain decisions, that tare the right thing to do. But she doesn’t trouble herself with the consequences. She’s always right in the moment, sometimes caught up by her own actions that surprise her.

But she has learned to trust her gut feeling because that helped her get the investigation going. But she’s still far away from understanding how the world works. She got out of her naive little world as a security officer, but she’s only hit the level of cognitive dissonance. She has not yet reached sophistication.


Preview: Next Season

Our next episode will be a special event where we will discuss the 6 core questions for the whole series of Killing Eve Season 2 and discuss why it might not have worked as well as the first season.

Our next season will begin in February 2020, and we’ll be discussing Netflix series called The Umbrella Academy.


What’s your favorite scene in Killing Eve?

Randy: Bill’s death, and Eve arguing with Constantin’s kid.

Parul: My favourite scene is Villanelle sitting on the couch in a pink dress, where she is being interrogated by her bosses.  

Melanie: Take me to the Hole (Prison Episode) because it all turned out differently as Villanelle had expected. The only time she followed the job instructions and it got her there. But I also loved the scene where the hero/victim is at the mercy of the villain: Eve with the toilet brush threatening Villanelle and Frank using the toothbrush. Guess the toilet brush was more convincing ;-)

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