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Performers Of The Month - Staff Choice Most Outstanding Performer of April - Jodie Comer



The article was written by Donna Cromeans, Ellys Cartin, Sam Benjamin, and Marko Pekic. Article edited by Donna Cromeans (@DJRiter). Article prepared for publication by Aimee Hicks.

Since the debut of Killing Eve, viewers have been mesmerized by the enigmatic assassin Villanelle portrayed by relatively unknown actress Jodie Comer. But since then everyone knows who she is and wants to know more about the complex character she plays. Comer has been on fire during the second season of the BBC thriller and it's a testament to her skill that she's making viewers worldwide fall in love with a killer. Her performance in Desperate Times (2x4) is the kind that wins awards, where she peels back more layers of this complex character and at times does it with just a head movement or expression. In this episode, Villanelle has embarked on her first job as a free-lance assassin with Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) and underneath it, all still seeks the attention of MI6 Agent, Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh). She does so this time by committing her most bizarre assassination to date yet shows an unusual vulnerable side when her actions do not garner the desired results. It's a tour-de-force performance of the many faces of Villanelle and has deservedly earned Comer the title of SpoilerTV Staff Choice Performer of the Month for April.

With the threat of death by infection or fixer no longer hanging over her head, Villanelle languishes in the throes of ennui. This new attitude presents Comer with the challenge of toning down her character's usual maniacal charisma while retaining Villanelle's spontaneous mischievousness. Her first scenes of the episode begin with a glimpse of her leaning against a bridge, her hands folded on top of the railing, looking contemplatively off into the water. Comer shifts her legs and hips very slightly to indicate that Villanelle's chosen position is uncomfortable and that her water-gazing is simply intended to fill time. When her handler/almost friend Konstantin, Villanelle inquires disinterestedly as to what information he brings, although her eyes are already wandering away before she even finishes asking her one-syllable question. He tells her there is a job for that night. She slowly drops her head down and lifts her body up, tugging the railing with a distinctly pouty face before pushing off to reposition herself. Though Konstantin tells her to be grateful, Villanelle blurts out that it is boring, and Comer puffs her cheeks to accentuate the juvenile complaint. He tells her to make it interesting, a creative challenge that barely gets her attention. She lets her head loll to the right, while her eyes and mouth narrow into a faint smile. Konstantin tells her to come with him. She follows, and Comer sticks with that childish demeanor by having Villanelle take a bit of a long-legged hop to follow him, with a coat flourish for good measure. Villanelle teases him about his unfashionable shirt as they walk away, indicating that she's making something of an effort to play along.

Konstantin senses that Villanelle is suffering from writer's block for artistic killers, so he takes her to an art museum. Comer runs through every known response in reaction to the art that surrounded her. First, a tolerant smile glued to her face, Villanelle walks up to a painting of several nude men fighting. The smile vanishes, and a faux snoring sound emits from her mouth instead. She tosses her head back, groaning her complaint quietly before sharply transitioning into a full shout that it is boring. As they go to other exhibits, Konstantin admonishes her for not recognizing the great art. Delightfully, Comer looks at her shoes then skips into a short skid across the floor. She is the living manifestation of disinterest. Something does catch Villanelle's eye though, and she is overcome with reverence at a painting depicting a gruesome execution. She even pushes her hands into her pockets, her elbows bent attentively at her sides, as she studies it. Comer lets a sort of quiet wonder surface on Villanelle's face and couples that expression with a full body shiver. Villanelle's goosebumps are your goosebumps in this scene. Her eyebrows are almost imperceptibly raised. She looks at the picture and announces that the dead subjects look like bacon. Her eyebrows drop back into place, and she walks briskly away. Konstantin breaks into a smile. With the most nuanced adjustments to her posture and expression, Comer shows you that Villanelle has broken her writer's block.

From head to toe, Comer`s Villanelle looked spectacular as she was sitting on the bridge alone reminiscing about her feelings. The Instagram girl interrupting her just brought out the flawless unapologetic badass we love. Villanelle is filterless, not worried about hurting someone`s feelings and Comer just makes it all so believable. She melded so well with the character, that the way she handled that girl doesn`t seem rude or out of character, you wouldn`t expect her to behave any other way. As the girl got lost, we see Villanelle watching a happy couple as she was finishing the post-card for her flame, Eve. Villanelle`s infatuation with Eve is particularly intriguing as it broadens the character giving it more layers and strength in her motives. And while she would never admit it Konstantin is right, Eve is making her a bit weak. Villanelle isn`t the one to take criticism from anyone, especially if it is justified. So she diverts with an unspeakable mean move with Jodie`s exceptional momentum and sarcastic flare cover up Villanelle`s flaws.

For the kill of the week, Comer gives a performance within a performance, as Villanelle dons a gloriously garish costume with an outlandish pig mask and lures herself an audience. Though Comer's face is hidden for this scene, her storytelling cues are as sharp as ever through the other performance choices she makes. She enters the scene walking quickly across a street. Her whole body is going one way, but her head is turned to the right to face her target. In one smooth, brisk motion, her head turns to face front, but the rest of her body never changes direction. She glides off the screen as she sets the bait for her target. This motion is repeated a couple more times as Villanelle power walks down a different street and into a building, with her arms hanging harmlessly at her sides. Or they would be harmlessly hanging if it weren't for the barely noticeable fact Comer isn't swinging her arms like someone normally does when walking fast. Her arms hang neatly and vertically, with a tension that undercuts the casual attitude Villanelle is projecting elsewhere with her character.

As Villanelle rounds the corner to enter the room, she tips her chin up with just a little arrogance. The target enters the room after her, and she nods her head ever so demurely. She reaches out to shut the door, extending her arm and neck almost unnaturally, which colors the moment with extra horror vibes. The scene, despite where it's going, is extremely funny, and the comedy is driven by the little things that Comer does like playing with her pom poms before reaching for handcuffs. There's also how she nods and tips her head in agreement at least two times more than is necessary, creating a bobblehead effect. She also leans back on her heels when the target gives out an oink-oink as if Villanelle can't believe her craft is being used on this man. There's nothing demure about how quickly and precisely she tightens the straps around his ankles though. Also, her steps were soundless before, but they are distinct and heavy when she walks over to open the curtain. Comer also presses the button to raise the target with more force than necessary. She then reaches into her pocket and pulls out a knife, which she examines with curiosity for the new audience outside the window's sake. She tilts her head and twists her wrist and looks at the knife from all angles as if her own eyes are as wide and naive as those on her pig mask. She holds the knife for the window audience to see, covering the mouth of her mask with her fingers as if holding in a giggle at discovering some delightful surprise. Villanelle also lightly tugs on her stomach to pantomime a belly laugh. She crouches down next to the target, mocking him with a sympathetic listening gesture before pointing out his wife watching passively in the crowd outside the window. When the deed is done and the museum photo is recreated, Villanelle places herself in the center of the window, before stepping to the left for a curtsey and then to the right for the same. As she turns to leave, she clasps her hands in one last pandering gesture of appreciation, before casually walking out the door. Comer showed in this scene that there's not a muscle or a nerve in her body that she doesn't masterfully wield in her own killer performances.

Following her flamboyant, inventive and public assassination in Amsterdam's red-light district to draw Eve's attention the next day, Villanelle sets up shop across the street from the scene of the crime to wait for the arrival of her MI6 obsession, Eve to show up to investigate. However, when MI6 arrives it's not Eve that's been sent. At first, Villanelle sits there eating snacks anxious with anticipation. When the car pulls up, she becomes alert letting almost a giddy excitement play all over her face that quickly turns to shock when the agent that emerges isn't Eve Polastri. Finally, shock gives way to despair and then anger when she realizes that Eve isn't coming. Comer gives a master class in acting in this scene without saying a word, letting her oh so expressive face do the talking as this myriad of emotions subtly play and showing an unusual glimpse of the vulnerable side of Villanelle.

This is perhaps one of the first times Villanelle has truly felt open, sad and alone in the world. She is the type of character that is always in control of every situation and knows how to bluff her way out of trouble, but with Eve's rejection getting under her skin, for the first time she lets herself go. She walks through the Amsterdam streets aimlessly. She has no idea where she's going or what exactly her plan is but still manages to maintain an air of superiority, looking down on the drug dealer who dares to speak to her with disdain. In a blink of an eye though, Villanelle has second thoughts and decides to take him up on his offer. Playing out such a scene with a character going through such a variant of mixed, conflicting emotions is no easy feat for any actor to pull off, and Comer has shown time and time again she is no ordinary actor. Villanelle is a character that has seemingly shown that ice water runs through her veins from the word go, and with everything that the show throws her way, Comer always rises to the challenge. Villanelle still has no real interest in the drugs or the drug dealer, she just wants a release, any type of release that she can possibly get to numb down her feelings and keep away the explosion for as long as possible.

She is almost alien-like as she walks into the Club, a blank vacant expression on her face. As the effects of the drugs start to kick in, she is slowly losing herself to the music and the mood, until she spots a woman inside the Club who reminds her of Eve. A weak, devilish smile lights up her face until the woman turns away from her and Villanelle is once again soaked in the sadness and devastation of her feelings. It's not something that she copes with well, and Comer is again excellent as she perfectly portrays the sense of a lost animal, loose in the world without a cause, desperate for its owner to come back to them and give them a sign of attention. She once again reaches for the drugs to try and block out those feelings, increasingly becoming agitated as she struggles to open the drug wrapper, and immediately feels a sense of relief as the drug rests on her tongue.

However, while she was before able to drown out her sadness and anger, this time the drug doesn't work quite as intended and Villanelle is left feeling uneasy and irritable. Trying to capture Eve's attention with a bloody murder seemingly hasn't worked, and with Konstantin benching her, Villanelle has no new mark to take her anger out on either, so instead she's left simmering, boiling, just waiting for that one thing to happen and let the world feel her wrath. That arrives as Villanelle is waiting in line at the bathroom, and a woman dares to cut in line. At first, she attempts to politely reason with the girl by berating her lack of manners, but when the girl dares to give her the finger, Villanelle snaps and jumps at the chance to work through her anger by beating her up. When normally dealing with a mark, Villanelle feels a sense of pleasure at the professionalism of her work, making sure to commit as bloody or decorative a murder as possible. This thought isn't a normal Villanelle. It's a beaten, furious with the world Villanelle, angered that Eve has seemingly moved on to a new fancy toy and left Villanelle behind. Her eyes are no longer filled with delight as her victim tries to fight against her grip, but instead sadness for the hurt and sorrow that she feels in her heart which Comer plays superbly. With the first season, it was extremely rare to see such moments of vulnerability from Villanelle, and while she remains a strangely loveable psychopath, there is newfound humanity to her stride, cracks in her armor that are being exposed and it is all because of Eve.

Konstantin arrives in the nick of time, forcing Villanelle off her victim before she can finish the job and dragging her kicking and screaming out of the bathroom. Ever since their first scene together Bodnia and Comer have shared a natural chemistry that is less a psychopath and her master, and more father and daughter. Villanelle and Konstantin push each other to the limit, but when things get tough, he is always there to edge her away from the cliff, no matter how much she might hate him for it in the process. The next morning, never has anyone looked that good while waking up with a hangover in her own vomit. Villanelle looks in the mirror and doesn`t really recognize the person she is seeing. Eve changed Villanelle`s whole being and all the emotion that convoluted in her was let out in just this moment as the person in the mirror was just the shell of the cold heartless killer she once knew. The transitions between Villanelle`s broken self and Eve prepping to investigate the Ghost just amplified all the emotions Comer transferred to the screen. The empty look in her eyes, the painful whimpers coming from her were just the cherry on top in a marvelous performance from Comer. Just as was the moment she found some solace and comfort from her pain upon finding Konstantin asleep on the floor by her bedside, as though watching over her as any good father would.

Jodie Comer continues to impress viewers and critics alike with her stunning work as Killing Eve races toward its second season finale. We've just scratched the surface with a look at her brilliant performance, in Desperate Times, as she continues to slowly peel back the many layers of this complex character to reveal the many faces of Villanelle. She continues to confound the norm making Villanelle a character that people truly care about. In giving this tour-de-force performance in this episode there is little doubt as to why she was Spoiler TV's Staff Choice for Performer of the Month for April.

What is written here is just a small example of how this young actress is taking this role and turning Villanelle into an iconic television character. What did you think Jodie Comer's performance of Desperate Times? What is it about Villanelle that intrigues you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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