After all the stabbings, and sex, and sex as a prelude to stabbing, you’ve gotta hand it to Killing Eve for kicking off one of its darkest episodes with something wild and unexpected: a Harry Potter cast reunion. This has never happened on the show before! Which is odd, when you think about it; for a series set in England and produced by the BBC, they’ve done a remarkable job of keeping Britain’s legions of erstwhile witches and wizards out of its ranks. But when Carolyn Martens enters an office at the start of this week’s episode, the supervisor she’s meeting is played by none other than Zoë Wanamaker, Hogwarts’ greatest flying instructor. Aunt Petunia, meet Madam Hooch! There, uh, are some differences, though: Wanamaker has traded her broomstick for a can of Pringles, and her no-nonsense professor’s demeanor for unhinged rage.
“If I wanted to get screwed ’til my a–hole bled,” she screams, flinging Pringles everywhere, “I’d go down to Torture Garden on a Friday night and ask for the full s—ting English!”
(Side note: If you’d like to know what the Full S—ting English at Torture Garden is, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you not google it at work.)
Helen (Wannamaker) wants to pull the plug on Operation Manderley, but Carolyn is unruffled. “It’s all going according to plan,” she says. But is it? Back at MI6 headquarters, Eve is staring down a wall papered with photos, notes, clues; all that’s missing is a bunch of red thread and a disheveled Charlie Day screaming about Pepe Silvia. (Or, as Hugo quips, Gwyneth Paltrow’s severed head in a cardboard box.) The team has discovered a pile of bodies, figuratively: a dozen people dead, all connected to Alistair Peel, but all killed in ways that look natural, accidental. The Ghost has been busy! Eve and Jess try to milk Peel’s obnoxious son for information about the sale of his company; he counters that his company’s ability to mine data from consumers will put government intelligence (and by extension, Eve and Jess) out of business. He’s a smug bastard. They leave unsatisfied.
Meanwhile, Villanelle and Konstantin have made their way to Amsterdam, ready to start over in a new life — and with new outfits. (Villanelle is pretty as always in pink, but she sums it up best when she tells Konstantin, “Do not go shopping on your own again,” because he’s wearing a vest over a long-sleeve shirt covered with graphic portraits like some kind of Euro club kid, and he looks ridiculous.) Villanelle is bored, but when they visit the Rijksmuseum, her attention is arrested by Jan de Baen’s grisly painting of the murdered De Witt brothers: gutted and strung up by their political enemies in 1672. Is she disgusted? Enthralled? Inspired?
“They look like bacon,” she says. (Spoken like a person who has never seen a piece of properly cooked bacon in her life, but whatever.)
Villanelle’s Amsterdam trip is about business, not pleasure: her first freelance murder. But it’s also about making a play to win back the girl who got away, and here’s where things get grisly. It’s all a matter of personal taste, you know? Some people stand outside their ex’s window with a boombox playing Peter Gabriel hoisted overhead; others stand in a window, wearing a Bavarian girl costume and a plush furry mask, and stringing a man up by his ankles before gutting him like a pig! (All while a crowd of onlookers ooohs and ahhhs and thinks it’s performance art.)
It’s the kind of grand romantic gesture that should, and would, bring Eve running straight into Villanelle’s arms, Niko and his Polish potato pies notwithstanding— that is, if she knew about it. But Eve never gets the message, or the thinking-of-you postcard Villanelle sends to her. Carolyn intercepts the latter and dispatches Jess to Amsterdam instead, leaving Eve in the dark, still chasing the Ghost, and unsuccessfully trying to explain to Niko why there’s a security detail from the British government now living with them in their house.
“Having a security guard is not normal,” he says. “Having a wife who tries to gaslight me into thinking it is, is not normal.”
But despite the serious threat Eve’s job poses to her marriage (and to those of us who continue to be deeply invested in seeing Niko happy, alive, and fully intact in his pants areas), she’s also damned good at it — which is why, as she surveys the latest Ghost murder, she puts it together. The Ghost isn’t just subtle; she’s so skilled, so knowledgeable that she managed to anesthetize her latest victim so that she felt no pain as she died.
“She wanted it to be painless. What kind of assassin is that?” Eve says.
“A nice one?” says Hugo.
While Kenny digs into the backgrounds of every member of Alistair Peel’s cleaning staff looking for medical experience, Eve and Hugo decamp to a local dive. They eat. They flirt. And while Hugo is a cad, there’s undeniable chemistry there: he asks Eve all the right questions about her bizarre, co-dependent relationship with Villanelle, he understands her drive to do this work, and OH MY GOD HE’S GOING IN FOR A KISS AND SHE’S NOT TURNING AWAY, OH NO, OH NOOOOO.
This almost epic disaster is only averted by the buzz of Eve’s cell phone, and some exciting news: they’ve identified the Ghost. And just a few hours later, they ensnare her. She’s just what Eve thought: middle-aged, innocuous, with light brown skin and East Asian features. Just another mom dropping her kids off at the start of the day. Eve engages her in conversation as the school bell rings and the yard empties — and the red dot of a laser-sight appears on the woman’s temple.
“Do you want us to shoot you in front of your kids?” Eve says, gently.
And for this moment, at least, Villanelle is all but forgotten — and when she realizes that Eve isn’t coming, something inside her seems to snap. These aren’t the crocodile tears we’ve seen from her before; she’s genuinely heartbroken, drugging herself at a club and very nearly killing a girl who cuts her in the bathroom line. It’s only a last-minute intervention by Konstantin that ends her destructive tear. And as the episode comes to a close, Villanelle and Eve separately experience an altogether different sort of confrontation: one with the (wo)man in the mirror. Eve examines her reflection in the two-way glass of an MI6 interrogation room, drawing her hair away from her face. Villanelle stares at herself in the hotel bathroom mirror, her eyes bright with tears. Both women seem unsettled by what they see. Who’s that girl? And who are these women, without each other?
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