Monday, 28 May 2018

Killing Eve 1x08 God, I'm Tired Review: "This Hurts"


In theory it really shouldn’t have worked. The season ended on a massive cliff-hanger. We’re still no closer to knowing who exactly Villanelle works for. Some will undoubtedly walk away from the episode feeling extremely short changed. Maybe even questioning whether or not the hype really lived up to it all.

But where these questions are posed, it feels important to remember the show we’re watching. Essentially our typical cat and mouse game, but with two outstanding actresses leading the way, instead of the stereotypical female Detective hunting for a man. The writers have always been extremely aware that they’re essentially turning tropes on their heads, doing exactly what we would expect a television show not to do, and we got that in bundles in the finale. We were also treated to some absolutely cracking dialogue, high body count and THAT moment between Villanelle and Eve.

Backing up for a second here and let’s recap just what went down. Villanelle had indeed kidnapped Konstantin’s daughter, and used her as an unwilling accomplice. They both drove each other absolutely crazy. Konstantin went to Carolyn for help, and they were joined by Kenny and Eve who had defied Carolyn’s orders and not actually gone back to London. Over a breakfast, Konstantin told them his daughter was extremely annoying, and would drive Villanelle insane with how annoying she was which would lead Villanelle to kill her.

That conversation started out quite light hearted with Konstantin almost joking over the prospects of his daughter dying, but things very quickly turned serious, as the weight of the situation hit home. Having retrieved Villanelle’s secret stash during her visit to Anna’s place last week, Eve knew that an assassin on the wire without any resources would be going to her safety place. Carolyn was momentarily stunned that Eve had actually met Anna, but there wasn’t any time to dwell as Konstantin and Eve teamed up to go to Anna’s place.

They were of course beaten there by Villanelle and her unwilling accomplice. It didn’t take long for Villanelle to sneak into the flat, discover her stash was missing and be confronted by Anna.

Killing Eve has had many things going for it since it first began. Wonderful actors, great humour, lovely scenery, and of course the writing. It is always top notch, knowing when to be funny, when to be serious, and giving us information without feeling as though we’re listening to an information overload.

When Anna saw how bruised Villanelle’s face was, she couldn’t help but feel for her. Villanelle murdered her husband, essentially robbing Anna of the love of her life, and leaving her to continue living in an empty existence of sorts. She’s spent all these years just hoping for Villanelle to turn back up, so that she can kill her and avenge her husband’s death, and yet she can’t help feeling concerned by how bruised Villanelle is. It reminded me somewhat of how angry Eve was at Villanelle for killing Bill, and robbing her of a friend and his child of a father, proclaiming how much she hated her and wanted her dead and yet during their time together in episode 5? Well most of that hatred went out of the window and was replaced by a hungry desire to know more of her subject.

It’s just the effect Villanelle has on people and she’s more than aware of it. Most of the time she uses their curiosity to her advantage. On the occasion she’s equally wrapped up in curiosity and that causes her to let her guard down, but more on that later. During their confrontation in the flat, Villanelle and Anna both proclaim that they seduced each other, and Villanelle takes great joy in confirming that she and Anna were intimate. Not really a detail that should surprise anyone as it was blatantly obvious last week, with the way in which Anna angrily greeted Eve’s question.

Villanelle and Anna are soon both threatening to kill each other though. Anna reiterates she’s waited a long time for this day and knows that she should want to kill Villanelle. She though knows that Anna just doesn’t have it in her. She admits that she used to love Anna a long time ago, but she’s over that now, since she basically has a new toy to obsess over, and unlike Anna? She can and will actually pull the trigger and kill her. Whilst she may be unable to kill Villanelle, she is able to kill herself.

To an extent Anna dying wasn’t shocking. At the beginning of the series she may very much have been on Villanelle’s mind, with Konstantin having Anna’s name brought up to prove that Villanelle wasn’t fit to go back to action. But the show has come a long way in 8 episodes. Finally having Anna on screen last week served its purpose in giving us further information about Villanelle’s origin. We now know her connection with Konstantin was far deeper than we were originally led to believe. She was on hand to warn Eve that she is exactly Villanelle’s type, and for their conversation last week to have Eve equally jealous as much as she was fascinated. As I say the show is about Villanelle and Eve, and we don’t need another person being added to the mix. Having said all that though, I was completely convinced Villanelle would be the one to kill Anna. To finally confirm that she really was over her. From Anna’s point of view though, Villanelle has had enough power over her life, so of course she wouldn’t let her be the one to kill her. It’s almost like a final act of defiance.

With Anna dead and still without any money or resources, Villanelle’s getting a bit desperate. So she calls up Eve and arranges to meet her and Konstantin. The show has so far been excellent I knowing when to build the tension and when to give us a break, so Eve questioning Konstantin over his connection to Villanelle in the car, and then threatening to shoot him as he’s trying to have a wee? Exactly my type of humour. Konstantin then reiterating that he still had his bits hanging out, and Eve’s disgust as she was faced with it was just top notch, and it’s moments like these that the Britishness of Killing Eve really shines through because an American show just couldn’t pull this off.

Further confirming all of this, Villanelle and Konstantin’s daughter are in a tea room just minding their own business, and Villanelle can’t resist teasing her over her photo. They’re soon joined by Konstantin and Eve, and Villanelle greets them by holding Konstantin’s daughter at gun point. As the people around them cower, Villanelle’s extremely joyful at being the crazy lady with a gun. Konstantin and Eve are soon trying to negotiate for his daughter’s release. Eve hands over Villanelle’s stuff and Villanelle does indeed shoot Konstantin.

Now I’m in two minds over whether he is actually dead. With TV shows and movies I go with the rule that unless we see the people bleeding out onto the ground, and the life completely drain from their eyes? There’s the possibility they’re not actually dead.

Killing Konstantin in itself would be an extremely controversial move. Some have grown to like him and his rather strange father/daughter relationship with Villanelle. He brings a level of humanisation to her that no other character can. Which is sort of why he has to die. It’s blatantly obvious that Konstantin knows far more than he’s letting on in many different aspects. Again the show is about the cat and mouse game between Villanelle and Eve, so having Konstantin hovering around saying cryptic words, and Villanelle keeping him alive solely for sentimentality? That’s just not the story the show is telling.

During the stand off in the tea room Villanelle is completely apologetic to the fact she has to kill Konstantin. She doesn’t want to do it, but they both know that she has to because it’s her job. If she lets him live? Well suddenly she’s not our non-stop killing machine, and is on the run from her employees for not doing her job correctly, potentially even giving into witness protection, and that again changes the whole complexity of the show.

The writers know this and even Eve herself knows this. When Villanelle shoots Konstantin, she could’ve attempted to shoot or even overpower her, and then seize the moment to arrest Villanelle or something to that nature. Instead she’s begging Villanelle to go with her so that they can talk, because she just wants answers from her. That’s not something Villanelle is at all willing to give, and she does of course get away and Eve lets her.

At the airport Carolyn confirms that Konstantin is indeed dead, which I’m still not quite believing, and tells Eve she’s out of a job. Carolyn knows she went talking behind her back, and whilst it may be a move she admires, she still has to put Eve in her place. As Carolyn said at the beginning of the show, she is the top dog in this house. She’ll handle Eve disrespecting other people’s orders and going rogue on them, but she won’t put up with it from Eve herself, and Eve doesn’t really have much of an argument. She was more than aware when she went to Vlad that there would potentially be consequences.

Whilst Carolyn and Kenny go ahead and board the plane to London, Eve gets a call from Elena which sends her off to Paris. She’s managed to track down just where exactly Villanelle actually lives, and Eve decides to pay her a visit, because she really can’t let this go.

At this point in time she’s lost her friend, marriage fallen apart, now her job, more people have died, and yet she’s still all about Villanelle. Eve bumps into her neighbour who it transpires is actually a spy keeping an eye on Villanelle. After some initial shrugging round the subject trying to be on the downlow, Eve is spotted attempting to break into Villanelle’s apartment and her neighbour gives her a key.

Villanelle obviously isn’t home yet, so Eve decides to have a good old look around. Smashes and drinks champagne bottles, goes through her bathroom and of course her closet. None of these are the actions of a police officer, or indeed any member of the law who just wants to see justice served. They’re the acts of someone who very much wants to know more about their crush. Villanelle does eventually arrive home, and notes that Eve’s had quite the party in her absence. Eve of course threatens to shoot Villanelle, but she mocks her by stating she can't do it as she likes Villanelle too much. Knowing she has a point, Eve instead asks Villanelle to sit down so she can bear her soul.

Finally facing up to herself, Eve admits she can’t stop thinking about her in every aspect. What she eats, what she smells like, who she’s with, where she’s with them. She just cannot get Villanelle out of her head and it has basically cost her everything she holds dear to her.

Now since the show first began, some have climbed onto the Villanelle/Eve ship so to speak. Sometimes we just can’t help liking characters we know we shouldn’t, and when you have two women giving off as much sexual tension as these two? You can’t help falling for it. I’m very much of the perspective that whether I agree or not? People are gonna ship what they want to ship. Personally myself I have found myself rooting for the odd problematic character over the year, but I’m always quick to remind myself that these characters have done bad things. They’re messed up, they hurt people, sure they have a tragic back story but that doesn’t erase anything that they’ve done, but as long as I remember all of this and never seek to excuse any of it? Then that is ok. I kind of feel the same way here. Villanelle is a dangerous psychopath who will kill without blinking, her obsession with Eve isn’t health and Eve’s very much reciprocal obsession isn’t either. But Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer just bounce off each other and the script so magnificently that logic often goes out the window.

During Eve’s speech to Villanelle I should be thinking ‘run girl, run!’ but I’m not. Another important point to make is that the writers had the season done and dusted long before it made its way to air. They obviously saw the subtext in the writing between the characters and decided to make that subtext something very real. Again I’m not going to criticize this because being a writer myself, I’m more than aware that your characters are the ones in charge of the story. A direction you might not have considered might suddenly pop up on page 10, and you just can’t help running away and having fun with it.

Throughout these 8 episodes we’ve seen Villanelle and Eve very much having fun with it. Since they first stumbled across each other, they’ve been each other’s addiction. Eve’s addiction has caused her marriage to completely fall apart, and put herself in danger constantly, yet never caring because she just has to have more. Villanelle’s obsession has seen her be slightly clumsy in her work in places, kill Bill when she wasn’t supposed to and take even more risks because she craves Eve’s attention.

After Eve spills her soul, Villanelle admits she’s just as obsessed with Eve as she is with her and outlines just what exactly she wants from life, and Eva agrees to stay for a bit in a moment that people will jump onto. I can’t at all blame them because it’s what the writers are serving up, and for a moment? I will admit when they were sat on the bed together I was expecting something to actually happen. Villanelle most certainly was ready for something to happen judging from her eagerness.

But just like with Konstantin and Anna’s deaths, if the show had actually gone there, and turned their obsession with one another into romantic feelings acted on? The show is over. We’re here for the build-up and chase between these two characters, not for them to actually do something with all that sexual tension, and that’s why Eve stabbing Villanelle shouldn’t at all be surprising.

Eve asks Villanelle if she'll kill her and Villanelle admits she won't, and calls Eve rude for having a knife. With Anna, she knew she didn't have it in her to kill Villanelle. You would've thought from their meeting in episode 5 that Villanelle would've learnt not to underestimate Eve. But she does, claiming that she doesn't have it in her to actually stab Villanelle and she very much proves her wrong. In episode 5 she promises Villanelle that she would find the thing she loved and take it away from her. Well, Eve has become that thing she at the very least has strong feelings for, and making good on that promise Eve takes it away from her. Villanelle is strangely enough genuinely gutted that Eve has betrayed her. It's not something that should surprise her because it's the type of move Villanelle would pull off herself, and once the moment of avenging Bill's death and proving to Villanelle that she can follow through on her actions wears off, Eve is hearing and seeing how gutted Villanelle is by being betrayed and regretting her actions. Granted she does that by pulling the knife out when Villanelle tells her not to, but that’s what happens when this is baby’s first time stabbing someone!

Eve rushes around the apartment to grab anything really that can be used to stop the bleeding, because she does genuinely want to help Villanelle but it’s too late for that. She let her guard down once and ended up stabbed, Villanelle isn’t risking that again, and starts shooting at Eve who screams she only wants to help. As Eve comes out of hiding, Villanelle is nowhere to be seen and her neighbour reveals she’s left.

It’s a cliffhanger that sets up a mouth watering second season. Eve is of course going to have to deal with the fall out of losing her job. Villanelle is obviously going to have to get patched up by someone, and what happens when they do meet again? Will Villanelle still be holding the grudge over being stabbed, and be determined to kill Eve? Is Eve going to be desperate to try and once again hunt Villanelle down? Or will she return to her husband and attempt to make things work with him? Will we find out just what exactly Carolyn’s role in all of this is, and who exactly wanted Konstantin dead?

It's a heck of a lot of questions and I don’t for one second doubt this shows ability to answer them. Killing Eve has been an absolute breath of fresh air. I’m someone who was previously familiar with Jodie Comer having watched bits of ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ and of course the excellent ‘Thirteen’. There’s never been any doubt in my mind that she is one of the best British actresses out there, and ‘Killing Eve’ has certainly raised her profile. There are really the words to describe just what exactly she’s done with Villanelle, but I really can’t imagine any other actress would’ve been able to bring her to life the way Jodie has. And of course where there is praise for her, there has to be praise for Sandra Oh. What she’s done with Eve Polaski, unearthing the many different layers to her, and as a result showing many different sides to her? It’s been excellent. She’s more than nailed the shows dark sense of humour, nailed every emotion that the script has thrown at her, and like Jodie, I can’t imagine any other actress being able to bring Eve to life the way she has.