Killing Eve Calls Back to Season 1 and Takes on The Twelve
Eve channels an iconic early encounter with Villanelle for her dangerous meeting with the unpredictable Hélène on Killing Eve.
This Killing EVE article contains spoilers.
Killing Eve Season 4 Episode 2
In an episode that feels very vintage Killing Eve, the titular character has some serious success in her quest to take down The Twelve, due in no small part to things she’s picked up from Villanelle over the years. While season 3 felt like watching Eve stare over the edge as she nearly became Villanelle, this season is something quite different. Eve has harnessed everything she’s learned in the previous three seasons, but she’s the one controlling it for her own aims. She’s seen the abyss and pulled herself back, and now she’s halfway to fearless.
Simply showing up to Hélène’s house is the kind of bold/deadly move from Eve that caught Carolyn Marten’s eye way back in season 1, but the execution here comes straight from Villanelle’s playbook. Recreating the terrifying visit from season 1 episode 5 when V menacingly makes Eve dinner, Eve comes in hot and catches Hélène off guard, bluffing her way through a largely successful gambit. She may have been terrified and had to buck herself up, but she pulled the damn thing off.
The whole bit with telling the story worked, she was sufficiently mysterious, and she got out of there fast, maintaining a level of control by leaving Hélène more flustered than she was herself. It says something about Eve’s vibe (and sanity) during this whole interaction that I genuinely don’t know if cutting herself was intentional or not. For someone with less power and knowledge going into that encounter, Eve had a tall order to come away on top, but she pulled it off.
For her part, Hélène turns out to be far more interesting than just someone high up in The Twelve. She’s torturing and killing her way through the organization – though not personally. Though she definitely has a pain kink (and is very sapphic, like all interesting people on this show), she’s keeping her hands clean, probably to protect that kid of hers. Hélène knows who’s at the top, but she tells Eve to work it out herself. The way these two sparred and Hélène’s reaction to Eve enduring the pain of the stove, it seems like we’ll be seeing them meet again.
It’s so satisfying to have Killing Eve toy with us again, in much the same way V used to toy with Eve. The episode opened with a fun little series of fake-outs: a man being “tortured” at the Tower of London, the quick glimpses of the mysterious Hélène, Eve blending in with her wig work and oversized sunglasses.
One of the best parts of the show has been the discrete missions that came with elaborate costumes, interesting locales, striking visuals, and clever methods, many of which reflect the shows values. Eve’s mission gives that back to us, with the tampon tracker and the mirror shot in the hallway outside the elevator, with Eve watching Hélène and a person with a bleach blonde pixie cut make out. Eve looks amazing throughout this episode, but especially during the espionage montage in that open-back dress with the long braid going down her back and a bold red lip, the stunner look from the trailer.
Meanwhile, in Russia (a phrase that feels more loaded by the day), Carolyn learns that she’s not as welcome in Moscow after defecting as she had hoped. Seems a bit odd for a hard-boiled veteran like her, no? It’s hard to imagine she’d go to such lengths to take down The Twelve without considering this and having a plan – or even being intimidated by a dead rat or its implications. The intel Carolyn gave wasn’t as damning as it could have been, and she’s a pragmatist if nothing else, but it still feels like she has more cards to play. She seems very affected by the news that one of the people she gave intel on was found dead, having hanged herself. Is this regret from a notoriously cold person, or is there something more at play here, like a connection to The Twelve or a tipoff from Carolyn?
While Eve is on the rise, Villanelle has gotten sloppy and can’t play it cool to save her soul, giving up the cat murder way too easily. It’s almost amazing she manages to get her friend May back on her side after the whole attempted murder thing, but it doesn’t last long. She seems to have completely lost the ability for proper psychological torture, lashing out at the pastor father and universally losing favor rather than (psychologically) slow-roasting him for days or weeks over killing his wife by driving drunk. In the end, Villanelle killing both father and daughter was inevitable, but May’s death, especially, still feels like a loss.
A less satisfying game plays out with Villanelle as drag Jesus. We never get to see Villanelle and her imaginary friend in a scene with other characters, or even come close, to tease us in a fun way as to how real and disruptive to her life this figment may or may not be. Instead it’s just sort of whacky. Referencing the burning bush is funny, sure, but what does it mean for Villanelle to hit her own personal Jesus with a frying pan, kiss them, choke them, and almost kill them? Does it matter?