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Performer Of The Year - Staff Choice Most Outstanding Performer of 2019 - Jodie Comer



The article was written by Donna Cromeans, Ellys Cartin, Milo, Darthlocke, and Luana Arturi. Article edited by Donna Cromeans (@DJRiter). Article prepared for publication by Aimee Hicks.

For the second consecutive year, a performer from creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s outstanding Killing Eve has been chosen as the Spoiler TV Staff Choice Performer of the Year. In interviews about the show, last year's Staff Choice Performer of the Year – Sandra Oh is quick to point out that the impact of her talented co-star, Jodie Comer is a big contributing factor to the success of the show. While most of the attention of Season One focused on Oh, Comer quickly and quietly became a fan favorite for her portrayal of the enigmatic assassin, Villanelle. In Season Two, Comer stepped into the spotlight shining in episode after episode showing us more layers of this complex character. For her work, she has been chosen SpoilerTV Staff Choice Performer of the Year. The following article is an episode by episode look back at the brilliance that was Jodie Comer in Killing Eve in 2019.

Jodie Comer stole the show in the breakout first season of Killing Eve and hit the ground running in Season Two. Although Sandra Oh was the lead, Comer continued to steal the scene as the twisted, devious and unhinged antagonist Villanelle, reaching new heights every time out in the first episode of the season, Do You Know How to Dispose of a Body?. Her scenes inside the French hospital reminded audiences not to feel too safe around this character, while the episode did a good job at setting up Villanelle's motivations for this season: find Eve. Villanelle is a sociopath, not afraid to lash out at people and tell them the truth with no filter attached. She doesn't hold back in telling Gabriel (Pierre Atri) that his injuries are bad when nobody else would, and neither does she refrain from using Gabriel's parents being dead as a comeback as though it were no small thing. There's no getting around the fact she's the villain of this show, even if not exactly your typical antagonist; Killing Eve makes sure that Comer instantly defies expectations as the character. When Villanelle tells Gabriel that she was stabbed by a woman to his disbelief, her justification for Eve doing it is warped and twisted: per Villanelle, Eve stabbed her to prove how much she loved her. It's something that both Eve and the audience see differently, but the conviction and effectiveness of the line delivery by Comer are there.

She does an excellent job of making the audience almost do a complete turn on Villanelle in a matter of seconds. One moment they saw her as someone who might have gotten soft following her encounter with Eve, and then the next, snapping to attention and reminding us just how scary she can be with a brutal ending to the season premiere. It takes a masterful touch to portray a character as complex as Villanelle that is so unpredictable with such conviction and believability without the risk of it coming across as too cartoonish and unlikeable, yet Comer sells every word. Villanelle even warns Gabriel, and likewise the audience, that she can't be trusted before snapping his neck. Also, she drops a hint about Eve in the process, that the scary people can be seen coming a mile away, but it's the good ones you must worry about.

The second episode of the season, Nice and Neat takes an unusual turn as we see Villanelle as we've never seen her before. Seeking refuge to heal from her wounds, she's taken in by someone perhaps even more twisted than she. Her talent for manipulating people fails her this time as she must fight to escape with her life when an older man (Julian Barratt) with a creepy penchant for dress-up dolls who still lives with his mother takes her in and tries to turn her into another of his possessions. This is some of Comer's best work in the series thus far. She exhibits incredible range in showing us a Villanelle that is bedraggled, weak, vulnerable, frustrated and perhaps even scared. In this episode Villanelle is the one thing that she's never shown us to be, a victim. That she takes us through a myriad of emotions in such a short time is a true testament to Comer's understanding and grasp of the character. But the one constant about Villanelle that remains is that she's a survivor and even though she's not at her best she finds a way to survive her precarious situation. She continually finds new layers of this complex character to show us and in turn, easily makes the audience care about and sympathize with a character that is supposed to be the villain of the show.

Comer appears early in The Hungry Caterpillar shortly after Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) warns Eve to stop looking for Villanelle, who he refers to as "the hungry caterpillar". The episode highlights the way she can so easily slip into various British-esque characters and then right back into the high-end fabric-loving, and child-like mechanisms with the Eastern European-accent that is Villanelle. Her best performances though are when you can see her character's vulnerabilities, such as the scene where she is following Eve in a teacher disguise, but Raymond shows up and puts a divide between himself and Eve. The way she just stands there in the distance with her arms straight down and hands go from lifeless to clenched, and slowly shuddering away is a strong contrast to more confident and quirky exploits the character so delightfully employs but shows the audience her true self. Her cheeky dialogue and facial expressions and the way she plays cat and mouse with Eve and her husband in this episode are not fun or impressive, especially the way she both empathizes, but ultimately manipulates other characters like Gemma (Emma Pierson) or Konstantin, but just altogether shows how hungry she is to get Eve's attention.

Desperate Times is a bouquet of thrilling performances where Comer is by turns the artist seeking inspiration, the haughty critic towards the Instagram set, a cutthroat ballerina pig, and a fragile, wandering soul. Every second deserves its own paragraph of appreciation, but when is that not true of Comer's work as Villanelle? SpoilerTV's staff awarded Comer our Performer of the Month for this episode. One scene that wasn't extensively covered in our article then was Villanelle's hagelslag chat with Konstantin. This conversation follows Villanelle scouting a target, which naturally means she is rewarding herself with a snack. Comer's expression is one of bliss as Villanelle sinks her teeth into the folded bread and chocolate sprinkles to tear off a good-sized bite. She closes her eyes to reflect the appreciation that Villanelle has for her treat. Konstantin asks what it is, and she replies with her mouth full, still chewing, still relishing. She holds on to that same bit for a while, as an established part of her character's behavior is taking the time to enjoy good food. When Konstantin drags work into things by asking Villanelle about her surveillance, Comer pauses chewing, puffs out her cheeks, and stares ahead with annoyed disdain. While dabbing up extra chocolate sprinkles off her plate, she scoffs at a certain characteristic of her target, hunching slightly lower and lower over the table. It is a position that connotes petulance. She also fixes her gaze just past Konstantin's head, casually avoiding giving him her full attention. He calls her out on acting childish, and Comer lets you see just a single second where Villanelle is irked. Her tone gets the faintest edge. She inquires about Konstantin's daughter (formerly kidnapped by Villanelle), starting with a very straightforward tone that she simply can't maintain, Comer's eyebrows and mouth quirk into amusement before Villanelle is even done speaking. Everything Villanelle does has a playful cast to it. Konstantin tosses back a remark that his daughter might be stronger than Villanelle now, suggesting Villanelle has been weakened by her association with Eve Polastri. As he says this, Comer is looking past him again, but not in the same detached way as earlier. Her eyes go cold, and there's a shade of aggression to the way she's eating the sprinkles off her thumb as if she's pressing it against gritted teeth. The shot pulls back to reveal her posture is no longer relaxed against the table, and her foot shoots out into the path of a woman walking behind her. Her body jolts from the force of the woman tripping and falling over her, her eyes widen out of reflex, but she doesn't turn until a couple of seconds later, long enough to make sure Konstantin knows it was deliberate. Comer then turns around with her eyes as wide open as they could be, with faux shock and bewilderment. She sinks to the ground by her victim, asking if she's okay in the most concerned of tones. Comer looks back with absolute dismay on her face, then in a flash curves up her lips and drops down her eyebrows into an omniscient smirk, with one belligerent twitch of her eyes to tell Konstantin she is perfectly in control. This scene is a delicious reminder of the charismatic malevolence Comer amplifies into Villanelle's every word and gesture. It doesn't get more intoxicating than watching craftsmanship this masterful.

Midway through the season, Smell Ya Later opens with a truly ironic and brutal set of scenes when Villanelle throws her milkshake on some guy's sports car and meets him at the car wash, where she sneaks inside the car while it's being cleaned, murders the guy with blood splattering all over the car's front interior, as the camera just fixates on Villanelle's rewarding smile. Coined as the demon with no face, Villanelle continues to test the audience's (and Eve's belief) that she's not just a full-fledged psychopath with scenes where she stares deeply into the faces of statues, as if she's somehow reflecting on what they are all about, but just as easily brushes it off to Konstantin. The episode tests the theory even further when Konstantin also reveals that Villanelle's next hit is Eve, who's set herself up as bait, claiming this is all about understanding the serial killer Ghost (Jung Sun den Hollander) when the episode is also proposing if Eve is a killer too.

Comer makes Villanelle's reaction to finding out that Eve is her next target raw and honest. Her emotions are on a roller-coaster. She's shocked, then angry, but then must begrudgingly admit that Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) is right when he challenges her that her obsession with Eve has cost her her edge and that she must kill Eve. Then, in flamboyant Villanelle style, she begins preparing for her next kill, except there's something different this time. From primping in front of the mirror to carefully choosing her wardrobe and chic chapeau, she's like a giddy young girl preparing for a date, only this is a date with death. Villanelle turns up at Eve's house in a scene where Eve proves her dedication by swallowing pills Villanelle lays out. She's showing Eve all of her cards with an extremely emotional performance of making her and the audience believe that Eve was going to die, and that Villanelle deeply cared about it. Only in typical Villanelle fashion, she starts laughing and teasing Eve, which proves she couldn't yet kill her and is willing to play Eve's game for a while. It's a near erotic cat-and-mouse back and forth between Eve and Villanelle that in this episode makes last season's bizarre dinner party seem like a child's picnic. It's scenes like this with the brilliance of the writing by Emerald Fennell and powerhouse acting team of Oh and Comer that mark the show at its finest.

Villanelle and Eve work together for the first time in I Hope You Like Missionary! and Villanelle is ecstatic. Even though she has a hard time feeling things there's something about Eve that keeps her on her toes and excites her. It's not working with Eve that she truly enjoys, playing with her is, even when she tries to make her jealous by showing more respect for Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) even if it doesn't look all that genuine. She tries to be difficult at first but as soon as Eve suggests she might ask someone else for help she agrees to play along, to befriend Amber (Shannon Tarbet), Aaron (Henry Lloyd-Hughes)'s sister and get close to him, preferably without killing anyone. One of the scenes that perfectly illustrates Comer's acting skill to an amazing degree is when she must decide which character she'll play to go undercover and tries them on as if they were just items of clothing, or well, masks. She changes seamlessly from one accent to the next, even switching the tone of her voice to create a whole new personality in rapid-fire succession in a near-flawless brief scene.

In another scene, when Villanelle interrupts Eve's meal to tell her that her marriage is doomed, Eve tries to tell her being nice and decent is harder than it is to be like Villanelle, who pushes back by implying they're the same. And even though Eve might not be there yet, the fact that she considers being normal a hard thing and being a psychopath an easy one, only means Villanelle might be more right than she thinks. Seeing Comer play "Billie" is a blast, she tells everyone a sad story, mixed with real things happening to Eve, and the group rejects it saying she's playing the blame game. Later Amber explains to her that the group can smell bull a mile away. Eve is pissed and when she suggests maybe Villanelle isn't that good at playing someone else and Comer's expressive face transforms Villanelle because questioning her ability is something the assassin just won't tolerate, not even from Eve.

The next day Villanelle knows she must dig deeper to appear more genuine and for the first time, it seems like we see a glimpse into her true self. She plays it up but what she says seems truthful. The boredom, her attempts to break it at any cost, mostly failing, this is something that manages to make her relatable to the others and this is how Amber gets close to her. When she realizes Amber's guard dog appointed by her brother will make her job impossible, Villanelle just decides to push her in front of a truck and then looks at Eve to gauge her reaction. That's how she makes herself Amber's new best friend and gets an invite to her brother's house. He quickly catches on and tries to test her, she's getting very annoyed but she's still trying not to kill too many people, so she sizes him up and decides there's only one way to get out of it. She hits him with a book telling him that's the only way she deals with bullies.

In Wide Awake, Villanelle shows interest in knowing how Eve's feeling, but it seems more of a curiosity than a concern, Eve asks if what she said was true and Villanelle says she doesn't know, which ironically seems like the first time she's truly honest. Then, when Eve sees her new "bed-fellows", she says she's not really with them, perhaps implying she imagines being with Eve, and she seems delighted to see her partner mad, perhaps thinking it might be jealousy. She's also thrilled later when she realizes Eve is truly concerned about her wellbeing. "Billie" gets a date with Aaron and she plays it by ear, trying to see what she needs to do and say to stay close to him. It seems to work because he's fascinated, and she doesn't seem to mind, he's a particular person and Villanelle is intrigued by things that are out of the ordinary. They seem to get along and the food he offers her just to watch her eat shows it perfectly. He invites her to Rome, even if to just keep him entertained, and she agrees. Later, probably egged on by Eve's concern, she pays Niko (Owen McDonnell) and Gemma a visit at his storage unit. She becomes her typical playful self when she's in her comfort zone, threatening someone by just being there and knowing she's the most dangerous one in the room. This seems like a small detail but one of the things that make Comer so wonderful as a performer, her body language changes ever so slightly, and you can feel the tension. She takes advantage of the situation to ask for the recipe of Niko's Shepherd's Pie, thinking of doing something nice for Eve, but just when they think she might leave them alone, she makes it clear that won't happen. She wants to make sure Niko loves Gemma and not Eve but when he says that's not the case, she seems happy to have to deal with the situation. Perhaps if Gemma stayed alive it might have kept Niko away, but she may think seeing what loving Eve can get him will drive him away for good.

Villanelle seems to enjoy Aaron's odd intentions at first; but when she witnesses his controlling obsession and remembers she's not supposed to kill her way out of it she looks like she's about to burst with rage, even though she's good at appearing calm. She does seem to get pretty turned on when she realizes the amount of power Aaron has with a world of information at his feet. He does remind her of how controlling he is later with the chocolate, and you just don't mess with Villanelle's food. That night she tempts Eve into letting loose and they wake up together in a way, with Villanelle on Eve's ear. They seem the closest they've ever been. This is a prime example of the great connection Comer and Oh have, even when they're not in the same room they ooze chemistry.

The overriding theme of Season Two’s finale You’re Mine is betrayal. Konstantin betrays Villanelle, to Villanelle, Eve betrays her, master manipulator Carolyn seems to have betrayed them all in a fashion and even poor Niko (still locked in a storage unit with a dead body). It's an episode that builds on the off the charts twists and suspense that has been building all season and takes it to the next level. And to quote myself from my previous review of the finale – "And then, there is that stunning final confrontation between Eve and Villanelle. Their final confrontation, set in a Roman ruin is a master class in staging, lighting, and acting. As the sun begins to set the two women face-off in the penultimate moment of the entire season. Eve, finally feeling strong and in charge despite reeling from all that has just happened, stands up to Villanelle, and tells her, "No" she does not love her, and they can't run away to Alaska. She's going back to get to the truth. And this time it's Villanelle who is reeling, watching all her fantasies be shattered and reacting as the childlike emotionally aged individual she is, lashing out at the person she loves most. This will become iconic television brilliance and a lesson on how you take a complicated scene, put it in a clean, simple setting, give it dramatic lighting with plenty of shadows and light, and let your two amazing stars with electric chemistry do what they do best with the inspired words of the show's writers. It was the perfect way to end the season." Comer at her striking finest in this episode going toe to toe with her amazing co-star. Their performance in this scene alone can only be described by the word – iconic.

SpoilerTV joins the myriad of other publications and groups showering, Emmy and BAFTA winner Jodie Comer of Killing Eve with accolades for her incredible work in Killing Eve. She is an incredibly gifted actress who has found the role of a lifetime in the complex and intriguing assassin, Villanelle. As good as she was in Season Two, we know she will be even better in Season Three of the show coming this April. For her outstanding work in Season Two of this groundbreaking show, the staff of SpoilerTV has chosen Jodie Comer as their Staff Choice SpoilerTV 2019 Performer of the Year.

In which episode of Season Two of Killing Eve did Jodie Comer give her best performance. Do you have a favorite scene of hers from this season? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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