As far as sendoffs go, Bill Pargrave gets a pretty good one. In his farewell episode, Killing Eve gives its protagonist’s paternal confidant a complicated marriage, a late-in-life baby, an unexpected sexual past, and a noble death. But these human touches can’t dress up the pedestrian core of this formulaic third chapter, whose mandates are as connect-the-dots as it gets. Dress the female protagonist in a slinky outfit and send her to a dinner with a known lech. Have the weaker partner single-handedly chase the villain until he’s done in by her. Contrast the heroine’s grief against the pulsating hedonism of carefree clubbers. Kill Bill to give Eve a personal investment in the case, as if she were in remote need of one.
And to think, the episode started so strong. Eve describes Villanelle for a sketch artist, though not in any way he can use. The woman they’re looking for has “honey”-hued hair, “very delicate features,” and “catlike eyes,” Eve recalls, with a gaze that’s direct yet “almost entirely inaccessible.” Eve’s appreciation of her suspect’s beauty is contrasted later by Villanelle’s (hilarious) seduction of a married, middle-aged frump with big hair and giant coats.
But first, our assassin has her murder of the week. A Chinese businessman in Berlin decides to give himself a birthday treat at a BDSM brothel (cleverly disguised as a drab medical clinic), but his usual “nurse” is unavailable. The camera takes in the neat array of gnarly-looking surgical supplies next to the medical stirrups before panning, of course, to Villanelle. The businessman will settle for his usual “vigorous scrotal massage” — the birthday boy agrees with his new nurse that “nobody gets special treatment” — and it’s a mercy when the mercenary doesn’t draw out his torture, but gases him relatively quickly. Villanelle can’t wait to get to her climax: watching her victim die. A second thrill: naming her domme self Eve Polastri.
Following this big, fat clue that Villanelle leaves for her pursuers, Eve decides to head to the German capital. She takes a grudging Bill, who speaks the language and has contacts in the country. Still, he’s not at all enthused about reentering the field and jokingly sings to his baby, “Daddy’s going to die,” (in a welcome acknowledgment by writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge that she knows she’s heading into cliché territory).
Villanelle waits for Eve and Bill in Berlin, settling in a café across the street from the murder site — and, when the opportunity presents itself, stealing Eve’s luggage. While Eve and Bill play catch-up inside, learning that Zhang Wu was in fact a high-ranking hacker for the Chinese military and that he was poisoned with carbon monoxide, Villanelle plans her next move: luring a (white) woman into her apartment and having her role-play as Eve. “Now I am going to hide, and you are going to find me,” she coos. It’s too bad we don’t see what kind of sex they have, as we did with Villanelle and Sebastian. But it’s apparently hot enough for the older woman, Pamela, to come back a few days later and agree to wear the purloined clothes from Eve’s suitcase during their sexcapades.
Eve isn’t all that bummed about her missing stuff, save for a green scarf that her husband had gifted her. (We still don’t know what specifically is dead in Eve’s marriage, but the expression on Sandra Oh’s face as her character tries to will herself to feel something during a rare makeout between the married couple says it all.)
Wu’s murder gets more complicated once the Beijing government gets involved. Eve and Bill track down a Chinese attaché named Chin, who informs the duo that his bosses have decreed that Wu’s official cause of death is a heart attack. He won’t give them any further information unless Eve has dinner with him that night, because this is a show that revels in such tropes as much as it subverts them. Hence we have Eve going shopping, trying on a tight-fitting dress with a deep V neckline, and saying to herself, “This is a nightmare” — then being convinced to wear that same dress without a bra in the very next scene.
The man who convinces Eve to remove her bra is Bill, while he shares a lovely, wistful moment in his former subordinate’s bed talking about his “hundreds” of love affairs with other men. He eventually decided he wanted a child, though, and so entered into an arrangement with his wife. It’s a story of compromise, but a beautifully practical one in which he evinces no regret. If Villanelle “accidentally” bumping into him on the street and looking back meaningfully, inviting him to drink her face in, wasn’t a strong enough harbinger of his doom, this monologue certainly seals his fate.
Unlike poor, kinky Wu, who knew exactly what he wanted and requested it from consensual partners, Chin proves a bumbling lech during his dinner with Eve. The restaurant scene feels deeply uncomfortable, not only because the idea of a female detective trading her looks for information feels like it should be beneath this show, but also because the only Asian men we’ve seen on the series so far have been defined by their sexual Otherness. Believe me, no one is happier than I am that Killing Eve has given Oh the opportunity to sink her teeth into a color-blind role, but that milestone doesn’t erase the ickiness of the Chin character, a salivating sex pest, and a flailing one at that. Knowing that his government is capable of murdering its own wayward agents, why would Chin go out of his way to help Eve, who’s on the verge of exiting the restaurant the entire time she’s at his table? I hope we get an answer later on that’s more satisfying than his most memorable lines: “Wow, wow, wow! Gorgeous, gorgeous!”
Per Konstantin’s orders, Villanelle was supposed to learn who Eve was meeting with and what about. But Bill prevents the assassin from entering the same subway train as Eve and, after recognizing his friend’s scarf around Villanelle’s shoulders, chases after her. Bill leaves messages on Eve’s phone about running after their target alone (ugh, rookie mistake, Bill!), and, in a clever wink toward an advantage that young women have over older men, he temporarily loses her when she’s immediately permitted into a club and he has to wait in line. Once inside, he follows her, with Eve on his trail. Villanelle turns back, curls her lips in anticipation, and stabs Bill many, many times in the chest in rapid succession. This is a woman who will not be denied her smiles.