Eve and Hélène; Villanelle and Carolyn; Pam and Konstantin. This was a week for new and increasingly deranged pairings. They can’t match the original intrigue of Eve and Villanelle’s earliest pas de deux, but it’s invigorating to watch well-worn characters bounce off new screen partners. It’s been a minute since Villanelle’s been pressed to negotiate a new dynamic with a real contender. Hélène continues to test the limit of Eve’s bravado only to discover the limit does not exist. And Konstantin! What can I say about Konstantin? I miss the sound of that man’s unhinged laughter when he’s not around.
Episode four picks up in the immediate aftermath of episode three, with Villanelle dazed and cold in a jail cell. Eve accepts Hélène’s invitation to meet in the West End, where they eat puddings from glass pots in a deserted theater that Hélène owns because Hélène is filthy with inherited wealth. It’s an interesting reveal. She doesn’t do what she does for the money, so why does she do it? And why does she want to bring her employer down? It’s hard to say that Eve is an equal match for Hélène; she has a bad habit of playing all her cards upfront. Tonight that means mentioning Fernanda and her missing husband, Lars Meier, almost immediately. Hélène’s surprised but not shaken. She’s got a secret on Eve, too — she already knows of Villanelle’s arrest. A race then: First one to find Lars wins.
Hélène has years of experience on her side, but Eve’s got a man with a very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a very long career. Yusuf trolls Fernanda’s social media for the slightest glimpse of Lars and finds precisely that: a very small glimpse printed on a novelty T-shirt. He uses facial recognition software to scour the internet, eventually finding a photo of Lars taken in Germany in the ’70s. It’s worth pausing to question why Yusuf is so damn helpful all the time. Can it really be that he’s just super into Eve when she gives him so little in return?
Eve and Yusuf trace the photo back to an antique store in Gay Paree. Quelle coincidence! Hélène knows Eve is on the Continent before she’s even left the shop with a second Cold War-era photo of Lars in her pocket. Hélène asks Eve to hers, making extra special mention of the fact that her daughter is spending the night with grandmère. Another head game perhaps, but it lends her invitation the promise of sex and/or the threat of violence.
Eve accepts, likely neglecting to tell even Yusuf that she’s sharing the evening with a known torturess. At times, Eve and Hélène almost resemble partners on a shared hunt for the Twelve. Hélène immediately absents herself to take a bubble bath upon Eve’s arrival, allowing her companion space to snoop and, to some extent, set the terms for what happens next. For instance, Eve could wait in the kitchen, but instead she rests beside the bath and wordlessly offers to shave Hélène’s legs in the direction the hair grows, which is the sophisticated direction I aspire to use in my own life. It’s Truth or Dare, really. Dare: Hold the blade to my skin. Truth: Hélène hates weak women, that’s why she does what she does. She rescues vulnerable fools like Pam and renders them invincible. Dare: Eve takes off her clothes and enters the bath. It’s not as steamy as either woman might have imagined it. They struggle to negotiate their legs; Eve sits on a glowing, buzzing child’s bath toy. In the end, Hélène offers her homemade soup in lieu of a sponge bath.
As they slurp, Hélène drops the bomb she no doubt invited Eve over to drop in the first place: She’s sprung Villanelle from the clink. It’s a testament to how formidable Eve’s grown that Hélène’s compelled to assert her dominance so nakedly. Eve doesn’t bother with a poker face — she is surprised. But if this complicates things for Eve, she’s not telling. She accuses Hélène of loving the game, the thrill of pushing her players around the board, the dark excitement of watching pawns suffer. It’s a version of Eve’s conversation with Villanelle last week, and Hélène, like Villanelle, has come to the opposite conclusion. It’s Eve who is intoxicated by this life: the espionage, the double-cross, the hunt, the rendezvous, the warm bath of danger, this chaotic soup. Eve slinks across the sofa and kisses Hélène deeply — an admission, perhaps. Now it’s Hélène’s turn to look surprised, but by what exactly? That Eve would take it so far?
Hélène is the author of everyone’s fate this week, in a way. When Villanelle calls her from prison with her one and only phone call, she chooses to dismiss the assassin’s recent absence as a period of adolescent rebellion. “No one leaves The Twelve,” she tells her. “Not you, not me.” She dispatches Villanelle to Cuba to hunt down Carolyn, a kill that serves the prerogatives of The Twelve, yes, but also helps to keep Hélène’s extracurricular torture under wraps.
For her part, Carolyn’s not made any headway turning the double-agent back to Team Russia. In that regard, Villanelle’s appearance is a godsend. Carolyn may not be persuasive with toeless Russians, but it doesn’t take much effort to flatter Villanelle onto her side. Killing is natural and primal, Carolyn assures her. What’s the point of being good for its own sake? “Be good at what you’re good at.” Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves, little Villanelle.
Carolyn suggests a bold new partnership between two women who don’t like their assigned teams. Villanelle admits it was Hélène who sent her to Havana, and Carolyn rewards her with an assignment — use your “flair” for murder to figure out what the toe-deficient FSB agent knows about The Twelve. Villanelle doesn’t get a name, just a rendezvous point — El Hombre de Dos Caras. The Man With Two Faces. It’s not the most conclusive lead, but extracting it helps Villanelle get her diabolical groove back. She removes the man’s finger with cheese wire — how resourceful, how gruesome.
So the assassin and the woman she’s come to assassinate go for drinks at El Hombre, sucking back mojitos and playing actual Truth or Dare. Truth: Villanelle is a Christian. Truth: Carolyn’s father was a gay spy of apparent renown. Truth: Explain what’s so intriguing about Eve. They’re still teasing that one out when Lars Meier, an old flame Carolyn thought was dead, walks across the restaurant floor, then runs before Villanelle can catch him. No one fakes their own death because they’re up to good. Carolyn decides to head to Berlin, the last place she saw Lars before this. And when Vlad next calls, she destroys her phone. Carolyn’s not MI6 anymore, but she’s not FSB either. She has a new passport, compliments of Moscow. Like Eve, like Hélène, like Villanelle, she’s her own team now.
This leaves Pam and Konstantin, another odd couple that comes compliments of Hélène’s machinations, though this time the match-making is intentional. Konstantin’s just as confused as I am about why he’s been dragged back into the narrative; Pam’s not that special, and clearly The Twelve don’t know Hélène’s pulled him from his very important post as Mayor of The Middle of Nowhere. But before he can complain to the hire-ups, Hélène blackmails Konstantin with the six million Euro he stole from The Twelve. She really does know everything.
So Konstantin resigns himself to whipping Pam (Anjana Vasan, from the brilliant We Are Lady Parts) into murderous shape, which apparently requires relocating to Kent. The Twelve is kind of a sorority — an army of fembots, Eve calls it — and this is a hazing: Pam needs to be on call 24 hours a day to do whatever dastardly chore Konstantin dreams up. But Pam fails on her first errand when she refuses to push a random woman off the pier.
Abandoned by her handler, Pam tours the Margate theme park instead. She bashes the hammer game because she’s strong from lifting dead bodies; she lets loose on the rides. She musters up the nerve to lure Konstantin onto the pier and then shoves him into the sea. “Don’t underestimate me,” Pam says, an echo of Hélène’s compliment. Maybe she is special. Konstantin just laughs, because he’s clearly the show’s most unapologetic sociopath. He’s got no bigger mission, no allegiances. He’s motivated to do this work by money and some twisted sense of fun.
Still, if pressed to bet on only one of these dysfunctional couples, I’d choose Pammy and Konstantin to go the distance. Or at least not kill each other.