The team travels to Rome, where things get weird... and sexy.
It’s a funny thing about psychopaths: while the world gets its kicks by focusing in on the most extreme among them, the Mansons and Dahmers (and Villanelles) of the world, you could almost forget that they exist in the overall population to the tune of about one percent. That’s a lot of psychopaths! Like, millions of them! Just walking among us, living their lives, empathizing with nobody and nothing, but not making such a big deal about it. And with psychopaths so solidly represented in the population at large, they’re bound to bump into each other occasionally — which is where this week’s episode of Killing Eve comes in. Villanelle is, of course, a highly exceptional (and murderous) psycho. But what happens when she’s not the only game in town?
We open with Villanelle, making toast. Our Lady of Perpetually Leaving Creepy Gifts on People’s Doorsteps is about to get a taste of her own medicine: outside her flat is a package, beautifully wrapped, and inside is the Dictionary of Philosophy that she slapped Aaron Peel across the face with last week. The note says, “Forgive me.”
This is good news for the MI6 team since Aaron is due to head to Rome in a few days for some meetings; they think he’s lining up buyers for his mysterious weapon. Eve asks Villanelle about her big “I’m bored and feel nothing” monologue last week, and Villanelle tries to reassure her:
“I feel things when I’m with you.” It’s a nice moment, albeit slightly ruined by the two girls from the end of last week’s episode tottering out of Villanelle’s bedroom in an obvious post-coital haze.
Villanelle puts on her Billie wig and goes off to lunch with her mark. Aaron has reserved the entire restaurant and already ordered — for her, not himself. (Sidenote: What kind of mystery dish is “the best thing on the menu” and “available just one week a year,” but also looks like ordinary egg noodles?) First, he watches Villanelle eat. Then, he invites her to Rome. She says she won’t sleep with him, and he looks repulsed: “I won’t touch you.” Is Aaron Peel just an ordinary, antisocial, patricidal control freak with a dirty business deal to make? Or is he something darker?
Meanwhile, Carolyn is concerned about Villanelle being given so much leeway to work on Peel — “I hate to be strict but she really mustn’t kill anyone,” she says — and Eve tries to play it cool, as though she hasn’t been repeatedly calling Villanelle and leaving her a bunch of desperate lovestruck voicemails under the guise of “just checking in.” If our girl had more self-awareness and this were another sort of story, these messages would be the start of a wacky Road Trip-style side plot in which she realizes how embarrassing they are and goes to increasingly wild lengths to intercept them (sidenote, I’d watch the hell out of that show), but not here. Instead, Villanelle listens to the voicemails with a smile… and goes to pay Niko a visit.
She finds him with Gemma in a storage container — which sounds untoward, but actually, it really doesn’t look like these two have even kissed yet, let alone consummated their mutual interest (in the missionary position or otherwise.) Villanelle comes in all smiles, asking for Niko’s shepherd’s pie recipe, but of course, that’s not all she’s after. Out comes a knife, and some tough questions. First, she asks Niko about his feelings for Gemma (who has been whimpering continuously since Villanelle’s arrival, to the point where I would not mind seeing her stabbed if it meant not hearing another tremulous refrain of, “Neeeeko, what’s going onnnnnn?)
Bad news for Gemma: Niko says he doesn’t love her (sorry Gemma), but he does love Eve, and boy oh boy is this not the answer Villanelle was looking for.
“I was so close to letting both of you go,” she says.
Keeping us in suspense, this is where the show cuts to Eve, preparing for the team’s imminent trip to Rome. Kenny begs her not to go and starts to tell her why, but his warning is cut off by the appearance of Carolyn— and Martin, the psychopath expert, gives her the same advice. She’s too involved, he says. (It also probably doesn’t help that he caught her mid-flirtation in his waiting room with yet another sexy psychopath, one of his institutionalized patients. “He’s killed three women,” Martin tells Eve, to which she responds, “He could kill the shit outta me.” Which, I mean, yes, me too. But you don’t just say that!)
And then, it’s off to Rome. Eve and Hugo check into a very two-star hotel, while Villanelle finds herself in a swank, gorgeous city hideaway with a closet full of brand new clothes picked out for her by her host. Remember poor, weird, dead Julian from Basildon, with the doll collection and the demented mom? Aaron Peel, joysticking around Villanelle’s room with a hidden camera while she dresses and eats and sits in whichever way he demands, is what Weird Julian might have been, given a bigger budget and more privileged circumstances.
Eventually, we find out more about the weapon Aaron is selling, which is basically a Sherlock Holmes-esque data mining operation that can tell you everything about anyone, an idea that is both terrifying and a little too close to current-year privacy concerns for comfort. But we also find out why Aaron chose Villanelle as his companion: he sees the emptiness in her.
“You’re the only person in the world I know nothing about. A void.”
“That’s me,” Villanelle says.
Aaron says, “Me, too.”
But Villanelle is different from Aaron: where he’s repulsed by people, she’s fascinated by them. And the person who fascinates her most is so far away, yet so close— just a whisper away. In Eve’s earpiece, Villanelle purrs, “You should let yourself go.”
And she does! She lets herself go straight into Hugo’s bed.
So, that happened. But whatever tension might be present after their illicit romp (and Hugo’s snarking about “threesomes” after seeing Eve remove her earpiece notwithstanding), they’re certainly having a better time than Niko. Yeah, remember Niko? Last seen in a storage container, being quizzed by Villanelle about the orientation of his heart? In the final moments of the episode, we see him waking up. He’s right where we left him, but Gemma isn’t whimpering anymore.
Because she’s dead, with a plastic bag taped over her head, her eyes wide and mouth open in a frozen scream.