Killing Eve showrunner Suzanne Heathcote had teased that "something" would happen early on in season three to bring the series' core characters back together -- but we didn't think it would mean Eve (Sandra Oh) seeing Kenny (Sean Delaney) brutally fall to his death.
The hacker-turned-MI6 recruit was found splattered on the pavement outside of his new workplace, just as a traumatized Eve started to entertain the idea of returning more to everyday life. After being shot by Villanelle (Jodie Comer) in the season two finale, Eve essentially said goodbye to her former self; she started working in a Korean restaurant and left her days with MI6 behind her.
Eve was supposed to meet up with Kenny, who wanted to share what he had been working on. But with him mysteriously dead, Eve has traded one trauma for another. To Heathcote, it was a necessary move for Eve's development, and the series as a whole.
"[Kenny had to die] because it's heartbreaking and because it's shocking," she tells ET. "We talked about that long and hard and the reality is this is a world where nobody is safe. And for that to remain true, there has to be loss. It's the only way that the danger of that world can remain."
In an interview with ET, Heathcote opens up about making that difficult decision to kill Kenny off -- and teases what it means for the rest of the show's characters.
ET: Kenny's death was a shocking way to end that premiere episode. How did you come to that decision, and why was that important?
Suzanne Heathcote: Sandra and I spoke at length and we both knew it had to be something really personal to Eve to bring her back in to investigating the Twelve. It was never going to be a professional reason that did that. Initially in season one, when she was going to be in MI6, there are professional reasons that pull her in. But too much has happened to her personally to ever draw her [back] in professionally. It had to be something of the emotional magnitude of Kenny dying that would bring her back -- not just into the investigation, but into the world really -- and just face it head first.
Before we find out that Kenny is dead, Eve finds his phone. What can you tease about what she is going to discover, and what Kenny was involved with?
Kenny has been doing his own work, he’s brilliant in his own right. I have to be so vague, but she will uncover certain truths that Kenny had been digging into that may or may not have resulted in his demise.
And how will this even affect Kenny's mom, Carolyn (Fiona Shaw)? What can you say about how she might potentially unravel after this event?
Fiona has done such great work this season. She has a really complex arc and Fiona was on board and brilliant in all of this. We really felt that Carolyn is a woman who prides herself on being in control. And by investigating Kenny's death, she somehow feels she's in control of her son's death. Of course, the reality is that she's not. The loss is still there even if she finds out why it happened. The loss will still remain. The conflict of that within her, of her personal and professional [motivations] and them both driving her forward is a real conflict this season, and Fiona knocked it out of the park.
You mentioned how it needed to be something personal to get Eve back to work. I suppose the other option would have been her husband, Niko (Owen McDonnell) -- but we find out that he and Eve are not living together and are on shaky ground. What can you tell us about Eve and Niko's relationship this season?
As you see an episode one, he’s been hugely affected by what's happened. I think the responsibility that Eve feels toward that is enormous. An already fraying relationship has been damaged to such a degree, and I think Niko makes it pretty clear in the first episode that he needs to take care of himself. It's really about him trying to find ways to do that, to take care of himself, to heal from the damage that's been done.
The premiere also reveals a potential new gig for Villanelle, who wants a management job. How is that going to go for her this season?
Well, Villanelle wants the perks of management, without necessarily having to deal with what management is, which is people skills. And she's not really interested in helping others or being a mentor to someone. So, that's definitely a conflict for her, and a challenge, let's say. It turns out being more challenging than she anticipated.
You're picking up the baton as showrunner from Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Emerald Fennell -- but by this point, Sandra and Jodie have spent two seasons as their characters. Have they offered input on their characters and storylines this season?
Yeah, they both were amazing and gave loads of input. Every script, we discuss, so, they would always have ideas and pitch ideas, which was great. They know how to make certain things a little quirkier or a little funnier.
As you say, they know these characters better than anyone, and Sandra, she would always have little ideas of things to do. When we came up with where Eve would be working in the first episode, it was her suggestion that she was working in a restaurant and she was like, 'She should be making Mandu!' She took a butchery course and got really into it when it came to learning how to cut the meat. So yeah, with all that stuff, they were great, and had loads of really valuable input. You want to talk to the actors when they know the characters this well, and that's a resource that you need to use at this point.
Killing Eve airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on BBC America and AMC.