Killing Eve episode 7 review: I Don’t Want to Be Free


The penultimate episode of Killing Eve Season 1 leaves viewers with no idea who to trust.

The main lesson of Killing Eve appears to be that we can trust no one. Maybe not even ourselves. As the show barrels toward its first season finale next week, “I Don’t Want to Be Free” leaves us questioning our understandings of virtually every character, their motives and their relationships to one another.

There’s only one episode left in this season, which seems frankly impossible given the number of threads and betrayals this installment sets up. We learn that almost no one is who they say they are. Everyone’s keeping secrets.

The biggest revelation is probably that Carolyn secretly met with Villanelle. This scene not only confirms that the MI-6 agent knew Villanelle was in the prison but heavily implies she was someone behind the transport break-out that freed her. The security footage also makes it seem as though the two women were on fairly familiar terms.

However, we have no confirmation of either of those things, so we can’t precisely guess exactly what exactly Carolyn is up to, or even which side she’s presently on. Killing Eve has been leaning pretty hard into the idea that there’s more something going on with Carolyn for weeks now. Yet, this isn’t a show that lays out breadcrumbs for viewers in a straight line. Ever. Therefore, it’s hard to completely trust that this twist is genuine. Are we right to suspect Carolyn? Or are we making false assumptions?

Yes, Eve’s concern about Carolyn’s shady past turns out to be at least some level of legitimacy. But her insistence on making every conversation about Villanelle honestly looks crazier and crazier now. Yes, we know some of the wild logical leaps she makes are actually correct. But with so much going on involving the business with The Twelve, Eve’s all-things–Villanelle obsession seems to have well crossed into a potentially dangerous territory.

When Carolyn points out that whatever Villanelle’s weirdo past is, it doesn’t help them now, she’s right. Eve is the one who wants to know everything about this woman she’s hunting, simply because she wants to understand her, not because this information will actually bring down The Twelve, or even prevent more murders. She’s obsessed, and Carolyn’s not wrong here. (The other question I can’t get past? Why Carolyn would bother going to all the trouble of setting up the Secret Villanelle Squad in the first place if she’s part of the Twelve?)

Eve manages to convince Kenny — who is, for some reason, still set to help her despite the fact that he’s already uncovered that his mother is a seriously shady individual who wrote graphic sex letters to Konstantin back in the day — to help her track down the mysterious Anna. (Honestly, Kenny better have some kind of secondary motivation here. Because no one goes through all this just for God and country.) A language teacher in Moscow, Anna doesn’t actually look as similar to Eve as you might expect. Save for her bushy dark hair, which may actually be wilder and bigger than Eve’s is.

Anna is another character who seems to possess hidden depths. Despite her simple teacher mourning her dead husband act, she’s still mightily interested in, Villanelle. Or Oksana, as she knows her. Even though this woman stalked and threatened her, Anna nevertheless still keeps a case of hundreds of letters from her former student, as well as photos and other mementos. There’s also a beautiful white coat, which Eve discovers contains Villanelle’s fake passport, as well as a stash of money. Neither Anna nor the episode itself is particularly forthcoming about what passed between these two. Were they lovers, intense friends, something else? What do they owe to one another? Is Anna Villanelle’s safe house of some kind? Or is the presence of the passport an accident?

Though this episode is largely about Villanelle, the character herself doesn’t have much to do until the  third act. After brutally murdering a cellmate sent to kill her — by biting her jugular out, no less — Villanelle successfully escapes from prison with an assist from the mysterious Twelve. The attack on a prison transport carrying her is so gruesomely carried out that even Villanelle must take a moment to admire the bodies strewn around her… even as she revels in her newly returned freedom.

Her obvious glee doesn’t last that long, once she learns she has a new handler and a new mission — kill her old one. That the Twelve means to send her after Konstantin makes a certain kind of sense. He has basically covered up the worst of Villanelle’s behavior since the series started. And he’s certainly involved in this messy situation with the British more than he’d probably like. Konstantin definitely seems kind of messy at the moment. Which to these people likely translates as a liability.

Yet, Konstantin and Villanelle’s face-off is the most affecting scene in “I Don’t Want to Be Free”. The two trade barbs littered with double meanings, telling the truth and playing one another simultaneously. You have to wonder if Villanelle would or could have gone through with Konstantin’s murder if she guessed the pills he was taking were fake, if her rage at his escape is about the fact that he is alive, or that she found herself bested in a hunt. At the end of the day, Konstantin escapes in Bond villain fashion. Maybe the two will (hopefully) meet again down the road? (Is it strange I find myself more invested in the relationship between these two than many other major plot points? Looking at you, Kenny.)

The true wonder of Jodie Comer’s performance in Killing Eve is that it’s virtually impossible to fully decide on one reading of it. Is Villanelle genuinely moved by Konstantin’s confession of affection? Was she pretty much just planning to kill him anyway? And, if so, why bother killing her oddball new handler and further infuriating the people she works for? It’s difficult to know whether the playful relationship we saw all season between Villanelle and Konstantin was ever real or just an act. It’s equally hard to tell whether her seemingly emotional reaction to her handler’s speech is genuine. Every scene between them can be read in multiple ways. Which certainly makes for fascinating, if not always clear, television.

This is why, as we approach the first season finale, it seems impossible to predict what Killing Eve will do next. Will Villanelle attempt to find Konstantin and fulfill her contract? Is Carolyn as shady as we think? Can Eve track her nemesis down? What will happen to her if she does? And how does Anna fit into all this? It can’t be an accident that this final act is taking place in Moscow. Odds that the two will run into each other again? Probably pretty high.

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Killing Eve Season 1 concludes next Sunday on BBC America.