Sunday, February 27, 2022

REVIEW: 'Killing Eve' - Eve and Villanelle Strive to Transform But Familiar Patterns Still Emerge in 'Just Dunk Me'

BBC America's Killing Eve - Episode 4.01 "Just Dunk Me"

Eve is on a revenge mission against The Twelve. She has a lead - Helene - and needs to track her down via one of her assassins. Villanelle wants to change; to be good, so she endears herself to a church community. Relegated to an embassy role by MI6, Carolyn is focused on getting back in the game.

"Just Dunk Me" was written by Laura Neal and directed by Stella Corradi

Eve and Villanelle are desperate to prove that they've changed. This premiere operates in a similar way in order to regain the trust of the audience. In the third season, Eve and Villanelle weren't the most engaging characters. The storyline was spinning out of control with no real sense of what was working. MI6 has been tracking down the Twelve for the entire series. It exists as a mysterious organization. It's employed Villanelle and other assassins. It still remain a great unknown. Eve has a target to direct her vengeance for Kenny's death. She can blame Konstantin for that fatal outcome. Him getting shot in the hand keeps him involved in this world in a way that suggests ongoing importance. It also serves as a concise ending to that particular story. It concludes it by shining a light on a new Eve. The audience expects Villanelle to be the one riding a motorcycle and hunting down Konstantin with a gun. It's actually Eve. She has finally gained some self-defense skills. She's no longer helpless and powerless whenever she is confronted by highly trained killers. That's a massive improvement. She is still focused entirely on this investigation into the Twelve. It blinds everything else of meaning. Her new romance can't even be called that because they happen to be sleeping together as they work. He is a useful ally to have by her side. It's a bond that is clearly defined to avoid the inexplicable nature of her dynamic with Villanelle. They understand that they are attracted to one another. And yet, they are toxic together. They become the worst versions of themselves when they interact. But they are constantly thinking about the other. It's been the central dynamic of the show. At this point though, Eve doesn't fear death. She views it as the inevitable outcome. She's willing to die in order to expose the true wielders of power in this world. That's how the Twelve functions. It exists as the people who control the world and determine the fate of everyone else. They will take any methods to achieve their deserved goals. Every potential lead only sends Eve and her allies spiraling down the same rabbit hole. It's exhausting without any sense of payoff. Here, Eve only achieves success by identifying Helene as the new person pulling the strings. Even that doesn't guarantee anything exciting moving forward.

However, this premiere is about transformation. The audience gets to see these core characters in different environments. Their lives have changed. Even Eve can call out the patterns repeating. She doesn't want to be manipulated into helping Carolyn once more. She lost her standing within MI6. She killed Paul. She has been banished to a cultural attache post in Spain. She is still constantly scheming. That remains the norm for her. She doesn't require any evolution. She is already perfect as a character. She knows that Eve and Villanelle can't be trusted. She probably shouldn't fear Hugo either when he threatens to reveal that Paul's death was murder. That's a bit random. The fact that a familiar face delivers that threat basically means the audience should expect more fallout as the season develops. Elsewhere, Villanelle seeks to be reborn in religion mostly as a symbol for her evolution. Her story is the most artificial. The show even calls her out on it. That's the point of it all. For her, a massive improvement is simply getting close to killing without actually finishing the job. That's her big transformation. She can't change too much. She can't suddenly be the perfect person May idolizes. It's ironic to anyone aware of what Villanelle has done in the past. It's not that ambitious or aspirational for something new. Villanelle argues with God saying that he should want her to believe because it will prevent her from killing more people. She thinks those who believe in God are inherently good. That's a false connection. And yet, it's what she desperately needs to pursue in order to prove to the world that she is no longer the killer she was always trusted to be. She wants more than that. That does continue her development from the previous season. She is no longer trusted to kill and not ask any questions. It's still so easy for her to break and be tempted by those dark impulses. The final reveal of her seeing herself as God basically implies that her mental stability is no longer sane. She is fraying in a way that could be quite dangerous for anyone around her. That was always the case. No one should feel safe in her presence. But this direction allows the show to appeal to Villanelle's good intentions for growth while never allowing her to fully escape the darkness that is right there at the surface.