Des Willie/BBCAmerica/Sid Gentle
Warning: Spoilers for Killing Eve season 3 episode 5, “Are You From Pinner” below.
Killing Eve‘s Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is merciless and reckless and follows no moral code. She easily snaps the neck of a child she befriends and consoles, employs another to lure his grandfather to his death, and strangles a man by his tie with an elevator—all with no bearing on her conscious. In fact, the only empathy we’ve seen from Villanelle is directed at the woman she loves, Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), and even that dissolves with a bullet in the season 2 finale. No kill ever had any real meaning until Villanelle had her most personal face-off to date—with her own mother.
Episode 5 is the Killing Eve interlude fans have been pining for: No Eve, no Dasha (Harriet Walter), and no Twelve agenda—just one hour devoted to uncovering Villanelle’s past. The hot-tempered assassin travels to find her mother Tatiana (Evgenia Dodina) and brother Pyotr (Rob Feldman), and gets a taste of the family she so longed for, including an Elton John-obsessed half-brother for whom she develops a soft spot.
Villanelle attends a local festival, flips through photo albums, and plays games at the dinner table. But after the tearful reunion with her mother, she learns Tatiana dropped her off at an orphanage because she felt a “darkness” looming over her daughter. When a child-like prank doesn’t amuse her mother, the two engage in a fiery exchange that ends with Villanelle telling her mother through teary-eyes, “I think I have to kill you.” In the next scene, Villanelle’s half-brother flees the house toward the barn where Pyotr sleeps as the family farmhouse explodes in flames—with Villanelle’s mother and step-siblings inside. Where does this leave the cold-blooded killer? As we see in the final moments of the episode, Villanelle is on a train dancing to the beat of her own heartbreak and fury, presumably ready to resume her killing spree. Is Eve next?
Ahead, Jodie Comer opens up about Villanelle’s family reunion, Dasha’s reappearance, and Villanelle’s future following that explosive final scene.
What excited you the most when you read that season 3 would be delve into Villanelle’s past?
Delving into her personal side even more. We see Villanelle in a very different light this season. Everything we know and love about her from the first two seasons is a reflection of what we learn this season. There’s a vulnerability to her that we don’t normally see, different from the wit and humor and togetherness—the money and the apartment—she usually provides. After episode 5, Villanelle takes a slightly different, darker path.
Returning to Russia did more harm than good. How did that moment with her mother further damage Villanelle’s already damaged soul?
When she finds out she’s actually not dead, it opens up a realm of possibilities. I don’t think she really had a plan, but she knew there was a lot about the mother-daughter connection left unsaid. Villanelle has an expectation of what it’s going to be like, and then she meets her mother and she’s overcome with all these feelings. She recognizes a lot of herself in her mother, good and bad, but that wasn’t a connection she was ready for. All she really wants is to feel loved and she couldn’t even get that from her mother. She wanted to fit in and finally have a family but too much has happened between them. The exchange at the end was so deeply personal and killing her mother at the end of the episode changes her for the foreseeable [future]. We always see her doing these things that are kind of meaningless to her—it’s her job, and there isn’t any deep rooted connection. Whereas killing her mother is something she’ll never really shake off.
After killing her own mother, is there a place for family in Villanelle’s life?
No. She actually realizes that after the episode. Her time in Russia left her hurt and angry and in episode 6, you see her trying to form some sort of family [out] of the people she knows, the people who are close to her. Konstantin really is the only one. Villanelle realizes she couldn’t fit in with her family in Russia, and she feels very comfortable around the misfits she’s surrounded by and seeing this life she could have led. But again, no. Going back filled her with so much hope, but she quickly realizes she’s only got herself. She’s her own worst enemy in that regard.
Dasha appears to be a mother figure to Villanelle, but I can’t help but wonder if her presence helps or hurts Villanelle in the long run.
Oh, Dasha brings nothing but hurt to Villanelle. At one stage they definitely had a nurturing relationship. Dasha trained Villanelle but then risked Villanelle’s life and was deceitful to her. That’s something that Villanelle has never forgiven. When Dasha initially appears, there’s nothing but bad feelings. And of course, Villanelle knows how dangerous this woman is because she dealt with her firsthand and learned everything she knows about killing from her. They’re cut from the same cloth in many ways. They’re constantly playing their own games, and I think it’s really interesting to see how that plays out this season.
Choose your fighter: Dasha or Villanelle?
They’re both worse in different ways. I think Dasha is probably more malicious if that’s even possible. The physical danger of the two is something I always struggled with. Physically, I can say it’s Villanelle hands down, but from a mental side, Dasha is very vindictive.
Eve was nowhere to be found in episode 5, but she’s still on Villanelle’s mind.
Definitely. After finding out she’s alive, Villanelle wants to see for herself how Eve’s living and coping since what happened. For once, she really doesn’t know what she has planned. I think [Villanelle] wants to be in the flesh. It was always difficult because we know Villanelle is an assassin, she’s good at her job, and always shoots to kill, but it made no sense for Villanelle to be toying around with Eve in that moment.
How do you think what happened between Villanelle and Eve changes their dynamic going forward?
We’ve definitely found a new dynamic. We’re used to the women meeting toward the end of the series and both have their guards down. I know for me and Sandra, it was becoming quite difficult to keep meeting with aggression. It felt tedious. We have to move forward in some way. I think we’ve found a very natural way of doing that in regards to what happens in Villanelle’s story and what happens in Eve’s story and the way in which these two women come together in the end. I don’t think we’ve ever seen them in this way. We’ve seen them at odds and we’ve seen them trying to work together, and that didn’t work. I don’t want to give too much away but everyone has their own vision of what this relationship is supposed to be like. Not everyone’s always going to be happy, but I do think we tried to stay true to the characters.
Speaking of staying true to your characters, Villanelle’s costumes this season are bigger and better. Do you enjoy dressing up in high fashion?
I always like Villanelle more when she’s thrown into these situations she’s not ready for, like the pajamas or the hospital gown or being locked in Julian’s house. I always enjoy those more than the high fashion, even though getting to wear those ridiculously gorgeous clothes is a dream. One of my favorites from this season is this huge green fur jacket we packed in at the end. I always come away from each season with a list of items I want to buy for myself.