OK: That thing when your wife’s other love interest confronts you in the street, and you wander around distraught in a rainstorm and come home all 19th century style to hash it out, and you’re like “Eve, what do you want from me? Do you want me to love you or do you want me to frighten you?” And your wife (Sandra Oh) says “I don’t know.” You dom out on her, which turns out to be out of character in a great way, and the next morning she is all rekindled and swoony and the fact that you guys had a great night is for various reasons alienating you to the max, so you bolt.
So, Aaron Peele’s “weapon” turns out to be weaponized data. For whatever reason MI6 reacts to this as if it weren’t a daily reality of social media companies, and they are so unnerved by it that they’re pretty sure the only way to handle the threat is to make Villanelle (Jodie Comer) one of their agents. What could possibly go wrong?
Peele’s sister Amber is in AA, so Villanelle infiltrates a meeting in the guise of a derpy American named Billie. In a clever twist, no one in the rooms is buying her. Because addicts can smell liars a zillion miles away; it’s their thing. Villanelle reminds us all who’s in charge by casually snapping Amber’s chaperone’s neck in broad daylight while staring meaningfully at Eve through the window of the coffeeshop across the street.
Honestly, other than the whole premise of “Now Villanelle works for us because that’s how scary this situation is” being kind of weak, the actual scenes are not. The layers of neurosis as Eve listens in on the AA meeting and notes with some strange combo of horror and titillation that Villanelle’s “backstory” is largely her interpretation of Eve’s own world? Fabulous. The layers of confusion as Eve paws through Gemma’s underwear drawer and has to try to get out of a confrontation with Gemma and Niko with some dignity? Excellent. The increasing tension with Carolyn and Kenny and Konstantin? Yes, please.
But arguably the best moment is the second AA meeting, where Villanelle takes a stab at being authentic. As Eve listens in, she says “I feel nothing. I try to find ways of making myself feel something … but it doesn’t make any difference. I hurt myself and it doesn’t hurt. I buy what I want and I don’t want. I do what I like, I don’t like it. I’m just so bored.”
It’s pretty mesmerizing, honestly. Even for an ace liar, there’s nothing quite like the truth. She gets her invite to the Peele compound. Aaron is a complete tool, the kind of guy who should be played by Benedict Cumberbatch-and it’s all but certain he’s as much of a psychopath as Villanelle. After an evening of relentless mockery and trash talking to Villanelle, though he provokes a little “You’re a bully” contemplation, at which she takes a book he has been using to mess with her, and smashes it into his face.
She ought to know a bully when she sees one; Peele’s tactics are almost an exact parallel to the way she’s been talking to Eve.