Killing Eve episode 2 review: I’ll Deal with Him Later


Killing Eve continues with a fascinating second episode that reminds us our leading ladies are more alike than not.

Killing Eve continues to deftly interrogate our preconceived notions of what a spy thriller should be, while delivering an exciting hour of television to boot. This week, the show lets us get to know both Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) a bit better as it slowly moves the two women into one another’s orbit.

Much of “I’ll Deal With Him Later” is an exposition dump, maneuvering characters into place for what will come later. Eve’s introduction to the MI-6 division hunting Villanelle serves as a convenient opportunity for some quick backstory on both women. Eve, a Brit who grew up in Connecticut and studied criminal psychology, is fascinated by female killers and what makes them tick.

Her interest in this topic feels borderline uncomfortable, but it’s part of the reason Eve is such a fascinating character. In many ways, she’s as intrigued by death, transgression and crossing boundaries as Villanelle is. She just (by almost complete accident) found a healthier outlet for her particular fascinations. The question is whether she will manage to keep them from completely consuming her.

To that end, we also meet the secondary characters who will inevitably serve as Eve’s support system on this cat-and-mouse hunt, including her (fantastic) new boss Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), her former assistant Elena (Kirby Howell Baptise) and Kenny (Sean Delaney) the sort-of-hacker-whiz charged with basically Googling everything.

All of this is pretty much worth it for the simple joy of watching Eve realize someone’s actually doing the job she filled her free hours with as a hobby. And that same someone wants to actually pay her to do it too. Sandra Oh’s facial expressions are a wonder. It’s so easy to be happy for her and forget the actual purpose of this task group. Hunting a killer isn’t exactly glamorous work, after all.

Despite the introduction of the new team members, the biggest revelation this week still comes from Eve herself. She conveniently remembers a fluke encounter with a strange nurse before the hospital murders took place. And, obviously, she’s convinced that woman is the female assassin in question. She’s right, of course, but none of our characters know that yet. Which kind of makes Eve’s logical leap a bit farcical but, sure, let’s go with it.

As a bridge to get us all to the meat of the series — the impending pas de deux between our two leads — there are worse efforts than out of the blue revelations in the women’s restroom.

Elsewhere, Villanelle finds herself continually chafing under her own set of workplace restrictions. Despite the successful kill that opens the episode, her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) has concerns. Villanelle is too flashy. She’s not following instructions. Her missions are messy and draw too much attention. It’s all very concerning. And despite her protestations, we can kind of see Konstantin has a point.

As we watch Villanelle work, we witness her fascination with the act of killing and the moment of death. This is something far beyond a job for her and it’s deeply unnerving. It’s so easy sometimes to forget that Villanelle is a monster. She’s so interesting, so clever, so fashion forward. She seems fun to hang out with. Generally, we like her, even if we don’t want to. But she’s also a woman who delights in watching the light drain from someone’s eyes, and laughs at those who expect normal human reactions to horror from her. She’s broken — in complicated, disturbing ways.

It’s not that Villanelle doesn’t understand how a young woman should behave. She does. She knows exactly what she should say and how she should dress to get what she wants. (See also: The fluffy pink dress and girlish make up she wears to her meeting with the Assassin Psychologist. She knows precisely what men want to see in her and reflects it back at them.) She just doesn’t care. That’s part of what makes her character fascinating, sure. But it’s also what makes her terrifying.

Yet, in her own way, Villanelle is as much of a workaholic as Eve. Despite the admonition from her handlers to stay home, she takes on her next job anyway. She wants to prove herself. And, lest we forget, she enjoys it. So she executes a complicated plan involving homemade poisoned perfume to take out a powerful entrepreneur. (A particularly gruesome manner of death that Villanelle watches like a cat toying with a mouse. Yikes.) Her success doesn’t impress Konstantin, however, who is rather furious at her disobedience.

However, it’s exactly this sort of behavior that draws Eve to Villanelle, as strange as that may sound. Eve respects her adversary’s dedication to her craft. She admires her status as someone at the top of her game, a woman using her abilities to the utmost. As long as Villanelle is the best, she deserves to get away with her crimes. She’s outsmarting the smartest detectives, after all.

Admittedly, this is kind of an odd viewpoint for the woman charged with catching a killer. But on some level it makes sense. Eve’s own life is one that lacks fulfillment. Perhaps she recognizes a kindred spirit in Villanelle, a woman who refuses to live a similar life. Not to say that Eve herself wants to be an assassin. (At least, not yet.) But it seems as though she sees something in Villanelle to admire, despite the horrible things she does.

In turn, Villanelle is equally fascinated by the idea of Eve. She seems intrigued by the idea that an entire task force exists to hunt her, and that an individual adversary exists. Is this merely flattery? Maybe. It seems obvious that Villanelle has a huge ego. Perhaps she wants to face off against someone she deems worthy. Or maybe it’s just that she wants someone to notice her. (Remember last week? “I just want someone to play with,” she said.)

Next: Killing Eve: What makes this thriller so different from what’s come before?

Either way, now that Villanelle knows who Eve is — and remembers that they’ve met before — the game is well and truly on. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.