So far, this season of Killing Eve hasn’t seemed to suffer from an overwhelming sense that the show is ending. There hasn’t been too much of a rush to get through all the plot necessary to leave these characters in a place that feels like the end of the story for them. And for the first half of “Oh Goodie, I’m the Winner,” not only does that calm pace continue, but there’s real forward momentum on the central relationship on this show. And then things fall apart in a collection of out-of-character choices.
First, the good: essentially, the entire fallout from Villanelle getting shot by an arrow. Eve and Villanelle have occasionally been wary allies, but seeing Eve actually treat Villanelle with tenderness was one of the more emotionally satisfying payoffs this show has ever done. This has a lot to do with Jodie Comer’s performance in the scene, and how much of the action we see from her perspective. The show has laid a ton of groundwork for the concept that all she wants is to be treated with love by Eve, and the fact that she finally gets that after she’s given up on Eve altogether plays out in a mix of frustration and agonized joy when it finally happens. The moment where they’re sitting on the bed and staring at each other was one of the most charged scenes the show has done, packed with more actual sexual tension and yearning than any of the over-the-top flirtations Eve has been doing with Hélène all season. It’s the show at its best, expressing in a fraught gaze the slow build up of four seasons of push and pull between these women, as well as Villanelle’s yearning to see her love for Eve reciprocated in some real way. But of course it comes too late, after Eve has rejected her too many times and betrayed her by getting her arrested. On the one hand, Villanelle is a monstrous person for whom it’s tricky to experience too much sympathy, but on the other, Eve has spent some untold amount of time now getting closer to her and then pushing her away again, so it makes sense that Villanelle would be tired of the whole thing.
But because Villanelle’s true nature is both what attracts Eve and repels her, it’s important that Eve be reminded of exactly who she’s been getting close to. The scene with Hélène is rushed—Villanelle has been torturing herself over Hélène’s responsibility for her violent life all season, and their eventual confrontation is frustratingly brief. There’s no attempt to dissect Hélène’s outsize influence on her life before killing her. But the ugliness of the death plays out directly in front of Eve, who may hate Hélène, but wasn’t quite ready to watch her throat get cut. Villanelle looks somewhat exhausted by the whole thing as well, aware as she is that Eve is going to dither again after watching her in action. The last second reveal that Eve has kissed Hélène doesn’t help, either.
It’s after this that the episode goes off the rails, with Eve tracking Carolyn down, confronting her, denying that anything she’s doing is about Kenny, then abruptly reappearing to kill Lars for reasons that don’t really track. It’s a twist, but not one with any meaningful emotional impact. Why would Eve pick Lars as the first person she kills in cold blood? Is this solely about revenge on Carolyn, stopping her from getting what she wants? Eve was supposed to be trying to take down The 12, and she must know that killing Lars doesn’t help her do that at all. Plus, unlike either Lars or Carolyn, she knows Hélène is dead, leaving Lars her only actual lead in this gigantic mess. What has she been working on all season if not getting past Lars to someone else? Also, and this may be petty, but Carolyn awkwardly hugging a tree after nearly getting caught talking to Eve plays less as comedy than as deeply out of character. The woman has been working in the spy business for her entire adult life. It’s a cheap gag that makes her look foolish, and not like the profoundly competent intelligence agent we know her to be. Nor does it make sense for Lars, a suspicious, secretive man who knows her well, to accept it at face value.
That all of this transpires after the careful emotional work of the first half of the episode makes for a very uneven hour of television. The show is now spiraling into its final two episodes with no recognizable villains, besides three women who kind of hate each other for various and sundry reasons. But maybe they can take down The 12 on their way to working out their issues with each other.
- I’m not on the inside, so I can’t say for sure, but to me there’s no more obvious sign of the rotating showrunners for each new season of this show than the initial decision to give Carolyn’s son the sweet, innocent name of Kenny, and then the decision to kill him off in a subsequent season in a mysterious way. The whole thing has saddled the characters with saying the phrase “who killed Kenny” over and over again, which sounds absurd each time it comes up, to the point that I find it massively distracting, and I can’t imagine that anyone would have picked that name from the start if they’d known the outcome for that character.
- I appreciated that Bill’s death came up again in this episode, but I really wish the show had made more of a habit of it all along. He was the first really heartbreaking death, and the show has underplayed how much it affected Eve to its detriment.
- I find Konstantin’s characterization the most consistent on the show, and his speech to Pam about how he knows he’s going to be a target someday, and so will she, felt really true to his cheerfully nihilistic take on this whole world. He knows what’s coming to him, but there’s no turning back now, so why agonize over it?
- This show is hardly a model of realism, but it was extra annoying to see Villanelle rowing a boat, then getting in a fistfight after getting shot with an arrow. That would have absolutely torn up those muscles even if it missed everything vital. Eve gives her a motorized scooter earlier in the episode with good reason!
- That said, I did enjoy the comical noises the scooter made. It was a good use of audio to undercut their squabbling.
- Might be Team Konstantin here regarding how rude it was to shoot him. The hand does seem like “an extremely painful place” to get shot.