Jodie Comer is killing it at the Emmys. For her turn as the skilled, maniacal assassin Villanelle/Oksana Astankova on BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” the actress just scared up her second consecutive (and career) nomination in Best Drama Actress, the category in which she took home the statuette for the series’ sophomore installment at last year’s awards. Now, Comer is gunning to assassinate her competition once more with her submission to Emmy voters, “Are You from Pinner?,” season 3’s fifth episode.
In this installment, Villanelle travels to Russia to visit her offbeat extended family, which is both surprised and suspicious upon her surprising arrival. While Villanelle – or more suiting, Oksana – bonds with her hermit-like brother Pyotr (Rob Feldman) and her Elton John-obsessed half-brother Bor’ka (Temirlan Blaev), tension between her and her mother Tatiana (Evgenia Dodina) is instantly detectable. That doesn’t, however, stop her from playing a “bloody” prank on her, partaking in an atypical game night with her family members and engaging in a round of dung throwing at the local Harvest Festival.
The episode builds toward the climactic confrontation between Villanelle and her mother, the latter of whom claims that her husband was scared of what their menacing, evil daughter – who didn’t even cry at birth, she asserts – would do. But Villanelle, who had a strong bond with him, assures that he was in fact sick of Tatiana, whom he began to see reflected in his daughter. She explains that her aversion to her doesn’t derive from the fact that she took her to and abandoned her at an orphanage when she was a child, but from her unwillingness to accept who she is: the root of all darkness in the family, including her daughter’s.
After killing her remorseless mother, Villanelle blows up the entire house, sparing only her two brothers, and finally boards a train, on which she perturbedly bobs her head to music as her eyes begin to water. Can Comer beat her co-star Sandra Oh at the Emmys once again? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Performing above expectations, “Killing Eve” impressively held its ground at the Emmys, succeeding last year’s nine nominations with eight, including for Best Drama Series, this year. Although it lost its spots in the writing and directing races, it retained its three acting mentions for Comer and Oh in lead, and Fiona Shaw in supporting. Comer’s biggest hurdle was always going to be her own co-star Oh, and now that we’ve seen her overcome it, there’s no reason to believe she can’t pull it off again for a season in which her character was arguably the main star once again. Plus, even though she earned them for Season 2, the actress went on to rack up Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards bids following her Emmy win, while Oh, who had scooped up all three honors for Season 1, missed out entirely.
Far removed from MI6, the Twelve and her cat-and-mouse game with Eve (Sandra Oh), Villanelle’s murderous heart defrosts in “Are You from Pinner?,” as we take a deep-dive into her past, about which we know little to nothing theretofore. A lot of Comer’s initial work is subtle in that she paints Villanelle as a fish out water who just slowly grows accustomed to her new, but also once familiar, environment – one that, as we learn, shaped her complicated being. There have been instances in which Villanelle has emoted, but none really compare to the raw unloading of pain, rage and resentment that occurs opposite her mother, the person she blames for her vileness. While Comer’s line reading helps convey the emotions, it’s her facial expressions and body language that establish them, her kneeling down to Dodina encapsulating Villanelle’s entire relationship to her mother. Everything comes together poignantly in the final scene, in which a cold, psychopathic assassin and a scarred, broken human being co-exist after her recent kill is much more than just a job. All in all, this episode, which features Comer in almost every frame, is tailor-made to win someone an Emmy.
Under the new system, where winners are selected via a popular vote, “Game of Thrones’” Peter Dinklage is the only actor who’s been able to score back-to-back victories on the drama side (he received his third and fourth wins for “Thrones” in drama supporting actor in 2018 and ’19). In Comer’s category, Claire Danes is the last performer to pull off this rare feat, winning for “Homeland” in 2012 and ’13 – but that was under the old system, when blue-ribbon panels ranked the nominees. The reason for this might be nothing other than voters’ desire to spread the wealth, which they did in the drama categories these past two years, both within the respective years and across them.
While Comer’s victory last year was monumental, it simultaneously served as a reminder that Oh, now a 12-time nominee, has never won an Emmy. So, if voters want to do right by both “Killing Eve” leading ladies, they might (finally) give Oh her overdue moment in the limelight this time around. And if not her, then perhaps one of two other Emmy-less thespians in the category, “The Crown’s” Olivia Colman and “Euphoria’s” Zendaya, the latter of whom could benefit from a similar breakthrough glow that helped tip Comer over the edge last year. The lineup is rounded out by two fellow previous Emmy champs, “The Morning Show’s” Jennifer Aniston and “Ozark’s” Laura Linney, both of whom give showy, gigantic performances in shows that are shortlisted five times in acting and tie “Succession” as the most nominated drama series with 18 noms, respectively. Bottom line, Comer’s competition is stacked.
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