Before getting to the meat of this final hour of Killing Eve‘s second season, there are two lines from previous episodes that we ought to revisit — lines that carry special significance in a should’ve-seen-it-coming kind of way. First, let’s all have another chuckle over that mild pre-operation admonishment from Carolyn last week: “I hate to be strict, but she really mustn’t kill anyone.”
And then, let’s recall the fine-print disclaimer that puts Carolyn’s disingenuousness on full blast — because back in episode 5, psychopathy expert Martin told us exactly how this was going to go down.
“Honestly, there’s no containing anyone like this for any length of time.”
Meanwhile, Villanelle has been undercover at Aaron Peel’s palazzo for more than 24 hours, and we can see she’s getting antsy. Exiting her bedroom, she wanders through the house and finds her way to Aaron’s peeping lair, conspicuously left unlocked, unattended, and un-password-protected. She opens the file marked “BILLIE” and watches herself for a few moments. Then, she opens the one marked “MATILDA,” and watches Aaron Peel approach a sleeping woman, knife in hand. A cut-away and a brief flash of bloodied sheets later, we know the truth: Aaron might have hired The Ghost, but he’s also quite the DIY murderer himself.
Most women would react to this revelation by running out of the palazzo like their hair was on fire, but Villanelle, obviously, is not most women; instead, she decks herself out all in red and swans into breakfast like she’s making a command appearance at the Serial Killer Debutante Ball. There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: another prospective buyer for Aaron’s weapon is on his way, and when Villanelle looks at the man’s picture, she immediately recognizes Raymond, a.k.a. the handler who does his job for free in return for the privilege of putting down retired and/or troublesome assassins.
“What a weird-looking gentleman,” she says — and “gentleman,” remember, is the safe word.
Eve, whose morning so far has been dominated by post-coital sniping from Hugo, jumps up like her hair is on fire, but dives under the bed at the sound of a gunshot from the hallway and rattling at the door. A man with a gun comes in, sniffs around, gets a phone call, and leaves. Eve follows a few minutes later and finds Hugo lying on the floor — shot and bleeding, but alive.
“I played dead,” he says. “The hero’s technique.”
Hugo the Hero begs Eve not to leave him, but she does, and geez. Eve has done a lot of callous, awful stuff in service of her obsession with Villanelle, but the part where she tries to salve her conscience by leaving a note in the deserted lobby asking someone to call an ambulance is hideous, even for her. And then she doesn’t even leave the note! Dressed up in a maid’s outfit from the hotel closet (sidenote: a technique picked up from the Ghost?), Eve infiltrates the Peel palazzo and busts in on Villanelle and Aaron still at breakfast, blowing the cover on the whole operation. Aaron is a little surprised, mostly by Villanelle’s Russian accent, but takes it all in stride — and makes his guest an offer.
“Come work for me. You’ll never get bored here. I’ll give you everything.”
Villanelle looks intrigued as Aaron offers her an initial assignment: kill Eve.
“Do you think I would kill you, Eve?” she asks. Eve says yes.
“Do you want to watch?” she asks Aaron. Aaron says he does.
So she slits his throat, pulls him in front of a mirror, and makes him stare at himself as he dies.
It all feels awfully inevitable, really — which makes Eve’s shocked and panicked reaction the most surprising part of this scene. You’d have to be delusional not to realize that this was not only how it was always going to end, but also how it was supposed to. Back at the hotel, she finds the room swept clean, their surveillance equipment gone, and not a drop of Hugo’s blood (let alone his body) in the hallway. Then, a knock at the door: it’s Carolyn, who is not just unsurprised but perfectly content to hear that Peel is dead.
“It’s a bit clumsy, but it’s not a terrible result,” she says. “Villanelle simply did what she does best, and so did you.”
As Eve realizes she’s been had, Villanelle is having a parallel moment with Konstantin, who cooperated with Carolyn in order to be reunited with his family. Both women have been manipulated by people they trusted; each is now asked to betray the other. But for this moment, the bond between Eve and Villanelle wins out. The only thing standing between them now is… Raymond. Literally: he’s in the hallway of Eve’s hotel, holding an ax, just waiting.
Villanelle rolls her eyes. “You are the worst. How long have you been standing there? You are such a drama queen.”
The ensuing fight is one of the most brutal and also the funniest scenes of the season (and maybe even of the series, all-time), but this, too, seems inevitable: as Villanelle and Raymond grapple, and he gets his hands around her throat, Eve creeps up behind him with the discarded ax.
“Do it!” Villanelle wheezes.
Eve does it.
Then she pulls the ax out of his shoulder, and does it again, and again, and again.
Villanelle, guiding the blood-spattered Eve down the stairs, can’t help looking back and grinning goofily at the sight of Raymond’s hacked-apart corpse.
And for a few minutes, at least, everyone who ever wanted to see Eve and Villanelle together gets exactly what they wished for… and gets to see how the fantasy crumbles when cold, hard reality sets in. Villanelle is giddy — “It’s okay if you feel weird!” she assures Eve. “You just killed someone for the first time! With an ax!!!” — while Eve is in shock. And after escaping through an underground tunnel, the two emerge into an utterly deserted ruin, all sunbleached columns and roosting birds. Villanelle is already making plans: they’ll flee across the Atlantic, settle in Alaska, keep each other warm.
That’s when Eve sees the gun in Villanelle’s hand and realizes: she’s had it the whole time. She could have killed Raymond. Instead, she made Eve kill for her.
“You’re ruining the moment,” Villanelle pouts, then panics as Eve backs away. “You love me! I love you. I do! You’re mine. You’re mine!”
“I thought you were special,” Villanelle says.
Eve says, “Sorry to disappoint.”
When she turns away, Villanelle shoots her.
And this feels inevitable, too — and symmetrical. The season began with Eve wounding Villanelle; now Villanelle has wounded her back. Eve lies motionless on the ground, gutshot, a pool of blood spreading beneath her. But knowing that Killing Eve has already been renewed for a third season, we’re going to go ahead and guess that Eve is using the “hero’s technique” herself. And when the series returns, the game of cat and mouse, breakups and makeups, can begin all over again.