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Killing Eve - I Have a Thing About Bathrooms - Reviews: Throwing the Bar Out the Window

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Just when you thought this superb season of Killing Eve couldn’t get any better, they give us an episode like "I Have a Thing About Bathrooms" (1x5). In an episode unlike anything this reviewer has seen on the screen in a very long time, Killing Eve continues to not only raise the bar on outstanding mystery/thriller television, it’s taken that bar and thrown it out the window. Episode 1x5, “I Have a Thing About Bathrooms” is a brilliantly written, intelligent and gripping hour of television, featuring award-worthy, tour-de-force performances from stars Sandra Oh (Eve) and Jodie Comer (Villanelle). In a review of an earlier episode, I speculated that the show would soon give us an entire hour consisting of mostly these two incredible actresses and the complex characters they have created. And we very nearly got that. Before discussing those scenes that literally took viewer’s breaths away, here’s a look at the number of plot twists that got revealed this week.

First, we learn that computer geek Kenny (Sean Delaney), who has a sweet crush on Eve’s assistant, Elena (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), is actually the son of the Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), the head of Eve’s new MI6 unit; that the organization behind Villanelle is a mysterious group called The Twelve, bent on creating chaos, and each member has a specific number perhaps in order of importance, including Villanelle’s handler, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia); Villanelle’s real name is Oksana and she has a disturbing prison record; and that Villanelle’s latest victim and fellow assassin, Nadia, survived despite being run over by Villanelle multiple times which will send the twisted assassin back to her Russian homeland.

The centerpieces of this series masterpiece are two sequences both taking place in Eve’s London home. The first involves Eve oddly donning the new clothes and perfume sent to her by Villanelle. The second and most breath-stealing is an intriguing, bizarre encounter between Eve and Villanelle. It’s a strange dinner party dance where the two match wits with one another, sizing each other up while Villanelle eats warmed over Shepherd's pie. These scenes make one truly wonder who is the hunter and who is the prey.

The elaborate cat and mouse game between these two characters is taken to new heights in this episode starting with the opening moments. Instead of racing away with Frank (Darren Boyd) safely ensconced in the back seat, Eve makes the troubling decision to get out and face the assassin chasing him. Her move, saying she’s going to try to talk to the assassin, startles not only Elena and Frank but also seemingly Villanelle who seems genuinely shaken to see Eve approaching her. They stand face to face with the knowledge of who the other is for the first time, sizing each other up. Eve, cautious in her approach, making sure Villanelle sees she’s unarmed, hoping the woman won’t shoot her. Villanelle is wary, then decides to toy with Eve, threatening to shoot her, and then herself, with a smirk on her face. Jodie Comer must possess one of the most expressive faces on television today, giving Villanelle so many layers with the quirk of an eyebrow, an impish look in her eye, or just the slight smirk or grin. She punctuates the moment when Eve panics at her mimicking shooting herself, with a self-satisfied grin. Then she shoots at Eve’s feet and runs.

Later, armed with the name, “Oksana”, that Frank (now tucked away in a safe house) remembered, hearing, Kenny uncovers a Russian prison file of a young girl incarcerated. Her crime? Killing a man who attacked her by “cutting his knob off,” a phrase that is likely to become a catch-phrase for the show. A weary Eve takes the file home to study as her husband is at a bridge competition.

It is written that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Killing Eve has excelled at showing both sides with their leads. However, in this episode, that line gets very blurred for Eve in a standout moment for Sandra Oh. Weary after retrieving Frank, still reeling from Bill’s death, and her encounter with the woman she now knows is “Oksana”, Eve returns home and begins unpacking her suitcase which has been returned to her from forensics. Her expressions and movements as she almost reverently goes through the items in her bag, including the new clothes, shoes, and perfume, a gift from Villanelle. Then she takes it a step further into the creepy territory by not only examining them but trying the clothes and shoes on even going so far as to dab the perfume on herself. (Did anyone else experience a moment of panic when she opened the perfume, remembering that poisoned perfume was how Villanelle had killed one of her victims in an earlier episode?) That blank, detached look Oh gives masterfully shows us just how closely Eve is skirting that line of insanity and obsession.
Then comes the scenes that literally took viewers breaths away with their intensity and creativity. Can you imagine the last time you saw or read a thriller of this stature where the serial killer shows up in the home of the person investigating them? That is exactly what Villanelle does. She chases a panicked Eve through her own home, eventually trapping her in her bathroom and calms her down by running water in Eve’s face and announcing, “I just want to have dinner with you.” What????

What follows is the bizarre dinner party dance that features two actresses with incredible chemistry at the top of their game. You can see the wheels turning in both their heads as they try to figure out how to get the best of one another. The scene is elevated into brilliance the moment when Comer, with that expressive face and baby-doll eyes, sits calmly eating warmed over Shepherd’s pie and cries to Eve that she doesn’t want to do it anymore, that they’re making her do it. But Eve isn’t buying her sob story for a minute and Oh, instantly turns the terrified, panicked Eve, into the calm, brave, intelligent investigator we know she is and calls bull. Comer then turns the tears off like a faucet and becomes the cold, hard assassin. She then threatens Eve. The entire scene is in an offbeat way more of a seductive, love scene than it is threatening. Comer and Oh are magic together and embody their characters in ways that most directors/producers can only dream of. There really aren’t enough words to express how incredible this scene is. It is such a pleasure seeing writing and performances like this, these are the kinds of scenes and acting displays that win awards and if there is any justice, this one will. Their bizarre dinner is interrupted by Eve’s husband returning home. Eve at first begs for his life and then threatens Villanelle. The assassin calmly steals Eve’s phone and then leaves. Later she uses the phone to find the safe house where Frank is hidden, and she goes in and kills him by “cutting his knob off” (there’s that phrase again) but not before dressing him in the dress she had at first sent then taken from Eve.

One can only imagine where this highly intelligent and crafty game of wits between these two will go next. Well, we know where, Russia back to Villanelle/Oksana’s roots, perhaps the more important question is how the game will continue. What could they possibly do to top this week’s brilliance? What were your thoughts about Eve and Villanelle’s dinner party and the episode? Discuss in the comments below.

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