The concept that Hollywood isn’t interested in Women of a Certain Age is so well-known that America’s Dad Tom Hanks can make a joke about it on Saturday Night Live, but Killing Eve has quietly been making a case for three years now that it’s a mistake not to pay attention to them. At this point, it’s gotten a bit ridiculous how many men Carolyn knew in the ’80s who have gone on to become major players in her present-day work, but on some level it makes sense. This is where Carolyn ended up—why wouldn’t the rest of her cohort be in similar places?
Some of them end up in worse places than others, of course, including the squirrelly accountant who tries to get Konstantin to help him before being taken out in short order by Villanelle. But the overall notion that Carolyn both a) “had a great time in the ‘80s,” as Eve puts it and b) is able to use those connections for her own benefit now is exactly the sort of thing that a male spy would do. Except in this case it’s Carolyn, a 60-something female spy. The thing is, this makes perfect sense. Of course Carolyn used sex as an escape and also a method of connection. This is what spies do all the time (at least in pop culture. Sorry to all the real spies out there who spend all day reading paperwork or something), and the show’s casual assumption that Carolyn would continue to reap the benefits of those days despite no longer being Villanelle’s age is one of its more charming creative decisions. Killing Eve has always had a lot of fun with putting women in positions usually occupied by men, so Carolyn’s track record shouldn’t surprise too much. The femme fatale role that Villanelle occupies is perhaps the one most usually held by a woman, but the show is careful to tip that on its head, too—see the boxy suit she wears for her big reunion with Eve, her general indifference to men, or even more unusually, the concept that she almost never needs a rescue from our weary hero.
The downside to the focus on Carolyn, as fun as she is, is that Eve has been somewhat sidelined of late. Eve and Villanelle have yet another dramatic reunion, but somehow it’s one of the less important things that happen in the episode, and there’s a general sense that she’s drifting a bit these days. That was their first kiss, but it’s so defiantly unsexual that it leaves open the question of whether Eve does it because she wants to kiss Villanelle, or because she wants to mess with Villanelle. Which is rather par for the course for her, and one of the show’s strong points—Eve always seems to waffle between an actual attraction to Villanelle and a fierce desire to be her.
But the lack of focus on Eve is one of a few elements that make this episode feel a bit diffuse. Eve is hanging out at the Bitter Pill offices now, but it’s unclear if their work is supposed to turn into an article, or if this is all a way to avenge Kenny’s murder. His death is somehow supposed to be spurring on a more active investigation of the Twelve than we’ve previously had, but the fitful focus on a massive criminal conspiracy has long made it hard to get too invested in it. With Villanelle as the star attraction, her bosses have rarely generated much interest. The many deaths we’ve seen across three seasons have often meant very little in the plot, so it’s going to take more than a little work to suddenly give them depth and significance. Should we now wonder why Villanelle killed that pianist? Or the guy at the party in the last episode? Are these important figures in some larger war among the rich and powerful, or is there no link between each individual one? Does Villanelle know who they are? Does she care? She wants to be more important in the organization, but does she even know what it does?
It does seem plausible that she’ll lose some interest in that promotion now that the more tantalizing connection with Eve is back on the table. And it is entirely too likely that her bosses know that. Why else send Villanelle to a place she’ll only wreak havoc?
- Not to nitpick Villanelle’s work, as she is clearly the expert here, but could you really throw a knife that small hard enough to pierce the back of a skull? Does Villanelle moonlight as Major League pitcher?
- More identifiable: Villanelle’s inability to come up with the perfect message to record for Eve. Those things are a trap; no one can come up with a good message.
- The tension around a maybe-assassination attempt on Carolyn feels real enough, but it’s a little odd that Eve is so completely convinced that Carolyn is Villanelle’s target. How could she possibly be the only candidate in London? They know almost nothing about the Twelve’s organization, and Carolyn would have been a potential target for her whole career.
- Villanelle really gets Konstantin for once with the bed surprise, but I was very thrown by his bedtime ritual. Is this really how people go to bed? Doesn’t everyone sit in bed for a minute reading or something? He gets in bed and goes to sleep immediately like a Stardew Valley farmer.
- I am so confused about what Konstantin’s deal is at this point. Who ordered him to stay in London? How was he simultaneously willing to help Kruger but unaware that the Twelve would take him out for losing six million euros?
- Oh good, Eve is texting Nico. That relationship should be abandoned like all the office plants right now.