This Killing Eve review contains spoilers.
Killing Eve Season 3 Episode 5
Stepping away from the world of The Twelve and MI6, “Are You From Pinner?” serves up Villanelle reluctantly trying to remain herself while her mother and others try to force her back into Oksana, the identity she shed years ago. The result is something far more personal than we’ve ever seen before, including a look at her brother and step-brother, who might be her only possible weaknesses other than Eve and Konstantin. Admittedly, since she has now shot both of them, it’s something of a dubious honor.
Killing Eve spends much of this episode toying with us, in a way that must be close to what Eve feels like when Villanelle toys with her. It’s a little dangerous, a little exciting, you sort of hope she won’t kill the kid, but murder in general feels inevitable and almost fun, in part because ultimately, we know we’re safe. We don’t know exactly what she or the show is going to do, and the fact that Villanelle and the show so blatantly enjoy playing with our expectations feels downright flirtatious. Whether it’s someone saying they’re sure Villanelle, “is a killer” because she “has the killer look!” or Villanelle only pretending to drink alcohol, this episode keeps us on our toes in a way that feels like good repartee with a hot stranger at a party. We may think we know where this is going, but we have to keep our head in the game.
Musically, this episode is a huge departure, but rather than going for generic ~Russian~ sounds, we get something that sounds like afro-Caribbean jazz and Lavern Baker’s song “Bumblebee,” which once again has the perfect lyrics for a dangerous love gone astray. But most of all, this episode belongs to what is quite possibly the greatest performance of “Crocodile Rock” ever committed to film. It’s exuberant and unexpected. Most of all, it’s what family is and Villanelle is totally baffled and maybe even a little jealous? It’s truly delightful to watch her murderous heart defrost, one degree at a time. Also my god, they have weirdly good rhythm during the table-hitting section for people who dance so gloriously poorly later on.
Seeing life in Russia and hearing more about Villanelle’s childhood gives us some much-needed backstory. There’s the logistical basics, like the fact that the orphanage told her family that she burnt down the orphanage, killing herself and many others. Meanwhile, the orphanage told Villanelle that her family died in a car crash. It’s easier to understand Villanelle’s disdain for speaking Russian, the county Russia, and her refusal to discuss her family up till now. Adding in the relationships with her mother and father, it even makes her more ruthlessly violent tendencies, dare I say it, sympathetic.
Then there’s the smaller moments, like when Villanelle pranks her mother with a knife and tomato goo as eyeblood, saying “that used to make you laugh…ok it made dad laugh.” It recontextualizes what we already know, showing that her ongoing high-stakes prank war with Konstantin is perhaps the most paternal aspect of their weirdly father-daughter relationship.
By introducing Villanelle’s mother, Killing Eve took the opportunity to return to a topic it’s largely ignored this season: what exactly is Villanelle and why is she this way? Was she really born with darkness, as her mother said, or did her mother create it in her by being so abusive? Was her father really afraid his daughter would hurt her mother, or did her mother kill her father? Like Villanelle said, “I am my mother’s daughter” (and “I mind that you won’t admit what you are”), so the idea that her mother took her father’s life doesn’t seem so farfetched.
Villanelle’s mother’s speech about how V “took everything” from her mother seems pretty damming of her mother, even as her mother clearly thinks she’s clearing her own name and trotting out evidence against her daughter. It takes an impressive performance to show that kind of cognitive dissonance so acutely on screen. I enjoyed all the actors who played Villanelle’s family in this episode, Evgenia Dodina as her mother especially, and it’s a pity we won’t see her again.
Regardless of how evil you think Villanelle is or isn’t, (and I sort of enjoy that the show largely cares more how various characters feel at a given time rather than being interested in answering the question definitively itself) it’s impossible not to empathize with the little boy. By the end of the episode, it’s quite clear that Villanelle’s mother is repeating the cycle all over again to a new child.
It’s worth considering Villanelle’s continued incremental change. Last season or even a few episodes ago, it would’ve been fair to assume that Villanelle would’ve subverted our expectations of her kindness by killing the young boy. Instead, she saves both him and her brother, and I’m so looking forward to their eventual reappearance. She might have softened because he reminds her of herself, or maybe it’s another indication of a change. During her train ride away from Russia, there’s a brief moment when her eyes well up and she shakes. V’s kills never affect her. Even though a smile follows, it feels like a significant development in Villanelle’s humanity.
Villanelle also seemed to be just realizing in the moment that she needed to kill her mother, which is surprising for two reasons. One, the audience had known for the last five minutes, if not the whole episode, and two, doesn’t it seem incredibly sentimental of her to have lasted all episode before killing her? Perhaps Villanelle was offering her mother the opportunity to show she had changed, which again, is thoroughly unlike her. Maybe this is all because she’s dealing with her family, or maybe our favorite psycho killer really is changing after all.
- Thank you, BBC America, for letting us hear a Russian saying “sestra” once again. Clone Club forever! (Helena and Villanelle would have a deeply weird friendship involving lots of sweets and V being put off by Helena’s odd demeanor.
- “It is your dead sister.” “My dead sister who’s alive!”
- I am LIVING for goth Villanelle, she of the bulbous head.
- I would subscribe to a twitter feed of just Fyodr’s conspiracy theories and pics of his bored girlfriend casually shooting extremely well while texting.
- The title cards got up to all kinds of trouble here – we went from “home” last episode to “Mother Russia,” and by the time we see the “dung throwing” title card they’ve officially gone too far.
- I waited all episode for that blue masterpiece of Villanelle’s mother’s 1980s jumpsuit, and I was not disappointed.