Killing Eve - Desperate Times - Review- Tugging on the Reins By DJRiter (May 5, 2019, 9:30 pm)
*NOTE- This review contains spoilers.
There many qualities a good manager has. They know when to let a valued and talented employee have the freedom to do the job they were hired to do. But they also know when to tug on the reins and pull that employee in when it appears they're veering from their assigned task. In the latest intense episode of Killing Eve, "Desperate Measures" (2.04) Both Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) and Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) illustrate why they are two of the best managers out there in the spy world. Despite the entire Operation Mandalay mission appearing to be in complete chaos, Carolyn reassures her boss, the wonderful Zoe Wannamaker in a memorable guest shot, that everything is going to plan. In doing so, she demonstrates why Carolyn is so good at HER job, appearing calm on the outside while inside she may be panicking. All she needs to do after leaving her boss's office is start gently tugging on the reins to get the mission back on track. And she's very successful at it, as Eve and her team quickly focus on the mission at hand, capturing the Ghost and solving the murder of internet magnate, Alistar Peel. She even goes so far as to intercept a postcard for Eve from Villanelle in an effort to get Eve back on track.
While Carolyn is busy refocusing Eve's attention away from Villanelle, Konstantin has taken Villanelle to Amsterdam for the first assignment of their new partnership. And he knows just how to motivate her. He uses Eve Polastri. He tells Villanelle that he believes that her obsession with Eve has made her soft and that she needs to complete their assignment as a way of showing Eve what she's missing. He knows just the right buttons to push. He is a master at Villanelle. Their relationship is almost a bizarre father/childlike one. In fact, at one point in the episode, he calls her child-like. When you look at it, Villanelle IS childlike, but she's a very dangerous and deadly child. She's easily bored, her emotions are often on edge and she's easily manipulated at times. The result of Konstantin's manipulation in this episode results in a tour-de-force performance from Jodie Comer.
Comer's Villanelle has always been a standout of the show matching series star Sandra Oh scene for scene. However, in Season Two she has been on fire and her performance in "Desperate Times" is of the kind that wins awards. First, she plots her next assassination while sitting stylishly by the river while stalking her prey. This leads to a soon to be classic encounter by a vapid passerby who asks if she can take Villanelle's picture for Instagram. Comer's delivery of "No! No, of course not. Don't be pathetic, get a real life!" is so on point and almost comes across as a pointed commentary on today's society. Let's not forget she does this while sitting there in an amazingly gorgeous pink outfit and writing a postcard to Eve.
Can we just here for a moment to say how fabulous the wardrobes used this season of Killing Eve have been? Kudos to the fashion designer for the series, the clothes have been amazing, well except maybe for Konstantin's questionable choice of shirts on the bridge. Even Villanelle had issues with that one. Konstantin's shirt aside, the show has been a showcase of style and fashion and the show's wardrobe department has nailed distinctive styles for each character.
Villanelle then stages her most flamboyant and essentially disturbing assassination of her career by literally almost completely gutting a man in front of an audience as he hangs in a window of one of Amsterdam's famous red-light district shops. Her actions made even more bizarre by the fact she's wearing an elaborate pig-head and costume while doing it. Surely this will get Eve's attention and bring her back to her.
But things don't go exactly as planned. The next day, she sets up shop across the street from the scene of the crime to wait for the arrival of her MI6 obsession, Eve to show up to investigate. However, when MI6 arrives it's not Eve that's been sent. Comer gives a master class in acting in this scene without saying a word. She lets her so expressive face do the talking. At first, Villanelle sits there eating snacks anxious with anticipation. When the car pulls up, she becomes alert letting almost a giddy excitement play all over her face that quickly turns to shock when the agent that emerges isn't Eve Polastri. Finally, shock gives way to despair and then anger when she realizes that Eve isn't coming. And she does all of this in just a matter of seconds on screen.
Then, like a petulant child not getting her way, Villanelle acts out. She stalks angrily to an underground club, scores and takes drugs, then almost chokes a woman to death in the ladies' room when the woman cuts in line. She's saved from committing that murder by Konstantin who arrives like a dutiful father, even cementing that role when she wakes up the next morning, hung-over and finds him asleep on the floor by her bedside, watching over her.
Meanwhile, Eve has been reacting just as Carolyn wants her to by putting the piece together to determine the style and identity of the Ghost. She's forming a solid partnership with Jess (Nina Sosanya) while investigating all the deaths around the sale of the Peel company. She's impressing Hugo (Edward Bluemel) with her deductive skills in figuring out who the Ghost is and bonds with him over fried chicken. And then she cleverly confronts the Ghost and arrests her at her children's school.
Even as Oh remains masterful as Eve, this episode, hands down, belongs to Jodie Comer. New show-runner and writer Emerald Fennell is doing a masterful job at adding layer upon layer to one of television's most unique characters and Comer is taking everything Fennell throws at her and is running with it. Between Oh, Comer, and Fennell they have become a team creating some of television's most compelling hours. They're building again this season to the inevitable confrontation between Eve and Villanelle.
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