Killing Eve recap: So much for the afterglow
Niko Polastri might look like a mustache glued onto some fudge, but he’s just as capable of channeling weird, sadistic, sexy-serial-killer vibes as Villanelle, thank you very much. Were you surprised? (I was!) The newest episode of Killing Eve shows off a previously unseen side of Niko, kicking off with a confrontation that runs the emotional gamut: angry, erotic, and eventually, quite sad. Returning home after his surprise run-in with Villanelle, Niko finally understands why things have been so weird with his wife of late — and he’s going to do something about it.
“What do you want from me, Eve? Do you want me to love you, or do you want me to frighten you?” he growls, before sending her upstairs on her hands and knees. There’s a cut-away (from what we can only presume is some uncharacteristically terrifying lovemaking), but the next morning, all is well!
…Or is it? Eve is thrilled, but Niko is miserable — not because he didn’t enjoy it, but because he did. And he leaves. I mean, he leaves. He leaves her! So, just to sum up, Niko was willing to tolerate being pushed and shouted at and insulted and lied to, but a night of radical kinky sex with his wife is the thing that sends him running out the door with his lower lip all aquiver. Cool, cool, cool.
Eve isn’t the only one having an awkward morning-after; at Carolyn’s house, her latest beau comes downstairs shirtless and finds Konstantin pottering around in the kitchen. One gets the sense that this is not the first (or even tenth) time there’s been a confrontation like this in Carolyn’s house, but only Kenny seems to feel uncomfortable about it. (Sidenote: Really hoping Eve undoes the Kenny sacking soon; this poor kid needs something more to do than to stand around looking pinched while Konstantin tries to slut-shame his mom.)
Konstantin’s presence at Carolyn’s home underscores that last week’s team-up wasn’t just a one-off. The gang is back together, and that includes Villanelle, for better or for worse. And honestly, it’s mostly for worse! When she’s not undermining Eve in front of her co-workers, she’s breaking into her house and doing weird, obscene things to her toothbrush. Note to self: that guy Martin and his Psychopath PowerPoint presentation deserve an apology. He did tell us!
Unfortunately, Villanelle is essential to the team’s new plan: infiltrate the extremely limited inner circle of Aaron Peel, the better to understand what kind of nefarious stuff he’s been up to — that is, apart from ordering the murder of his father and a dozen associates, which is already pretty bad. Peel’s only real connection is his sister, Amber. She’s a recovering addict who could desperately use a nice girlfriend to bond with, so enter “Billie,” Villanelle’s American alter-ego: a bored millennial influencer with rose gold hair, a drinking problem, and a “really annoying accent.” (Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally attacked by the BBC.) Although this new operation has its benefits — including one of those regularly-scheduled moments in which Eve and Jess flex their authority and subvert office gender stereotypes by rudely bossing Hugo around — it also creates new tension between Eve and Villanelle, who is blatantly insubordinate and much too pleased with the destructive impact she’s had on Eve’s marriage. When Eve tries to scold her for not doing her homework, Villanelle goes cold and threatening.
“The only thing that makes you interesting is me,” she says.
This should be reminder enough for Eve that she is, at the end of the day, working side by side with a serial killer. But here’s one more! Amber Peel has a chaperone who keeps interfering with Villanelle’s attempts at befriending her. Or, uh, she had a chaperone. Villanelle brazenly pitches the woman in front of a bus, killing her in full view of Eve, a chilling reminder of just who’s really in control.
Meanwhile, Niko isn’t responding to Eve’s calls or messages, so she tracks him down. To Gemma’s house. Because of course, when you leave your wife, your first stop should be the home of the co-worker who’s obviously, openly thirsting for you. (Behind-the-scenes recap trivia: I couldn’t remember Gemma’s name on the fly and nobody said it until nearly the end of this scene, leaving me to identify her in my notes as “Lipstick Tits.”) Gemma invites Eve inside for a cup of tea, an offer Eve clearly isn’t meant to accept — so she does, absolutely reveling in how uncomfortable she’s making everyone. It’s a very Villanelle move, right down to the part where she goes upstairs, paws through Gemma’s underwear drawer, and breaks the little twirly ballerina in her jewel box, which feels both hideously rude and incredibly necessary at the same time. Look, Gemma, we all have to make choices: you can have your twirly ballerina box, or you can have a sordid sexual fling with the fudge-mustache who’s married to an MI6 spy. These are the rules.
It’s all a little abrupt, but with a parting shot (“I hope you like the missionary position,” Eve says, to which Gemma retorts, “I do, actually”), it seems like the Polastri marriage might actually be over. Certainly, Eve is more interested in what comes next: sending Villanelle in undercover for a dinner at the Peels’. Eve and Konstantin monitor the operation from a van while “Billie” weathers the sneering judgment of Aaron Peel. Peel is even more of a sinister creep at home than he is at the office; when Villanelle goes snooping for intel, he actually appears from behind a secret sliding door in a bookcase like a James Bond villain to ask what she’s doing. And now, Villanelle takes a page out of Eve’s playbook: she goes rogue, secretly swallows her earpiece, calls Peel a bully, and smacks him across the face with the book he’s been using to taunt her. What does this mean for the operation? Who knows, but it’s awfully satisfying.
And here, the episode comes to an end — an ambiguous one. Villanelle stands at the counter in a greasy takeout joint, looking curiously at the doner kebab twirling behind the counter. She asks if you can do that with any kind of meat, and the cashier’s reply feels ominous: “People will eat anything if you slice it thin enough and put hot sauce on it.”
If you’re wondering whether this is the show’s way of foreshadowing an actual cannibalism plotline, then, a) me too, and b) God, I hope so! But it might also be a more broad sort of commentary, about the threats that pass among us unnoticed because they’re so well camouflaged. In the final moments of the episode, Villanelle stalks two young women through the dark and deserted streets — only when she shows herself, they don’t scream or run. They invite her to walk with them. They think she’s just like them. And they do so at their peril… whether or not they end up being turned into kebabs.