Killing Eve - Smell Ya Later - Review- A Date with Death By DJRiter (May 12, 2019, 7:00 pm)
*NOTE-This review contains spoilers.
Just when you think Killing Eve couldn't get any better, along comes an episode like Smell Ya Later (2x05). I'm going to say this from the start, each subsequent season of this show should be required to have a least one episode each season devoted to Eve and Villanelle together in Eve's kitchen. The show does such a masterful job of showing how these two complex women are connected to one another that one often forgets that they don't actually share a lot of screen time together. But, when they do, it's electrifying. The result of this season's kitchen episode is perhaps one of the most sharply written and brilliantly acted episodes of television to grace our screens this year.
The basic set up for Smell Ya Later is simple. Eve and her team have captured the Ghost (Jung Sun den Hollander) yet despite the best efforts of their best interrogators she isn't talking, revealing who hired her to make all those kills related to Peel Industries. What they do learn is that there is someone she's afraid, a devil with no face, a devil named Villanelle. To Eve, the answer is simple they must make a deal with the devil. To enlist Villanelle's help Eve does what to her seems to be the most logical thing, she has MI6 hire Villanelle to kill her so they can get in contact with the assassin.
Before the penultimate encounter of this season between Eve and Villanelle, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer each get their moments to shine. For Oh, that moment begins when a specialist is sent to seemingly brief Eve and her team on psychopaths. During his graphic slide presentation on the subject Oh expertly shows us why Eve is a character no one quite knows completely. Her face remains passive, calm and unmoving, almost fixated when a gruesome murder scene slide pops up causing everyone else on the team to react and turn away. Yet, when a slide of Villanelle comes on the screen, she becomes visibly uncomfortable and has to look away while the others are fixated on the image. The "expert" explains the fine line we walk and how little it would take for us to become psychopaths. He then relays his observations of Eve's reactions to Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) who decides she can handle the upcoming operation.
Later, Eve comes very close to crossing that fine line when she comes close to pushing a rude man who had bumped into her, off a subway platform and into an arriving train. With her slightly shaking hand and seemingly accepting demeanor at that moment Oh transforms Eve into someone at least as dangerous as Villanelle, if not more so because Villanelle's actions are planned and hers would have been on impulse.
For Comer, Villanelle's reaction to finding out that Eve is her next target is raw and honest. She's shocked then angry, but then must begrudgingly admit that Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) is right when he challenges her that her obsession with Eve has cost her her edge and that she must kill Eve. Then, in flamboyant Villanelle style, she begins preparing for her next kill, except there's something different this time. From primping in front of the mirror to carefully choosing her wardrobe and chic chapeau, she's like a giddy young girl preparing for a date, only this is a date with death.
Meanwhile, Eve also primps as though preparing for a date, except her primping involves removing the bulletproof vest she'd been given as protection. Then the doorbell rings. When Eve opens the door to Villanelle, that's when the magic of this episode begins. And from their first moments together topped by Eve asking Villanelle to take her shoes off, and her snarky response to Villanelle's greeting with "Can I take your veil?" the energy in the episode is ramped up to insanely high levels
What transpires next is the near erotic cat-and-mouse back and forth between Eve and Villanelle that in this episode makes last season's bizarre dinner party seem like a child's picnic. This is where the brilliance of the writing by Emerald Fennell and the acting duo powerhouse of Oh and Comer are at its finest. Villanelle has come dressed for the occasion, all in mourning black for what she thinks she's assigned to do but doesn't want to go through with it. One must believe she knew it was a ruse all along. She even brings champagne to commemorate the event.
Eve confounds Villanelle. She has from the beginning. From stabbing her to taking the pills she'd put out to test her, Eve keeps her just slightly off balance. And for Eve, obviously, Villanelle intrigues and challenges her like no one else. At times she's afraid of her and others she brazenly challenges the assassin. It's as though they're yin and yang exhibiting both the good and bad sides of the other. What they do have in common is a certain lack of social graces that comes through in this episode when Eve coldly fires Kenny after he challenges her about the wisdom of this mission.
Having convinced Villanelle to help, they get into a waiting car and travel to a remote location where Eve has had the Ghost transported, but not before their departure is observed by two very interested parties – Carolyn and Konstantin sitting in a car together. Eve and Villanelle's arrival at the remote location in the woods is a magnificently staged scene straight from the pages of a gothic novel. Kudos to the set decoration, lighting, staging and mood set. A cargo container in the middle of damp, soggy, fog-shrouded woods, and there you have Villanelle gliding almost ethereally through the fog (like a ghost?) in her long black, Victorian style mourning gown with Eve. Then with nothing more than a look before entering the container you know, she will succeed in her mission. This is confirmed when later she emerges, and Eve enters the container to find a traumatized ghost. This is the power of Villanelle.
Villanelle later takes what she considers her new power or control over Eve a step further when in stark contrast to her mourning garb, she looks like a student when she travels to Oxford and confronts Nico (Owen McDonnell). She taunts him and seems to delight in showing him that she knows his wife better than he does. Nico's burst of emotion and threats to Villanelle is the most life seen from this character this season.
There truly are not enough words to fully describe how incredible this episode is. Killing Eve continues to reinvent thrilling and compelling television and has set the bar high yet seems to easily top it. Maybe the most important question to ask about this episode is – just what are Carolyn and Konstantin up to? What are your thoughts about Smell Ya Later? Share them in the comments below.