In episode four, the big and lavish and colourful titles don’t indicate the attractive (and unattractive) scene locations; instead, they spell out the names of the main players. Although this is unnecessary, given the amount of time we’ve spent with Eve and Villanelle and Carolyn and Konstantin, the episode strays from the norm with enticing emphasis.
The writer this week is Elinor Cook, mainly known as a playwright with only one episode of TV to her name (The Secrets). Killing Eve is a good vehicle to help female creatives be noticed in the industry, and it’s remarkable the level of talent in their selection. In episode four, Cook plays with the characters’ timelines – stretching back and forth; concealing; revealing – with the confidence of a less intense Tarantino. Tarantino-lite, if you will; only without the film studies motive to be copiously analysable.
In these narrative shifts, hidden answers peek out of sun loungers by swimming pools and between the pixels of text messages – leading to an ending that’s both furiously surprising and intellectually satisfying. We begin with Niko (Owen McDonnell), Eve’s ex, as he exiles himself to a small village in Poland. He eyes an attractive bartender; a new life feels possible, but not with Eve’s texts rolling up and up. He’d have done better to get rid of his phone and former life entirely.
Meanwhile, Eve stays away from her flat after finding the Villanelle bear – sleeping instead at the Bitter Pill offices and eating her co-worker’s Coco Pops. Oh, and it’s her birthday. Her existential feelings spill into every other character: each pondering their terrible life choices, ignited by a bleak and funny scene between Eve and her probable love interest Jamie (Danny Sapani).
Villanelle’s going through something similar as she gets closer to meeting her parents, showing a more emotional side to the psychopathic assassin (leading to an unprecedented bout of hiccups). There’s a soft yet frightening intrigue to this side of herself, coming out in strange ways as she interacts with her new target.
Konstantin travels back to Russia to see his daughter Irina, last seen in season one. She nearly steals the episode (again) with her wit and love/hatred for her father; Yuli Lagodinsky performing to smart, adolescent perfection. But where this daughter is directed brilliantly, the same can’t be said for Carolyn’s daughter Geraldine (Gemma Whelan).
There’s a scene between Carolyn and Geraldine that’s beautifully and grievously written, but Whelan feels oddly placed: appearing like a spoof of a sad person as she kneels down and creases her face. Knowing the emotional depths that Whelan can plunge (see White House Farm), this is a missed opportunity.
But every week, Killing Eve continues to shock and surprise, slicing expectations. Episode four is the least tropey and least imitative of the season so far.
Killing Eve season 3 drops on BBC iPlayer every Monday at 6am. Episodes also air on BBC One at 9:15pm on Sundays
|What||Killing Eve season 3 episode 4, BBC review|
04 May 20 – 04 Apr 21, ON BBC iPLAYER