BBC America’s ‘Killing Eve’ first framed itself as procedural: a show about assassins and the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service that attempts to take them down. More than that, though, the show tangoed through an elaborate cat-and-mouse game between Jodie Comer’s assassin and Sandra Oh’s MI6 agent. This season, that game evolves for the better, and our weekly coverage will keep an eye on how this show’s transforming, and it (along with those kills) is only growing bolder with the passage of time.
Killing Eve took a break this week from its usual format at an unexpected time, right after Niko’s possible death due to Dasha-Magda’s pitchfork-surprise attack. We don’t know whether he survives (it doesn’t look good) or how Eve will react to this attempted murder on her estranged husband. Will this inspire her to push harder into investigating The Twelve and/or truly drive a wedge between the former MI6 agent and her assassin-love? That’s a decent question, but the series has pressed the “pause” button on answers, so that Villanelle can take Konstantin’s findings on her family to pursue the past.
Yet, right as Eve hits a pivotal moment that could propel her character away from that inertia that’s plagued her this season, we’re getting a Villanelle bottle episode, and one with an origin story. Given that she’s an established villain, it’s a fascinating prospect for viewers once the realization sets in that this is happening. In the end, Villanelle rejects the story of her origin (as told by her mother) and literally sends it up in flames. And we really don’t know whether we can trust this story either, since mom’s an unreliable narrator and overall shady character. Of course, it seems fitting that this episode aired on Mother’s Day, but that wasn’t the original plan — this season got bumped up a few weeks due to a pandemic schedule shuffle on behalf of The Walking Dead.
Clearly though, Villanelle’s been curious about her childhood for a while, and the show’s been sending up blatant signs of this preoccupation lately: (1) A rare, physical display of her vulnerability (those hiccups when Konstantin teased the fruits of his research); (2) Her choice to spare a baby from death, although she kidnapped him; (3) Her bedtime interrogation of Konstantin about whether she was cute as a baby (and she admits in this latest episode that her head was indeed “bulbous” as he claimed). Yet we also saw a longing for her childhood back in Season 2 with that sticker fixation in the hospital. So, how does Villanelle’s trip back to Mother Russia go? Not too well, in the end.
Yeah, she didn’t find the connection to her roots that she desired, which was inspired by an ache to find what’s been missing in her life. Who survived the fire? Villanelle made sure that younger half-sibling Bor’ka wasn’t in the house before she lit the flames. The way that she did so was remarkably tender, for her, since she left a note (which also reminds us that her own handwriting differs from the note on Dasha’s pitchfork) leading to money for him to buy Elton John concert tickets.
Another brother, Pyotr, was also sleeping in the barn; Villanelle knew that he’d be close to his anger-couch, and he showed kindness during her visit, so presumably, she intended to spare him as well. As for the others who didn’t show warmth toward her (or sided with mom during conversations), she wished for them to perish after the fatal confrontation with mom. And the fleeting display of fondness between Villanelle and Bor’ka and Pyotr might be the closest thing we ever see to softness from this sociopath, who appears to be quite broken on her trainride back to… London?
Probably London, yep, which means that she’ll be close to Eve and the swirling, ongoing mess of The Twelve. The anxiety-music that’s playing during the end scene (while Villanelle’s choking back tears) does not bode well for what’s to come. Villanelle’s been chasing her own identity, and now she might fully funnel that into her ambition to become a keeper, but here’s how her current state of crushed disappointment happened:
After an episode full of Villanelle embracing life in her family’s Russian village — a game-filled festival, singing and dancing around the dinner table, arguing over whether mankind went to space — everything hinged upon what happened while Villanelle was chopping veggies in the kitchen after everyone else went to sleep. Her mom, who’d placed “Oksana” into a orphanage, instructed her to leave the family home, which turned into an argument about the source of “darkness” in their relationship. Both are convinced that the other is the source of their misery, and Villanelle’s incensed by the idea that not crying as a baby meant that she was inherently “bad from the beginning.” There was another beef, as well, with the revelation that Villanelle’s father favored her, along with more talk of the darkness and mom’s jealousy.
Well, Villanelle wasn’t about to let her allow her history to be authored in such a way, so she burned it all down: the story, the house, everything. It was somehow worse, even, that mom didn’t appreciate this gesture of humor from daughter.
Ultimately, Villanelle realized that she wasn’t going to find the connection that she sought with mom, who ended up being the episode’s main kill, and she was fine with tossing in collateral damage — the others who did not embrace her in Mother Russia. No peace has arrived from her quest, and the assassin will likely be even more alternately unhinged and calculating once she returns to “civilization.” I can only imagine the fallout that Dasha and Konstantin will witness in the weeks to come. We’ll also be waiting to see what Eve does about the attack on Niko, and of course, we haven’t heard the end of how the MI6, the Bitter Pill, and Eve will continue to dig into Kenny’s death. How will Villanelle deal with finding out about Dasha’s strike on her connection with Eve, and will this lead us to more revelations about The Twelve? This season’s setting up a pretty big score to settle as it continues to unfold.
BBC America’s ‘Killing Eve’ airs on Sundays at 9:00 PM EST with simulcasting on AMC.