Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.
London. Paris. Berlin. Tuscany. Bletcham. When the screen-hogging words flash up at the start of each new location on Killing Eve, they introduce us to a glamorous and as-yet-unannounced European location for us to admire and visually drink in. Until this week. Not that there’s anything wrong with rural Buckinghamshire, of course. It’s just not what we’ve been used to so far in BBC America’s excellent crime drama/comedy/thriller Killing Eve.
One way of looking at episode 4 is that it’s a bit of a holiday for a series that last week we called ‘the best show currently on television’. A short break from the Bond locations and a quick dip into more Midsomer Murders territory. Which is fine by us, of course. Who doesn’t love Midsomer Murders? The only trouble is, the quality kind of took a wee break this week too – though only a wee one.
It wasn’t a dramatic dip in quality, don’t get us wrong. ‘Sorry Baby’ was still funny, clever and hugely enjoyable. But with the three preceding episodes offering up near-perfect TV, in contrast, things just didn’t really spark quite so brightly here.
The majority of this week’s Killing Eve took place in the idyllic Home Counties village of Bletcham – ‘as English a village as you’ll find’. Well, we say ‘idyllic’. It was idyllic until a carload of assassins pitched up firing bullets everywhere. Driven by the patronising and rather unlikable Diego, in the passenger seat is the brooding and unhappy figure of his girlfriend Nadia. In the back? Villanelle. Signing herself into the Berlin clinic to kill the Fat Panda as Eve Polastri came with consequences… A demotion from lone renegade hitwoman status to the lowly ‘Assassin #3’. As you can imagine, it’s not a role that suits our unpredictable Russian antagonist very well.
There’s beef in the car. With Villanelle working with people, it was inevitable. As Nadia launches herself at her temporary colleague, we soon clock that the resentment between the two is real. It’s not until the climax of the episode that we find out what it’s all about; the pair are former lovers. As is the way with Villanelle, the work-based grievance escalated and had to be solved with an automatic rifle and the back wheels of a minivan.
The group’s target? Frank Haleton, Eve’s former MI5 boss. Only Frank, bless him, had been made as the Russian’s mole, the double agent. He’d become a liability to Moscow and needed to be dispatched. Somehow three crack shots, three deadly mercenaries, managed to miss their target, despite the thousands of bullet casings left scattered all over the Buckinghamshire countryside. Villanelle, it appears, really does work better alone.
It was Eve and Elena to the rescue as they’d tracked Frank down as the mole too and had gone to speak to him. Despite the pair’s lack of field experience – or skills – they managed to bundle their disgraced former chief into the back of a car and (maybe) get away…
One thing we definitely noticed this week is that Killing Eve’s feminist principles are really starting to come to the fore. To begin with, the series was an almost frill-free nod to feminine force, a matter-of-fact story where the two strong leads just so happen to be women. As the weeks have gone on, however, it’s become a full-on flexing of female muscle.
Each female character is whip smart, controlled, witty and impressive in some way. Whether it’s in a flamboyant and showy way, as with Villanelle, or less so, like with Eve. After countless decades of TV drama that not only veered into sexist territory but set up full-time camp there and lit an immediately out-of-control barbecue, Killing Eve’s approach here is more than a little refreshing. After all, how many films and TV shows have shown clever male detectives solving the grisly murders of helpless women victims down the years? Where the bad guy is, well, a guy? And it’s thrashed out at the end mano a mano…?
Did you tune in for Killing Eve episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!