“Killing Eve” 406 Recap: The Villanelle/Eve/Hélène Love Triangle Comes to a Head

The end is almost here, and I’m very emotional! This is your Killing Eve 406 recap, so today we’re talking all things “Oh Goodie, I’m The Winner,” directed by Emily Atef and written by Kayleigh Llewellyn. In an attempt to finally rectify the strange rollout AMC+ has been doing all season and get us all caught up in time for next week’s SERIES FINALE (sob), my recap of the penultimate episode, “Making Dead Things Look Nice,” which is already available to stream, will go up tomorrow. If you’re watching as episodes air on television, just hold off on reading it until the weekend! Catch up on past recaps; take the Killing Eve quiz; and read Heather’s brilliant words on the show (a personal favorite sentence, and one that resonates deeply with me: “I don’t think there’s ever been a show that gets at the complete unraveling of queer desire quite like it.”) Alright, knives out, let’s go!


All Villanelle wants from Eve is one shred of emotional truth. One moment of pure, uninhibited vulnerability. No strategizing, no bullshitting, no game playing. She wants Eve to be real with her.

Perhaps it is because she has just narrowly avoided death or perhaps it is because she has been on an extended spiritual journey or perhaps it is because she actually absorbed some of her fraught therapy session with Martin — particularly the part about a relationship requiring mutual vulnerability — or, most likely, it’s some combination of all of the above that makes Villanelle actually need this from Eve right now. Eve has spent much of this season with the upperhand, but Villanelle knows it’s all based on a performance. Eve is fooling herself, as she often does.

Villanelle survives the arrow, and Pam performs emergency surgery (with the help of a sewing kit from a Christmas cracker and a bottle of vodka) in a hotel room while Konstantin and Eve flitter about. “Why is she here? Get rid of her,” Villanelle says the second she sees Eve. Lots of physical and verbal comedy ensues in the hotel room at the top of the episode, including Konstantin complaining about Eve shooting him, Eve making it seem like not a big deal, Villanelle learning of this development. Some information is dropped: The assassin Konstantin mentioned last episode, Gunn, is responsible for the arrow in Villanelle’s back, but according to Konstantin if she missed the killshot it was intentional.

And then things are quiet. Pam and Konstantin are gone. It’s just Villanelle and Eve again. Villanelle stirs. She’s still laying on her stomach on the bed, injured, slack, shirtless. Eve retrieves a flannel for her. It feels like a parallel scene to the time Eve was freezing in her dress after being slightly waterboarded by Villanelle and Villanelle helps her change out of it and into something warmer. The roles reverse here.

Villanelle helps Eve out of her dress in Killing Eve episode 105

Eve helps Villanelle into a flannel on Killing Eve

Villanelle doesn’t want Eve’s help. “Go away,” she says. “I’m serious, Eve. Go.” She tries to dress herself, but it’s too difficult, and Eve steps in. Eve pushes pieces of hair out of Villanelle’s face. It’s all very gentle. The song that plays when Villanelle stabs Bill and then again when Eve stabs Villanelle starts playing here, but the lyrics slightly change to:

“Don’t take her / she’s not good to you”
(the original: “don’t take him / he’s no good”)

THE DETAILSSSSSS!!!!

“You had me arrested,” Villanelle says.
“I thought locking you away might be good for me,” Eve says.
“Was it?”

Here’s Eve’s first chance to be honest, but instead, she let’s Villanelle’s question hang there, won’t give her that vulnerability she’s desperate for. “There,” she says of the flannel. “Suits you.” (ok, gay!)

It’s not what Villanelle wanted, and so Villanelle leaves.

Meanwhile, in a cabin in the woods, Carolyn wants Lars neé Johan to give her the name of the person responsible for killing her son. He wants the name of who’s after him. When she tells him it’s Hélène, he arranges to meet with her but says Carolyn must go in his place to catch her off guard.

Meanwhile, Konstantin tells Pam that Hélène says she’s ready for her first kill. Actually, let’s just get all of this out of the way (it’s good stuff, but I’m desperate to get back to Villanelle and Eve and this can definitely be summed up in a paragraph): Pam’s first assigned kill is Fernanda, Hélène’s ex-girlfriend and Eve’s fast friend at the wine bar when Eve was undercover as a recently dumped dyke. It goes poorly! In a very funny way! Pam doesn’t really know what she has gotten herself into and seems to be under the impression that the work she’ll be doing for The Twelve is Dexter-esque killing aka only murdering people who somehow “deserve” it. She doesn’t yet understand that working for The Twelve is just unending chaos. I mean, Hélène doesn’t even really need to have Fernanda killed; she never figured out Hélène was playing her. To Pam, Fernanda is too normal seeming, too bubbly and kind to possibly be a target for The Twelve. She’s working as the sign girl for a meat stand, one of the episode’s many hilarious setups, shouting things like “juicy meatball subs!” and “cheesey hammy sandwich!” on the street so, you know, not exactly the kind of high-profile assassination Pam maybe anticipated. Fernanda shows her humanity right away to Pam, talking about how happy she is, how excited she is for her mother to come visit. Pam doesn’t want to kill this nice lady. But she has a job to do, and she does it…badly! In fact, she makes it so much more brutal and drawn-out because of her hesitations, making Fernanda suffer rather than doing a quick, clean job. All assassins have to start somewhere I suppose!

Villanelle slowly walks down a sidewalk, still hurt — physically and emotionally. She’s also still wearing very ugly sandals, which I appreciate as a costume detail. Eve approaches her on a mobility scooter she stole from a grocery store and tries to entice her with a ride. She’s trying to be cute and charming, but it isn’t working on Villanelle.

“I thought I lost you there for a minute,” Eve says.
“And?” Villanelle asks. This is what she wants. For Eve to be real.
“I didn’t like it,” Eve offers.

And for a moment, it seems like she’ll say more. But when she does, it’s just to bring Villanelle up to speed on her operation.

It’s not what Villanelle wants, Eve!!!!!!!!! She doesn’t want to talk shop!!!!!! She wants you to tell her exactly how you felt in your body, in your heart when you thought maybe she had died!!!!!!! Hasn’t Eve herself long wanted this? For Villanelle to be real with her? For Villanelle to show she’s capable of real, complex, human emotions? It’s right here, right in front of her. But she has been burned by Villanelle too many times to believe it. And she has put up too many walls over the past years to know how to even begin tearing them down.

“Eve, just GO,” Villanelle says. Again. She walks away, and Eve lets her.

Eve calls Yusuf and asks him to remind her why she’s doing all this. He reminds her of Bill, of Kenny, of the time Niko was forked in the throat. Yusuf is not entirely wrong here, but he also doesn’t really know Eve. Maybe at one point she was doing all of this for them, for the things she had lost. But it’s not that simple anymore and perhaps never was. She’s doing a lot of this for the woman she just let walk away. It’s not logical, but desire and obsession and love rarely are.

A mysterious stranger offers Villanelle some painkillers, and they come with a note. That mysterious stranger turns out to be the assassin Gunn, and her note tells Villanelle where to find Hélène. It seems Konstantin was correct about Gunn intentionally shooting only to wound rather than kill. Villanelle calls Eve to tip her off that Carolyn is in town. She isn’t entirely done with her quite yet.

And now: THE CAROLYN X HÉLÈNE SHOWDOWN. Fiona Shaw and Camille Cottin are formidable scene partners, and I probably could have watched a full hour of this. It starts on an incredible note: “Carolyn. You have a very large stride,” Hélène says cooly upon realizing she has been bait-and-switched for this meeting. They start talking, and Carolyn interrupts to say she has a vivid memory of throwing up in a corner of the empty lot they’re sitting in. Carolyn’s bone-dry delivery of the most devastating and/or disgusting anecdotes in the middle of conversations remains impeccable. Fiona Shaw has been firing on all cylinders this season.

“You seem to have a sort of foot fetish,” Carolyn says of Hélène’s kills. “It’s a nice touch.”

“Thank you. That means a lot from someone like you,” Hélène replies.

I love how matter-of-factly these two speak about absolutely unhinged things. And I think Hélène nails it when she says they’re both masters of their own games. “Quite different rules,” Carolyn says. And I’m sure she believes that, but I’m not so sure it’s true. Carolyn and Hélène seem more like different sides of the same coin.

On that note, it turns out Carolyn and Hélène are connected by way of their fathers. When Carolyn realizes Hélène is the daughter of a man named Jacques, she says her father loved him. If you thought the queer world was small, apparently the international spy and assassin world is even smaller and even more rife with gay drama!!!!!!!!!!

Carolyn and Hélène don’t get much out of each other, so Carolyn returns to Lars/Johan. “I’ll tell you who killed Kenny!” he shouts at her. “You!” “Try telling me something I don’t already know,” Carolyn says.

Konstantin and Pam celebrate the completion of her first job at a skating rink, which once again ties back to the rendering of their relationship as that of a parent-child. After all, Konstantin has been separated from his own daughter for quite some time. I think he might be subconsciously using Pam to fill that void. And Pam lost her parents, too, and is projecting onto Konstantin. He tells Pam she should take joy when it comes along, so she kisses the carnival boy in the middle of the skate rink. It has unfolded mostly at the periphery of the main narrative, but I genuinely have loved everything about Pam’s arc this season.

Okay, now it’s time to talk about one of my favorite scenes in Killing Eve history. It begins with Hélène, alone (or seemingly alone…) in her hotel room. She’s wearing what I can only describe as If Shane McCutcheon Were A French Mommi. It’s like a fitted black formal vest with no shirt underneath over black dress pants. There’s some side boob happening. It took me a moment to decide how I felt about it, but I have landed on: Yes.

Helene wears a black vest with no shirt underneath over black pants while drinking a flute of champagne on Killing Eve

Hélène’s on the phone with Gunn. She says she doesn’t sound like herself. She says “of course you’ll do better.” Do you think all of Hélène’s assassin charges have praise kinks? I do!

“Idiot,” Hélène mutters after hanging up. She doesn’t yet know Gunn has crossed her. My how these characters’ egos get the best of them.

Hélène pops a chocolate in her mouth. She’s feeling herself. But her phone rings and she awkwardly spits out the chocolate to answer it. There have been so many great moments like this all season that have pierced the spectacle. Hélène thinks she’s this hot, untouchable assassin-training bad bitch, and most of the time she is! But she’s also a regular human, and regular humans are subject to awkwardness, discomfort, mess.

We’re not sure who’s on the other line, but whatever they request, Hélène says Pam will do it. “A challenge.”

Hélène sits on the edge of her bed, her bare feet on the floor. That’s when we see she’s not alone at all. There’s Villanelle, right at foot level, hiding under the bed with a blade, giddy and ready to slash those feet. Villanelle does love to infuse her violence with poetry, and Hélène’s got a thing for feet when it comes to her own killings. It’s perfect.

But before she can place blade to ankle, there’s a knock on the door. Hélène gets up to answer it. Villanelle hears Eve, sees the lower half of her body. She lets things play out for a bit. Hélène is still feeling herself, still playing the cool French bad bitch.

“We have a bath, you kiss me, and now you come to my hotel,” Hélène teases Eve. Under the bed, Villanelle is visibly disturbed. Jealous. Upset. There’s a lot of comedy to this little twisted love triangle, and all of the blocking from here to the end of the scene is exquisite, heightening the humor, the emotional stakes, rendering it all as if it really were just a typical bout of relationship drama in a hotel room between three women who are each other’s lovers and/or exes.

Villanelle seizes the opportunity to slice Hélène’s ankles. She rolls out from under the bed, kicks Hélène to the ground, and looks right at Eve as if to say this is for you or maybe this is your fault. Hélène hits Villanelle with a fancy champagne bottle. Eve attempts to help Villanelle but in typical Eve fashion fucks it up, throwing a knife to Villanelle BLADE FIRST so that the only thing she accomplishes is almost accidentally stabbing her. Villanelle gives her a disappointed look.

Villanelle mounts Hélène. “Make it glorious,” Hélène says. As Villanelle slices her throat, Hélène smiles, lets out a last breath that’s also a laugh.

Throughout the chaos of the scene, Villanelle keeps looking at Eve, keeps making sure she’s watching.

Villanelle holds a knife in her mouth on Killing Eve.

I’ve watched the entire scene multiple times, and it just gets better and better. The passion emanating from each of these women, the hurt Villanelle feels, the shock on Eve’s face, Eve who is constantly getting in over her head, Eve who is constantly unsure of what it is she really wants. It’s all so fucking good. This one scene captures everything I love about this show — and mostly through movement! The dialogue is minimal.

If Eve was about to finally open up to Villanelle, finally about to say something real, it’s too late. “I’m done with you,” Villanelle says, leaving again.

Yusuf calls to give Eve a small gift. He has the name of the cab company Carolyn used that morning. This sends Eve down one of the show’s fun and fully absurdist tangents in the wake of the explosive hotel scene. The tonal whiplash actually works quite well, something this show is singularly good at. Eve has to go through the motions of watching a cab driver perform nunchuck choreography to German metal music, bribe a cab driver who then negotiates their own bribe to a SMALLER AMOUNT LMAO, and finally gets the info she needs to find Carolyn.

Carolyn tries to get Eve to stand down. Eve is still under the impression that Carolyn is Twelve, that she has always been the enemy. I feel the same way about this here as I did last week, which is that I don’t quite see the point of the dramatic irony here. We know the truth about Carolyn, and Eve doesn’t. Carolyn attempts to sum everything up thusly: The Twelve were once a group of genuine revolutionaries who wanted to create some chaos. Along the way, they lost the plot and became the very machine they had initially set out to dismantle. “Power inevitably corrupts,” she says. It’s all a little simplistic, a little too neat a bow on the seasons-spanning conspiracy that is The Twelve, but I’ll take it. I’ll take neat and clean over convoluted and overcomplicated. I’ve never cared too much what The Twelve is, who they are, what they do. And I think that’s fine! They’re just a symbol, really. They’re just a common enemy for the characters to hurl themselves at, but at the end of the day, it’s the interpersonal stakes and motivations that matter so much more.

“Are you one of us?” Hélène asks Carolyn earlier in the episode, and Carolyn doesn’t answer. An answer doesn’t matter, because neither does the question. It doesn’t matter who is and who is not working for The Twelve. Everyone at this point is more or less just working for themselves. And destroying themselves in the process. There’s a thin line between self-actualization and self-destruction on Killing Eve.

“This isn’t about Kenny,” Eve says to Carolyn now. “It is,” Carolyn replies. “For me.”

Eve leaves, and Carolyn thinks she has handled it, but when she’s back in the cabin with Lars/Johan, Eve storms right back in with a gun. She shoots him in the shoulder. “How does it feel?” she asks. She shoots him again in the head. What the hell does Eve think she is accomplishing here! Carolyn is right: They’re both after the same thing, but Carolyn is doing a much better job of it. But so much of this episode to me (and this whole series, really)  is about the messy, incoherent, and contradictory ways humans behave. Humans are impulsive, emotional, irrational creatures. Carolyn, Hélène, Villanelle, and Eve are all acting like they’re following a straightforward mission, but they’re not! They’re chaotic players in a chaotic game! They’re myopic and obsessive, more controlled by their emotions than they’d ever admit.

I don’t think Eve knows why she’s doing this. Lars/Johan isn’t the top of The Twelve. She’s just cutting off the head of a monster that can easily grow another. I think her emotions are heightened after what she just witnessed between Villanelle and Hélène. I think she’s desperate for agency, and she mistakes this act of violence for that. She was powerless in the hotel room with Hélène and Villanelle, and she thinks this is what power looks like. Killing someone.

Power inevitably corrupts.

“Well done,” Carolyn says, calm as ever even though we know she’s mad as fuck. “You’ve killed one. Now they’ll just replace him. Again and again. Over and over and over.”

But Eve doesn’t hear. She’s already gone.

Villanelle is gone, too. She’s rowing a small boat out to Faesgar Island, where she finds Gunn carrying a sheep on her back. The two fight, equally matched and scrappy. When they eventually tumble off a ridge together, they devolve into a laughing fit. It seems Villanelle has found the perfect Eve rebound for now.

I find myself thinking about Villanelle and Eve on the bridge. I often think about Villanelle and Eve on the bridge. They agreed to walk away from each other. But they couldn’t. Eve turned first. Villanelle turned next. It’s fitting that they didn’t turn at the same instance, because so much of their dynamic is defined by the fact that they’re rarely on the same page. Here Villanelle is, genuinely ready for something more. For something honest and real. I believe that, I really do! I also believe Eve has a right to be skeptical, to be guarded. On a bridge together but out of step. Connected to each other and disconnected all at once. It’s difficult to describe what Villanelle and Eve has, because their relationship is defined by constant contradiction.


SORRY BABY x

  • Carolyn pivoting to HUGGING A TREE so that Lars/Johan won’t be suspicious? Incredible.
  • All of Carolyn’s interactions with Lars/Johan in general are great. I love when Carolyn dances circles around inept men with an inflated sense of their own power.
  • Carolyn finds Lars/Johan’s date book, so her mission to get to the top of The Twelve is not thwarted entirely by Eve’s rash decision.
  • Villanelle is really at a low point this season, and this outfit says it all:
    Villanelle wears a flannel over a patterned jumpsuit. Next to her, Eve is on a mobility scooter in a hoodie.
  • If you haven’t already, definitely go back and watch that hotel scene. It’s just so funny and action-packed and horny???? Like absolutely fucked up, but also undeniably hot. A passionate love triangle explosion! Jodie Comer’s facial expression when Villanelle learns Eve and Hélène have kissed? AWARDS.
  • Here’s the original version of the Unloved song, “Bill.” I’m begging them to release this new Villaneve-specific version!
  • Okay so check back tomorrow for a recap of the next episode!

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 458 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. Gunn carrying the sheep on her back seems like a reference to Jesus the Good Shepherd. I remember reading in an interview that Vilanelle’s Christianity stint would follow her through the season. The insinuation may be that Gunn could be what Vilanelle needs, what could save her, so to speak… Or it may be that Gunn is collecting the lost Twelve sheep that is Vilanelle who wants out, seeing as Gunn is an active assassin for them (?).

    Helene asked for it to be glorious… The tendons could be it, but Vilanelle kind of just left once everything was done, ignoring the request haha.

    The scenes with Vilanelle and Eve were so good, right down to very subtle levels. The way they framed Vilanelle on the bed – she looked so gentle and small. How she was reacting to the information she was hearing from Eve and Konstantin’s bickering (Eve shooting hands, etc.) – tiny surprised smiles despite herself. How she told Eve to leave, in an almost pouty way, but it becomes real disappointment and hurt when Eve doesn’t take Vilanelle’s very open and very opposite-of-pushy opportunities to share intimacy through words. I kept remembering your words, Kayla, about how their relationship plays out outside the conventional borders of what we’d understand as relationship activities (paraphrasing here). When I think of it like that, I can’t really be upset with whatever has (or hasn’t been) happening this season with them.

    We’re so close to the end… that I’m actually becoming nervous about how they’ll conclude Eve and Vilanelle’s story. If they have to d*e, I hope they follow the Christian symbolism all the way to miraculous resurrection. Hey, stranger things have happened on this show haha.

  2. So close to the end. Can’t say I’m surprised that Helene got killed off before we knew what she was even up to but I’m not surprised. Like everything related to the Twelve, it’s been an anti-climax.

    I really have no idea where Pam fits into this season by the end. The only thing I can think is that she’s going to go after Villanelle for Helene’s death. Which I guess in turn is going to determine Villanelle’s ultimate fate.

    Anyway I look forward to the finale next week. A Two parter! Which I don’t think they mentioned once.

  3. It’s weird to write this comment knowing what happens in the next episode. But I’ll try to put down my thoughts from the last week here because the most beautiful thing about TV shows like Killing Eve is this ephemeral state of being in-between episodes. I want to remember these thoughts because it’s the last time I could feel this way. That’s also why I love good recaps so much. And this one is probably my favorite of the series, Kayla.
    It’s also my favorite episode of the season.
    I liked so many things this year, but there was some sense of lack. Everything in the previous five episodes would be better if Eve and Villanelle actually got together after the bridge. Every plot would still be possible – Eve’s romance with Helene, Villanelle’s adventures in church, Martin, Carolyn – but it would also let the show confront the new aspects of their relationship. It would inevitably lead to a disastrous break-up, of course. But the series needed to break the will they/won’t they structure.
    The sixth episode offers a possibility I’ve never thought about before: Villanelle falling out of love. She’s tired. She’s angry. She’s not even that surprised when she finds out Eve had a thing with Helene because of course she did. And for the first time in her life, people who know who Villanelle is are actually quite nice to her. Carolyn and Benita have their reasons, but they’re not afraid. Pam is so gentle and nice. And then the Amor’s arrow reveals itself as an offer of friendship. So Villanelle has other options. She still loves Eve, but maybe she’s not as addicted to her acceptance and love as before.
    And I loved the courage of this thought, the possibility of making this season about people who missed their chance (of trying things out). The raw sadness of it. Breaking the rules.
    And there are so many moments to love, to return to. Pam. (I’m so so happy Anjana Vasan has been nominated for BAFTA for We Are Lady Parts!!!). Eve and Konstantin shouting at each other the way they always do. Konstantin taking the mirror off the wall. The flannel. Carolyn and Helene. The chocolates, the jeans, and the knife. Another queer Jesus, and Dalida.
    Also, Gunn of the Feasgard Island does sound a bit like an Astrid Lindgren novel.

  4. Best episode this season. Two VillanEve moments that will be added to my list of favorites.

    I did not clocked the change of lyrics and just thought “wait, was this song always about them?” Thank for including that piece! Unloved continues killing it!

    I still don’t know how I feel about part of this season being written with possible spin-off storylines, but I love Pam and hope she’s at least the spin-off. And maybe queer?

  5. I’ve talked myself to death with friends about this show so I’m not going to say much EXCEPT agreed!!! This is easily my favorite episode all season, and my favorite episode of seasons 2-4.

    The whole Helene/Villanelle/Eve hotel scene is fucking pure gold, and it’s what finally broke open the show for me as super gay — like, yes it’s about assassins and murder, but at its heart this is just messy gay drama: woman finds out her on again/off again girlfriend has been messing around with her enemy and staidly does what she has to (kill the enemy), and then tell her girlfriend to fuck off. Her “I’m done with you” was magical.

    I really dislike the last few minutes though: why does Eve kill that dude? literally what’s the point? if it’s just to feel something or to get to kill someone, that’s so shallow and a disservice to her character. if it’s to get revenge, then she’s doing it badly (Carolyn was doing it better). Maybe it’s meant to be like, those times when you have something which you know is very important to you, but it’s been dragging on and you’re exhausted, and so you wrap it up with something kind of stupid just to tell yourself it’s done? I could see that, but with only two episodes left I wanted more.

  6. What an excellent episode and amazing recap! I’m still mourning my Sexy French Mommy, but in the end her hubris and ego truly got the best of her. From downplaying the assassins’ importance and thinking too highly of herself, whenever she taunted Eve was obsessed or her stalker, it was clear it was HER who was falling for Eve.
    I had to lol when she yelled “Eve!” thinking Eve could ever choose her and throw her the knife first. Eve might have been intrigued, but it’s always Villanelle for her. I believe it was genuinely a love triangle, they played it perfectly to the rhythm of the show, with the power games and double meanings. Helene let herself be too distracted, she screwed it up by daring to bring Villanelle in her race with Eve, she would have survived maybe.

  7. YES!!! The BEST episode. For me, the Hot Helene hotel murder scene is right up there with the ice cream shop scene between Villanelle and the little girl. My only quibble is What, no tiny chair??! 🙀🙀🙀

  8. But before she can place blade to ankle, there’s a knock on the door. Hélène gets up to answer it. Villanelle hears Eve, sees the lower half of her body. She lets things play out for a bit. Hélène is still feeling herself, still playing the cool French bad bitch.

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