WARNING: Contains heavy SPOILERS for Killing Eve Season 2, Episode 6
Awards aren’t everything, nor are they always the best indicators of quality when it comes to TV and Film. But I will say that in the case of Killing Eve, they got it right. Before diving into the review of this week’s episode, congratulations are therefore in order for the three wins at Sunday’s BAFTA ceremony (Best Drama Series, Best Actress for Jodie Comer and Best Supporting Actress for Fiona Shaw) and the further two from the BAFTA Craft awards a fortnight ago.
Returning to the usual scheduled programming, episode 6 opens with a rain soaked and clearly fuming Niko. After his altercation with Villanelle last week, it’s understandable that he’d be, well, a little upset to say the least.
Eve first off denies Villanelle’s versions of events, telling Niko “You can’t believe her, she’s a liar.” which is rich coming from Eve. Niko’s anger and hurt comes to a head when he asks Eve “Do you want me to love you or do you want me to frighten you?” to which her frank reply of “I don’t know.” does little to soothe him.
Owen McDonnell and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
Niko and Eve’s miscommunications, their failed attempts at salvaging their marriage as they grow further apart each week has been a laborious plot point, one that is necessary but has been a considerable annoyance to see play out.
After their heated discussion and the ensuing fornicating – it’s heavily alluded to, fortunately for the viewers this interaction is all off screen – the following morning sees a positively giddy Eve greeting a forlorn Niko. Niko begins “Last night…” to which Eve immediately cuts off, enthusiastically saying it was “amazing”. Niko had a rather differing view. He says he stayed up all night feeling “unbelievably shitty and sad”. Seeing their reactions, the polar opposite reactions at that, to the exact same set of circumstances, the same event, works extraordinarily well in highlighting the extent of the mismatch that is Niko and Eve.
Hello Niko, Are You Still With Us?
This is hardly news, Niko and Eve have been painted as out of sync for the entire season, but to see it laid bare, to see it so frank and open was the catalyst it took for Niko to leave. His exit is poignant, not least because he pointedly references Villanelle on the way out, but secondly because Eve barely protests his exit. “Don’t leave me alone!” Eve says, to which Niko replies “But you’re not alone, are you?” Eve has no response to this, almost definitely because he’s right.
This isn’t to say that Eve is entirely without concern about the breakdown of her marriage. Across the episode we see her messaging Niko (to no avail it would seem) as well as entering the house of Gemma where Niko is staying for a ‘few days’ – remember the teacher with the hots for Niko in episode 3? Yeah, her – and unashamedly rifling through her drawers and destroying her music box. But for now it’s fair to say that Villanelle’s assessment that “He’s too nice, he’s too normal for you, you know that”.
Upon this assessment, Eve becomes defensive of Niko, telling Villanelle “you will never understand how much harder it is to be nice and normal and decent than it is to be like you” to which Villanelle’s astute reply is ”Like us, you mean”. Once again, Eve does not protest, does not question Villanelle aligning herself with her.
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
This Is Going To Get Peel-y Good
Besides the Niko and Eve drama finally coming to a close – unless the next two episodes feature some wildly misfired reunion – the Aaron Peel case has just got interesting. The Ghost seems to be of little to no use anymore, which admittedly was a little disappointing. Whilst she wasn’t the most compelling character to follow, it seemed like a lot of importance was placed upon her to have the show completely forget about her as soon as they got what they needed.
However, Aaron Peel is still the main antagonist. The audience are informed that he’s paranoid, a loner, someone who doesn’t trust too many people, yet Carolyn says that the case will only be closed by “playing the long game” with him. This will require someone to infiltrate his inner circle in order to get the surveillance they need to implicate him. Enter Villanelle.
Eve asks Jess to “Tell Carolyn it was your idea.” to get Villanelle and Konstantin involved in the case, something that piqued my interest. This could simply be Eve acknowledging that she’s on thin ice with Carolyn and the case in general, as she’s been reminded before that if anything goes wrong with the case, on her head be it. It could also be a signal that Eve is unconsciously aware that her fixation with Villanelle is now a cause for concern, that if Carolyn were to think the plan was Eve’s, then she might attempt to divert Eve’s attention away again.
Kim Bodnia and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
With Villanelle and Konstantin on board, Eve and Villanelle begin to devise a way for Villanelle to get to Aaron Peel via his sister, Amber, a recovering addict who regularly attends AA meetings. In a scene that’s rife with tension, Villanelle circles Eve, testing out various accents for her undercover alias. She decides on ‘Billie’ (we see the reference point to Bill here, don’t try to be slick Villanelle) an American who’s “just arrived from New York after one too many nights on the wrong side of the bridge” and the Operation Manderlay team get to work on creating a viable web footprint for ‘Billie’.
Again, Jodie Comer doesn’t particularly need any more validation as an actress, but watching her switch between accents, from Russian, to English Received Pronunciation, to Australian and finally to American is breathtaking. Doing this whilst staying in character and inflecting each accent with perfect imperfections, slight twangs of Russian through all of them is staggering.
Scooby And The Gang
Carolyn lays the ground rules for the infiltration stating “This operation is strictly Moscow rules.” by which she means for everyone to assume that Aaron Peel has tabs on and access to everyone. It could be a red herring, but it’s interesting then, that Villanelle is later seen messaging Eve andAmber from the same mobile phone. This may be an oversight by the writers, a continuity error of sorts, but with things heating up on the Peel case and Villanelle’s incessant need to do her own thing and fly in the face of authority, it’ll be interesting to see if this comes back to shoot the investigation in the foot.
Carolyn and Villanelle’s communication was enigmatic to say the least. It’s important to highlight the fact that they have in fact already met back in season 1, as Carolyn visited Villanelle in prison. Villanelle makes an observation, saying to Carolyn “You’re the real boss, aren’t you?”. This could be read in several ways. It could just be that Villanelle is trying to figure out the hierarchy of the operation, after all, as far as she’s aware, this is Eve’s investigation. Yet keeping in mind Carolyn and Villanelle’s prior discussion, the topic of which is still a mystery, she could be alluding to The Twelve. Perhaps Carolyn is “the boss” of The Twelve, the head of the entire mysterious group that formerly employed Konstantin and Villanelle.
Jodie Comer in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
Introductions over with and rules set out, Villanelle goes undercover as Billie, attending two AA meetings in order to meet with Amber Peel. Eve oversees these meetings from a cafe opposite, listening in via an earpiece. Villanelle’s first meeting is mostly a dud, her fabricated story (based around Eve’s own life, much to Eve’s annoyance) failing to impress the other AA members. When urged to tell the truth, Villanelle begins an impassioned speech: “Most days, I feel nothing. I don’t feel anything. It is so boring … I try to find ways of making myself feel something more, and more, and more. But it doesn’t make any difference. No matter what I do, I don’t feel anything. I hurt myself; it doesn’t hurt. I get what I want; I don’t want it. I do what I like; I don’t like it. I’m just so bored.” As we are reminded again and again, taking Villanelle at face value is never a good idea, but there seems to be a kernel of truth to her speech. In any case, it works and she’s invited to Amber Peel’s for dinner.
Jodie Comer in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
That’s not before Villanelle ‘takes care’ of Amber’s escort, Marie. In front of Eve. This felt like the anchoring moment of the episode. Villanelle descends the stairs of the AA meeting, makes direct eye contact with Eve and mouths “ready?” before dispatching of Marie by pushing her into the road for her to be hit by an oncoming truck. Accidentally of course…
Eve looks shocked at first and physically recoils, true horror apparent on her face. Yet the longer that Villanelle continues to stare at Eve, simultaneously consoling Amber, the more her face becomes impassive. This read like a warning, as if Villanelle was reminding Eve that whilst she may be working in tandem with her on this operation, Eve is certainly not the boss of Villanelle.
This sentiment is addressed earlier in the episode, where Villanelle coldly chastises Eve after Eve speaks rather curtly to her. She says “Don’t speak to me like that Eve. I like you but I don’t like you that much. Don’t forget, the only thing that makes you interesting is me.” which may be harsh, but it’s a fair assertion. This episode, Eve has continuously felt overly familiar. Watching Konstantin and Villanelle interact, their level of comfort together and understanding, it’s easy to think of Eve as Villanelle’s handler in this investigation. This is a gentle nudge to say that this isn’t the case, for now anyway.
Pass The Popcorn
When it comes to the operation itself, Eve and Konstantin are waiting in the wings, listening in as Villanelle attends dinner at the Peel household. After some terse interactions where Aaron seems set on unravelling ‘Billie’, his mistrust made clear, Villanelle reacts as only she can and thwacks him in the face with a book on basic philosophy. This may sound like a disaster, a fatal error on Villanelle’s part, but as Konstantin points out, perhaps Aaron Peel is one of those people who enjoys being challenged.
Kim Bodnia in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
We’ll have to wait until next week to see his reaction however, as Villanelle exits the Peel household. Eve makes to follow her, but Konstantin suggests that she “Let her cool off,” adding “You are all over her,” as an after thought. The episode then closes with Villanelle following a pair of women out a kebab shop in an intimidating manner. The women appear fearful, walking quickly away from the hooded figure, before Villanelle sneaks up on them and reveals herself, to their obvious relief. They were presumably expecting someone who looked a little more menacing than Villanelle in appearance. Villanelle smirks at their suggestion that they should walk together to be “safer” but accepts nonetheless. It would seem that power play is Villanelle’s idea of “cooling off”. Wouldn’t expect any less from TV’s most playful assassin.
Shannon Tarbet and Henry Lloyd-Hughes in Killing Eve Season 2 (2019) – source: BBC America
The Peel investigation continues, with Villanelle and Eve heading to the Faraday Conference in Rome in order to continue surveilling Aaron Peel. It’s difficult to tell, but from the IMDb synopsis for next week, there could be some romantic competition for Villanelle’s affections, so it’ll be interesting to see how Eve reacts when the tables have turned and Eve is having to vie for Villanelle’s attention. We also have Martin the psychiatrist returning which could potentially offer up a more detailed and eloquent look at Eve’s inner workings, a look at what her feelings for Villanelle are now that Niko is mostly out of the picture and now that they’re working as a team.
There’s also a beguiling moment in the teaser trailer where we hear Carolyn say “This is your Operation, it’s your responsibility” and similarly Konstantin say “Are you planning something? Because if something happens you are on your own”. If both of these comments are aimed at Eve, then she could be in serious trouble. As we know, if this all goes wrong then Eve’s career will be over, as Carolyn has already said that she will not be supporting Eve on the record if it doesn’t work – so next week could seal Eve’s fate in terms of her future career at MI6.
All Killer No Filler
“I hate breakfast. It’s just constant eggs. Why? Who decided?”
- The shop next to where Eve is watching Villanelle is called ‘Gay’s The Word’, a real queer bookstore in London
- One of Carolyn’s hobbies is fencing. Of course.
- Villanelle texting Eve because “she might be lonely” and referring to her as ‘Kill Commander’ in said texts. Also, the emoji text that depicts her kill of Marie “🚛😵👻👍”
- The parallel between Villanelle breaking into Eve’s house and rifling through her things and Eve hunting through Gemma’s things
Jodie Comer at the BAFTA TV Awards (2019) – source: The Independent
Killing Eve airs on BBC America at 8/7c on Sundays in the US. No official air date has been confirmed for the UK.