Killing Eve - Wide Awake - Review: Will the Real Psychopath Please Stand Up? By DJRiter (May 26, 2019, 11:00 pm)
*NOTE – This review may contain spoilers. Also, let me take this moment to say thank you to Cecile L. for filling in for me last week. Life has a funny way of throwing us curve balls when we least expect it and I do appreciate her stepping in at the last moment.
Two psychopaths sit next to each other on couch…. Sounds like the start of a bad joke but putting together the two psychopaths that Killing Eve did last week in Wide Awake (2x07) was anything but funny. While this episode proceeded at a decidedly slower pace than others this season, it was twice as intense, deeply introspective and equally surprising. Many of the characters came face to face with some hard truths about themselves. One could even surmise, that based on the definition MI6 psychologist Martin (Adeel Akhtar) uses to define the term, any number of the major characters this season could be a psychopath – Villanelle (Jodie Comer), Eve (Sandra Oh), Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) or Aaron (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) all fit the description.
While other shows race to their season finales, often at breakneck speeds, with this off-paced episode, Killing Eve again rewrites the standard for suspenseful, thriller television. Much like Aaron Peel, the prey that has forced the odd Villanelle/MI6 partnership, the show is being very precise and methodical in laying out its compelling story. Where it leads in tonight's finale is anyone's guess, I do believe that anything my very vivid writer's imagination may come up with will pale in comparison to the brilliant twists and turns brought by the show's writers this season.
The goal this episode is to get Aaron to invite the undercover Villanelle aka Billie to accompany him to Rome as he meets buyers for the mysterious weapon he has put on the market. Carolyn insists to Eve that Villanelle can't kill Aaron, or anyone for that matter, because the information they need in Rome is crucial. They need to know who the buyers are in competition for Peel's weapon. In initial preparation with Villanelle, Eve and her new partner are faced with some interesting revelations; one- the assassin doesn't know if she's ever telling the truth or not, and two; she admits that she never feels anything except when she's around Eve. Eve makes her feel things.
At an odd lunch date with Aaron, Villanelle secures the invitation, but viewers are given a further glimpse of the eccentric personality of Peel. Kudos to Lloyd-Hughes, who is successfully creating a character that is equal parts charming and creepily disturbing. This scene is just the first of a series of battle of wills between Villanelle and Aaron. Of note too, this scene is one that star Jodie Comer relates she almost choked on the pasta Villanelle shoves into her mouth. The actors were both so into character that at first, her co-star didn't realize she was really choking.
Eve is at a final briefing with Carolyn and learning her back-up team would be Hugo (Edward Bluemel) and not Kenny (Sean Delaney). The briefing ends with an awkward exchange between Eve and Kenny where the young IT agent tries to warn Eve to back away from the assignment but is interrupted by his mother. It's a telling scene that there's more going on than the standard mission and just another indication perhaps that Eve is being manipulated this season by Carolyn and MI6. Or is it by Carolyn and the 12? Eve then visits the Martin on the pretense of making sure that Villanelle can handle Peel. Then Martin smoothly maneuvers the meeting into a mini-therapy session for Eve. Telling her he initially recommended she be removed from the operation because she was too involved with Villanelle, he probes a little deeper, getting Eve to admit some truths out loud for the first time. She thinks about Villanelle all the time, she is behaving differently and most importantly that Villanelle makes her feel wide awake, alive. Sandra Oh is superb watching Eve transition through these truths, her body language changes, becoming edgier, more alert. Tears gather in her eyes as she makes these confessions as those the character has come alive more than any other time in the series.
While Eve is meeting with Martin, Villanelle has some last-minute business she needs to see about. With so much else going on in this episode this almost throw-away moment where Villanelle confronts Niko (Owen McDonnell) and Gemma (Emma Pierson) is a standout. It's equal parts terror and comedic at the same time. Jodie Comer does Villanelle doing what Villanelle does best terrorize without emotion. She threatens and intimidates by asking the simplest questions – even asking for Niko's Shepherd's Pie recipe in a nice toss back to the bizarre dinner she and Eve shared last season. She continues terrorizing the couple for what seems an interminably long time. During such, Pierson's squeaks of "Niko" were at first understandable but then became humorous in tone and as grating as the character was intended to be. Then Villanelle asks one final question – does Niko love his wife? You know this will not end well when Niko says yes to both Villanelle's and Gemma's disappoint. And she was so close to letting them both go. Nice work from all. One note to make about this scene, dressed as she is in slacks and a button-down plaid shirt, and employing a slouched, masculine stance with her hands shoved in her pockets Villanelle acted more masculine than Niko did. During that last interrogation she sits in a traditionally masculine way too, hunched over with her legs planted apart and the way she jabs the knife around to punctuate her sentences, while Niko and Gemma are basically identical in those scenes, both demure and timid.
Once in Rome, the depth of Aaron's controlling personality and menacing demeanor are on full display. He has Villanelle's luggage taken, which contained the microphone she was to use to communicate with Eve and Hugo. He's provided her with an entire glamourous wardrobe, which on closer inspection looks more like a wardrobe for Villanelle than it does her alter ego Billie. Comer's wide-eyed reaction to the wardrobe is the only visible clue as to how rattled or off-kilter she is feeling. And Peel becomes progressively controlling by telling her what to wear, where to sit, when to speak, when to move, what to eat which does rattle Villanelle, he's even watching her every move on a hidden camera like a stalker. He does admit that she intrigues him because when he looks her up on the internet, she's a shadow, she's the only person in the world he knows nothing about. Then it's learned just how dangerous he is with his weapon when he embarrasses his Russian buyer with the most revealing details of his life that Peel claims to have obtained through his weapon. It's intriguing to watch Villanelle's reaction to Peel, Comer plays her with just enough curiosity and ambiguity that we can't be sure if he is enthralling her or not.
Villanelle does calm down somewhat when Eve manages to slip another microphone to her. Somehow it makes the assassin feel better knowing that Eve is close by, watching over her and listening. She even manages to turn that into an almost erotic love scene as Villanelle talks to the microphone, telling Eve to let herself go and that she could help her do that. It again reinforces how connected these two women are that though they are not in the same room together the audience feels as though their intruding on an intimate moment between two lovers. Villanelle's words get to Eve and set her off so that she climbs into bed with Hugo and sleeps with him. The next morning Hugo wakes up to a rough morning after and snidely thanks Eve for the three-some as she coldly rebuffs him. But at least he's having a better morning than Niko who awakens locked in the storage unit next to Gemma's dead body sitting on a sofa in the unit with a plastic bag wrapped around her head and face.
With just one episode left of Killing Eve this season, many surprises certainly await. Is Eve being manipulated by Carolyn and Konstantin? Is Villanelle in danger? What happens next? Share your thoughts on Wide Awake and the finale in the comments below.