This Killing Eve review contains spoilers.
Killing Eve Season 1, Episode 6
In the first five episodes of this show, Villanelle has never been out of control of her situation. Sure, she’s had to do things she doesn’t particularly want to do, but she has never truly been forced to do anything against her will. She has always had a choice and has often done what she wanted in addition to strictly performing the job The Twleve hired her for.
It’s that last fact that probably landed Villanelle in the predicament she sees herself come the end of Episode 6: Abandoned by Konstantin in a Russia jail, right after having killed Nadia. With Villanelle’s mission, Konstantin is killing two birds with one stone. He gets rid of Nadia, who is poised to spill valuable information, and contains loose cannon Villanelle in the process. I’m not sure what Konstantin’s long-term plan is here. After all, Villanelle could talk, too. Perhaps he doesn’t think she knows enough to be a true threat—but she at least knows him, which seems like enough.
Perhaps Konstantin already has a plan in place to kill Villanelle, too. Or perhaps her confinement in the hole and in prison in general is meant to be a short-term punishment, rather than a long-term solution. No matter Konstantin’s logic here, he better have a good plan. Because Villanelle is pissed, she is afraid, and she is very, very clever. Trapping her in the hole will not be enough.
In general, this is the first time we’ve seen Villanelle out of her element the entire series. She doesn’t want to go back to Russia at all, let alone the prison that Konstantin plucked her out of. But, on some level, she trusts Konstantin, which is big because she doesn’t seem to trust anyone. Does she simply trust that he needs her enough not to screw her over? Or does she have some kind of affection for the older man? The latter seems unlikely, but we don’t really know how Villanelle’s brain works. And the level of faith she places in Konstantin’s promise that he will get her out of the prison, out of her own personal hell, when she is done with her mission, is a heck of a lot. She wouldn’t have gone in there if she thought Konstantin wouldn’t get her out, if she actually thought that gun in his glove compartment was for her.
Once inside of the prison, Villanelle’s not helpless, but she does have to feign helplessness—which can feel like the same thing. In order to get in to see the doctor, who slips her a knife to kill Nadia, she must instigate a fight with another inmate. Cleverly, she susses out which of her fellow inmates has a history of unpredictable, violent behavior, and goes for that one.
It’s just another example of Villanelle giving everything to her job, including her bodily safety and control. Is it no wonder that Villanelle is pushing back against the control of her handlers when she is asked to commit so entirely to a mission? Sure, Villanelle gets a lot of money and the pleasure of watching people’s lives leave their bodies, but is that enough? Not anymore, not for Villanelle. It says a lot about the strength and nuance of the storytelling in Killing Eve that I am rallying for Villanelle to form an assassins workers union.
While Villanelle is trying to kill Nadia in prison, Eve and Carolyn are working Carolyn’s Russian contacts in an attempt to get some conversation time with Nadia, who they think is the key to uncovering the Twelve, and Villanelle’s part in their machinations. In the process, we learn a lot more about Carolyn, who is chummy with both Vladimir and Konstantin—because, yes, Konstantin works for the Russian government and has been known to cooperate with British intelligence. Basically, this dude has his finger in every possible pie and is very good at keeping those pies from talking to one another.
When Carolyn lets slip that things have never been the same between her and Vlad since she let him take the fall for an intelligence breach, rather than reveal her source, who was Konstantin, Eve uses the information to get Vlad to do what she wants: i.e. let Eve bring Nadia back to the U.K. so they can offer her protection in exchange for information. (It’s a good plan, though one that would no doubt blow up in Eve’s face when Carolyn finds out, but the point is moot when Villanelle kills Nadia.)
It’s also a plan that necessitates Eve having to ask Kenny to gather dirt on his own mother. And the thing is: he finds something. We don’t get to hear the extent of the intel in this episode, only that there are “letters” between Carolyn and Konstantin. Kenny’s ashen face could easily enough be explained away if the letters were of a sexual or romantic nature, but Eve’s intense introspective on the hotel bed suggests these letters might be incriminating in a professional manner.
Could Carolyn be another of The Twelve, as I previously suspected, or is it a different kind of professional misstep? This was another episode that did a lot to humanize Carolyn, not only as we see her wanting to look nice for Vlad, whom she genuinely seems to like, but in her interactions with Eve. The two have several heart-to-hearts—well, they’re more like Carolyn bestowing solicited and sometimes unsoliticited advice on Eve—that suggest that Carolyn genuinely likes her protege. With Eve going behind Carolyn’s back to secure Nadia’s release, the apprentice may have surpassed the master (at least in this instance), but will Eve also learn from Carolyn’s mistakes (or should we simply call them choices, as Carolyn seems comfortable with how her life has turned out?).
Depending on what Eve wants from life, however, Carolyn’s life path might not be one to follow. We know that Carolyn has been married several times and that she has a strained, stoic relationship with her son. Similarly, we’re beginning to see the foundation of Eve and Niko’s marriage crumble. When he accuses her of getting off on hunting Villanelle, Eve physically assaults him. It’s like she’s trying to get him to do something “interesting,” something unpredictable, something violent, something Villanelle-like. It’s a provocation Niko refuses to rise to (or should we say fall to?). He knows enough to know that he isn’t angry at Eve or, if he is, it stems from fear. He is terrified, for Eve and for himself.
It’s not an unfounded fear. Niko is reacting totally rationally, and Eve is unable to meet him halfway with her own emotional honesty. As Carolyn describes it: Eve loves her husband, but she doesn’t like him. Perhaps she doesn’t like him because she loves him, Carolyn muses, cocktail in hand. Eve has some choices to make about what kind of life she wants to lead. There isn’t a right choice and a wrong choice, but, if she does want to keep Niko as a partner, she’s going to have to start treating him like one.
It’s doubtful Eve will find the time to gain perspective and make these kinds of major life choices anytime soon. Not only has Nadia been murdered, but Eve will probably soon find out that Nadia left a note for her—clever, clever girl. It’s not clear what the note said—perhaps it revealed something about Konstantin, who Nadia was looking to reveal before the man himself poked his head into the interrogation—but it does have Eve’s name on it. It ended up in the hand of a guard. Will he pass it on to Eve? It seems more likely he will give it to Vlad, but that’s a better outcome than it landing in Konstantin’s nefarious clutches.
During her interrogation, Nadia does give Eve and Carolyn a piece of information: the identity of Anna, the wife of the man Villanelle killed. We’ve heard Villanelle mention Anna again and again, so we know she’s important in some way to the assassin. In Nadia’s mind, she is also the key to understanding who Villanelle truly is, to what drives her. Not that Nadia ever really understood that either. She was duped by Villanelle not once, but twice, believing that the other woman loved her. It will never not be unsettling to see Villanelle explain to someone that, yes, she is about to kill them, in a matter-of-fact manner. If this is what Villanelle looks like when she is in relative control of the situation, what will Villanelle look like when she is desperate? A question that may be answered as we move closer to the end of this wonderful Season 1.
I hear you, Elena. I don’t know what to call Villanelle/Oksana now, either!
Who do you think Anna is to Villanelle? Is she obsessed with her in the same way that she is obsessed with Eve? Or is the nature of their relationship different, in some way.
Villanelle describes Eve as “an Asian woman with great hair.” I love how much Villanelle loves Eve’s hair.