Villanelle’s (Jodie Comer) backstory and how she ended up being who she is have been one of the biggest questions of Killing Eve. We know that she was found by The Twelve and trained to be their assassin. We also know that she’s a woman who always follows her desire. But aside from that and her old name Oksana, who she is was a mystery. This week’s episode, however, answers all of those questions. And although it doesn’t push the main mystery of Kenny’s (Sean Delaney) death and The Twelve forward, in the end, it’s a crucial episode that allows us to access Villanelle from a new perspective, and one that is important in figuring out where she’ll end up next.
Elton John & Harvest Festival
‘Are You From Pinner?’ picks up exactly where last week’s episode left off, with Villanelle coming home to the rural village of Mother Russia to find out who her family is. When she arrives, no one seems to know who she is. It’s been twenty years after all. And to be fair, the first few faces that welcome Villanelle aren’t exactly her family. A young woman with blonde hair assumes that she’s having an affair with her boyfriend. And then an old man, who’s later revealed to be the new husband of Villanelle’s mother, wants to call the police because he thinks that she’s an intruder – until Villanelle’s real brother Pyotr (Rob Feldman) realizes that she is his long-lost sister.
The house is small, and it’s the complete opposite of the fancy life Villanelle is having in Barcelona. But at the same time, it is filled with something that Villanelle obviously isn’t familiar with: family members who seem to care about each other. As Villanelle and her half brother Bor’ka (Temi Blaev) are having a chat about Elton John and all the places that Villanelle’s been to, her mother Tatiana (Evgenia Dodina) comes home. And much to Villanelle’s surprise, her mother, or the woman who abandoned her at an orphanage years ago, is getting emotional over her arrival.
At first, there’s nothing wrong with Tatiana. All of her tears seem genuine enough to believe that she must have regretted her decision back then. But from her reluctance to talk about Villanelle’s dad and the awkwardness inside the house, it’s obvious that there’s something fractured between Villanelle and her mom. Whatever that is, however, isn’t revealed until the final moment of the episode. But the buildup is worth the wait.
During the first half of the episode, we’re introduced to each member of the family from Villanelle’s point of view. Her other stepbrother and his girlfriend are flat-earthers. Her blood brother Pyotr is very sweet, but he’s also a man who has rage issues. “I beat the crap out of sofa, so I don’t beat the crap out of people,” Pyotr says to Villanelle when she catches him smashing a sofa using a baseball bat. Pyotr, however, is not the only one who has issues in the family. Bor’ka does too. He likes to harm himself by banging his head against the wall, something that really freaks Villanelle out. Turns out, this family is not as perfect and warm as expected when we first meet them. But considering how psychopathic and offbeat Villanelle is, it’s actually quite fitting.
This episode also features a harvest festival where, for the first time, Villanelle gets to have fun without killing someone. It’s a new side of her, and one that makes her more sympathetic. But underneath all the fun and color, ‘Are You From Pinner?’ is actually a really sad episode because it shows us a life and family that Villanelle could’ve had if her mother didn’t abandon her at an orphanage. What’s even masterful about all of these is how Suzanne Heathcote manages to put us in a very tricky position where we feel sorry for Villanelle but still also conflicted over the fact that she’s a murderer.
Shedding The Past Forever
The most crucial part of the show, and even of the season so far, happens after the event of the harvest festival. Villanelle confronts Tatiana for the first time, asking her why she abandoned her, and why didn’t she accept her as a daughter? And without thinking twice, Tatiana tells Villanelle that she’s a bad seed, and her presence at the family only brings darkness, that’s why she had to abandon her – to protect everyone. She also tells Villanelle that she needs to leave the house the next day, before she brings more harm to her new family.
Of course, it’s easier to believe Tatiana that what happened to Villanelle is because she’s a bad seed. After all, it’s Villanelle who is the psychopathic assassin in this scenario, not her mother. But at the same time, the episode smartly avoids simplifying the answer, and instead, it gives us something more complex. Yes, what Tatiana says about Villanelle being a cursed child is not wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that her abandonment and the emotional abuse she did to Villanelle as a child is also the reason why Villanelle is the way she is now.
This might be the reason why Villanelle doesn’t confront her mother right away, but rather, wants to see if she’s changed. That’s why throughout the episode, Villanelle gathers information about Tatiana from her brother and stepbrother. But when she comes to realize that nothing’s changed and that Tatiana is still an abusive mother after all this time, she decides to not only confront her about her fault, but also to kill her off so that she can finally move forward and let go of her past.
The killing itself is not entirely surprising. But the moment when Villanelle breaks down in tears in front of Tatiana really shows the growth in Villanelle as a person. And Comer’s really outdone herself at this moment. The way she displays the pain that Villanelle is feeling inside without using words will no doubt land her another Emmy nomination this year. It’s simply an exceptional performance.
So, What Next?
The question of how Villanelle will make sense of this pain is still up in the air, but it will be interesting to see where she’ll go from here. Especially with Eve facing the same kind of trauma, the direction that the rest of this season will take in terms of Eve and Villanelle’s relationship will be one that can set the course of the show’s endgame. Here’s hoping that the final three episodes can keep this momentum going and deliver on that promise.
What do you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments!
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