Anglo Files: A Case Study on What Motivates ‘Killing Eve’s Villanelle

(Photo: BBC America) 
We’re heading into the final stretch of the fourth season of Killing Eve. When we met Villanelle (Jodie Comer) she was a killer for hire and a very good one at that. But, in the follow-up seasons, she grows disheartened with her line of work, hoping for a promotion. She’s since switched gears, becoming a born again Christian.
We’d like to get in on the spy game ourselves and have created our own set of files, investigating KE’s main characters, starting off with the one and only Eve. As the series rolls out, so does our sleuthing, now turning our attention to Eve’s counterpart Villanelle.
You can also look for forthcoming profiles on Konstantin and Carolyn.
Let’s get to it and do some digging on where Villanelle started and her progression:
1. Villanelle is a serial killer on the loose.
In season one, the MI5 group gets together over the weekend to discuss the murder of a diplomat. Eve believes the killer to be a woman. Enter: Villanelle. She comes across as a typical twenty-something, living in a posh flat, who enjoys shopping, but clearly, her job is nowhere near typical.
We see Villanelle in action, kill after kill after kill, with her traveling from Paris to England to Spain and back again. She's definitely living the life, but the only way to sustain this expensive lifestyle, is to keep killing. Villanelle could get away with her assignments without leaving a trace, but she is intrigued by Eve, sending her clues. It’s clearly a way of getting her attention and keeping up the cat-and-mouse chase.
We learn about Villanelle’s background when she’s teamed up with two other assassins by her handler Konstantin. She's reunited with a former friend, Nadia. The two were in training together, meeting as teenagers. Their reunion is short-lived when Villanelle runs her over with a car. She seems to prefer to work alone.
As the season rolls out, Villanelle shows up at Eve’s home. She wants to have dinner with her. Later in the season, Eve tracks Villanelle down to her Paris apartment, stabbing her in the stomach.
2. Villanelle takes a time out.
When we regroup for season two, Villanelle is hospitalized, recovering from her injury. She’s able to make her exit, going unseen. Since she's still in recovery, she seeks the aid of a stranger. She goes to his home, but finds herself in a vulnerable position, as he’s not what he appeared to be. He holds her hostage.
Villanelle escapes her captivity and now that she's regained her strength, she’s back to work. She has a new handler, Raymond, but he’s not as understanding as Konstantin. Villanelle takes things in stride, doing her job in spite of his abusive ways.   
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Eve calls on Villanelle’s help in investigating tech wiz Aaron Peel. Villanelle goes undercover in an AA meeting, befriending Peel’s sister. From there, she’s able to get close enough to get intel. But, it gets a little too close for comfort, with Eve listening in on surveillance.
While Villanelle and Eve are on other sides of the law, they are in this situation together. Eve kills Villanelle’s handler, Raymond, when she sees him attacking Villanelle. This leaves Eve distraught, as she feels tricked into the killing by Villanelle. Villanelle wants to be life partners with Eve, but Eve is done with her. 
3. Villanelle reunites with a former mentor.
By season three, Villanelle has teamed up with Dasha, her former trainer. Even so, Villanelle feels like something is missing. She seeks help from a French the Twelve assassin, Hélène, who offers her consult. Villanelle has grown tired of killing and is looking to advance, seeking a position in management.
In addition to work, Villanelle focuses on her personal life. She seeks out her parents and brother. Villanelle had been kicked out of the family home and abandoned at an orphanage. It seems she goes back with an open mind, but her mother has no remorse or redeeming qualities. Villanelle spares her brothers, but her mother perishes in an explosion, set by Villanelle.
Now that it’s just Villanelle, she has the headspace to focus on moving forward. She meets up with Hélène once again, realizing the French assassin made false promises. Villanelle is disappointed that her job description is still the same, and no one believes she can do anything more than kill.
Eve hasn’t given up on Villanelle and is in search of her. When they all find themselves in one spot — Eve, Villanelle, Konstantin, and Carolyn — they’ve outed a mole in MI6. It was unexpected, but for once, they are all on the same side, even if temporarily.
The season closes out with Villanelle and Eve agreeing they are no good for each other and they must go their separate ways… for real this time.
4. Villanelle turns to spirituality for help.
We’re now in season four and Villanelle has completely removed herself from her former life. She’s working at a church and working at being a better person. She’s living with a vicar and his daughter, and they're helping her find the path to righteousness. In addition to contributing to the community, Villanelle has opted to be baptized. She’s even found a higher power, a Drag Jesus, who takes after her likeness (which we believe to be a figment of her imagination, but whatever works).
Villanelle goes on a camping trip with the church group, and she’s pushed past her limits. She challenges the vicar and as a result the rest of the churchgoers turn on her. We’ve learned throughout the seasons that Villanelle has abandonment issues, and she does not take it well when she’s excluded. Rather than taking the cue that she’s not welcome, she seeks revenge. She kills the vicar and his daughter for hurting her feelings.
Villanelle seems very lost, but she’s also wanted, as the campsite killing has made headlines along with her photo. She goes to Eve for comfort, and she’s turned away. She then seeks out Eve’s therapist friend, and he's helpful until… he’s not. Villanelle seems to take to therapy and is genuinely listening to his advice, but it was also a ruse, to get Eve’s attention.
Eve’s had enough and calls the authorities on Villanelle, who show up and detain her. Once again, she’s abandoned by someone she loves and trusts.
5. Villanelle is back to her old self.
As we make our way through the final season, Villanelle lands in prison, but she isn’t there long. Hélène comes to her rescue, with Villanelle being released. Hélène gives her an assignment, which we learn later is a contract on Carolyn. Villanelle finds Carolyn, knocks her unconscious but then changes her mind. Carolyn saved her own life, by showing Villanelle a little bit of kindness, reminiscing about what she was like as a child.
Villanelle may have been easy on Carolyn, but that’s not to say the rest of the world is safe. Villanelle starts killing for sport, killing a woman’s husband, who had been mistreating her. But, when she catches up with Konstantin, she says to him, “Charity starts at home,” and now Hélène is at the top of her hit list.
But, per usual, Hélène is a step ahead. From the safety of her car, with Eve also in the car, they watch as Villanelle is shot in the back with an arrow by an unseen assailant. Eve runs to her side, holding her limp body in her lap. One might say, Villanelle has gotten what she deserved. On the other hand, shooting someone in the back is cowardly.
At this point, we don’t know what Villanelle’s fate will be.
Do you feel like you know Villanelle a bit better now? We have three more episodes to go!