Killing Eve premiere recap: Eve is a changed woman and Villanelle is... religious?
It's been so long since the last season of Killing Eve that I had to go back to my own 2020 finale recap to remind myself how it ended: with Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) standing at a distance, gazing at each other, paused on the precipice of who-knows-what.
There was a lot captured in that look: yearning, regret, the knowledge that this thing between them was never going to end well (albeit better than the last two times they broke up, when one of them ended up either stabbed or shot.) But for us, the viewer, there was also trepidation: the most recent season of Killing Eve was, frankly, weak, mired in pointless side plots and totally lacking the zany momentum that made the show so much fun — and that was before a global pandemic threw a wrench in production for two years. Long, lingering looks are all well and good, but they'd have to hit the ground running to recapture that energy in this fourth and final season. Would they? Could they?
Spoiler alert: Yes! Yes, they did.
We're not on that bridge anymore, or even in London. We're in Russia, municipality unspecified, where the streets are lined with faded political posters featuring a man with white hair, a suit, and a big smile: Konstantin (Kim Bodnia).
It's our first hint about this episode's main theme, a Killing Eve favorite: self-reinvention. Everyone on the show has been transformed since we last saw them, at least superficially. Take Konstantin, now immersed in his new life as a local mayor. And then there's the mysterious motorcyclist who pulls up in front of his headquarters, dispatches his security guards, and strides in with gun leveled.
"Eve!" Konstantin says, surprised and seemingly delighted. "How did you find me?"
The old Eve would have probably delivered a snarky quip. But this isn't the old Eve. It's Bad Motorcycle Eve With a Gun. So she just shoots him. See? Changes!
Eve isn't just here to kick ass and ride motorcycles (although it must be said that she walks like a woman who's been riding a motorcycle a lot, over rough roads, for many hours on end). She wants information, because she's on a mission to find Helene (Camille Cottin) and destroy the mysterious organization known as The Twelve. It's unclear how long she's been at this — a few months, maybe? Time enough to build a nice little shrine to her obsession with photos of The Twelve's assassins, a map of the world, and post-its. Lots of post-its. She's also got herself a new gig in private security, and a hunky new boyfriend named Yusuf (Robert Gilbert) who is not only supportive of, but an active accomplice in Eve's quest for revenge. It's a whole new vibe, and it looks great on her. (Just don't think too hard about the little synchronicities between the way she brings her new beau a protein shake and that season 1 fantasy in which she told Niko (Owen McDonnell) she would kill him and dispose of his body by pouring him down the toilet one blenderful at a time… because we are all still thinking about that, right? It's not just me?)
Only two things could threaten Eve's focus as she pursues her mission. (Unless you count the part where Yusuf attempts to distract her by reclining shirtless on a bed with cashews perched on his nipples, in which case it's three things. Or four, if you count each nipple nut individually. But I digress.) The first is Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), whose new job as a cultural attaché in Spain has not deterred her from investigating a series of murders connected to The Twelve. Carolyn isn't supposed to be doing this, of course — she's supposed to be judging sand-sculpting competitions and telling schoolchildren about British culture — but everyone knows she was never going to leave this alone. Hugo (Edward Bluemel), who has been promoted to Carolyn's former spot on the Russia desk, and whose hair has reached levels of luxuriousness matched only by his ego, visits Mallorca and tries to threaten her into backing off. Instead, she goes to Eve, offering information in return for access.
"You're still playing the same old game of chess," Eve snaps back. "I want to sweep the chessboard off the table and set it on fire."
And then there's the second thing that might distract Eve: Villanelle, who walked away from that bridge and into yet another transformation… for the holy. When we see her again, she's in church, she's singing, and most importantly, she's wearing an outfit we've never seen before: a bright red choral robe with a huge, Elizabethan ruff collar and a shiny gold cross around her neck.
Villanelle is now living and working as a church employee and semi-permanent houseguest of the parish priest (who finds her suspicious) and his daughter (who finds her irresistible). Even as she insists that she's turning over a new leaf, it's hard not to notice that she wears this new identity as a costume, same as all the others. The red robe she sings in, the "What Would Jesus Do?" tie-dyed t-shirt she wears to cook a dinner of loaves and fishes, the white dress she wants to be baptized in: as always, the trappings on the outside belie the emptiness within. When the priest questions her about why she wants to be baptized, about whether she even believes in God, we understand what this is really about: "I have faith I'm not as s----y inside as some people think I am," she says.
And she wants to prove it. But when Eve doesn't show up to her baptism, Villanelle can't stand it anymore. How can she show Eve what a different, better person she is when Eve refuses to even look?
This is the heart of it, and something we'll likely be revisiting a lot this season: whether these people have changed, whether they're even capable of it, who they are, who they're meant to be. Villanelle wants — prays, even — to be a different person. But Eve has actually become one, finding something that consumes her even more than her obsession with Villanelle once did.
And here's where we leave them, at the end of this very good, very promising season premiere. Eve, having successfully tracked one of The Twelve's newest recruits, finally catches a glimpse of her quarry: Helene.
Carolyn, finally forced to the sidelines of the game she's played so well for so long, is mad enough to spit. (Literally, she spits).
And Villanelle, having unsuccessfully tried to bait Eve back into their old game of cat and mouse, comforts herself in the usual way, by murdering someone close to her… only to shock everyone, herself most of all, when she rescusitates her victim and saves the life she almost took.
"I didn't kill you," she murmurs, amazed.
It is, truly, a miracle. And maybe Villanelle has been saved, too: in the final moments of the episode, she sees Him, her Lord and Savior, a personal Jesus just for her. He's wearing gold disco boots. He's eating popcorn. He says he'll lead her to salvation. And most importantly, he's got a face she can trust: her own.
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.