This Killing Eve review contains spoilers.
Killing Eve Season 1, Episode 4
One of my favorite parts of a traditional spy drama is how it doesn’t tend to use time jumps, instead packing the action into as tight a period of time as possible to intensify the urgency of the drama. While Killing Evemoved a little too quickly to really sell its plot in last week’s episode, “Sorry Baby” is the best this good show has ever been, giving us just enough time to dwell in the consequence of Villanelle’s violent behavior, while moving the spy plot along in some very intriguing ways.
“Sorry Baby” starts at poor Bill’s funeral and, like Eve, we are stuck there. The camera stays glued to her pained face for much longer than we are used to. She is trapped in her reality—in the reality that, in some sense, she got Bill killed—and we are trapped there with her. It doesn’t help that Eve is forced to look at the face of Bill’s crying baby girl as Frank, who Bill didn’t even like, delivers a eulogy on behalf of Eve and Bill’s other co-workers. Eve storms out of the church, and who can blame her?
Tellingly, it’s not Niko who Eve allows close enough to comfort her; it’s Elena. Elena understands how Eve is feeling in a way Niko can’t. She loved Bill, too, and she knows how he really died—not in some random mugging, but at Villanelle’s hand. But Niko’s not an idiot. He works out the truth pretty quickly, and confronts Eve with it. And he may not be able to understand how Eve is feeling, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be there for her. That doesn’t mean he can’t make her stew and hold her hand.
Except Eve won’t let him do either, and Niko would be fooling himself if he pretended this has only been the case after Bill’s death. From the beginning of this show, it’s always been clear that Niko is more invested in their marriage than Eve is. Here, she even tells him this in an angry outburst, although she chooses to frame it as he has nothing else, rather than he is actively investing in their relationship in a way that she is not.
Their dynamic is an interesting subversion of the traditional gender roles, but one that plays along the familiar lines: She, the breadwinner, prioritizes her job over their marriage. He cooks, cleans, and does most of the emotional labor. When he confronts her about it, she lashes out. It’s tough to watch because it gets at the painful, complicated mundanity of relationship imbalances—of what it’s like when one person always takes and another person always gives.
It’s even tougher to watch when, in a shocked state after receiving her package re-packed with “gifts” from Villanelle, Eve yells at Niko to go away. He reads it as Eve’s inability to be vulnerable with him and, yeah, it is partially that, but it also the stress of that suitcase, but Niko does not understand that factor. Eve will not or cannot explain to him. How long until Niko stops being understanding and starts to get angry?
The creepiest thing about the bag Villanelle packed for Eve? It demonstrates a great deal of thought (or should we call it obsession?). Villanelle has picked out nice clothes in Eve’s size, included a perfume clue, and even tucked in a note: “Sorry baby xx.” These aren’t the only presents Villanelle gives in this episode. She also throws a birthday party for Konstantin at her Parisian flat.
Is it Konstantin’s birthday? No. But, like the “gifts” she gave to Eve, Villanelle is a way of letting Konstantin know how much she understands about him. It’s a threat wrapped in paper. For Eve, it’s the knowledge that Villanelle knows where she lives, knows what she likes, knows how clothes fit her body. For Konstantin, it’s the knowledge that Villanelle knows he has a daughter.
It’s also a compliment of sorts. Villanelle doesn’t get threat-presents for just anyone, you know. Ironically, it seems to be the people who see her the most clearly whom she lavishes her attention upon. Both Konstantin and Eve understand that Villanelle is a sociopathic killer. They know she lies and that she doesn’t truly care about anyone. It’s like Villanelle can’t kill them until she convinces them otherwise, until she tricks them into believing her performance of affection.
It’s why Villanelle is so non-chalantly willing to kill Nadia, a former girlfriend who she runs into in the U.K. when they’re paired up, along with spy bro Diego, on an assassination mission. When they first see each other again, Nadia immediately tries to kill (or at least wound) Villanelle. She’s furious about something from their past and, as the episode progresses, we learn that the two used to date. Obviously, Villanelle is a hard one to get over. When Nadia is asked to choose between killing Villanelle and killing Diego, her current beau, all it takes is a long, sweet look from Villanelle for Nadia to kill the bro.
But, what is love (or something like it) for Nadia is just a game for Villanelle. Once Diego has been dispatched, Villanelle backs over Nadia with a vehicle. This isn’t just another target to kill or even the inadvertent murder of a man she’s sleeping with, it’s a woman who she used to date who knows her real name, Oksana. When Nadia looks at Villanelle, we see the weight of history between them. When Villanelle looks at Nadia, she just looks bored, like she’s thinking about what she might have for lunch.
While Nadia may be the person Villanelle kills, Frank is the one the crew of assassins was actually sent to murder. In what manages to be both a horrifying and hilarious sequence, Diego, Nadia, and Villanelle drive after a desperate Frank as he speeds—and, in some cases, meanders—across the English countryside.
Meanwhile, Eve and Elena, armed with information that Frank is being paid off by the same people who employ Villanelle, are closing in on his location. Unlike Villanelle, they don’t want the bumbling bureacrat and probable-informant dead. He’s their terrible ex-boss, yes, but he is also a human and, unlike some characters on this show, that means something to them.
The episode ends with Frank dashing—out of breath, but moving as quickly as he can—across the English countryside towards Eve, Elena, and the refuge their getaway car represents, an armed Villanelle hot on his tail. Surprisingly, Frank actually makes it to the car, but Villanelle gets a shot off before the episode ends. Did she get Frank? Is that even who she was aiming for in that moment? Killing Eve sure knows how to end an episode.
Jodie Comer gets to use her actual British accent in this episode, which is both bizarre and fun to hear.
Killing Eve does diverse sexual orientation so casually. It’s great.
Do you ship Kenny and Elena? I can’t decide.
OK, I’m starting to suspect that Carolyn is behind all of this. Frank is too much of a geezer to be the one who is actually Villanelle’s employer’s person on the inside. The fact that Eve told Carolyn that she knew Frank was involved right before the hit was put out on his life is very suspicious. This also makes the precariousness of Eve’s job, department, and investigation that much more intense. If Carolyn is working for the baddies, there is literally no one in MI6 who knows Eve is a goodie. If Carolyn is the Big Bad, this makes me worried for Niko. Carolyn was intensely eyeing him at Bill’s funeral.
Who was the Russian spy living at Frank’s house? Is that his handler? Or someone stationed there to make sure he does as he’s told?
I found Eve telling Frank to go north and him not knowing which direction that was very relatable.
As soon as Diego started mansplaining spycraft to Villanelle, we all knew he had to die, right?