[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “Killing Eve” Episode 4, “Sorry, Baby.”]
“I want to kill her with my bare hands,” says Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), indicating that the MI-6 officer has turned a corner in her investigation into a female assassin.
On last week’s “Killing Eve,” the show made a huge leap from being a diverting spy-assassin romp to must-see television when Villanelle (Jodie Comer) took out Bill (David Haig), Eve’s longtime colleague. This marked the first time Eve has actually cared for one of the victims, and his murder at her hands amounted to an assassination. After all, this was someone close to Eve, and she’s certainly taking that act personally. The gauntlet has been thrown.
Sunday’s episode deals with the aftermath when Eve’s emotional state is still raw; she’s still trying to make sense of Bill’s death and find purpose in work. At the same time, the show also revealed another jagged puzzle piece in Villanelle’s mysterious past and her twisted psyche.
Oh has always been a compelling actress, but as Eve, she’s riveting. In this episode, the show takes the simplest approach and points the camera at her face, allowing her to just be. This is especially effective when she must deal with grief, a complex emotion made messier by her residual guilt involving Bill’s death.
Eve’s husband Niko (Owen McDonnell) is more perceptive than she gives him credit for. When he first asks about her not telling the truth about Bill, she thinks he’s asking about a possible affair. But Niko knows that the circumstances of Bill’s death are suspect, he knows that her job is far more important to her than she’s letting on, and he knows that he’s already figuratively lost her to it. But what can he do? Make her stew.
There’s a tragic inevitability to the breakdown of the Polastris’ marriage that Phoebe Waller-Bridge encapsulates in one heartbreaking line: Eve says, “I know you care about me. We all know you care about me, but sometimes I think it’s all you have.”
It’s not all that Eve has though. She has something someone else that she cares about deeply — though not in a benevolent, marital way. Each episode piles on more reasons for Eve to be drawn to Villanelle, and while she now has a personal vendetta in Bill’s death, receiving the suitcase full of expensive, “amazing” clothes only serves to intrigue her more. Shopping for someone is all about intimacy. It implies knowledge of what suits them. It’s… a sign of care, and that’s not lost on Eve.
Opposing Eve: Villanelle
Bill underestimated Villanelle in the last episode, and look where it got him. By now, viewers should be braced for her brand of lunacy and brutality, and yet, she continues to blindside everyone. In the bizarre birthday celebration scenario, she shocks her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) when she reveals she knows about his private life, i.e. that he has a daughter. This is a veiled threat since losing his anonymity, especially to one as dangerous as Villanelle, means that she can track him down and use his family as leverage against him. Connections are weaknesses.
But it’s Villanelle’s behavior on the mission with the arrogant Diego (Edward Akrout) and her ex Nadia (Olivia Ross) that still manages to surprise. She’s slumming it on this gig as punishment for killing Bill against orders. After all, she’s used to working alone and under far swankier conditions. We’d be testy also. Therefore, her rather petulant attitude, especially regarding the blowhard Diego, feels authentic.
Nadia is a different matter. They share some sort of troubled history in which the two appear to have been romantically involved until Villanelle (or is her name Oksana?) did something to betray Nadia’s trust. Because Villanelle’s attitude feels unguarded where Diego is concerned, it certainly seems like she genuinely wants to make amends with Nadia and pick up where they had left off. Of course, this is just one more example of how she’s is a master manipulator, which brings us to…
Killing Everyone Except Eve
Poor Nadia. We didn’t see it coming, and she certainly didn’t either. Just as Villanelle promises to prove her trustworthiness as they plan their rosy future, she backs up the vehicle and runs over Nadia. Twice. The foley crunch effects and ADR screams still haunt our dreams.
Diego also died, but no one’s mourning him. Waller-Bridge’s keen understanding of humor in any situation, no matter how grim, is a marvel, as is her ability to create nutty but entertaining characters. Diego’s penchant for using condescending pet names, his theatricality, and yet very weak bladder makes him memorable for the brief time viewers got to know him. No wonder Nadia shot him.
As for Frank (Darren Boyd), it’s just a matter of time. How long can Eve possibly keep him safe if Villanelle is determined he needs to die?
Carolyn (Fiona Shaw): “It is disappointing when the mole is the one who looks the most like a rodent.”
Diego: “Okay, everyone had a pee? There won’t be time to later.”
Villanelle: “My name is Natalie. This is Fanny.”
And this gem:
“Killing Eve” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on BBC America.