Monday, February 6

Killing Eve Recap: A Life Most Ordinary

Killing Eve

Making Dead Things Look Nice

Season 4

Episode 7

Editor’s Rating

4 stars

Photo: Anika Molnar/BBCA

The first time we lay eyes on Eve, in the series premiere, she’s half-asleep and fully hungover from Bill’s birthday party. She drags herself to work for a meeting where she’ll learn of Villanelle, though not by name. She meets Carolyn Martens in that meeting, though only glancingly. Yet the meeting effectively launches her MI6 career, ending her marriage, which gets her shot in the back in a roundabout way. In short, those five minutes transformed the shape of Eve’s entire life. Now, having killed Lars, she’s pressed to change it all again. “A new ordinary,” Yusuf tells her to find, but our protagonist — across four chaotic seasons — has lost all taste for ordinary. “What if I don’t want to?” she asks him. The series has two episodes left to either help Eve rediscover quotidian wonder or else show her some other way out of the maze.

Eve’s not the only character to have drifted off course. When we first met Villanelle, she had a sunny Parisian apartment and a skincare routine. Now, she shares a remote Scottish isle with a brutal psychopath. Case in point: By the time Villanelle rouses (in a barn, like baby Jesus), Gunn has already incapacitated a trespassing fisherman, keeping him alive purely for the thrill of filleting him as such. Villanelle is more intrigued than disturbed, which is in itself disturbing but not unexpected. When Gunn sets out to hunt wild boar, Villanelle tags along in a designer poncho, a consummate city mouse. There’s some requisite if superficial getting-to-know-you chat in the woods, with Villanelle dodging Gunn’s questions about Eve and Gunn barely addressing why she wanted Villanelle to kill Hélène in the first place.

It’s impossible to trust that Gunn’s punishment fits Hélène’s crime because Gunn is prone to disproportionate violence. For example, the aforementioned fisherman. Also, as a girl, she poisoned her entire village to death as a means of killing her family. Still, Gunn and Villanelle are sort of mutually seduced, each an answer to the other’s particular loneliness. Gunn craves life on the cold edge of civilization but doesn’t necessarily want to be alone there. Villanelle spent the first half of the season chasing goodness, but Gunn represents something easier: someone to be bad with. Plus, they’ve been drinking moonshine and Eve kissed Hélène so hooking up with Gunn makes everything evensies.

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Back in London, Eve’s on the private security grind by day but struggling to leave that James Bond life behind. Yusuf unlocks Hélène’s phone — of course, Eve swiped it from the hotel room — but cautions her against using it. Where does her operation end if not right here? She’s at serious risk of losing the rest of her life to mission creep. Yusuf volunteers to cruise-direct Eve’s reintroduction to civilian life. First port of call: Karaoke. Nothing cures the maladies of a restless soul quite like karaoke.

Except karaoke triggers Eve’s memories of before times, back when her life had plenty of people in it: Niko (gone), Bill (dead), Elena (gone), Keiko (widowed). The scene is Bill’s raucous birthday, the one we never saw from the night before Eve’s life veered in its wild new direction. Somehow, the bravado that carried her through those season four showdowns with Hélène isn’t enough to see her through the minefield of her own memory. Before Berlin, Eve was decisive and mission-driven. How can she go back to regular life if she can’t even make it through the second verse of Chandelier? When Yusuf can’t help, Eve calls Martin, whose expert psychologist advice is to focus on the little pleasures, like crossword puzzles and the company of those who know her soul. But who is left to love Eve, a person who, by her own estimation, should have died on the hero’s errand?

Civilian life is anathema to Carolyn, too, who traces the barn swallows she finds sketched in Lars’ appointment book back to a Salzburg hotel. The barn swallow is Austria’s state bird and the hotel, from the looks of it, is an homage to that designation. She was once the head of the illustrious MI6 Russian Desk, but here Carolyn Martens is divining her travel itinerary from a dead ex’s marginalia. “It’s an incredible feeling, being inches from the thing you’ve been looking for,” a gentleman birder says to her with suspicious prescience. Is she really that close?

He’s an assassin, she supposes. Before he can finish the job, though, Vlad arrives to black-bag Carolyn back to Moscow. In telling Vlad what she’s gleaned from Lars’ notebook — that each date The Twelve meets is marked with a barn swallow — Carolyn realizes her mistake. The Twelve haven’t been meeting in the Alps but at the Barn Swallow Pub just outside Vauxhall, which is to say, right under MI6’s nose. For me, the moment strains credibility. Carolyn must have visited that pub untold times and yet she’s thinking of it only now? She offers Vlad a trade: the assassin-birder waiting in the lobby for time to fly to England on the strength of her new hunch. He agrees because all men are putty in Carolyn’s hands.

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Back at the hotel, it seems like maaaaaaaybe Eve has indeed chosen normalcy, tearing down the Homeland wall of leads that led her to Lars. But all it takes is a ping from Hélène’s phone — a text message of a barn swallow, no less — to lose her conviction. Eve’s in motion again, and lately that means one of two things: time to call Yusuf or time to go to Margate. Konstantin, having recently learned Hélène sprang his homicidal daughter Irina from the hospital, is happy to trade the news of Hélène’s death for the barn swallow’s provenance and the last known location of Villanelle. He’d given Pam the day off to galavant with Darren, but now he’s got a better idea: Freedom for both of them. Pam’s too good for The Twelve, Konstantin sweetly assures her as a tipsy father-figure and reluctant adopted daughter sit down to game plan the rest of their lives over pizza.

How does he not notice the pizza cutter? Who comes back from the pizza parlor with a cutter? They don’t just give those out! It’s a particularly gruesome end for one of the series’ most lovable if incorrigible characters. Pam slices Konstantin, like, a lot, but between cuts, he manages to share Hélène’s death. Pam just carried out a dead woman’s hit, and the target was the only living person to show her any attention since her father died. Konstantin isn’t angry, he just asks Pam to bring Carolyn a note he’s written, along with the dubious confession that he’s always loved her (despite having a hand in the deaths of multiple family members). But Konstantin dies well, to be sure. Before she leaves, a regretful Pam dresses him in finery befitting the funeral that no one will ever throw him.

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Eve heeds Konstantin’s advice not to take on The Twelve alone and makes her way to Inverness and beyond to recruit Villanelle, who is actually more of a captive now. Gunn’s burned her rowboat and moved her personal effects from the barn to Gunn’s cabin, where they can do fun stuff like whittle and listen to the shipping forecast. It’s always stormy in the Hebrides. Most crucially, though, confining Villanelle to the island means she can’t exterminate The Twelve. Whatever gripes Gunn had with Hélène, The Twelve supports her to live in the monastic style she prefers. Villanelle makes a run for it just as Eve stumbles onto the island to encounter a murderously angry Gunn. The episode ends with a machete blade kissing Eve’s neck, but also the promise of rescue. Villanelle is watching. Despite what’s transpired between them of late, she’d never allow Eve to be filleted alive.

Earlier in the episode, before Yusuf leaves Eve catching her breath outside the karaoke bar, he tells her to find the part of her life that she can bear and hold onto it. Is that what Villanelle represents to her here, or is Eve perhaps following Martin’s advice to seek out the people who know her soul? I’m as tempted as anyone to read romance into what might just be desperation. Eve is shocked to have survived her impossible mission. She has no roadmap for life after because she never expected an after. Maybe this right here, chasing one assassin and directly falling into the crosshairs of another, is how Eve stops “after” from ever arriving, how she keeps living recklessly in the direction of certain death. Maybe searching for Villanelle isn’t a declaration of love but a dark admission of defeat: There’s no one left who knows Eve’s soul. No version of herself that she can bear.

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