WARNING: Contains heavy SPOILERS for Killing Eve Season 2, Episode 2
In true Killing Eve form, it’s fair to say that in episode 2 of season 2 ‘Nice and Neat’, absolutely nothing is Nice and nothing is Neat. Therefore, it’s the perfect title for this week’s episode.
If this were any other show, then a comment on Villanelle’s appearance would be absurdly dated and patriarchal, but Villanelle prides herself upon her ability to seduce, attract and manipulate, something that she’s been finding increasingly difficult to do whilst she’s unwashed, battered and bruised and wearing a frumpy and ill fitting garish cardigan. Being mistaken for a homeless person was never on the cards for the Villanelle we were presented with in Season 1.
Jodie Comer in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts
Villanelle’s power is inherently tied up to the art of manipulation by using her outward appearance. She’s having to adapt, reverting to a mixture of classically feminine tropes including playing meek and mild. Villanelle knows that women are often underestimated and continuously uses this to her advantage. However, this is closer to the truth than ever for her in this episode, as this is the most vulnerable Villanelle we have seen. She’s undoubtedly struggling, becoming feverish due to her infected wound, yet she still manages to bag herself some help at the supermarket in the form of the wickedly weird Julian (Julian Barratt).
From Julian’s collection of China dolls – he literally speaks to one of them, saying “Sit up Annabel, we have a guest,” to his elderly mother who he locks in her bedroom like Bertha in the attic because she suffers from dementia, Julian is just red flag central, but Villanelle has no other options. She can only sit in this disturbing man’s house that feels fresh from the 70s, watching Jeremy Kyle and attempting to recover from her injuries. A far cry from her chic Paris apartment.
To add further insult to Villanelle’s injuries and her diminishing reputation as a fearsome assassin, there is a moment where she is startled in the night by Julian’s mother. After screaming in fear and finding out that Julian’s mother had simply got confused and walked out of her room, she sighs in relief saying “Thank God, I thought she was a ghost. I hate ghosts.”
Jodie Comer in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: Parisa Taghizadeh, BBC America
Not a Virgin, Can Also Drive
Her final escape from Julian’s house occurs after a failed attempt to contact what we presume to be an emergency number for The Twelve and then Eve at MI6. You’ll perhaps recall that in the Season 1 finale, Villanelle claims that one of the things she wants in life is “someone to watch movies with”, so it’s charming to hear that her code word, her phrase of choice to convey imminent danger to The Twelve is a Clueless reference in form of “This is Cher Horowitz, I’ve failed my driving test.” As ever, Killing Eve astounds me with its scrupulous attention to small details.
What follows is a fairly equal footed fight between Julian and Villanelle. This is the most telling scene of Villanelle’s decimated strength, as she’s used to easily overpowering people, yet the fight with Julian was too close for comfort.
We leave Villanelle this week being picked up by her new handler Raymond. During their exchange, Villanelle says “I thought I was fired,” to which Raymond replies “circumstances have changed,”, which is almost identical to the dialogue between Eve and Carolyn when Eve got her job back at MI6. Cast your mind back to Season 1 Episode 5 and you’ll find Villanelle claiming to Eve that “I think if you went high enough, you’d probably find that we work for the same people.” The parallels in the wording could be mere coincidence but… nothing in this show is accidental.
Jodie Comer and Julian Barratt in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: Parisa Taghizadeh, BBC America
Wherefore art thou Eve?
Amidst the swirling disarray of Villanelle’s current set of circumstances, Eve is being formally inducted into Operation Manderley, the aim of which is to hunt down the killer of Alistair Peel.
And what a team we have! This week sees the return of the delightfully socially awkward Kenny Stowton, as well as an introduction to the head of Operation Manderley, Jess, and “token Cambridge posh boy” Hugo. Rather disappointingly, it also confirms that Elena will not be returning. Whilst this is dismaying news, the manner in which her absence is announced makes it almost okay, the reasoning being “Elena felt the job was no longer for her.” which Kenny expanded on by adding “She was afraid of getting murdered.”
Sean Delaney and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
Eve’s home life remains as dull and lack lustre as ever, with her and Niko’s interactions fraught with things unsaid and miscommunication. This is a marriage between people that are just wildly incompatible. When regaling her time in the morgue to Niko, Eve shares “I nearly threw up, they had to get me a burger.” to which Niko replies “So you’re not completely heartless.”. This clearly touches a nerve with Eve, her reply a terse and somber “Not yet.”
This interaction is particularly telling in this context, as Eve has just confided in Niko about her dream about Bill. Bill is mentioned twice in the course of the episode which is pivotal for the rest of the season. The Bill Incident – which is how I’m referring to Villanelle brutally stabbing Bill in a Berlin nightclub in Season 1 – is potentially the main rift between Villanelle and Eve, keeping them apart. The fact that Villanelle murders people regularly never seemed to bother Eve, it was only when Villanelle turned her hand to Eve’s colleague and friend did she take issue.
The second mention of Bill not only suggests that this will almost definitely be a point of conversation between Eve and Villanelle at some point, a point of confrontation, but also indicates that Eve is beginning to process and move on from Bill’s death, therefore allowing a potentially more intimate relationship with Villanelle. Plus, it allowed Eve to say “If anyone says it’s a murder on the dance floor, I’ll throw them out the window.”
Sandra Oh in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
I Just Can’t Get You Out of My Head
It’s worth remarking that moments before Bill’s picture appears on Eve’s PowerPoint presentation of Villanelle’s victims, she rebuts Jess’s suggestion that Villanelle is “sloppy”. She defends Villanelle’s work saying “She’s flamboyant and attention seeking and instinctive. Spoiled. Easily bored. But no. She’s not sloppy.” The question is, was Eve defending Villanelle or trying to correct Jess for the sake of accuracy? It all pertains back to the fact that Eve knows Villanelle better than anyone and vice versa. Even with the pair not physically seeing each other, their obsession and mutual pining, their incessant need to know each other is insidious.
This is evident in Eve’s exclamation that “Villanelle will be furious!” after learning that there’s been another assassin operating possibly parallel to Villanelle. It’s enlightening that Eve’s mind went straight to Villanelle and her reaction to this news. Also upon hearing Jess try to rule Villanelle out of the investigation, shifting the focus onto our new assassin ‘The Ghost’, Eve immediately back pedals, floundering for a reason to keep Villanelle in the picture, a valid excuse to keep tracking her
Seeing even the smallest glimpse of our new assassin ‘The Ghost’ – Villanelle is afraid of ghosts, didn’t you know? – was enough to pique the interest of the viewer. The team have figured out that their suspect is, in layman’s terms, the opposite of Villanelle. She’s “careful, anonymous, meticulous and discrete.“
If all this weren’t enough, in the dying seconds of ‘Nice and Neat’ we have the return of none other than Konstantin Vasiliev. This ‘resurrection’ is hardly news to those who have been obsessively combing behind the scenes photos for months, but a curve-ball this late in the episode just ramps everything into 5th gear for the rest of the season.
The Hungry Caterpillar
What are Konstantin’s intentions and who on Earth is he working for? It’s now just a matter of time before he is ultimately reunited with Villanelle, but under what circumstances and to what end? Where will The Ghost strike next and will Eve ever get over Villanelle?
The answers will – feasibly – be revealed, although the answer to the last one I’m hoping is a resounding ‘No’.
All Killer No Filler
Here’s a bit that wasn’t relevant to the plot or character development, but deserves honorary mention:
Eve: How do you always look so fabulous?
Carolyn: It’s my moisturizer. It’s made of pigs placenta. Costs a fortune and smells like arse, but it is extraordinarily effective.
Eve: I don’t mind smelling like arse.
Carolyn: I’ll send you the link.
Sandra Oh and Fiona Shaw in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
Killing Eve will return next year for a third season and it is set to air in the UK starting June 8th on BBC One.