‘Killing Eve’ Star Says His Character Is ‘Living in Absolute Fear for His Life’
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 6 of Killing Eve, “End of Game.”]
If ever a violent action makes death look inevitable, it’s a pitchfork through the throat … right?
Such is not the case on Killing Eve. A couple of episodes ago, Dasha (Dame Harriet Walter) lured Eve (Sandra Oh) to visit her estranged husband Niko (Owen McDonnell). But as soon as Eve arrived, she witnessed a pitchfork being thrust through his neck in what appeared to be his death scene.
However, as Sunday’s episode revealed, Niko is alive! While he may be in the hospital, unable to speak, he had enough energy to make his feelings very clear to Eve: leave.
Here, Owen McDonnell breaks down his character (“he provides a normal person’s view into his extreme world”) and his fate, discusses filming that pitchfork scene, and ponders Niko and Eve’s relationship.
Niko’s alive! Can you talk about finding out your character was getting pitchforked … but surviving?
Owen McDonnell: I was immediately suspicious when I was told that Niko would be going away, because he had spent most of the series in his flat, and I said, “Why would he go away?” I knew something was going to happen. I always felt that being Eve’s husband and her being obsessed with tracking down a psychopathic assassin, he was doing pretty well to make it to halfway through series 3. But then they told me he wasn’t going to die, that they were going to keep him alive. If it had been Villanelle who had done it, he’d be definitely dead, whereas Dasha is getting up in her advance in years, getting sloppy.
And can you talk about filming that near-death scene?
It was great. I worked with the stunt guys to get the actual kill down before Sandra got on set because we wanted her to experience [it] fully, so we only rehearsed up to the point of me saying hello to her. She never really got to see the pitchfork go in until we actually shot it and it happened, just so she could have that visceral reaction to it. I love doing stunts and you don’t get the chance to get pitchforked by a Dame very often, so I relished it.
Before that moment, how was Niko feeling about Eve just showing up? Obviously she was lured there and he was confused, but there were mixed emotions in the short period of time he had to react, right?
Yeah. Yes, he was getting help from PTSD in this institution he was in, but he thought the only way he was going to move forward was to cut any ties that he had with Eve and to see if there was any possibility of joy in the future for him, of a life in the future that wasn’t completely defined by the event at the end of Season 2. I think he thought he was doing okay. He was moving on.
Then for her to turn up, immediately it put the brakes on it and it was a really interesting scene to be had. She’s coming because she thinks he wants her back and he doesn’t want anything to do with her. There’s a lot of ways that scene could have played out, but before we get to see anything, obviously, he gets the pitchfork, and it’s cut short. I think he loves her, absolutely, but I don’t think he was necessarily happy to see her.
Niko tells Eve to “piss off forever,” but is he done with her? Or does he just want to be?
Who knows? Lying in his hospital bed, having had a tracheotomy and listening to her say [what] she said about her tracking down Villanelle or tracking down whoever’s done this, he can’t do anything else but say, “No, I don’t want to be part of this life any more.” Certainly at that moment in time, when he said, “Piss off forever,” he really is sending a strong message to her that he wants to be done. He wants to be left alone.
Earlier in the season, Niko says he deserves more than Eve, but considering how things have gone for him in the past and even as he tried to stay away from Eve, what does that look like for him?
What does the future look like? Does he go back to Poland? Poland is a place where he [thought he was] safe, and that’s been ruined. … I don’t know what recovery looks like for him or if there is a way forward. He will try. I don’t think he’s a quitter.
Eve’s outside his hospital room at the end of the episode. Will we see her continuing to try to be part of his life, or was that a goodbye?
I think she is at the stage where she wants what’s best for him, but what she thinks that is is pretty ambiguous at the moment. She really wants [people getting hurt because of her] to stop, but she has a very one-track mind and she sees one way of doing that. So who knows? I don’t think she carries any ill will towards Niko. I believe she genuinely wants what’s best for him.
Eve tells Dasha that Niko’s still alive and Villanelle’s still out there, so how worried should we be about him staying alive?
Niko doesn’t mean anything to Villanelle since he’s out of the picture. I don’t necessarily think that she’s that worried about him in that sense. He’s not part of Eve’s life; that is probably the safest for him.
Is he worried about his continued survival?
Yes, he’s terrified. Every moment of his life, everybody who walks into that room he thinks is going to kill him because it’s happened twice in the last six months that he’s been in that situation that either someone’s tried to kill him or he’s been around someone being killed. I’d say he’s living in absolute fear and terror for his life all the time, 24/7. It’s not a very nice place to be.
Is there a world where he and Eve could have worked out if Villanelle had never come into their lives?
Absolutely. I spoke with Sandra in Episode 1; we said, “These two people really love each other. They have a lot of fun, but they’re at a stage in their relationship where they’re just passing each other a bit.” That’s a stage in a relationship that people either realize it’s happening and go, “Hey, we used to be better than this. We used to have more fun, be more engaged with each other and be there for each other a bit more,” and they fix it. Or [it’s] a stage when a relationship can go into free fall and break up or tear apart.
Without Villanelle, they may have had their issues, but I certainly don’t think they’d be at this stage. I think Niko really got a kick out of making Eve happy and looking after her as far as he was concerned. He stopped being able to do that.
Killing Eve, Sundays, 9/8c, BBC America