Why do people kill?
It’s not exactly a new question since people have been killing each other for ages. But the question is a running obsession in stories both fictional and ripped-from-the-headlines. You seemingly can’t turn a corner without running into yet another true crime podcast. True crime and crime-solving series dominate the airwaves, and of course, here we are talking about Killing Eve.
One of the most unfortunate tropes that has risen out of those stories is that the mother always seems to be responsible for the killer turning out the way they did. For a brief moment, I was concerned that Killing Eve would pinpoint too much of Villanelle’s (Jodie Comer) character on her mother (Evgenia Dodina) and how she treated her. But I shouldn’t have worried – the show is smarter than that.
Villanelle’s past is, if this episode is any indication, going to be largely murky and that’s just fine. Not every character needs to have a background that is so finely etched that their microscopic construction is bare to the audience. Here, you get just enough. You get a sense of the claustrophobia that would drive Villanelle up the wall – the confines of the house and the rural landscape consistently clash with her.
There’s hints at barely concealed trauma etched throughout the episode. Villanelle and her mother have a difficult relationship, to say the least, and it is anchored in the way they understand each other. Tatiana’s point of view is that Villanelle has always been a troubled child whose state made her life miserable. Villanelle’s capacity for violence hovered like an unwelcome cloud in Tatiana’s previous relationship. Villanelle’s point of view is that Tatiana is cruel herself and masks who she really is by inflicting pain on others.
There’s some truth to both perspectives and the episode’s script, one of the show’s strongest, smartly avoids leaning too strongly one way or another. Villanelle’s younger sibling Bor’ka (Temirlan Blaev) suggests that Tatiana does mask something by being cruel and by needlessly harming the people around her. We don’t get a significant amount of context beyond that – but that exchange between Bor’ka and Villanelle establishes that Tatiana is more complex than she appears. Who that is exactly, we never find out, but as far as Villanelle is concerned, she merely gets confirmation from Bor’ka that her mother is exactly who she thought she was.
Villanelle is a killer. We admire her outfits, we laugh at her quirks, and she occasionally has a throwaway line that is wildly prescient and deep. But she is a killer who often possesses an exceedingly narrow view of the world around her. She hates her mother, has a history of trauma with her, and therefore kills her. She finds a couple members of her family to be annoying and therefore blows them up. She has a soft spot for Bor’ka and leaves him a considerable amount of money so that he can go see Elton John. She spares her brother Pyotr (Rob Feldman) because he was the only other person genuinely happy to see her.
The final sequence, flawlessly written, ends with Villanelle walking away from her family, screaming at the top of her lungs. As far as she is concerned, she has done the right thing based on her perception of what every member of her family deserved. But she is unnerved by it all, shaken in a way that she could not have expected and that no doubt was a part of why she decided to turn most of her family into embers.
+ Love that moment where some of Villanelle’s family is into a global conspiracy theory and in this case, they’re kind of right?
+ This is Jodie Comer’s Emmy reel.
+ The music this episode is excellent.
+ “Bor’ka, speaking good English doesn’t make innocent.” Preach
+ The title cards are hilarious this episode
+ “Oh, I think I need to kill you, Mama.” Chills
+ The cinematography of the night shots is superb
+ Villanelle throwing away the shot of vodka
+ Pytor taking his anger issues on a dilapidated sofa
+ “You always laugh at things that aren’t funny.”
+ Love Villanelle’s harvest festival dress