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|“||Don't speak to me like that, Eve. I like you but I don't like you that much. Don't forget: the only thing that makes you interesting is me.||„|
|~ Villanelle to Eve Polastri.|
|“||Take me to the hole!||„|
|~ Villanelle after killing Nadia – and also one of her most famous quotes.|
|“|| Villanelle: You love me. I love you. I do.|
Eve: You don't understand what that is.
Villanelle: I do. You're mine.
Villanelle: You are, you're mine! Eve! I thought you were special.
|~ Villanelle's mental breakdown after Eve rejects her, and just before she shoots her.|
Oxana Vorontsova (Oksana Astankova in the TV series), better known as Villanelle, is the titular villainous protagonist of the Villanelle novel series written by Luke Jennings and the central antagonist of the TV series Killing Eve.
She is the titular main antagonist of the 2016 novel Codename Villanelle and a protagonist villain in both the 2019 sequel Killing Eve: No Tomorrow and the 2020 sequel Killing Eve: Die For Me. In the TV series, she appears as the main antagonist of Series 1, the deuteragonist villain of Series 2 and the protagonist villain of Series 3. She is also set to return in Series 4.
She is a psychopathic, highly-trained and unpredictable hired Russian assassin who worked for an organization known as the Twelve. She develops an obsession with MI5 operative Eve Polastri, who is equally obsessed with her and tracking her down, which results in a game of cat-and-mouse between the two somewhat arch-nemeses.
In the TV series, she is portrayed by Jodie Comer.
|“|| Eve: I know you are exceptionally bright, determined, hard-working. I know you are an extraordinary person. I know something happened to you. I know that you’re a psychopath.|
Villanelle: You should never tell a psychopath they are a psychopath. It upsets them.
|~ Villanelle to Eve after the latter talks about her psychopathy.|
Being a proper psychopath to the bone, Villanelle possesses a cold brutality which is masked by her innocent-looking exterior. Contentedly living outside of any human moral code, Villanelle kills with flair, recklessness and absolutely no conscience. Because Villanelle had nothing before her life as a purpose-built killer, she would follow her instructions to, without question, assassinate individuals around the world. She didn't care how many people have to die, as long as it brought her a lifestyle that she loved. Villanelle can be adorable, playful, funny, frightening, warm, chilling, vulnerable and impenetrable; exactly anything that people would want her to be. While she has proven to be queer, Villanelle has a preference for women as they are whom she mostly seduces or engages intimacy with. She also has particular tastes in lifestyles, as she likes national anthems and classical music, and whatever clothes she would wear. At times, she would see the clothes that other people wear and display her disgust.
At times, Villanelle can possess a childlike behavior, throwing quiet tantrums whenever things weren't going her way and also playing practical jokes on people she comes across. She takes great pleasure in pushing the boundaries with her eternally patient handler Konstantin. While Villanelle's native language is Russian, she does not like speaking the language and usually refuses to do so. She is also fluent in speaking English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian and is learning Mandarin. When Eve refused Villanelle's love for her, she reacted childishly and then shot her afterwards. She also has a dislike in working with other assassins, in which she seduced Nadia into killing Diego before running her down shortly afterwards. She developed a resentment towards her former lover and teacher Anna, possibly due to calling her a crazy monster and letting her get arrested for killing her husband. She would often become unsettled when her name was brought up and didn't want to think about her.
Throughout an entire life of mostly abuse and neglect, Villanelle became completely anti-social and unable to understand the concept of human emotion but longs to change, making her true desire to find someone who will genuinely know her, love her and accept her. Outwardly, she appears charismatic, charming, funny, polite and engaging, but yet, she has a look in her eye that displays that she has a void that's hard to describe. It's impossible to know what she is thinking or feeling, because something is missing. It is also unknown if she feels anything at all. When she becomes close to Eve, Villanelle claims that although she doesn’t feel anything, she feels things when Eve's around, meaning that she is not fully incapable of remorse or emotion. She has on multiple occasions explained that she is always bored with life, trying endlessly to find ways of entertaining herself the way she pleases. During her killings, Villanelle prefers to watch her victims in the eye as they die, showing her fascination in death. However, after killing her abusive mother, she became less willing to commit murders anymore, wanting out of the business completely as she didn't want to be just like her. This came to a head when the Twelve broke their promise and didn't fully promote her like she asked, thus making her more emotionally fragile than she ever was.
Although she is incapable of feeling emotions and fully understanding those from other people, she is highly intelligent and capable of using both her assassin-based training and her unpredictability to manipulate both her allies and her enemies whenever. One example is when she manipulated Gemma and Niko into estranging the latter's marriage with Eve, and also tricking Eve into killing Raymond by putting her own life in peril. Despite her intellect, she is quite arrogant, egotistical and impulsive, which is what lets her down at times. Her ego requires her to feel essential and invincible, as when she develops her infamous obsession with Eve Polastri, her natural state of mind becomes concerning and she starts acting unusually without forethought. It has led to her making mistakes, such as allowing Eve to find her which then led to the discovery of her real name, background and ties to the Twelve. During their confrontation in Villanelle's apartment, her arrogance let her guard down and resulted in Eve stabbing her and almost killing her.
After the events in Rome, Villanelle grew sick of being the pawn of other people and desired to be in control of her own life, wanting to make her own decisions and not carrying out someone's orders. To that end, she only agreed to work for the Twelve again if they promoted her to a Keeper, which would give her more power and control. Also, after Konstantin betrayed her, she became less trusting of people, refusing to believe anything he said, as well as Dasha's claims. Although she held grudges, Villanelle only attacked Konstantin him when she saw him again, explaining that she would be alone if she killed everyone who betrayed her, which must be almost everyone in her life. While she was pleased that she may become a Keeper, Villanelle developed a feeling of emptiness, mainly to due to the fact that she never knew her real family and desired to find them and learn more about herself. However, after meeting her long-lost mother, Villanelle came to realize that she is just like her, who refuses to admit this. After killing her for her for what she did, Villanelle became emotionally scared that she is who she is because of her mother.
|“||Her hair is dark blonde, maybe honey. It was tied back. Uh, she was slim, about 25, 26. She had very delicate features. Her eyes are sort of catlike. Wide, but alert. Her lips are full, she has a long neck, high cheek bones. Skin is smooth and bright. She had a lost look in her eye that was both direct and also chilling. She's totally focused yet almost entirely inaccessible.||„|
|~ Eve Polastri describing Villanelle to a sketch artist from their first encounter.|
Villanelle's natural look depicts her as having long honey-like blonde hair with hazel-colored eyes and stands at 5' 8". At a young age, she bared dark brown hair as seen in photos of her and Anna, but it is possible that it was just dyed. Whenever on missions, she would often wear a wig to depict herself as a brunette with a fringe, and also had a wig that had pink hair during her undercover mission regarding Aaron Peel. Villanelle's best feature is that she is very fashionable and spends most of the money she earns from her kills on clothes that are expensive and to her personal taste. During each contract killing that she completes, she would choose which outfits she would wear for the occasion. However, she would also often wear different clothes in her daily life, and most of them are outlandish and extravagant. In one occasion, during her psychological assessment, she wore a pink prom dress while wearing boots. When her apartment was compromised, Villanelle was left to use borrowed or stolen clothes in order to survive until she was able earn money again.
Relationship with Eve Polastri
- Main article: Relationship of Eve Polastri and Villanelle
|“|| Eve: You said you don't want anything, you don't like anything, that you're bored. Do you mean it?|
Villanelle: Hm. I don't know.
Eve: You don't know if you're telling the truth or not?
Villanelle: ... Not really.
Eve: You don't feel anything?
Villanelle: I feel things when I'm with you.
|~ Villanelle about what she feels when she’s around Eve.|
Arguably her most defining trait above anything else, Villanelle is mutually obsessed with British Intelligence officer Eve Polastri. While initially sent to follow the agent, she took a fascination to her and started behaving irrationally and going against orders from her superiors in her pursuit for Eve. Although the two would start off as rivals, the mutual obsession became a story of two "would-be lovers" who are bound together in a twisted pas de deux.
After learning of Eve's investigation of her and that she met her before, she began acting recklessly and wanted to know more about Eve in every way possible. Konstantin even pointed out that Villanelle used to be "smarter" before Eve came into her life, implying that she has also become her weakness. Upon first meeting each other briefly in the hospital bathroom, Villanelle took an attraction to her due having hair resembling Anna's. During an affair she was having in Berlin, she started calling the woman "Eve", signifying her increasing obsession and desire towards the agent. After getting stabbed by Eve and nearly getting killed, she took it as a sign that she was acting out on love, an emotion that she is not familiar with.
Villanelle views Eve as her equal and that the two of them are the same. However, she wanted to prove this to Eve by bringing out her inner monster. To that end, she let herself get almost killed by Raymond from the Twelve so that Eve would act on impulse and kill him. At some distinction, she knows Eve better than most people, as when questioned by Konstantin if she hadn't already left with Carolyn, she knew that she wouldn't do it despite his insistence. Even when presented with multiple opportunities, Villanelle has refused to kill Eve due to her attraction and admiration towards her. After breaking into her house, she declared that she only wanted dinner and wasn't there to kill her. She also developed a disliking towards Eve's wardrobe, openly criticizing them after she stole her suitcase, and then replaced them with expensive ones before returning them to her.
Villanelle openly claims to Eve that while she doesn't know what she feels most of the time, she feels emotions whenever she's around. This claim is proven true after when she started growing increasingly worried that Eve was no longer interested in her upon learning of another assassin, Villanelle started becoming mentally depressed to the point of taking narcotics, nearly killing someone and later crying, the latter of which is something that pleased her since she had never felt sadness before. Her newfound sense of feeling emotions has made her become protective of Eve, as proven when she refused to leave her, even when Raymond was nearby and coming to kill her for the Twelve.
In the pursuit of proving herself to Eve and making sure that nobody else could have her, she went to lengths to destroy her marriage with Niko. This included using his teacher colleague Gemma to attract his interest, make him uncomfortable during sex and implant him with the concept that Eve was no longer the women he married and loved. After Niko explained that he still loved Eve, she would then proceed to kill Gemma after she failed to do so, and possibly drive him to anger and vengeance so that the wedge between him and Eve would be driven further. After Eve refused to run away with her and didn't reciprocate her feelings for her, Villanelle had a mental breakdown by shooting her and leaving her for dead, signifying that if she couldn't have her, nobody else could.
After their confrontation in Rome, Villanelle tried moving on from her while she assumed her to be dead, and when she was getting married, Villanelle claimed that she was so much happier that Eve was dead. However, Villanelle displayed that she missed her as he referred her as her ex-girlfriend and sympathized with Felix about knowing what it's like to love someone who doesn't reciprocate it. Upon learning that Eve was still alive, Villanelle seemed happy with this and went back to some of her old ways, such was sending her a gift bear and a birthday cake.
|Victims killed by Villanelle|
Jodie Comer's performance as well as Villanelle's relationship with Eve Polastri were praised by both critics and audiences, in which the role won her a British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) for Best Actress and then a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Hannah Giorgis wrote in The Atlantic that the show's greatest success is "how alluring it makes its villain: to both Eve ... and audiences", and that Villanelle's character subverts feminine stereotypes so as to "carve a jagged space into the serial-killer canon". Willa Paskin wrote in Slate that "The disfigured, beating heart of Killing Eve is the way that Villanelle's gender and manner, her very femininity, keep our acculturated brains from being appropriately terrified of her". Describing how Villanelle "does what she always does — exploit society's misogyny by imitating a victim of it" — Emily Nussbaum wrote in The New Yorker that the potent idea that undergirds the show is that "femininity is itself a sort of sociopathy, whose performance, if you truly nail it, might be the source of ultimate power".
- Jodie Comer has revealed in an interview with Seth Meyer that she can't keep track of many people that Villanelle has killed.
- She has separately revealed that her favorite kill from Season 1 was Bill Pargrave, explaining how she thought, "Villanelle, you shouldn't have done that. Too far."
- The brocade suit that Villanelle wore in "Don't I Know You?", which was designed by Dries Van Noten, became Comer's favorite outfit. The actress said she was planning to take it home but felt it was too much like her character.
- Phoebe Waller-Bridge's golden rule for Villanelle has remained that no matter what danger she comes up against, "Villanelle never ever uses her beauty."
- Villanelle wears a ring on her right thumb that is engraved, "The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them".
- Villanelle snores and is double jointed in her elbows.
- Some commentators conjecture the name "Villanelle" was derived from the word "villainess". In The New Yorker, Jia Tolentino likened the entire Killing Eve series to the villanelle poetic form, writing that the show is about the "iteration of a recognizable pattern, its pleasures emerging in the internal twists".
- In the novel, Villanelle chose her cover name after a favorite perfume of the Comtesse du Barry, who was guillotined in 1793 ("I shall have to be careful, then," said Oxana); while in the TV series, she taunts Eve by sending her a bottle of perfume called La Villanelle.
- Villanelle hates cigarettes and ghosts.
- Villanelle's prison record states that she was born on March 12, 1993. This is one day apart from the actress Jodie Comer's actual birth date, March 11, 1993.
- Luke Jennings, the author of the novels, revealed in an online chat for the Lyme Crime literary festival that Villanelle was based on real-life assassin Idoia López Riaño, where he explained "She killed 23 people, and she was clearly a psychopath and completely, completely without empathy".
- On her prison record, Villanelle's middle name is spelt "Anatoljevna". However, it is most likely that it was a typo during production of the series.