A great deal of metaphorical ink has been spilled about Killing Eve over the course of its gripping eight-episode run. It's brilliantly flipped the spy genre on its head via its two female leads and has opened viewers' eyes along the way, but perhaps the most revealing moment of the first season is actually the opening scene of Sunday's season finale.
In it, Villanelle (the spectacular Jodie Comer), the dangerous serial killer who has enraptured both Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and the show's fans alike, is with Konstantin's (Kim Bodnia) annoying young daughter Irina, whom she has kidnapped to get to her former handler. It's clear the two have been walking along an empty stretch of road for quite some time, and Irina is having none of it, taking out her anger and frustration on Villanelle by yelling at her. Fed up, the older of the two finally loses her patience and pulls a gun from the waistband of her pants. "Shut up, or I will blow your tiny head to pieces!" she yells at Irina. What ensues is an eye-opening exchange that reveals something that has been clear since the very first scene of the series, but perhaps not in such an obvious or on-the-nose way: despite her amoral tendencies and deadly profession, Villanelle is still very much a child where it counts.
Back on the deserted road, Irina screams that her dad is going to kill Villanelle "in the face." It is, of course, a rather silly and immature thing to yell, especially when there is a gun pointed in one's own face. But Villanelle also replies as a child would. "No, I'm going to kill your dad in the face!" she yells back, calling to mind every time a child has responded to a schoolyard taunt with something along the lines of "No, you are!"
The argument quickly escalates, with Villanelle yelling at Irina, who is still shouting loudly for reasons the older girl does not fully understand. The two go back and forth until Villanelle asks what it is that will make Irina stop shouting. She reveals that she is hungry and the one thing that will get her to stop is food. You know, normal kid stuff.
Besides being a perfect example of the show's wry sense of humor, the scene really draws into focus just how stunted Villanelle is when it comes to her relationships and maturity. She might be a sophisticated killing machine, and she might be highly intelligent, but she's not emotionally mature. She's also not at all equipped to deal with someone who acts as childish as she does, and it's quite funny to watch her try.
By now we've seen Villanelle's enthusiasm for messing with people for no reason — knocking a young girl's gelato onto her shirt in the opening scene of the season, for instance — and we've been privy to some of her other childlike tendencies, like when she pouts or fills an apartment with balloons in celebration, but these experiences have all been overshadowed by Villanelle's ruthlessness. However, in this instance, when she is paired with an actual child, her infantile nature is clearer than ever, and it's hard to look or move past it.
We know and understand that Villanelle is a psychopathic assassin who delights in both a job well done and the act of the job itself, but she's also a young woman searching for something more out of life. She's seeking normalcy, but she doesn't know what exactly that is, because she's never really experienced it. She's looking for it in her interactions with Eve, and she was seeking it in her relationship with Konstantin too, but he never allowed her into his life. She had a taste of it with Anna, her former teacher and lover, but castrating Anna's husband naturally ruined that.
All her interactions with the people "close" to her reveal that Villanelle is constantly seeking and craving human connection and approval the way children seek their parents' connection and approval; her desire to eat dinner with Eve this season stands out as a remarkable example of this desire for normalcy. And this desire is certainly understandable given her troubled upbringing, but it obviously doesn't excuse her actions or the way she views murder with a childlike sense of wonder. Still, her desire for a normal experience is relatable, and her childlike nature makes it easy to want to sympathize with her or help her achieve those desires. It's ultimately what makes Eve's betrayal in the season's final moments so surprising despite knowing the way this narrative is supposed to play out — it's what also makes Eve's subsequent attempt to then save Villanelle from bleeding out so understandable. But we've seen what Villanelle does to those who've spurned her attempts to forge a connection: hell hath no fury like a trained assassin with the emotional range of a child. Something tells us Season 2 is going to be even wilder.
Killing Eve's entire first season is now available on demand.