Killing Eve S3/E4 Review: ‘Still Got It’
Television series that depend on drawing out their core suspense as long as possible – will Richard Kimble ever find the One-Armed Man? Will Sam and Diane ever get together? – tend to avoid making any real choices. Choices close narrative doors. Killing Eve closed some big ones tonight.
An early concern at the beginning of the show’s third season was if it would revert to type. After an award-winning first season which relied on the cat-and-mouse relationship between special agent Eve Polastri and international assassin Villanelle, the second season brought them together. The show is over if they commit adultery (or murder) together, so the show has no choice and makes none. The second season finale leaves them separated for a return, it appears, to the status quo.
The status quo seems worryingly in the offing in ‘Still Got It.’ The episode opens with a focus on Eve’s ex-husband Niko as he returns to his native Poland. He has a new job as a bakery delivery man, enjoys football at the local pub, and catches the eye of a pretty bartender. Eve and the show have both needed to move on from her failed marriage, and the prospect of spending narrative real estate on it didn’t inspire a lot of hope. The episode did, employing a Tarantino-esque fragmentary approach to each main character with a circular plot that begins and ends with Niko. And boy, does it end.
The vignette approach works wonders in an episode about characters treading water. Eve is sleeping in the offices of The Bitter Pill, having vacated her apartment seemingly after her run-in with Villanelle on the bus last week. Their unexpected reunion – and kiss! – was a signal that things weren’t going to go quite as expected. Actually, that started with the death of Kenny. But for Eve, she’s still clinging to the idea she’s going to solve the murder, she’s going to restore her career maybe, she’s going to revive her marriage. When she gets a response from Nico finally, she makes a choice: she goes to Poland. But Niko didn’t send her any texts and we cut away as her excitement crumbles on his dismay.
As Eve tries to repair her family, Konstantin tries to do the same with his. He visits his young daughter in Moscow, promising he will come home, but she isn’t buying it. Konstantin’s motives remain opaque, but what’s clear now is he is working for The Twelve to protect their interests relative to 1) their identity and 2) their money. He enlists Villanelle in the closing of a loose end by sending her to kill the wife of Charles Kruger, who she killed last week (and was on the hook for losing six million euros).
Villanelle’s segment provides a lot of fun and energy as she tries (and fails) to make Eve a birthday cake. She’s floating on air after their kiss, and when Dasha informs her The Twelve want to meet Villanelle for what the assassin suspects is a long-sought promotion, she’s flying. Nothing Dasha says or does comes across as trustworthy, and when Dasha meets with a nameless woman at a swimming pool, the idea that Dasha is hiding something solidifies. The mysterious woman wants Dasha to get Villanelle to focus by having Dasha drive a wedge – or perhaps a pitchfork – between her and Eve.
That pitchfork ends up in Niko’s throat right as Eve walks up to him in a barn in Poland. Dasha stole his phone, sent texts to lure Eve there, and ties a catty note – ‘Still Got It’ – to the handle. The message is clear: Villanelle did this. Eve will erupt in rage, and those little embers of romance will die. No more cat and mouse. No more will they or won’t they. Eve will suspect Villanelle of this murder, and of Kenny’s.
It will be war.
Killing Niko sets the series down a path it cannot possibly retreat from. Eve can never go back to her normal if boring home life. She can never go back to her career. And she likely cannot advance into any kind of relationship with Villanelle – not that such a thing was necessarily possible (feelings aside, Villanelle is a homicidal sociopath) – and so with this act Killing Eve closes many narrative roads. There is no going back. Only forward, into what for Eve is bound to be darkness.
Villanelle is going back, though. Last week, she asked Konstantin to find her real birth family. He does (one suspects he knew all along) and this discovery immediately induces a fit of hiccups in Villanelle. Seeing her vulnerable – even in a silly kind of way – is new. Her trajectory this season seems to be confronting her past and who she is, even as Eve tumbles inexorably toward a bleak future. The vitality of the show depends on the growth of the character. If Villanelle remains a static character, glibly killing her way through Europe and every once in awhile trading furtive glances with Eve, it will wither.
Thankfully, the third season seems determined to avoid that. Villanelle shows glimmers of softness and possibility that she hasn’t before. Whether that’s the influence of Eve or just a natural progression of a woman who may be getting a bit bored with how easy things are, it’s hard to tell. What seems certain is that the character will have to make a choice when Eve confronts her inevitably over Nico. Does she carry on with their game, or does she prove to Eve – and herself – that she’s not who Eve thinks.
The prospect of such a choice is exciting. So is the thought that the two could switch places. Eve’s fascination with Villanelle is rooted in her attraction to her, but also in the appeal of Villanelle’s cavalier bloodsport. Eve is as attracted to violence as she is Villanelle. Will Eve seek revenge? Will she go on a killing spree of her own before the end of the season? Will Villanelle try and save her?
Can they be saved?
- The song playing over Niko’s return to Poland is “Dear Diary,” by The Moody Blues.
- Dasha goes to elaborate lengths to set Niko and Eve up for disaster, including murdering and impersonating a local woman.
- Eve bonds with the editor of The Bitter Pill, Jamie, by sharing horrible things they’ve done in the past. Eve seems about to confess her feelings about Villanelle but is interrupted by Jamie admitting drugs he bought killed his best friend.
- Villanelle cannot bake.
- Carolyn’s grief continues like a plane out of fuel. She’s slowly losing altitude, but from a distance, you can’t really tell anything is wrong with it.