Killing Eve review: Villanelle is still a monster, and that’s the point


Jodie Comer steals the show in a tension-filled episode of Killing Eve that has everything from emotional consequences to intriguing disguises.

Before we dig into the plot of Killing Eve’s “I Hope You Like Missionary!” there’s one thing that seems worth saying, loudly and often: Jodie Comer deserves so many awards for this show.

Not that her co-star, Sandra Oh, doesn’t, of course. But if Killing Eve season 1 was Oh’s reminder to the world at large that we’ve taken her and her talent for granted for way too long, season 2 is Comer throwing down a proverbial gauntlet of her own.

Her performance as captivating female assassin Villanelle has been fairly incredible from the series’ first episode, but Comer’s work in season 2 is just on another level of good. Rather than allow Villanelle to become a campy caricature with her designer disguises and lavish kills, Comer instead infuses her with a heady mix of bravado and recklessness, with just a dash of insecurity on top.

Villanelle knows how good she is at what she does. She takes perverse joy in leaning in to her own shocking nature. She wants to see how far she can push people, and what she can get away with. Murder and mayhem is a joyous thing to her.

But she’s also deeply broken, bored and lonely in ways it doesn’t seem like she entirely understands.

Jodie Comer as Villanelle – Killing Eve _ Season 2, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/BBCAmerica

Part of Villanelle’s second mission with MI-6 involves inserting herself into the life of Aaron Peel’s sister, Amber, while sporting a false identity that’s only the thinnest coat on Eve’s. While in AA meetings, Villanelle not only displays her razor sharp understanding of the things that are driving her new colleague, but a rare piece of her own inner life at the same time.

It’s a tremendously emotional moment, and Villanelle, with a single perfect tear rolling down her face, feels sympathetic and real in a way the character rarely has in the past. (But one that has been happening with something like regularity lately.)

Of course, she also throws an innocent woman into traffic roughly three minutes later, a twist that is simultaneously shocking and somehow the perfect fulfillment of the boredom that Villanelle spoke of earlier.

We, like Eve who is watching from a coffee shop across the street, are shocked, not just because Villanelle performed this horrific act, but because it comes so close on the heels of a moment we thought we could trust her. A moment that felt genuine.

Are we – and Eve – being played? Either answer seems possible. And probably likely.

Eve wants to ignore her consistent attraction to darkness and her love of twisted things. From her darkly submissive sexual encounter with Niko that opens the episode to her destructive episode in Gemma’s flat, Eve wants to somehow still believe that nothing about her has changed since she undertook this case.

She also seems to want to believe that Villanelle is capable of…something more than Villanelle is likely capable of, whether that thing is love or remorse. This is a problem that we, as viewers, can easily understand – because it’s one we share.

Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Owen McDonnell as Niko Polastri – Killing Eve _ Season 2, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/BBCAmerica

Most of us are fascinated by Villanelle. Why wouldn’t we be?

She’s exciting, brash, confident and usually gets all the best lines and best outfits. And on some level, some of us  – probably a lot of us – are all too ready and eager to forgive her worst transgressions.

But at the end of the day, no matter how much we might enjoy her, or wish things were different, Villanelle is who she is. And there’s no way to make that clearer than to show her confused by her own conflicting emotions and fuming over Aaron Peel’s insults. All of this pushes her to return to what she knows best: Murder.

Sure, we don’t see Villanelle kill the drunk girls she’s stalked from the chip shop at the end of this episode. But her every movement screams predator here, and the vaguely horror-like setting firmly establishes her as every inch a threat.

We learn a lot about Villanelle in this episode… maybe more than we ever have before. But one of the things that Killing Eve does best is confront us repeatedly as viewers with the fact that we’re as obsessed with Villanelle as she is with Eve, and that’s maybe not the best thing for anyone.

At the end of the day, rooting for Villanelle means that we’re embracing an unrepentant murderer, and no matter how layered or complex her character becomes, that fact doesn’t change.

On some level, her newfound partnership with MI-6 is meant to make us uncomfortable. Why are these people so willing to trust someone so monstrous? And are their other goals – interrogating The Ghost, going after the Peel family – somehow more valuable than getting a killer like Villanelle off the streets?

Probably not, if we’re honest. But we’re okay with that, to some degree, because watching Villanelle and Eve team up is fun. Whether they’re verbally sparring with one another or back-handedly digging into each other’s various psychosis, watching these two interact is worth whatever we have to sacrifice to get those moments.

Like Eve, we can’t look away. Our reaction to Villanelle is much the same as hers. No matter how many bad things she does, we can’t seem to stop obsessing over her either. She’s fascinating, magnetic and endlessly compelling.

And Killing Eve is at its best when it challenges us as viewers to confront that uncomfortable dichotomy head-on – when it forces us to blink, and break the spell, for lack of a better phrase.

Villanelle shoved Amber’s minder in front of a bus in broad daylight as part of a ploy to inch closer to her family. What does it mean that we’re all kind of okay with that?

Next. Game of Thrones and how we talk about trauma. dark

Killing Eve continues next Sunday on BBC America.