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Killing Eve offers up a series of face-offs in a taut and conflicted episode

Suffice to say, that was probably not the big kiss people were hoping for.

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Image for article titled Killing Eve offers up a series of face-offs in a taut and conflicted episode
Image: Anika Molnar/BBCA

Parallels upon parallels drive this episode, from Konstantin and Eve’s matching hand injuries straight on through to the way all three plot threads are interactions between two characters unsure if the other one is going to kill them.

Although to be fair, Konstantin never seems concerned that any of the incredibly dangerous people he spends time around are going to kill him, even though there’s often quite a high risk that they might do so. Almost everyone on this show seems to be going through some kind of emotional turmoil, except for Konstantin, who remains as jovial as ever. There’s a certain relief when he appears onscreen, because he’s largely immune to the deeper interrogations of the self that everyone else on this show is suffering through. Konstantin just doesn’t care whether his career and actions have some deeper meaning about who he is, nor does he really seem interested in questioning his employers. He liked being mayor, and it would be nice to go back to that, but if Pam is going to turn out to be his latest worthy pupil, then he can make that work, too. He’s the most at peace man on earth, plopped into an incredibly violent world where he should be panicking constantly. It’s almost like he’s the only one actually suited for this line of work.


Eve, on a surface level, doesn’t seem to be going through any kind of crisis, but the brinksmanship she’s engaging in with Hélène seems unlikely to end well for anyone involved. What’s more surprising is how often Hélène seems shocked by Eve’s behavior. She has all the power in their relationship, and she’s mostly been behaving that way, but she does not seem to have predicted that Eve would respond so positively to their little S&M roleplay. On some level, this is just a more overt version of what Eve has been engaging in for four seasons now—she’s excited by the possibility of danger and violence, and Hélène is offering it in less overtly risky way than Villanelle ever did. Hélène is obviously capable of violence, but she’s also more predictable in her behaviors.


The big question about their episode-long battle, though, is what to make of that kiss. Even the way it’s filmed makes it hard to guess what Eve is thinking about it. The camera cuts to Villanelle, back in Havana, but are we supposed to think that this moment is making Eve think of her? Eve is so busy continuing her game with Hélène that she doesn’t break character in the moment—her expression is fairly unreadable as the camera cuts to and away from Villanelle. Is this just a poke in the ribs to viewers to remind us that she’s not kissing Villanelle? It’s also the first time it seems possible that Eve could be sexually interested in women. Her interest in Villanelle has always been more complicated than sexual attraction, despite Villanelle’s ongoing and very clear physical attraction to her. The closest they’ve really come to being together was Eve hooking up with Hugo when she knew Villanelle was listening in.

It’s a moment likely to be turned over and analyzed pretty extensively by a fanbase eager to see Eve and Villanelle finally consummate their relationship in some way. Is Eve really into Hélène, or is she just taking her efforts to go head to head with her to their limit? The scene cut seems for a moment like a gentle fade on an offscreen sex scene, until we go back and see Eve leave. And because the episode ends there, Eve’s own reaction to what she’s done is withheld from us, at least for now.

Image for article titled Killing Eve offers up a series of face-offs in a taut and conflicted episode
Image: Anika Molnar/BBCA

One thing the cuts to Villanelle do make clear, however, is that this is a betrayal in a way that Eve’s dalliance with Yusuf isn’t. What will Villanelle do when she finds out Eve has lightly canoodled with her boss? Their interactions are, of course, paralleled by Villanelle’s face-off with Carolyn, but her efforts to kill Carolyn are so lackluster it’s surprising Carolyn anxiously begs for her life. Despite being welcomed back into the fold as an assassin, it’s pretty clear that Villanelle’s heart isn’t in this, although a little sparkle comes back to her eye when she gets to torture a man to death. It brings back the Villanelle we saw when this whole thing began, who liked to gaze directly into the eyes of the people she murdered to see the light go out of them. And it comes after Carolyn makes her feel better more effectively than any of the other sources of counsel she’s sought all season, in that Carolyn both hand-waves away her violent impulses, and gives her permission to see her affection for Eve as more than an effort to control her. In other words, if she wants to think she’s capable of loving someone, that possibility exists, at least as suggested by a woman who’s recently thrown her entire career out the window and defected to another country.


And despite the suggestion of a betrayal by Eve at the close of the episode, it ends with Villanelle more free than she’s been all season, although way more endangered than previously. Is she going to get in trouble for her refusal to take out Carolyn? Or was that just Hélène taking advantage of the opportunity to get an annoying nemesis off the playing field?

Stray observations

  • Sandra Oh sort of infamously gave an interview years ago saying that Eve and Villanelle were not a romantic pairing, but the season is definitely exploring their relationship in a way that suggests that might have changed.
  • OK, I don’t care how ~intense~ and ~mysterious~ Hélène is, no one puts a freshly glued tiara on their head.
  • I know Carolyn is supposed to have been everywhere over the course of her intelligence career, but why in the world would she have visited a Russian orphanage? Would it have killed the show to have her at least offer a single sentence of explanation for what she was doing there?
  • We all knew Konstantin was getting shoved in the water the minute he showed up on the pier looking for an allegedly helpless Pam, right? Both for dramatic reasons, and because that’s sort of par for the course for him and his women.
  • Carolyn’s costuming this season has been fascinating. Lighter, looser, and more casual. She has been profoundly bereft all season, and somehow wearing lighter colored and more comfortable clothing only emphasizes it.
  • The mutual discomfort in the bathtub scene was pretty funny. It felt like almost a meta moment, acknowledging that no matter how seductive or menacing Eve’s move is, it’s actually just hard to fit two people in a tub that way.
  • Also noticeable? The Eve/Hélène scene has the usual Killing Eve frisson of potential violence, whereas there’s never any real sense of danger in Villanelle’s encounter with Carolyn, despite the wrench to the head.