The following contains spoilers for Killing Eve season 3 episode 6.
After Killing Eve season 3 episode 4 when Dasha sneakily pitchforked Niko Polastri in the throat, it seemed like it was curtains on Killing Eve’s resident Pole. That is until episode six showed him alive – unable to speak and none too happy with Eve – but alive nonetheless. Den of Geek spoke with Owen McDonnell about his three seasons on the show so far, working with Harriet Walter, and Niko and Eve’s fractured relationship.
If you’re surprised that Niko’s still alive, get in line behind McDonnell. He says when he read the episode four script, he thought “Oh, they’ve killed him. They’ve finally got rid of him.” He was pleasantly surprised to learn his character survived the encounter with Dasha, since, as he says, “I always thought that given Niko’s relationship with Eve and Eve’s relationship with Villanelle, that to make it to halfway through season three would be really good going.”
As for how, exactly, Niko managed to survive such a grisly attempt on his life, McDonnell says there was no damage to Niko’s spinal cord, and a bunch of things about his carotid artery and a tracheotomy that we’ll leave to the Grey’s Anatomy stans to decipher. But it’s worth noting that McDonnell says, “I don’t know that going forward whether he’ll be able to talk,” so that speak and spell might become a permanent fixture. Eve may be right – it looks like Dasha is losing her touch.
While their on-screen time is brief (and in Dasha’s case, deceptive), McDonnell was fortunate to work with Dame Harriet Walker, whom he calls interesting and lovely. Their one scene of dialogue was in Polish – which neither of them speak (McDonnell’s from Galway, Ireland originally). McDonnell calls it a “strange acting exercise” where the pair had to act naturally, as though they understood what one another was saying, without obviously knowing what the individual words themselves meant.
Niko’s Polish getaway was actually filmed in Romania in a region that used to comprise Transylvania. McDonnell calls it a really incredible place to film, and shared that their production office was actually a house that was owned by Prince Charles. McDonnell says he enjoyed the close camaraderie that came from filming like that, where everyone stays in the same place and gets to know one another well.
McDonnell is unsurprisingly tight-lipped about how much longer his character might remain part of the show, though after Niko and Eve’s conversation at the hospital, it certainly seems like Niko the character would very much like to be removed from this narrative.
It didn’t start out this way, though. It can be hard to remember since things between Niko and Eve have been so messed up for so long, but at the outset of the show, they had this really lovely and realistic marriage that both of them were equally committed to.
McDonnell says, “We tried to make it so that their relationship is pretty recognizable to the vast majority of people. Then these extraordinary events take over and Villanelle seeps into the cracks of their relationship.”
Boy howdy, did she ever. Once again, it’s an indication of what a tonal gamechanger season 2 was that McDonnell’s figurative language fits season 1 perfectly but feels like an aggressive understatement for what has happened since. But the fact that Eve and Niko’s relationship was a loving one is important to understanding its dissolution – and perhaps to Eve’s reluctance to let him go.
“I suppose it’s an interesting thing to explore about how much someone can take when all the bad stuff that has happened to them is caused by the person that they loved,” McDonnell says.
McDonnell adds that Niko has had a lot of time to think and he’s come to the conclusion that the only way he could possibly have any happiness or a chance at normalcy is to get away from everything that has to do with Eve.
Of course poor Niko was doing just that – finding his normalcy and peace away from Eve – when he was in Poland, when Dasha found him with that pitchfork. Will he ever be able to find happiness as long as Villanelle is alive and Eve is tangled up in this world? For now, the answer seems like no. But now that someone has broken Eve’s rule and gone after him, how much longer will he be able to stay alive? Will Eve ever give up on Niko, and would that take him off the gameboard or make him more vulnerable? Let us know what you think in the comments below.