Prestige TV and perfectly choreographed sex scenes goes together as well as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). That’s why Game Of Thrones created an entire genre of televised sex — never forget the early seasons of endless sexposition — and I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about certain American Gods scenes for nearly year. But, sex isn’t always wonderfully lit and fulfilling for all parties involved. Sometimes it’s weird; sometimes it’s just plain bad. Cat-and-mouse thriller Killing Eve took the time to remind us as much with Sunday night’s “I’ll Deal With Him Later.”
The trick to making the entire cringeworthy sexual endeavor work is putting a woman in the driver’s seat.
The new BBC America series’ second episode revolves around how both MI6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) deal with being sidelined in their respective careers. Eve gets a new gig on a task force specifically created to track down the murderess she has become obsessed with. Villanelle, put on ice as her handlers question her stability, tries to enjoy a few days as a “normal” person. That means hooking up with the random blonde hunk living in her Paris apartment building, the hairy-chested, well-meaning Sebastian (Charlie Hamblett).
Villanelle and Sebastian’s short-lived Killing Eve relationship completely subverts the traditional assassin-love interest trope we’ve been spoon-fed since the dawn of Jame Bond. Sebastian is interested in Villanelle specifically because he hopes to take care of her. When they first run into each other, he is shocked to see a bruise on her face, while she had forgotten it was even there. On the day of their impromptu “date,” the young man initially shows up at Villanelle’s flat to simply give her some Arnica for bruises. She’s the one who turns the exchange into the kind of all-day hangout that ends in sex. Sebastian even offers to be Villanelle’s emotional sounding board, and it’s very clear he actually means it, going so far as to unwittingly urge our international killer to get back in the field.
So, Sebastian is a random, excessively pretty romantic interest who appears with herbal remedies to nurse our hero, or, antihero in this case, to health and get them back in the killer-for-hire game? We’ve definitely seen this before, just rarely with a man in the caretaker role.
The pair’s resulting sex scene continues their little role-reversal as it inverts the kind of bad sex heterosexual women tend to be familiar with. While men, uninterested in their partner’s pleasure, might pound away at an unsatisfied female partner, such a fate would never befall Villanelle. Instead, she invites herself to sweet, sensitive Sebastian’s apartment and practically jackhammers away at him in bed, making intense, genuinely frightening, eye contact the entire way through. Although a woman might want to slow down such activity because it’s boring, painful, or both, Sebastian asks Villanelle to take a chill pill because he’s enjoying everything far too much.
All together, the hookup proves Sebastian is the millennial, gender-swapped version of a “Bond Girl” or any sexed-up female love interest in a Jason Statham movie. Sebastian finishes loudly and dramatically with lots of fanfare, proving our assassin’s sexual prowess. Villanelle, on the other hand, stays silent, in the same way the macho men of pop culture have for decades. It’s not like you’ve ever heard James Bond loudly and performatively orgasm before, have you? Similarly, Villanelle’s sexuality isn’t a show to the point it’s unclear if she actually did finish.
The fact it’s hard to know if Villanelle actually came during the hookup, which she completely dominates for her own pleasure, points out a flaw in how viewers have been trained to view sex scenes. Women “need” to make a Sebastian-like big show of their orgasm because that’s the only way to know they even achieved one — after all, it’s always entirely possible they won’t. Men, however, don’t have to make such a big display because it’s always expected they’ll finish. If sex finishes on a TV show, it’s usually because the man did as well. Considering what we know about Villanelle — she’s the jackhammer in all situations, sexual ones included — she probably wouldn’t allow Sebastian to wrap things up in the bedroom if she wasn’t already taken care of. Just because she doesn’t show as much doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Sebastian wraps up his role as Villanelle’s sexual plaything as every Bond Girl has done before him: dying in a bizarre, violent manner. In the same way everyone from Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) to Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) has perished due to the dangerous job of their strapping love interest, Sebastian shuffles off this mortal coil after taking in a whiff of Villanelle’s “perfume.” You know, the “perfume” she used to murder her latest target.
In a final signal Villanelle truly didn’t care about Sebastian — and therefore definitely would have demanded an orgasm earlier if he didn’t give one to her, soft male emotions be damned — is her reaction to his death: a shrug. James Bond would be proud.
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