CN: possible spoilers for Killing Eve, Thirteen, references to abuse, violence
Like you, I was enamored with Villanelle from the BBC hit series Killing Eve. I Googled the resume of actor Jodie Comer and was genuinely shocked. Yes, shocked to learn I had watched Jodie in the lead role of another series and didn’t even realize it was the same actor. She had portrayed a 26 year-old-woman who had been held captive for 13 years, but managed to escape and find her way back to her family in the BBC series called Thirteen (not to be confused with the Evan Rachel Wood movie.)
In Thirteen, Comer plays Ivy Moxam, a young woman whose life just stopped at age 13, magically fusing the lost innocence of that age with the maturity of her young twenties. She was so damn good that I didn’t even realize it was the same actor.
And while Ivy is no Villanelle, this is not a victim’s tale. Ivy survived and the five episodes are firmly focused on her story, her recovery, her questions and answers. We never learn why her kidnapper chose her or chose to kidnap or really much about his actions at all. Most procedurals focus on motive, but this is focused on survival. Ivy is brave and determined and well-aware of what has been taken from her on many fronts.
It is no secret that Villanelle was abused and is presumed to be living with trauma that may or may not underlie her psychopathic tendencies. I’m surprised not to see more pieces comparing the two roles, given that Ivy’s trauma was about the same period of time but with the foundation of a basically stable childhood. Ivy had those solid experiences to draw from when she needed to be resilient and to fight for her freedom. Oksana Astankova had nothing and no one healthy ever. On the surface, she’s a badass who seems to have overcome and to defend herself mightily, but I’d argue that Ivy Moxam’s heroism is more impressive. Villanelle is charming, but heinous. Ivy understandably wants to go back to the life she lost at age 13, but when that proves impossible – she finds new ways to reconcile her past with the future she deserves.
There’s an interesting trifectra of movies that explore the ways young women navigate difficult life experiences with heavy doses of toxic masculinity, abuse, and disconnection – Evan Rachel Wood’s Thirteen, the recent movie Eighth Grade, and I’d add Comer’s Thirteen to the list.
There’s also the good news that when we find a performer whom we love, like Jodie Comer, we can look back to their previous work.