'Killing Eve' Season 4, Episode 5 Recap: "Don't Get Attached"

 Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri - Killing Eve
Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri in 'Killing Eve' (Anika Molnar/BBCA)

Killing Eve opens in black and white, with doc martens and leather jackets. It's Berlin 1979, and young rebels are struggling to name their group: "The Socialist Squad," "Anarchists With An Attitude," "Chaos Club." A young woman arrives, dramatically dismissing their ideas with her own better one, inspired by Beethoven: "The Twelve." It is Carolyn (Imogen Daines), working undercover as "Janice" and dating Johan (Siggi Ingvarsson), aka Lars Meier. She's cheating on him with Karolina (Teresa Klamert)'s boyfriend, Karl (Louis Bodina-Andersen), also a covert operative, but KGB. It's none other than Konstantin, and his seduction of Carolyn is to get evidence on her British Intelligence father Dickie's (Nigel Cooke) closeted affairs.

Villanelle: I tried to kill other people's assholes, but charity begins at home.

Villanelle is still in Cuba being fed breakfast by Benita, who she learns, stays in the safe house because it's better than going back to her abusive husband. Her story inspires Villanelle to use her talents for good, taking out Benita's firefighter husband with his own hose (God, I've missed her creative murders) and a laundry list of abusive spouses who need to be removed from this earth. Sadly, Pam is no Villanelle, as Konstantin is learning to his utter confusion. High-end fashion doesn't entice her; ridiculous outfits look, well, ridiculous, on her. However, her circus friend, Darren (Josh Zare), gets her some proper clothes, even if Konstantin and a newly-arrived-from-Cuba Villanelle aren't so impressed.

We cut to Berlin, present day, as Carolyn returns to their old family house, and recalls how she found her father dead, apparently of suicide, rather than submit to blackmail. Berlin is also where she and Konstatin thought they drowned Johan when he caught them together, stopping her from blowing Konstantin's cover. Carolyn looks up Karolina (Stacy Thunes), now married with five children and pleased to see "Janice's" life was nothing to envy. Karolina insists she knew nothing, but Carolyn breaks in after dark and finds a letter from Johan in Zurich. A call to Konstatin locates the address, and she shows up at his front door and, after apologizing for beating him with an oar all those years ago, asks to come in.

Eve picks up Chloe from school and takes her to London. Despite kidnapping her, she can't bring herself to harm Chloe, dragging her along to track down Yusuf's lead on the photographer, Oliver (John Keogh), instead. Hélène is anxiously waiting when they get back, and Eve lets Chloe go. Eve sits down with the old super eight Oliver still had from 1979 and discovers Carolyn was dating Johan, but her phone buzzes with a message from Hélène. They meet up, and Hélène tells Eve she's found Lars, inviting her to come along. But they don't go to Zurich. Instead, they drive to Margate as Villanelle leaves Konstatin's flat. As Eve watches, Hélène gets revenge by having Villanelle shot through the heart with an arrow.

 Jodie Comer as Villanelle - Killing Eve
(Anika Molnar/BBCA)

Have you ever seen a series genuinely misunderstand the story it's telling? 

Killing Eve began in 2018 as a cat-and-mouse game, Spy vs. Spy, a throwback to the mid-century British storytelling that bought us James Bond, Secret Agent Man, and The Prisoner, except recast with women, written by and for women. The show was a pastiche, but it worked because of Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer's chemistry. (It also made some of the homoeroticism of these stories text, which was problematic.) Like her previous hit, Fleabag, series creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge initially meant it to be a one-season wonder and come back for Season 2 if the right idea hit.

However, unlike the BBC, which allowed Fleabag to sit until Waller-Bridge was ready, AMC Networks wasn't patient, like most American TV. Season 2 was greenlit straight for 2019, so Waller-Bridge handed off showrunning and storytelling duties to a friend, fellow female creative, Emerald Fennell. Fennell stayed for one season before heading off to make the Oscar-nominated Promising Young Woman. The series began boasting this was now a tradition, giving women writers a chance to helm a hit series and launch careers. But along the way, someone lost the thread of what the show was. It's like watching a game of telephone where the plot keeps moving further and further from its original message.

Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens - Killing Eve
(Anika Molnar/BBCA)

Season 3 at least understood the show was Eve vs. Villanelle, even if showrunner Suzanne Heathcote (The Walking Dead) was more into Villanelle than the title character. But Season 4 showrunner Laura Neal (Sex Education, Turn Up Charlie) seems to have misunderstood the series entirely. This show was never about "The Twelve," the shadow org Villanelle supposedly worked for, the same way The Prisoner was never about who Number 2 was. To spend time in the black-and-white past revealing Carolyn and Konstantin's connections and the group's origins is to miss the point utterly.

There are only three more episodes of Killing Eve this season, two of which will air back to back as the series finale. The possibility is even more remote for those who hoped for a satisfying ending. Whatever the show thinks closure is, it has failed to understand what story Killing Eve was telling, who these characters were, or why viewers cared about them. Killing Eve is an interesting prestige TV era entry as an experiment in passing-the-creative-baton. But unless these last three episodes make a hard left, as a way to make a television show, it's turned out to be an abject failure.