REVIEWED: SEASON 3 (ALL EPISODES) |WHERE TO WATCH: BBC iPLAYER
Villanelle, the stylish killing machine, is back, but this time she is a more world-weary and introspective character who decides to look up her family. Not surprisingly, we discover she was dumped in an orphanage by her parents and she duly burned it down and disappeared, with everyone concerned happy to believe she is dead. Her return to the run-down family farm in Russia comes as a bit of a shock and, of course, she slips into the family situation like a lion in a donkey sanctuary.
We are getting ahead of ourselves, that’s all in episode 5. The first episode shows Sandra Oh’s Eve has survived being shot by Villanelle at the end of Season 2. Her body might be recovered but her life has taken a downhill turn - her husband, Niko Polastri (Owen McDonnell), is in an asylum and she has left the pressures of MI6 to work in a kitchen surrounded by idle chatter.
New to this series is Dasha (Harriet Walter), an older female assassin who teams up with Villanelle to take their orders from The Twelve. The bad news is that Kenny (Sean Delaney), who has also left MI6 and is now working as an investigative journalist, is unceremoniously chucked off the top of the office building. As the head of MI6’s Russian Department and also Kenny’s mother, Carolyn Martens (played imperiously by Fiona Shaw) does not show any emotion for his death, which shocks her daughter Geraldine (Gemma Whelan). Kenny’s death unites Carolyn and Eve to discover who killed Kenny and why.
Meanwhile, Villanelle is tasked with training a stupid young man how to be an assassin. Dressed as clowns, they gatecrash the target’s party, but the trainee makes such a botch-up of the murder that she disdainfully dispatches him too. There is no clowning around with our Villanelle.
Eve’s husband cheerfully returns to his home in Poland but he is theatrically pitchforked by Dasha, and it is only in episode 6 we find he is recovering from the attack in a London hospital. Unable to speak, he uses a computer to tell her to “piss off, forever.” That should make Villanelle happy.
Villanelle, however, is pissed off with the Twelve - promoted to being a Keeper still means she has to take orders. Konstantin Vasilliev is still on the scene, and Carolyn suspects he has something to do with Kenny’s demise.
Suzanne Heathcote, as head writer of this series, puts an emphasis on family dynamics and where everyone fits in the scheme of things. For example, when Konstantin’s daughter Irina tells Villanelle she hates her mother’s new boyfriend, her advice is “If it’s that bad, kill him.” We know she used the same reasoning with her own family, and Irina gleefully puts her advice into action.
Jodie Comer’s Villanelle continues to have a love / hate, cat and mouse “relationship” with Eve, but this series exposes a vulnerable side to her that shows she is not at the top of her game. The same can be said of this series itself, as it meanders down (literally) dead ends and lacks the focus and aplomb of its former glory.