Sunday, May 27, 2018

REVIEW: 'Killing Eve' - Eve Acts Upon Her Conflicted Feelings Towards Villanelle in 'God, I'm Tired'

BBC America's Killing Eve - Episode 1.08 "God, I'm Tired"

Villanelle's mission is proving anything but straight-forward, forcing her to take drastic measures. Eve has made a shocking discovery, which leads her right to Villanelle and an electrifying confrontation from which neither will emerge unscathed.

This was such a phenomenal debut season for Killing Eve. The story just kept getting better and better with each passing episode. As the situations grew more dire and complicated for the main characters, it only got more exciting and intense to watch. Plus, the show finds a nice way to subvert expectations with its finale. The season ends with a couple of bizarre but amusing character pairings. No one was probably expecting the season finale to devote so much time to Villanelle just hanging out with a child while Eve is riding around with Konstantin. But it's also a perfect culmination to everything that has happened this season so far. Right now, there's no reasonable explanation for why Eve should trust Konstantin. He went to Carolyn for protection. He needed someone to help him stay alive and protect his family now that Villanelle is targeting him. He is her latest target. Killing him would ensure that she is back in the good graces of The Twelve. The season ends with no big revelations about the mysterious organization that Villanelle is working for. There's no explanation for why they are killing these high-profile targets. It could simply be nothing more than creating a sense of global chaos and pandemonium. But it also has to be more than that for it to be a story that will be ongoing throughout the life of the series. Eve and Villanelle are no closer to understanding this mysterious group of people and their goals in this world. And yet, it also feels right and justified for them to be more focused on each other than on the grand mysteries of the world. Carolyn is the one with the level-head right now who understands that Villanelle is simply a stepping stone to getting more information about The Twelve. They are the true enemies that she is targeting. She doesn't know that she can just get that information from Konstantin. But right now, it's so vastly more important for the show to offer up resolution with Eve and Villanelle's pursuit of one another. Will their obsession actually save both of their lives to keep this conflict going for as long as the show wants it to? Or is something big and lethal about to happen to one of them that will truly stun the audience?

Right now, Eve is solely interested in finding Villanelle. She is furious at Carolyn for going to the prison to interview her without her. It could have been seen as Carolyn working for The Twelve and giving this power and investigative unit to Eve just to keep tabs on her. But it's much more crippling than that. Carolyn is still someone whom the characters can trust. She is still working for British intelligence to take down The Twelve. But she has been able to remain objective and focused on that mission. She isn't blinded by some silly love and obsession for Villanelle. She sees that Eve has become compromised. She believes she can handle this mess in Russia by herself. That's why she sends Eve and Kenny back home while she talks to Villanelle in prison. It's clear that she didn't get anything of substance from her. Villanelle wasn't in a position to turn against the people who employ her. Her escape just further showcases that loyalty. Carolyn was never going to get anywhere with her. However, the surprise of Eve and Kenny still being in the country is enough to confirm to her that they should no longer be working this case. Kenny may just be following orders. He just happens to be listening to Eve instead of his own mother. That could be crippling and she can use that connection in order to get him to do what she wants. Eve is much more difficult to control. Yes, her reaching out to Anna is very beneficial because it puts her directly in the middle of this new conflict with Villanelle and Konstantin. It confirms that Konstantin was Villanelle's handler. But that's not a lead that can be pursued any farther because of what happens after Eve gets in that car to help Konstantin get back his family. Plus, it ultimately costs her her job as well because she has gotten so fixated on finding Villanelle and keeping her from completing her job.

Meanwhile, Villanelle is spending the day with Konstantin's daughter. It's clear that he has been grooming her in the same way that he trained Villanelle. The lessons he passed on to Villanelle are the same ones that he is teaching his daughter. As such, they have a lot in common. They both get on Konstantin's nerves. It's easy to see how they are kindred spirits. Villanelle is annoyed by the fact that the child she has kidnapped happens to be one of those smart and wise children. That could be such a stupid and cliche trope in order to advance the grand theme the show is pushing with the character. And yet, the show recognizes that and comments on it while also putting these characters into some amusing situations. Yes, they are still dangerous too. Villanelle has a gun and makes sure to threaten the people she interacts with a number of times throughout this finale. She feels the need to remind people that she is the one in control at all times. That's the kind of confidence she has. Even when a gun is pulled on her, she aims to understand whether the person can actually shoot and kill her. She is the killer with a lack of empathy that makes it so easy for her to kill anyone in this world. She knows that not everyone feels that way. She is able to use that to her advantage to stay alive. And now, this young girl is questioning if Villanelle is a good or bad person. She has the same questions about her father too. Yes, it's easy to label Villanelle as the villain because she is killing people and not knowing the reasons why they are being targeted. Here, she knows that Konstantin now presents as a problem for The Twelve. That's why he has to go. It's personal for Villanelle as well. She just sees it as another job. But there is also a glimmer of sadness through her actions too. She'll still complete the job but there's enough nuance and mystery to the situation that makes her wonder if she's capable of being seen as a good person.

Of course, Villanelle still gets two people killed in this finale. Konstantin's death happens in this big and explosive way. Villanelle arranges for a meeting between her and Eve where they both bring their captives for a trade. Eve will secure Konstantin's daughter while Villanelle will kill Konstantin. It's an arrangement that doesn't work for Konstantin at all because he wants to stay alive. He has so much love for his family. He doesn't want to be taken away from them by the woman he trained. And yet, that's exactly what happens here. Eve and Konstantin are essentially powerless to stop Villanelle from completing her job. She has no problem killing Konstantin in front of his daughter. All she is worried about is getting her passport and money from Eve. That's a show of power and smarts from both of them. Eve understood what these lavish gifts to Anna meant while also discovering the hidden documents inside the lining of the jacket. Anna always saw them as hopeful messages that Oksana was still alive. She dreamt of killing her herself because of the pain and agony she forced onto her. Here, it's confirmed that they basically had a sexually affair. They were in love with each other. They disagree on who came on to the other first. Villanelle continues to be seen as the one to instigate so many of these passionate and obsessive relationships. But she indulges in them as well. And in the end, Anna isn't able to kill Villanelle. Instead, she shoots herself. That's the other choice she has in this situation. Yes, it's a tragic and selfish decision. But she also sees it as the only way of escaping these feelings and trauma that Villanelle has forced onto her. It also serves as such a powerful parallel to the concluding sequence of the season between Eve and Villanelle.

Eve has lost Villanelle once more. She has escaped after completing her mission. She has killed Konstantin while Eve has been fired by Carolyn. There is no official reason for Eve to be continuing this hunt for Villanelle. And yet, she still feels personally drawn to her. She has lost so much because of Villanelle. She has gotten so all-consuming of her thoughts. Eve has so many conflicting feelings towards Villanelle. She wants to kill her because of what she has done. She wants to fall in love with her because she clearly understands her better than anyone else in this world. Those emotions have frequently put her in a weird state of limbo where she pushes forward on the investigation but doesn't know how to act when Villanelle actually shows up. Right now, she's hoping that she has discovered Villanelle's apartment in Paris. She can lay a trap to capture her and win back the respect of Carolyn. But instead, she finds herself drawn to absolutely trashing the place in order to make a mess of Villanelle's life as well. She has that opportunity because Villanelle isn't there. But it's so crucial that Villanelle shows up and Eve has to make a huge decision about this relationship. It would be so easy for the two of them to draw even closer to each other and commit to not killing each other to continue doing what they love most in this world. Eve wants to cut all of the bullshit out of their lives and their explanations for their actions. She wants to have a genuine moment with Villanelle where she is her true self. At first, it seems like she has given up trying to kill her. She no longer wants that fate for Villanelle. She doesn't want her dead. Villanelle doesn't want to kill Eve either. In fact, they may have sex with each other because their bond is so intimate and real. But that only shows that Eve was being smarter in concealing a second weapon to strike Villanelle with. Anna couldn't take the shot when she had the opportunity. Villanelle believes she can ration with Eve as well. But that's simply not the case. Eve does stab Villanelle. It's such a traumatic and bloody moment. Eve very much feels remorse and conflicted about it as well. In the aftermath, she does try to save Villanelle's life. That action only further fuels the love-hate bond between them. In the end, Eve is the one who succeeds in hurting her target. But Villanelle isn't dead just yet. She is able to escape without Eve seeing where she has gone. That creates such a grand and promising mystery for the second season. One that is bound to get even more complicated for this pairing.

Some more thoughts:
  • "God, I'm Tired" was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and directed by Damon Thomas.
  • It seems like Carolyn, Eve and Kenny are all pursuing their own separate investigations of The Twelve. Carolyn had that sit-down conversation with Villanelle and still has an official job to look into the matter. Eve has the information of where Villanelle is living in Paris. And Kenny becomes aware that Nadia left a note behind before Villanelle killed her. He sees that a guard has picked it up. That should be a promising thread moving forward as well.
  • There could also be some ambiguity to Konstantin's death. The show makes a point in saying that he is shot by Villanelle and taken to the hospital. The show has never been that cryptic about death before. The dead bodies have always been shown to prove to the audience that those characters are actually dead. Here, the focus is on Villanelle and Eve with Konstantin almost as an afterthought. But Carolyn does get the call from the hospital confirming that he died. Of course, his government could be lying to her.
  • Eve and Kenny didn't need to hand over their evidence of a relationship between Carolyn and Konstantin because Nadia was then killed. And yet, it's important to note that Carolyn was aware that Eve was making that deal. She has respect for it and the drive Eve has shown with this investigation. And yet, it's also something she can't tolerate from someone who is essentially working for her.
  • BBC America doesn't have a strong track record when it comes to successful awards campaigns. Yes, Luther did reasonably well for them. But it also took three years before Tatianna Maslany was nominated for Orphan Black. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer deserve to be showered with recognition and awards for their stunning work on this show. It just seems like an uphill battle for them to get it. And yet, it's still in the realm of possibility and would make me so happy.
  • Moreover, the drama has already been renewed for a second season. The network made that announcement a couple of days before the show even premiered. They knew what they had and that it was great. Then, the critics came out with praise as well. Then, they were rewarded by viewership that went up every week this season. That's so unheard of in this business. It's so difficult to do. And yet, this show did it because of the quality of the storytelling. I can't wait to see more and hope that it isn't too long before it's onscreen again.