Jodie Comer’s wicked smiles have become one of my favorite things about Killing Eve. Villanelle is a bracingly against-type role for Comer, who’s generally been cast as an innocent (e.g., a kidnapping victim in Thirteen, a sweetly dim pretty girl in My Mad Fat Diary), and her grins reliably emerge in two circumstances: when she’s watching one of her victims die, and when she’s tricked an interlocutor into thinking that she’s more emotionally vulnerable than she is. Roguishly charming, her smirks suggest either a belief in her own invincibility, or a vacant-eyed indifference to her fate. Either way, garlanded by those puppy-cute eyelashes, her smiles are wonderfully terrifying.
With that terror in mind, this introduction to the latter half of the season is the first time that Killing Eve delivers on its twisty potential. With Eve in the driver’s seat and Villanelle on foot at the start of the hour, the former MI5 agent has more than enough resources to keep her passengers, Elena and Frank, out of harm’s way. But she stops the car, even after Villanelle shoots several bullets into her vehicle. “I’m going to talk to her,” Eve says to Elena and Frank’s protestations. “She’s waiting for me.” Eve gets out of the car and raises her right hand to say hi, or stop, or both. Villanelle aims her gun at Eve, then at her own head. “No!” Eve cries, and Villanelle bursts into laughter, thrilled to have convinced yet another sucker that she suffers from self-loathing. Villanelle shoots a bullet into the ground next to her pursuer, startling the investigator — thus giving herself the half-second of distraction to disappear from sight.
But with Frank now in her custody, Eve has a lot to take care of: Taking him to a safe house, learning from him Villanelle’s name (Oksana), and not-so-helpfully (albeit hilariously) making fun of his brown-sauce tastes with Elena. “Who would spend that much money on that man?” Elena asks.
Last week, we learned that Carolyn is the James Bond of the Killing Eve world, having saved the world at least nine times throughout her legendary MI6 career. When Frank will no longer reveal any more to Eve, Carolyn says she’ll give it a shot, taking off her sweater in steely preparation. It’s a sweet revelation when we see her hugging Frank in the next scene, telling him that it’ll be okay. Frank tells Carolyn that the people she should look for call themselves the 12, as Eve secretly records his confessions on her phone. The 12’s apparent goal is simply to sow chaos, which honestly feels redundant with all the political turmoil that’s going on right now across Europe, but whatever.
Frank also grouses that his betrayal is actually the British government’s fault because the National Health Service wouldn’t treat his wife’s particular strain of cancer. His Russian bosses paid for her treatment (she died anyway), while footing the bill for his kids’ private school. Frank brings to mind the misogynist that the title character takes up as a love interest in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s previous series, Fleabag, in that his personal struggles are sympathetic but he’s ultimately not let off the hook for being a garbage person who actively makes the world a worse place. “What I’ve done is nowhere near as bad as what a lot of other people have done to save their families,” says this man who double-crossed his country and prioritized sending his kids to prep school over, like, people being killed. Frank sounds like he might represent some faction of U.K. politics that Waller-Bridge is satirizing, but my decidedly non-Anglophile ass isn’t well versed enough in the ideological tribes for and against the NHS to make it out. Feel free to @ me if you have any greater insight into this.
Carolyn offers Eve an escort home from the safe house, but Eve decides that she’d rather walk home. She sits on a bench and, noticing a couple of cracks in a glass pane in the bus-stop shelter, drives her fist into it. I’m very curious about where all of these violent impulses within Eve will take her.
Castration City was where Villanelle’s violent impulses took her, as Kenny learns after tracking down the mercenary’s real identity: Oksana Astankova, a Russian prisoner who officially died four years ago. Among other very bad things, she killed a guy and “chopped his knob off.” Upon hearing this, Eve goes to the suitcase full of expensive clothes that the assassin gifted her, sprays Eau de La Villanelle on her wrists and neck, puts on the fancy halter dress and stilettos inside, and grazes her curves while staring at herself in the mirror. (How do we know Villanelle is evil? That skintight little black dress has a white satin strip in front of the wearer’s stomach.) Eve takes her hair out of her ponytail to wear it down, just as Villanelle had advised during their first encounter. She heads downstairs, sips some wine, reads about Villanelle’s extensive criminal history, and — voila — discovers the killer in her kitchen.
Villanelle insists again and again that she won’t hurt Eve, but the older woman is deafened by her fear. She runs upstairs and into a bathroom, and Villanelle finally shuts her up by trapping her in a bathtub and running water all over her face. “I just want to have dinner with you,” Villanelle says — a wish the petrified Eve can’t do anything but accommodate. I’d hope that the real-life MI5 teaches its officers which common bathroom supplies might be best weaponized against an enemy and why it’s a bad idea to put an unsheathed knife in one’s pants (YIKES), but the dinner scene is a fun one anyway, with Villanelle pleading defenselessness (“I need someone to help me, I don’t want to do this anymore”) and Eve’s teary-eyed terror giving way to shrewd confidence (“BULLSHIT”).
“You’re an asshole,” Eve spits, before profiling her target to her face: “exceptionally bright,” “an extraordinary person,” “a psychopath.” Eve expresses sympathy, too — something must have happened to Villanelle to make her castrate a man — but the assassin wants to shift focus to another subject: The two women probably ultimately work for the same ultrapowerful people. Why does Villanelle do their bidding? It’s the one thing the killer doesn’t have an answer for.
When Eve finally lunges at Villanelle, the assassin quickly pins her to the fridge with her own knife at her neck. Niko arrives, and Villanelle uses Eve’s sudden vulnerability to steal her phone, which she’ll use to find Frank and learn what he spilled. (Eve’s phone PIN is 1234, because she apparently missed the day in MI5 training when they taught future intelligence officers not to make the most basic cybersecurity mistake imaginable.) As she leaves, Villanelle grabs the fancy, sopping dress she’d taken off Eve just a few moments earlier.
Villanelle tracks down Frank in the safe-house restroom and, like a cat that’s cornered a mouse, toys with him for fun. “I have children,” he says, to which she has a killer rejoinder: “This will give them something to bond over.” (If I were her, I’d use that line every single time.) Then Villanelle issues a half-threat, half-reassurance: “I’m going to kill you nicely. But then I’m going to make a mess of your body afterward so it looks worse than it is.” Frank asks to be killed in the bedroom, and she obliges despite her “thing for bathrooms.” When Eve later finds his body, Frank has her dress on … and his dick cut off. (Gross.)
The camera then zooms in on two sausages sizzling in a frying pan. (Double gross.) In her apartment, Villanelle doesn’t even bother to lie convincingly when she tells Konstantin that Diego shot Nadia, and she had to kill Diego in self-defense. But Villanelle messed up something big: Despite being run over twice, Nadia is still alive in Russia, and needs killing. Then Villanelle quite possibly messes up even more by asking Konstantin which number he is in the 12. It’s an arrogant misstep, and yet it doesn’t feel like one. Instead, it feels like an awakening.