Photo: BBC America

Two episodes in, and we’ve already got a clear explanation for why Eve is going to be obsessed with Villanelle for however long this show runs. “She is outsmarting the smartest of us,” says Eve, “and for that she deserves to do or kill whoever the hell she wants.”

It comes only after some prodding from Carolyn Martens, her new boss. Because it’s an awful thing to admit, isn’t it? And yet for Eve, this is what justifies any behavior. If no one is smart enough to stop her, Villanelle has earned her kills. It’s been clear that Eve admires her, and now she’s just put into words exactly why that is. For someone like Eve, who has been unfulfilled, who knows she’s smarter than what she’s done so far in life, Villanelle represents someone living to the utmost of her abilities.

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And they are prodigious. Did someone train her to do that perfume trick? Killing Eve has been careful so far to show us exactly how disturbing Villanelle’s habits are, while simultaneously giving us the same queasy admiration for her that Eve has. She’s so glamorous, so clever, so funny. She knows how a normal young woman should behave, and she doesn’t care. That information is useful only insofar as it helps her get what she wants, particularly from men. A hug for Konstantin is just a way to uncover her next victim. She twice uses menstruation as a way to discourage men from questioning her. And the entire interaction with Sebastian is nothing but another way for her to peer into someone’s eyes at the exact moment of transformation (orgasm is la petite mort, right?).

But for all her inhumanity, we’ve gotten the first hint of the shape of her interest in Eve, quite literally. A woman’s face, with thick wavy hair, but no features, not dissimilar from Sandra Oh’s face. That Eve is on the path to find her only adds to the interest.

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We also see, again, that no matter how much the two of them might share, there’s an essential decency to Eve that Villanelle will never manage. She can barely lie to her husband, who learns immediately about her new spy job. The two women also spar with their older male confidants in this episode. Eve negotiates her new position of authority over Bill, who’s being sulky about reporting to her, by speaking to him briefly and explaining why he should respect her theory. And Villanelle takes a knife to Konstantin’s throat to remind him that her skill set is more important than his. Normal work disagreement stuff, you see.

The combination of the writing for her and Fiona Shaw’s weary, eerily still performance are already making Carolyn Martens a contender for stealth coolest person on the show. A woman sitting alone in a restaurant with her eyes closed should not be that riveting. And yet here we and Eve are, wondering what in the world she was thinking about, what it all means, why she knows Eve is deserving of this opportunity. To be deemed worthy by Carolyn Martens is clearly something worth earning. And worth quitting your job over, if you’re Elena. Partly this is the confidence that Shaw weaves into every move Carolyn Martens makes. Eve is right for the job because she knows Eve is right for the job. And the show pinpoints that feeling of fangirlish admiration it’s easy to have when you see another woman excelling in the field you’ve chosen.

So far, Eve is proving worthy of Carolyn’s confidence. She has quite a few puzzle pieces falling into place: a woman, showing signs of psychopathy, young, who probably killed before she was paid to do so. Luckily, she can help Kenny narrow down his search by describing exactly what Villanelle looks like. The cat and mouse portion of this adventure has begun.

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Stray observations

  • The entrance to the spy building is often shot from far away, as though someone is watching. It’s not apparent yet if someone is, but the framing certainly adds to the clandestine feel of the whole thing.
  • “I once saw a rat drink from a can of Coke there. Both hands. Extraordinary.” Carolyn Martens should always share what she finds extraordinary.
  • “Letting yourself into my apartment and drinking from a tiny cup doesn’t make you intimidating, by the way. It’s just rude.” It’s really, really hard to remember that Villanelle is the bad guy.
  • Ah yes, Eve is from Connecticut, hence no accent. The writers have some explaining to do for making her say “Oi!”, the most British exclamation in the world, however. If you are an American living in the U.K., how long does it take before you start saying oi? Please weigh in, expats.
  • I liked this episode a lot, but it’s a bit of an exposition dump. At least we have our Scooby gang now.
  • There’s a great, thoughtful interview with Sandra Oh in Vulture, if you’re curious, about getting the role, and the path of her career. 

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