After season 1, when Villanelle was always so full of life and dressed (literally) to kill, seeing her brought so low in these first episodes may be startling. She’s vulnerable in a way that we haven’t seen her, even when she was briefly trapped in a Russian prison.
Villanelle has clearly learned to survive over the years, but those skills have gotten rusty. It doesn’t help that she’s still seriously wounded. She’s able to get some clothes that are not children’s pajamas, but beyond that, she needs real help–medicine, food, a place to sleep.
Coming upon the unassuming Julian (Julian Barratt) in a grocery store, one would think he’d be a perfect mark. He is, after all, all too eager to believe her fabricated tale of woe and come to her aid. But that’s the thing–he’s a little too eager.
Once he takes her back to his home, where he also cares for his dementia-stricken mother, Villanelle is seemingly completely at his mercy. Their interactions at first follow a pattern that you might have encountered in real life. They’re maybe not serious enough to label as dangerous, but there’s an unsettling undercurrent that your instincts are picking up on. That’s because they can often lead to danger.
Julian, like all creeps, is a habitual line-stepper. It starts with little boundary violations and escalates to his watching Villanelle sleep and kissing her in her sleep. He’s controlling almost every aspect of her life and it’s terrible to watch. This is not the flamboyant, powerful Villanelle we’ve come to know and maybe even love.
Those qualities, in fact, are what alerts Eve to the likelihood that Alistair Peele was not a Villanelle victim. An unobtrusive injection under a toenail, maybe, but a hidden murder isn’t really V’s style. Eve, by the way, is now working on a new task force, Operation Manderlay, with Carolyn, Kenny, and two new team members, Jess (Nina Sosanya) and Hugo (Edward Bluemel). Elena’s absence is explained as her not wanting to be murdered, which is totally valid.
In categorizing Peele’s murder as aberrant, outside of Villanelle’s pattern, Eve and Carolyn realize there must be another assassin out there. This one prefers to work more quietly, so she’s labeled (for the moment) “the ghost.” Eve is unsurprisingly delighted by the idea that Villanelle will be very peeved once she realizes someone has moved in on her territory. It’s obviously unclear at this point if we’ll get to meet the ghost this season, but the thought of Eve and Villanelle working together to catch her is tantalizing.
It would certainly be better than the situation in which we find Villanelle this week. I’m not sure if she thought she could make it on her own, but after a few days with Julian, Villanelle gives. She tries to come in from the cold, phoning her organization with the amazing code phrase, “It’s Cher Horowitz, I failed my driving test.” But she finds no luck there, so she tries her next best option.
She asks to be connected to MI-6, asking specifically for Eve Polastri. That too seems a no-go, the operator treating it like a prank call. And then Julian returns, along with the spitfire we know Villanelle to be. She first fakes that she was ordering him a cake to thank him for his kindness, but she’s just so tired. So she tells him he’s going to bleed to death.
The resulting fight is brief, but still harrowing. Villanelle is so weakened that it’s hard to see how she’ll get the upper hand. But you only need one hand to stab someone with a knitting needle. As she stumbles out into the suburban sunshine, followed by Julian’s poor mom, she’s only a few moments ahead of Eve and Carolyn, who did get notice of that phone call. Eve doesn’t see Villanelle being spirited away by her new, more serious handler Raymond (Adrian Scarborough), but it doesn’t matter. Villanelle sees her and knows that she came.
But she’s not the only one. Upon their return to Operation HQ, someone else has come in from the cold. It seems Konstantin didn’t die after all.
8/10 – After two weeks of seeing Villanelle at her weakest, hopefully next week will be a return to form for her. With Raymond, though, I’m not sure. He seems a bit rigid. That probably works well for him, but like the poet said, what doesn’t bend, breaks. So which one of them will break first?
PS: Yes, placenta skin care is a thing, but there is no evidence they do anything special.