Sunday, May 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'Killing Eve' - Eve Learns More About Villanelle's Past By Meeting Her First Obsession in 'I Don't Want to Be Free'

BBC America's Killing Eve - Episode 1.07 "I Don't Want to Be Free"

Tensions are running high as the situation in Moscow escalates, and Eve starts to question who she can trust. Despite the danger, with her sights firmly set on Villanelle, Eve goes rogue. With both women under pressure, the stakes are higher than ever.

Is it more surprising that another member of Eve's team is potentially working with Villanelle and The Twelve or that Villanelle is not able to kill someone she intends to kill? I would have to say that it's the latter simply because it's something that hasn't happened yet this season. Every time that Villanelle has been given a new target, she has been successful in killing them. She has been so lethal this season. Yes, she has had deadly encounters with Eve where Eve survived. But Villanelle didn't go into those meetings intending to kill Eve. She is her obsession whom she simply wanted to talk to in order to understand how she sees the world and how she perceives her. Here, Villanelle is given the order to kill Konstantin because he was apparently working against the organization because of how the prison job went. The Twelve is more than willing to stage an elaborate prison break that kills numerous people just to get Villanelle out. They do so with the intention of having her kill her former handler who left her there because she was becoming too much of a liability. But it's also surprising that she fails in that mission not because of her personal feelings towards him. She fails because he happens to catch her by surprise and has an escape plan ready to go. He is able to pull off this escape quite easily even though she's firing at him. Meanwhile, this season has already revealed one of the people in Eve's orbit to actually be working with The Twelve. That was the story that gave Frank importance in this narrative. And so, it could become such a constant worry for Eve and the audience should Carolyn also be revealed to be working against the best interests of this investigation. It could still present as a fascinating story that probably wouldn't be resolved in the same way that Frank's was. The story has already set up Carolyn having close relations with the players the audience knows to be working with The Twelve. This twist could work. It's just a question of if it is the best avenue for the show to explore because the audience has absolutely no idea what is said between Villanelle and Carolyn during that clandestine meeting. It's just built as this grand tease heading into next week's finale.

It could also be so destructive to Carolyn to learn that Konstantin has been working against her this entire time. The audience has always known him to be a member of The Twelve. Then, last week's episode revealed that he also had a job in the Russian government that allowed him to have close ties with Carolyn. And here, it is heavily implied that the two of them spent all night together. They have such a playful and flirtatious dynamic. Eve has collected the proof to show that a relationship has existed between them in the past. Sure, it is awkward to have Kenny go on that scavenger hunt to collect the evidence to prove it. But he is ultimately successful with that mission and proves himself to be more loyal to Eve than Carolyn. He knows that his mother has kept secrets from this unit. He understands that she is conducting herself in a more private way than normal. She has never kept secrets out of malice or deception though. She just didn't think it was important for the unit to know the truth about a couple of things - like Kenny being her son. She thought it was inessential to the job. She is more than forthcoming with information when it came to telling Eve about her complicated relationship with these contacts from the Russian government. And here, she presents as the one person in this unit who is actually interested in maintaining these diplomatic connections while going after the mysterious organization that is causing all of this damage throughout the world. She looks at Eve as having become obsessed solely with Villanelle. There is more that needs to be investigated than simply looking at Villanelle as the only possible lead to exposing The Twelve. If Eve continues to pursue that, then she threatens to ruin their country's good standing with the Russians. That will make any future negotiations much more complicated. Carolyn is trying to avoid that. And yet, she handles that by mostly pushing Eve and Kenny away so that she can conduct business by herself. She's using her superiority to say that she's still the one ultimately in charge determining the scope and direction of this investigation.

Of course, Eve and Kenny don't abide by Carolyn's order to return home. They choose to stay behind in Moscow to continue their own investigation believing it to be important to keep looking into Villanelle. They believe if they understand the woman she was when she was sent to prison, they will then understand why she was recruited and used by The Twelve to carry out these missions throughout the world. That could then present a way for them to find and capture her. She can then share as much information as she knows about the organization she is working for. She has certainly learned more about The Twelve as the season has gone along. She still may not be that helpful. But it's better than nothing. Plus, she's actively pushing for more answers now that her working relationships are starting to explode because of her obsession with Eve. Eve delving into Villanelle's past brings her straight towards Anna. Here, it is explained that she is the wife of the man Villanelle castrated and also the woman who taught her multiple languages. It's also clear that they developed such a close personal relationship. It may or may not have been sexual. Eve certainly gets that vibe but Anna denies it by saying it would be unethical to be with a student in that way. But it's also pretty clear that Villanelle has a very specific type that she is attracted to with her obsessions. She is sexually attracted to everyone. But she is pretty casual with the people she is with in that way as well. With Anna and Eve, it's something much more real and passionate. It's a story about obsession and wanting to continue to pamper them with gifts even though it could only jeopardize her life further. She wants to continue these relationships even when she knows that Anna believes her to be dead. It's all a very elaborate and playful tease to show just how much Villanelle cares about these relationships. Earlier in the season, she was haunted by Anna. And now, it's clear that she actually loves her and would do anything to protect her from a cruel and harsh world. That just presented through needing to cut the genitals off of her husband.

It's in seeing and understanding Anna that Eve is given a way to get the upper hand in her current investigation with Villanelle. Right now, she is chasing her with the intention of capturing her. She has her suspicions that Villanelle was the one The Twelve snuck into the prison to kill Nadia before she was transported back to London. She understands that it's no coincidence that Nadia is murdered the day that transfer was expected to happen. She was willing to gamble so much for that mission. And now, she continues to risk a lot because she is disobeying orders and going rogue. She is no longer listening to Carolyn. She is willing to trade whatever information she receives if it pushes her closer to Villanelle. This obsession is becoming really unhealthy for her. Yes, she does actually reach out to Niko again and leaves him a message detailing how she feels about him and wanting to work through their current problems. But it's also ominous that he's not returning her calls. Has something happened to him? Villanelle is pretty busy in a Moscow prison. Eve gets that confirmation at the end of the hour. She also realizes that Villanelle was planning on returning to Anna's life in order to get the papers she stashed away in her latest gift in order to get out of Russia. Eve is quick to snatch those up to ensure that Villanelle is trapped in this country without her help. That's a precarious place for Villanelle to be in considering she is making so many enemies within The Twelve. And yet, Villanelle does get out of prison here. It may have something to do with Carolyn. Or it may not. There is no audio confirming that the two of them are working together. Carolyn could potentially be interviewing Villanelle on her own because she can no longer trust Eve to be focused and objective about this investigation. It's played as this big twist. But the show still presents a couple of ways to explain why Carolyn is in that room with Villanelle right before the big prison escape.

And yes, it is thrilling to watch Villanelle continue to survive in this brutal place despite the multiple attempts to oppress and kill her. The guards are playing games with her by putting her into a cell with a woman with the blade to actually slit her throat. It's dangerous with the strike happening at any moment. But Villanelle still prevails. She is even able to be rescued by The Twelve. She is given a new handler in Anton. He immediately presents as someone who wishes to be more controlling of her. He wants to be the one to determine which language they speak in and where she will live. Villanelle doesn't care for the way he treats her and promptly kills him. She doesn't care what the ramifications will be. She believes she can handle whichever assassins The Twelve sends after her. She's still willing to do the mission as well because Konstantin betrayed her. Killing him could quickly become messy and complicated. It won't be as easy as some of her other targets this season. And yet, it's also impressive to see just how easily she can invade his world and corrupt his family home. She is able to catch him off guard with the illusion that his family is safe and happily playing. In reality, she has kidnapped them and is pushing for him to kill himself. She is after answers about The Twelve as well. That only further proves that the organization is tiered in such a way that no one ever fully knows every single detail about the operation. That's potentially very smart or very misleading. But it's also fun to see Konstantin fool Villanelle into believing he's taken many of his pills while also using the glass and a log to disarm her. That catches her off guard and he is able to make it to his boat and drive away before she is able to successfully shoot him. That's very impressive. It should be fascinating to see where he goes next considering his family is in danger and The Twelve now wants him dead for creating too many waves. He may confide in Carolyn and Eve. But that will largely be motivated by what is currently happening between those two characters in the finale as well. It's a very intense way to head into the final episode of the year.

Some more thoughts:
  • "I Don't Want to Be Free" was written by Rob Williams and directed by Damon Thomas.
  • Kenny is made very uncomfortable about the very personal and sexual correspondence he discovered between his mother and Konstantin. And yet, Eve keeps asking him to focus more and more on it. She is looking for clues that prove that something very significant was going on between them. But she also still feels the need to protect her by censoring some of the more awkward details. It's just unfortunate that Kenny has to make those edits.
  • Kenny is just immediately in Moscow as well. When Eve called him so he could collect this evidence on his mother, he was still in London. He had to break into her secret safe to learn about this relationship. But then, he's just in Moscow the next day because he needs to provide assistance on the ground. Of course, it's also weird that Carolyn calls him only to then send him back right away because of Nadia's murder.
  • Elena doesn't make the trip to Moscow though. That means she's a character who has grown almost completely absent from the narrative as of late. She isn't in this episode and was just barely in last week's episode. She has proven to be a friend to Eve in the past. But right now, Kenny is more important to have. So that has to make the audience question what kind of skills Elena brings to this unit? She hasn't had much purpose so far.
  • Villanelle tries many different ways to break out of this prison. That was the most curious detail about this episode. It was ominous that she was left there to rot at the end of last week's hour. It was important to figure out how she'd escape. And here, she does have her own attempts by trying to bride the male guard or seduce the female one. But she is ultimately freed because of animosity amongst The Twelve and needing to eliminate Konstantin.
  • Anna also teases that French was always Villanelle's favorite language. Meanwhile, she aspired to always live in Paris. As such, it's fitting that that's where Villanelle now lives in her regular life. That insight into her past will also inform Eve's investigation moving forward. And yet, how could Anna keep receiving all of these gifts and not suspect that Villanelle may not be dead after all? It just seems like she is delivering one epic message from beyond the grave that she couldn't possibly orchestrate before her death. Or maybe it's just sitting up some twist in the finale where Anna has known that Villanelle is alive.