Yusuf (Robert Gilbert) — in a viciously accurate neg — compares Eve to one of those people who adopts a lion cub only to see it one day, a decade later, rip her head off. Eve is rash; she’s so single-minded in her pursuit of the Twelve that she’s blind to her own vulnerability. Still, Yusuf is only half right. Eve would absolutely let a cute little lion cub sleep in her bed, ignoring the fact that every day the cub was growing, stealing more of the covers, becoming an adult version of a wild, infanticidal animal. But the king of the jungle doesn’t rip Eve’s head off because she isn’t careful. In season four, Eve just doesn’t mind the idea of ending up headless.
Having located Helene by way of the mortician, Eve tails her mark all over London. She stands less than ten feet away in a blonde bedhead wig, sunglasses, and trenchcoat — in other words, looking exactly like a spy — as Helene and her young daughter visit the Tower of London. Later, she sits at an empty bar in an open-back cocktail dress with at least a foot of extensions in her hair, just a few tables away from Helene and her date. Eve is not just any spy. She’s Villanelle, hiding in plain sight in full glamour. At the opportune moment, Eve slips a tracker shaped like a tampon into Helene’s bag, but I have little faith that Helene doesn’t feel the thud of it. Helene would not sleep with a lion cub. Helene is a lion.
Yusuf uses the tampon to locate Helene’s home in Champ de Mars, which tracks. The seventh Arrondissement is a classic choice. As a joke, he suggests a Paris mini-break, but Eve protests the overture toward romance. Why is she so determined to keep this helpful Jason Bourne at arm’s length? Is she hung up on Villanelle, who Eve stalks on the parish website, flicking through photos of the reformed assassin doing good deeds? Maybe it’s the memory of what Niko had endured that keeps Eve from committing; her enemies have been merciless with her loved ones before. But maybe, just maybe, rejecting Yusuf is a form of self-preservation. Eve is so prepared to die hunting down the Twelve that, at times, it veers toward a death wish. And Yusuf is a really smart, really hot, really supportive man who cooks nice meals and arranges his own travel. He’s a reason to live in a moment when reasons to live are inconvenient.
So instead, they plan a strictly business recon trip. Yusuf proposes a stakeout, but Eve has a more direct approach in mind. Why not knock on Helene’s front door? Convinced it will work, she tracks down Martin, an expert on psychopaths (I think?) to ask for his advice. If you have only the vaguest sense that you’ve ever seen Martin’s face before, you are not alone. He hasn’t appeared in several seasons; there are Reddit threads dedicated to his absence. Regardless, Martin tells Eve that people talk when they think they’ll be given what they want in return, but giving a psychopath what they want is a risky strategy, even in a highly controlled clinical setting. Eve only hears the part of his answer that she wants to hear; her response is basically, “Look at me. I’m the psychopath now.”
Eve is nervous when she gets to Paris. She can’t eat. She has a secret. She’s agreed to Yusuf’s stakeout plan, but as soon as he’s asleep, she sneaks out of the hotel room, which strains plausibility for me because Yusuf is an “I sleep with one eye open” kind of guy. Not everyone finds Eve so slippery, though. Helene’s door opens before she even gets to knock — she’s been expecting a visit ever since she found the tracker in her purse. In every episode, there are glimmers of the crass irreverence Killing Eve excelled at in season one; this week, Helene was suspicious because the tampon had an applicator and she’s never understood why some women can’t insert their fingers in their own vaginas.
Eve recovers from the surprise of her non-surprise. She has brought a bagful of groceries to Helene’s insanely beautiful version of a lion’s den and insists on cooking shepherd’s pie. Eve has Villanelle’s instincts and some of her bravado, but not years of experience keeping her cool. She cuts herself before she can even finish prepping the veg. Helene insists on dropping all pretense immediately, confiding that she would also like to destroy the Twelve. Just like Eve, just like Carolyn; like Villanelle, like MI6. Who isn’t against the Twelve these days? Helene holds Eve’s hand to the heat of her induction cooktop to assert her dominance, though she’s already accomplished that by anticipating Eve’s arrival. When Eve finally leaves, we see she’s badly hurt but smiling, thrilled by inching closer to the Twelve but also thrilled by how visceral life can be. She’s chasing the Twelve and the electric feeling that Villanelle stirred in her.
Speaking of Twelve chasing, all the way in Moscow, Carolyn is pumped for intel on the MI6 agents who the Kremlin wants to turn, the same agents who she used to run. She gives it up, of course. That’s why she’s here. That’s the trade-off she has made. She tells her handler, Vlad, about a spy with an opioid problem; when shown a photo of Hugo, she tells Vlad he’s primed for honey trapping. Congenial as the conversation might be, though, Carolyn’s a traitor, not a Russian teammate. They won’t give her a passport or an office. When she gets to her dumpy accommodation, someone has left a rat in the cupboard — a rat for a rat. Carolyn’s always lived a solitary life; this is a lonely one.
Defection takes its toll quickly. Vlad tells Carolyn that, yes, Hugo has fallen for his honey trap, but the other agent they blackmailed committed suicide. Carolyn takes the news hard, excusing herself to cry in the bathroom. She didn’t cry when Bill was killed in season one or after Mo’s death, did she? Did we ever see her fall apart when Kenny died? Carolyn is up against the limits of the life she has chosen. She’s crying for a nameless agent but mourning herself.
Villanelle, we already know, has pushed all notions of the Twelve aside. She wants peace now; she wants goodness. She’s on some kind of Christian camping retreat, so we can assume the vicar’s daughter is keeping mum about her near-drowning. But there’s suspicion growing around “Nelle,” who isn’t assigned a tent-mate. Instead, her own personal savior — Villanelle in Jesus drag — keeps her company. It’s super-dumb, and I have no clue what it means, but watching one of the best actors on TV play against herself is fun enough, I suppose. More Jodie Comer isn’t a bad thing. God convinces Nelle to make amends with May, who thinks Nelle is really pretty and therefore agrees not to tell anyone about the itsy-bitsy near-murder. If you think about it, the old Villanelle would have absolutely killed May, so this is a “W” for Jesus.
The vicar, though, remains suspicious. When he encourages his daughter to make more appropriate friends, a pissed-off May tells Nelle that her dad killed her mom in a drunk-driving accident. She swears Nelle to secrecy, a sacred promise that Nelle keeps for about an hour. Maybe less. But when she heartlessly tells the entire flock about the vicar’s misdeeds, it’s Nelle that ends up ostracized. Drag Jesus misled her. The congregation isn’t looking for a reason to oust the vicar. They see through Nelle’s self-serving spiritual awakening.
So Nelle puts the “villain” back in her name, brutally stabbing May and the vicar to death with tent spikes. But back in her own tent, for reasons I don’t understand, she can’t quite bring herself to kill her drag Jesus, even as Jesus heckles Villanelle. Why not? The implication seems to be that Villanelle isn’t all bad, that her Christianity isn’t completely a ruse, but she just killed two entirely innocent people who tried to help her, so we know that’s not true. Villanelle is definitely, without a doubt, 100 percent irredeemable. Carolyn, it seems, isn’t far behind. And what about Eve? Her reckless choices seem bound to produce more carnage.
As we quickly approach the series finale, it’s worth asking what Killing Eve is “about.” It’s about complicated women; it’s about good and evil. It’s about the limits of personal redemption and, as much as ever, Killing Eve is a show about the inexorable pull of what’s bad for you.