Hello my little murder babies and welcome back to Autostraddle’s Killing Eve coverage! In this Killing Eve 402 recap, I shall attempt to write something other than just HOT HELENE IS KILLING ME, but know that pretty much my entire mental state during the writing of this recap could be summed up as HOT HELENE IS KILLING ME. “Don’t Get Eaten” (one of my favorite title episodes to date) was, as with the premiere, written by Laura Neal and directed by Stella Corradi. Read last week’s recap of the season premiere if you missed it and also check out my recent update to the goofy lesbian knifeplay list that I originally wrote in 2019 and have expanded to include, well, a lot more Killing Eve moments! On with the show!
“I think reinvention is a form of avoidance.”
When Eve asks Martin — the “therapist for psychopaths” we’ve met in previous seasons — if he thinks it’s really possible that Villanelle has changed, that her whole Christian good girl thing could be real, this is his response.
Eve goes to Martin because she wants a second opinion on whether her plan to confront Helene by herself head-on is a good idea or not. Her coworker-slash-hookup Yusuf thinks it’s a very bad idea and that she’s acting like the kind of person who adopts a lion cub and thinks surely it will never grow into something that will harm her. I gotta say: I’m with Yusuf here. We’ve seen this side of Eve before, this self-destructive egotism that makes her believe she’s untouchable. I like this recklessness in Eve. It’s what usually brings her back to Villanelle.
Also, for the record, while I — like any other Killing Eve obsessed dyke — want Villanelle and Eve to consummate their seasons-long tango, I like Yusuf! I like Eve and Yusuf’s whole thing! When he tricks her into thinking he booked a romantic trip to Paris in this episode and she over-reacts by RIPPING the tickets up and reminding him of their situationship rules (no sleepovers, no gifts/trips, etc.) and he’s like CHILL I’m JOKING? It’s so good! This is far from the first time Eve has used men in her life as kinda sexual standins. Back in season one, interactions with Villanelle would get her so riled up she’d come home horny for Niko, but it wasn’t really him she wanted but the idea of him, the version of him that fit into this whole power game in her head. In season two, she used Hugo, too, leaving her earpiece in so that Villanelle was almost part of things. With Yusuf, everything’s on the table in a way it wasn’t really for those other men in her past. He seems to perfectly understand their casual arrangement and also be exactly what she wants — a cipher for her to project onto. She’s most interested in him when he can give her something she wants. It’s all very transparently transactional.
Which ties back to this brief but meaty scene with Martin. Eve wants to know how to get something out of a psychopath. Martin says that they basically need to be given something they want or at least perceive that they are getting something they want. I like this scene because neither of them are really talking about the same things. Martin assumes Eve is talking about Villanelle. Eve is talking about Helene but also maybe Villanelle a bit and maybe herself, too.
I was also struck by this: When Eve shows up outside his work, she offers a bottle of alcohol as a gift. He immediately grabs it, opens it, and starts chugging. It’s such a small but telling moment. Martin’s work means that he’s constantly confronted by the ugliness of humanity. He’s an expert in monsters. It’s similar but also different from Eve, who thinks of herself as an expert of psychopaths but isn’t, not really. Martin gets up close to killers because it’s his job. It was once Eve’s job, too, but now it’s more than that. It’s a passion, an obsession. Martin chugging booze in the middle of a work day suggests he doesn’t leave work at the door so easily. Being so close to fucked up shit fucks you up.
“I’ve got five minutes until my cannibal,” Martin says matter of factly. “Don’t get eaten,” Eve warns at the end of the scene. There’s a jokiness to this casual banter about a literal cannibal, but there’s also something more there. These are Martin and Eve’s realities. They get close to the things most people would run away from.
“Don’t Get Eaten” follows the threads of reinvention for both Eve and Villanelle that the premiere introduced. They spend the episode apart but on parallel tracks. Indeed, Martin’s words ring true for both of them. They’re reimagining themselves so that they can avoid answering any hard questions about who they are or what they want. This is a recurring theme for Eve, who has been on what I see as an extended identity crisis since season one.
“Maybe I’m more of a them these days than a you,” Eve says to Martin when he points out to her that there are a slew of safety protocols in place to protect him from his patients. Neither seems fazed by that statement, because I think neither believes it entirely.
Similar to the premiere, the opening sequence of “Don’t Get Eaten” is exquisite. In it, we get to see Eve as a full-on spy, dressing in elaborate and fabulous costumes (ugh seriously that look at the bar!!!!!) while trailing Hot Helene who, blessedly, spends part of this opening making out with a random spiky-haired woman in a bar bathroom and then on an elevator with, to which I say 👅. ANYWAY, I love rogue spy Eve. I love her undercover looks and her sneaky tampon tracking device and her certainty that she can just walk up to a serial killer recruiter’s door and play some power games and get away with that. I love it all, and I’m also not buying it. Or, at least, I don’t think Eve is any more certain of her self and her motivations just because she’s running around like a glamorous and confident spy these days.
I still think Eve doesn’t know who she is and what she wants. I think that, much like Villanelle trying on goodness as if it were a costume, she’s faking it til she makes it. She’s focused on the mission at hand, but gun to her head, I’m not sure she would be able to really explain why she’s going after The Twelve and what she’s really doing. She’s biting off more than she can chew and then biting off some more.
On the way to Paris to confront Helene (Yusuf thinks they’re just doing recon and clearly doesn’t know Eve well enough to know that she’s obviously going to follow through on the most reckless version of her plan), she wants steak. She wants to keep up the international spy vibe. In Paris, she deflates. Her steak is overdone. Yusuf says she went from being the Girl In The Dragon Tattoo to being Eeyore. She says she could die. But I don’t think it’s her own mortality that has Eve in a funk, and it’s clearly not the overdone steak either. I think she’s starting to see the precariousness of this supposed reinvention of herself. The things she’s avoiding are bubbling to the surface. She’s still not sure who she is and what she wants!
Villanelle, similarly, struggles with her own reinvention. She wants to be good, and she considers the fact that she didn’t actually kill May a win. The congregation heads out to the woods for a little Bible camp, and Villanelle tries to get May back on her good side, reciting a Bible verse about repentance and even being somewhat honest with her by saying she’s a bad person who is trying to be good.
She’s also still being visited by Villanelle-Jesus. Jodie Comer gets a lot of great comedy to work with in this dual performance as Villanelle and Jesus. Again, it’s all so absurd in the best way. Villanelle sits on Villanelle-Jesus’s lap; Villanelle and Villanelle-Jesus hold hands and spin in the woods; Villanelle and Villanelle-Jesus even kiss before Villanelle attacks and strangles Villanelle-Jesus (but can’t follow through on fully killing Villanelle-Jesus). Each of these images is strange and funny and alluring. It’s like a dance and a conversation between Villanelle and herself. It’s a self-eroticization, too. Villanelle-Jesus critiques Villanelle but also enables her. And it all climaxes with a violent outburst that feels earned.
May confides in Villanelle that her mother died in a car crash and that Paul was drunk and driving the car. Villanelle sees this as an opportunity to get rid of Paul and also further ingratiate herself with the rest of the congregation. She wants to be their savior, to win at the game of being good. She exposes Paul, and it backfires spectacularly. So Villanelle kills again, brutally. She uses a tent peg and a hammer to bludgeon and stake May and Paul to death in their tent, the whole scene shown in silhouette from the outside of the tent like some horror shadow puppet show. Just like Eve is falling back into old patterns of taking risks and thinking of herself as immune to killers, Villanelle falls back into her old pattern of responding to rejection with murder. She can’t handle not being loved and adored.
The thing is: I actually do think Villanelle thinks she’s doing a good thing by exposing Paul. I think she wants this good vs. bad stuff to be clear cut. I think she wants to be the best at being good.
Being good is more than Villanelle bargained for. Being in control is more than Eve bargained for. She doesn’t end up being wrong about her conviction that Helene wants to be challenged. The power play works. But it comes at a cost, too. Eve shows up at Helene’s and says she wants to cook her dinner. Helene is intrigued enough by this tactic that she lets Eve push right on past her and snaps her switchblade closed.
Eve starts aggressively making shepherd’s pie but doesn’t get very far before accidentally slicing her finger. Helene takes her fingers in her mouth. This is also right after Helene says she caught the tampon tracking device because she doesn’t use applicator tampons because she doesn’t understand anyone who can’t insert their own fingers inside them. It is all!!!! Very!!!!! Erotic!!!!!
And that thin line between danger and seduction, between violence and arousal doesn’t stop there. Nope, Helene takes Eve’s fingers out of her mouth and slams them against the electric stovetop burner. She turns up the heat. Eve doesn’t flinch. When Helene asks if it hurts, Eve repeats Helene’s own words from the episode’s opening back to her: Only if I let it.
Just before the burn can get too bad, Helene frees her and gives her a frozen lobster tail to ice her wound. Amid all this, Helene confesses she has been the one torturing members of The Twelve. Eve says she wants to cut off the head of the beast, go all the way to the top. Their missions are, perhaps, aligned, but they’re not really allies of course.
This show is wildly good at these erotic thriller moments. Sex is so infrequently shown outright on the show, but so many scenes drip with sexual tension, with power dynamics, with strange human desires and impulses. I don’t think it’s as simple as Eve and Helene wanting to spoonfeed some shepherd’s pie to each other and then fuck on the kitchen island or anything (though I would…read that fic). But there’s a charge between them that’s electric and yet hard to define. It’s that same heat that crackles between Villanelle and Eve, too. They want something from each other, they need something from each other. Seduction is often a manipulation. It’s presenting yourself the way you want to be seen by another. It’s demanding the gaze of another, figuring out what they want, and giving it.
I also don’t think things are as simple as Eve moving on from Villanelle and onto Helene. I think Eve is desperate to convince herself she doesn’t need Villanelle, and I think Villanelle is desperate to get Eve’s attention, as she often is. They spend the episode apart, but they’re never really that far from each other’s minds.
Back in Hot Helene’s kitchen, gears shift when Helene’s daughter interrupts the women. But Helene and Eve both keep trying to outmaneuver one another while also trying to figure each other out. Eve leaves. They say they’ll have dessert another time. I look forward to it.
My apologies to Fiona Shaw, but I simply am so uninterested in what’s going on with Carolyn so far!!!! It feels so peripheral to the main story, and I prefer anything to do with The Twelve when it’s distilled into its most basic premise as a globe-spanning chaotic evil organization. The second it starts to take up too much of the storyscape, it starts to feel meandering and overly convoluted. That’s where I am at right now with Carolyn, who has to prove herself to Vlad by providing useful information about several agents, including Hugo. I’m just not that interested!
On the other hand, I’m actually extremely interested in the idea of Eve and Helene both working — separately, for now — to take down The Twelve. There’s a straightforwardness to that.
Helene and Eve both seem to think that they’re being calculating and targeted in their approaches but really they’re just being kind of messy and almost purposeless! Helene is out here torturing members of The Twelve one-by-one, and Eve’s out here thinking she can dismantle the whole thing on her own, too. These are not very good plans! They’d be more powerful together, and yet that’s not how either of them wants to operate. They want to use each other, they want to play these power games over and over. They’re practically getting off on it.
I think Eve, Helene, and Villanelle are all dangerously focused and yet untethered at the same time, flinging themselves at targets they can’t even see. They’re obsessed with power. They’ve got trust issues for days. There’s a controlled chaos to these first couple of episodes, everyone acting in their own self-interests while also self-sabotaging.
These first two episodes of the season have been very character-driven, which is a space I like Killing Eve to live in. I know there are a lot of things to wrap up on a plot level, but I like that Killing Eve is taking its time, wandering down strange and indulgent tangents like drag Jesus. Killing Eve is at its best when cultivating vibes, and these episodes are full of vibes. The Christianty imagery continues. The erotics are super queer and super steeped in power dynamics. The humor is acerbic and original. And for the most part, the focus is on these characters and their identity crises rather than the plot machinations. Villanelle’s bloody outburst is inevitable, and yet the way it unfolds is specific and captivating, almost playful.
For me, Villanelle kissing the drag Jesus version of herself before driving tent pegs through drag Jesus’ arms lives in the same place as that burner moment between Helene and Eve. You’re not really sure if you should be laughing or looking away or turned on or afraid. Killing Eve titillates in these peculiar moments. There’s an allure to the absurdity and to the danger. Killing Eve actually feels its most grounded when it burrows into dynamics, relationships, and stakes that are hard to define, that blur boundaries, that are a little uncomfortable. Keep making me feel weird, show!
SORRY BABY x
- I love the use of the aquarium as a recurring image in these first two episodes. Last time, Eve and Villanelle saw each other through it. And this time, Eve stops by it and dumps some fish flakes in it but does so in this weird, impulsive, twitchy way as if she doesn’t even know exactly why she’s doing it or whether it’s against the rules. It’s an odd moment, and I like that Killing Eve so often features odd moments.
- Okay, so I’ve decided to headcanon the fact that Martin’s cannibal is Misty Quigley and Yellowjackets and Killing Eve take place in the same universe. Prove me wrong! You can’t!!!!!
- Jodie Comer is so fucking funny in this episode. I assume this is the last we’re seeing of drag Jesus though.
- Eve wore the fuck out of this casual look:
- Thinking about her (Hot Helene’s hot hookup).
- Much like the sunburst mirror framing from last episode, this framing at the fire is great. Villanelle’s thinking she’s delivering the group from evil, but she’s looking like the devil coming out of hell.
- Have y’all seen the trailer for the upcoming Sandra Oh-starring horror movie Umma? It looks!!!! So good!!!!!!