Sunday, May 6, 2018

REVIEW: 'Killing Eve' - Eve and Villanelle Confront Each Other In Unexpected Ways in 'I Have a Thing About Bathrooms'

BBC America's Killing Eve - Episode 1.05 "I Have a Thing About Bathrooms"

Having survived a terrifying close call with Villanelle, Eve now has the mole ensconced in a safe house and is buzzing. They have an exciting opportunity to glean information and crack this thing open.

Killing Eve is fundamentally a story about obsession. Both Eve and Villanelle do things that would normally get them killed or caught. And yet, there is such an inherent fascination they have for each other. It draws them in and forces them to act irrationally. It's being noticed by the people around them whose lives are essentially in danger because of it. But Eve and Villanelle are so curious and enthralled by how much the other already knows about them. It's a story of these two women being more open and vulnerable with each other than with anyone else in the world. It forces them to do reckless things without fully thinking through the consequences. Sure, the story is still predominately a spy thriller with a high body count. Yet another character is killed off this week. But it's all done in service to this grand almost love story between Eve and Villanelle. They both have the compulsion to kill each other. Villanelle has it because she's a psychopath trained as an assassin. Eve has it because Villanelle killed Bill. And yet, neither of them have succeeded in that end goal just yet despite the amount of time they spend together this week. It's so creepy and terrifying to see Eve and Villanelle just casually in each other's orbit. So much of this story has been told through secondhand information. Eve and Villanelle have made their presences known through their actions. Those make it clear that they are always thinking about each other. And now, they have that personal confrontation which forces them to speak openly about their motivations and their fascination with one another. They are incapable of killing each other. They are still working towards that objective. But right now, the longer this conflict is prolonged the more innocent people will die as a result. Villanelle continues to get such a rush by sending a direct message to Eve through her kills. It's no longer subtle and not in the best interests of the organization she works for. But it's all a part of the game that the two of them are now playing with each other.

It all starts with the grand resolution to last week's cliffhanger. Eve and Elena were rushing to save Frank before Villanelle and her new partners could kill him. The organization no longer had any use for him and saw him as a liability that could be forced into talking to these investigators. That ultimately comes true as well. But right now, Villanelle is firing at the getaway car that Eve is currently driving. She has Frank safely in her custody. She would be putting his life in jeopardy while compromising her investigation should she get out of the car and talk to Villanelle. It's such a foolish and reckless decision. And yet, she still makes it. She does so against the objections of Elena and Frank. They understand just how dangerous the consequences could be. Villanelle is the one with the gun. Eve has no weapon to protect herself. It's just a slow seduction between the two characters. Eve gets out of the vehicle and Villanelle is curious to see what she plans on doing. She just wants to approach her with the intention of talking. She doesn't want to come across as a threat. Villanelle is the one who holds all of the power throughout this exchange. She knows that too and enjoys manipulating Eve's emotions. She makes her terrified that she's about to die simply by pointing the gun at her. She makes her afraid that her best lead in this investigation is about to be ripped away from her when she points the gun at herself. And then, it's all wrapped up in a sinister but casual way with Villanelle kissing the gun right before firing at Eve's feet. It allows her to make her grand escape. It affords Eve the chance to interrogate her new witness whom she must keep safe because Villanelle will continue to come after him. But it also just presents new ways for Eve and Villanelle to openly communicate with one another.

The show is putting in the work to show how Eve and Villanelle could be drawn to each other as well. It doesn't follow the typical path of the lead investigator being the only person in the world who can get into the mind of the killer even though that distorts her mind as well. Eve and Villanelle are very clear on their roles in life. Both of them are absolutely committed to their jobs. And yet, Eve is struck by just how well Villanelle has bought new clothes for her. At first, she was terrified because it presented as the killer sending her a threat by pointing out she knows where Eve lives. She had the bag and clothes scanned for any potential clues. That reveals that Villanelle is operating with the confidence to leave behind her DNA knowing that it can't be traced back to her actual identity. It's scary. And yet, Eve marvels at how she looks in this stunning gown. It's the kind of outfit she would dream of owning one day. It's perfect for her. She knows that and sighs that a killer somehow pays better attention to her and her body than anyone else in the world. But Eve is armed with personal information about Villanelle as well. Frank provides a significant clue to her identity. All she has is another name to go off of: Oksana. She sends Kenny off on a mission to search throughout the world for criminals with that name. He finds a number of viable options. But all it takes is one picture of Villanelle to pop up for Eve to realize she now has her entire backstory on file. She was sent to prison in Russia for killing a man through castration. That informs her that it was a crime of passion. She doesn't know the specifics. But now, she has a new window through which to see Villanelle. It means she isn't completely defenseless when Villanelle surprises her in her own home.

It's absolutely terrifying to see Villanelle pop up in that familiar space for Eve. Eve hasn't prioritized her home life this season. She's been much more fascinated and drawn to this case. Her pursuing these hunches has pulled her away from her husband. She is completely forgetful about the commitments they made as a couple. It's fortunate that he's out of the house for the night. It means she's all alone to try on these clothes and the perfume. But it's a deeply unsettling sequence long before Villanelle shows up. It plays as suspense until it's revealed that Villanelle has broken inside. Earlier, Eve was calm when confronting Villanelle. She was willing to force that confrontation despite the risk it posed to her investigation. And now, her personal space has been invaded by this killer. Villanelle already did that once through the luggage. But now, she is actually here. Eve once again has no way of defending herself. All she has are her screams that no one can hear. It's such a daunting moment because it seems likely that Villanelle will kill Eve. It's surprising that she doesn't. She just wants to talk and eat dinner together. It's such a terrifying prospect for Eve though. She is shaking because she has no idea what Villanelle's intentions are. Even when she has a knife for protection, it does little to calm her down. However, this sequence also showcases the smarts of both women. Villanelle appreciates Eve wearing the clothes and perfume she sent her. She respects that Eve goes for the knife. But Eve is also smart enough to know that Villanelle isn't a helpless victim to this cruel organization. She knows that Villanelle is a psychopath who has just found a new outlet to utilize her murderous skill set. Bill's death wasn't an accident. Both of the women know that. But the answer isn't easy for Eve to hear either. Villanelle killed Bill to send a message. He was slowing her down. But it also had the potential to throw Eve off her game. And now, it's inspiring to see that both of them are making an effort to make their presence known at all times despite the complications that could bring.

Villanelle walks away from this meal with more information than Eve. She steals Eve's phone and is able to learn Frank's location and what he has already told Eve and Carolyn. As such, it's once again a race to protect this witness. Eve is able to act quickly knowing that Frank's life is in danger. But Villanelle is much faster because she is working alone. Carolyn has to pull together a team to storm the building only to get there too late. Frank has already been killed by Villanelle. The audience gets some insight into that moment as well. She is completely willing to make it a quick death for him. For so much of this season, she has just enjoyed watching life drain from someone's eyes as she kills them. She craves that moment of seeing the essence of a person fade away because of what she did. She is able to eloquently speak to Frank about that. But she has a much different purpose with this death. Yes, it's her finishing the job she came to London to do. She is able to return home to Konstantin in Paris after it is done. But she also does it to show to Eve that the new personal information she has about her doesn't always mean what she assumes it does. Villanelle can castrate a man for no personal reason at all. It's simply to send a message to Eve. Frank dies in this manner with his appendage cut off and wearing Eve's new dress in order to prove to Eve that this conflict is just as personal to Villanelle as everything else that has come to define her life. It's such a brutal reveal. The audience is aware that it is coming. It's also treated as a punchline when Eve has to find the words to tell Carolyn what has happened. It sends them spiraling once more. But it also makes Villanelle more curious about the organization she works for because she now has the recording of Frank's confession that named this mysterious organization to every other character of importance. As such, more answers about The Twelve should be coming very shortly. So, it probably will continue to be beneficial for Eve to keep hunting Villanelle.

Some more thoughts:
  • "I Have a Thing About Bathrooms" was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and directed by Jon East.
  • Villanelle grew up in Russia until she was recruited by The Twelve. They broke her out of prison by faking her death. They gave her this new identity and life. She never asked to know anything more about them. Instead, she was perfectly content just getting new assignments from Konstantin and killing people not knowing why they were being targeted in the first place.
  • And now, Villanelle is being sent back to Russia in order to finish killing Nadia before The Twelve get her side of the story about what happened out in that field. It's miraculous that she survived. Eve gets the update that only one body was recovered out there. Nadia was always unaccounted for. It seemed likely that Villanelle moved the body. But now, it's clear the organization did and is allowing her to heal in Russia. That's an important plot point to remain aware of moving forward.
  • It's just casually revealed this week that Kenny is actually Carolyn's son. That's a surprise that Eve isn't allowed to react to because she needs to update Carolyn on what has just happened with Villanelle. But it also makes more sense for Carolyn to constantly be worried about how Kenny is doing whenever something big or traumatic happens to the rest of the team. She's just being a protective mother looking out for her son after the death of his father.
  • It also seems likely that Elena has no idea that Kenny is Carolyn's son. She is such a fan of this woman and wants to make a good impression at all times - even when she just faced certain death. But Kenny is also showing a romantic interest in Elena that she doesn't seem to reciprocate. If she knew about the family connection, then maybe things would be different. At least, that's my cynical view of the situation.
  • Niko has a run in with Villanelle as well. He comes home while Villanelle is still in the house. That's what makes Eve so willing to hand over her phone and give her the password to unlock it. Of course, it's also amusing that her pin is simply "1-2-3-4." But Villanelle is able to prove that she can just flip a switch and immediately seem like a friend who was just stopping by for a bite to eat. She can walk past Niko without killing him despite Eve's fears that that's about to happen. However, it's left unclear if Eve warns Niko about what just happened as well and that he should be afraid if he ever sees Villanelle again.