Villanelle Leads the Pigs to the Slaughter in ‘Killing Eve’ Episode 4 (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Episode 4 of Killing Eve Season 2, “Desperate Times.”]
Villanelle (Jodie Comer) starts to unravel as her failure to capture Eve’s (Sandra Oh) attention leads to a drug-fuelled breakdown in a gloriously violent episode of Killing Eve.
The great thing about Villanelle is that for all her cunning and manipulation, for the most part, she wears her emotions on her Prada dress sleeve. She has no qualms about making her feelings heard, no matter how socially unacceptable, like yelling “BORING!!!” in the middle of an art gallery. The fearless assassin knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to admit it, and what she really wants is for Eve to want her.
As Konstantin’s (Kim Bodnia) hitwoman-for-hire, Villanelle is exiled in Amsterdam, her days filled with monotonous museum visits and hotel room service. “Every picture is just grapes on naked women,” she tells Konstantin as he drags her around The Rijksmuseum. Her complaining only ceases when she’s drawn to a particularly gruesome painting, The Corpses of the De Witt Brothers, a picture attributed to Jan de Baen which depicts the flayed corpses of Johan and Cornelis de Witt on public display. “Looks like bacon,” she casually remarks.
This ghastly artwork inspires Villanelle’s next kill, a brutally violent public presentation which she hopes will grab Eve’s attention. Donned in a pig mask, as if she was on her way to a furry convention, Villanelle strings up a philandering husband in a brothel window, gutting him like butcher’s meat in front of Red Light District voyeurs, who simply think they’re witnessing a very realistic fetish show. To make her intentions clear, Villanelle sends a postcard of the de Baen painting to her “Darling Eve,” writing, “Hope you haven’t forgotten about me.”
Back in London, Eve is doing her best to suppress her feelings, as unlike Villanelle, the conflicted MI6 agent is scared of confessing her desires. “What about her?” Eve scoffs when Jess (Nina Sosnaya) inquires about Villanelle, as if she doesn’t spend every waking moment thinking about her. When Niko (Owen McDonnell) brings up the scene at the school and the security guard living at their house, and whether either has anything to do with Villanelle, Eve denies. “My job isn’t all about her,” she snaps.
Instead, Eve tries to put Villanelle out of her mind and focus on The Ghost, a new female assassin who has been offing various members of the Peel family and their associates. The Ghost is the complete opposite of Villanelle. Her kills are clean, quiet, and, based on the anesthetics used in the murders, seemingly painless, all made to look natural. “A considerate assassin,” Eve notes. There is not the pomp and theatricality that is usually attached with Villanelle’s attention-seeking slayings.
The arrogant Aaron Peel (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) offers the MI6 no help in their investigation of his father’s death, he instead belittles their efforts and brags how data tech companies such as his own will soon own more information than the secret service. He also doesn’t seem concerned about the continued deaths of Peel associates, even going so far as to turn down the offer of personal security. The suggestion here is that Aaron was involved in his dad’s murder, but that feels like a red herring.
Thankfully, Eve doesn’t need Aaron’s cooperation to track down the killer, as she correctly surmises that The Ghost’s knowledge of drugs points to someone with a history in the medical field. That information, combined with her hunch that the silent assassin has been posing as a cleaner to pull off the murders, leads to an identification of a potential suspect. As predicted, The Ghost is a middle-aged minority woman, who bears a striking resemblance to Eve.
While all this is going on, Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) receives Villanelle’s postcard, and even though it’s addressed to Eve, she knows she can’t give it to her. Eve’s obsession with Villanelle almost got the entire operation shut down and put Carolyn on the end of a tongue lashing from her boss Helen (a delightfully furious Zoë Wanamaker who uses phrases like “s**t-cake” and eats Pringles from the trash). In an episode of contrasts, Helen’s unconfined rage made for an excellent complement to Carolyn’s permanently unfazed demeanor.
Despite keeping her Villanelle feelings contained, when Carolyn sends Jess to Amsterdam to investigate the brothel murder, Eve can barely mask her disappointment. But it isn’t until the womanizing Hugo (Edward Bluemel) takes her for “chicken and chips” that her veneer begins to slip. Taking a puff of a cigarette, Eve confesses to taking this job for the same reason as Hugo, she “doesn’t want to die of boredom,” which is very much Villanelle’s approach to life. “Do you like watching [Villanelle]? Or do you like being watched?” Hugo asks. “Both,” replies Eve in a rare moment of honesty.
In Amsterdam, a hopeful Villanelle waits across the street from her bloody crime scene, expecting to see Eve arrive at any moment. When she sees Jess show up instead, it sends the psychopathic killer spiraling out of control. All her creeping doubts rise to the surface. Is Konstantin right? Does Eve really not care about her anymore? She masks her hurt by popping pills and attending an underground nightclub where she almost chokes a woman to death for jumping the line in the restroom.
As she wakes up the next morning under a vomit-caked duvet, with Konstantin asleep at the foot of her bed like a loyal dog, a hungover Villanelle slumps over to the bathroom mirror… and she cries! The badass assassin sheds tears, not for someone else’s benefit or as part of an elaborate act, she is all alone, and that’s what scares her the most. When Konstantin said that Eve has made Villanelle “soft,” I don’t think he was joking, and Villanelle is beginning to realize that.
At the same time, Eve stares into the double-sided mirror of an interrogation room where she prepares to interview The Ghost (Jung Sun Den Hollander). It’s almost as if Eve and Villanelle are trying to communicate with each other in this moment. They may be looking at themselves, but they’re thinking about each other, and more importantly, they’re wondering if the other is thinking about them.
-I’m not sure how to feel about Eve and Hugo’s almost-kiss. It came out of the blue, though I guess its point is to show that Eve is so desperate to break the monotony of life that she will seek her thrills anywhere.
-Eve’s troubled marriage can maybe explain that almost-kiss. She tells Niko that coming home is not “fun” anymore, while Niko snaps at her for pretending things are still normal. “None of this is normal,” he says. “And having a wife trying to gaslight me into thinking it is is not normal.”
-“Get a life,” Villanelle tells a cellphone-wielding woman who asks if she can take a picture of her for Instagram. Villanelle might be a coldblooded killer, but at least she’s not a “social media influencer.”
-“One cock-up is an accident, two cock-ups starts to look like carelessness.” “Or a threesome…” Never change Carolyn.
Killing Eve, Sundays, 8/7c, BBC America and AMC