‘Beautiful Monster’ ramps up Killing Eve’s pace. While series three has taken a more languid quality, prioritising character development over fast-paced action, the penultimate episode returns to an intensity reminiscent of the earlier series, building towards the series finale. This makes for the most exciting episode of the series so far, pushing closer to solving the series’ mysteries and providing some shock moments along the way.
In this episode, Eve seems to return to the woman we once knew. While she’s spent much of series three flattened by grief and heartbreak, floundering in a noodle-filled, wine-soaked despair, she now regains the confidence and initiative which audiences first fell in love with. Frustrated by Carolyn, Eve takes matters into her own hands, determined to once again be at the action’s centre i.e. wherever Villanelle is. This revives the cat and mouse narrative which had, for the most part, faded away in this series. Twice in this episode, there is the wonderful build-up of Eve getting so close to Villanelle, to have her slip away yet again. In one of Carolyn’s best lines, she wryly tells Eve, “Heroes only get the girl in Hollywood”. As Eve raises her hand in a wistful goodbye while Villanelle’s train pulls away, it’s easy to wonder whether Carolyn may be right. But, Villanelle’s phone call at the episode’s end shows that her interest has not disappeared, tempting us with the proposition of the two meeting again soon.
However, despite reinvigorating Eve’s chase and determination, there is no escaping the fact that her traumatic experiences have irreversibly changed her. Watching Eve crush Dasha’s chest, listening to her rib cage crack as she takes her revenge for Niko’s attack, Eve’s character change is shockingly evident. Her palpable satisfaction at inflicting pain differs greatly from her previous experience of murder when she unwillingly killed Raymond in self-defence and only at Villanelle’s encouragement. Eve’s grim satisfaction here shows a woman pushed over the edge.
Meanwhile, Villanelle has experienced her own shift. Villanelle’s volatile emotions, while always part of her character, now take a different quality. Previously affection had both confused and repulsed her, yet now she is brought to tears when Helene hugs her. Furthermore, her lust for murder dries up. Usually, killing a loud, obnoxious American would provide Villanelle with boundless pleasure, but she fails to assassinate this target. Villanelle’s loss of purpose couples with an increasing awareness of her replaceability. The silent Rhian, who feels reminiscent of series two’s The Ghost, demonstrates that there are plenty more assassins to be found in this world. Rhian also seems to do a neater job of it, her murder of Mo so under the radar as to not even be given any screen-time, seeing only his body in the river. Alongside the knowledge that her one purpose in life is slipping away, Villanelle experiences a mounting sense of lacking belonging. Following on from murdering her mother, she feels increasingly alone in the world. In this episode, she discovers that Dasha has a son, and faces Konstantin’s impending death. Aware that she is the only one without a family and confronting the potential loss of both parental figures in her life, Villanelle’s loneliness intensifies. As she becomes increasingly lost, we wonder how the series will leave her: will she be able to go back to her murdering ways, and if not, what kind of life will she establish?
Geraldine functions as an interesting plot device in ‘Beautiful Monster’. While her overly emotional, needy character is an unrelenting irritant, these qualities trigger intriguing responses in other characters. Geraldine’s confrontation of Konstantin grounds us back in reality for a moment. Killing Eve desensitises us to its subversions from normal social codes, but here Geraldine brings back a more realistic, human perspective, angry and hurt that she has been manipulated. This seems to stick with Konstantin too, surprisingly so for a man so entrenched in murder and foul play. His rant to Villanelle about all the people who want to kill him leads him to the ultimate conclusion that he’s a “prick”, which then prompts a heart attack. While obviously this heart attack is also the culmination of Konstantin’s stress, it seems that Geraldine’s reminder to Konstantin of how he hurts other people nudges him over the edge. Geraldine prompts an unexpected outburst from Carolyn too. In a fit of grief, the ever stoical, cool Carolyn shatters all the ornaments in her living room. The intensity of the moment suggests that this was not just a show for Geraldine but provided some necessary catharsis for Carolyn herself. While Geraldine fails to have her own interesting experiences, she at least brings a little more emotional drama to this episode.
The quick pace and action of ‘Beautiful Monster’ is a welcome shift from the rest of the series and sets audiences in a tantalising position ahead of the series finale. The episode concludes with some teasing moments, leaving us wondering whether Dasha and Konstantin will make it out of hospital without killing each other, and whether Eve and Villanelle will find their way back to each other. Furthermore, Killing Eve is still yet to answer the question that permeates the series: who killed Kenny? Let’s hope next week’s episode provides enough answers while still leaving scope for series four.
Featured Image Source: Still via Killing Eve // BBC iPlayer