Killing Eve‘s Villanelle (Jodie Comer) appears to be a typical twenty-something. As we see in the season opener, which premieres on BBC America this Sunday (April 8) at 8/7c, she likes to shop and go to parties. Only, as it soon emerges, she’s anything but normal…
Underneath that innocent exterior, there’s a cold brutality, and she funds her buying habit with an unscrupulous job: Villanelle is a killer for hire.
BBCA’s chilling description says it all: she’s a murderess with “an appetite for killing groaning in her gut,” which makes her “a living, breathing, shopping, killing psychopath.”
Her lack of a conscience allows her the freedom to kill without guilt. And then go pick up a new pair of shoes.
She sounds unstoppable, but that’s where Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) — the London-based MI5 agent-turned-Villanelle-tracker — comes in.
Villanelle is perhaps TV’s most nuanced and compelling psychopath to date. Still, her predecessors are worth a look, too. Here are seven small screen psychos we just can’t get enough of:
1. Jeanne Deber, La Mante
La Mante — The Mantis in English — is a French series that revolves around a female serial killer (Carole Bouquet) imprisoned for life. She confessed to her crimes in exchange for her young son’s protection, and he received a new name and anonymity. Twenty five years later, she offers to help find a copycat killer who’s mimicking her moves. But, she has a condition: she’ll only work with her estranged son, who grew up to be a police officer. Yes, she is a murderer, and not a forgiving one, having tortured her victims to the point of mutilation. Still, we’re pulled in by her, and our desire to know what drove her to do such awful things. The answer is just as shocking as her misdoings. The enthralling series is available for streaming over at Netflix.
2. Professor James Moriarty, Sherlock
We’ve all had those moments when we’re watching a TV show and find ourselves rooting for the bad guy, because they’re just THAT compelling. It does make us stop and think, “Wait. Am I leaning toward the Dark Side?” Of course, if we had to choose between James Moriarty (Andrew Scott) and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), we’d vote for Sherlock. But we appreciate Moriarty for his tenacity and ability to give Sherlock a challenge. Without the Moriartys of the world, the sleuth would be bored to tears. If you find yourself missing the diabolical mastermind, you can catch up with Moriarty over at Amazon.
3. Dexter Morgan, Dexter
Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is kind of a modern day Robin Hood. We emphasize the term “kind of.” Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Dexter, on the other hand, is a Miami-based cop-come-psychopath who who uses his proclivity (an unceasing desire to kill) for good. Well — again — kind of. He hunts and kills murderers, and in doing so stops them from committing more crimes. He might be able to rationalize his reasoning, but if anyone were to find out how he spends his evenings, they may not necessarily agree that the end justifies the means. Dexter is available via Netflix.
4. Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
You’d think Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) would be content with being Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, reigning over Westeros in Game of Thrones… but, nope. That isn’t enough for the power mongering royal. She gets her kicks asserting her authority and terrorizing those beneath her. That includes most everyone, except for her son King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), who’s inherited her mean streak. Cersei has committed more unthinkable acts than we can list here, and her ability to cause harm without remorse emerged at a young age. When her best friend Melara dared to dream of one day marrying Cersei’s beloved twin brother Jamie, she quickly nixed her bestie’s life plan — by killing her. You can check out Cersei’s wicked ways over at Amazon.
5. Alice Morgan, Luther
It’s not just us. Even DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) is intrigued by the murderess Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson). Luther meets Alice in season one of the crime drama, when he’s investigating the double homicide of her parents. Actually, triple if you include the family dog. Luther slowly but surely comes to the realization that Alice is responsible for the killings, but he doesn’t have the proof. Then things take a turn. Alice becomes obsessed with the detective and starts investigating him. This is a tricky dynamic, and the two kind of become friends at one point. Luther develops a soft spot for the psychopath/genius — she’s passionate, dedicated, and, sure, sometimes (very) vicious. Possibly Luther can look past the latter? We suppose he’d rather stay on her good side, what with Alice being both dangerous and capable of covering her tracks. If you want to catch up with good ol’ Alice, Luther is available for streaming over at Netflix.
6. The Governor, The Walking Dead
Sure, we’re keen on David Morrissey, an Anglo favorite. But The Governor — his character in The Walking Dead — is quite ruthless. He goes up against Andrew Lincoln‘s (another favorite!) good guy Rick Grimes, who looks out for his community and fights off the infected in a post-apocalyptic world. The Governor, on the other hand, isn’t about playing nice or any sort of compromise. He kills off his detractors, sometimes executing large groups. And, some of the characters who fall out of favor are fan favorites… so, needless to say, viewers can get a little peeved with his rash decisions. The Walking Dead is available for streaming via Netflix.
7. Purple Man, Jessica Jones
We regularly have David Tennant on the brain (for the obvious reasons), and we aren’t the only ones. His villainous character Dr. Zebediah Killgrave/Purple Man is in Jessica Jones’ (Krysten Ritter) head, and she can’t shake him. When we first meet Jones, she’s working as a private investigator in NYC. A friend (Mike Colter) picks up on her superhuman abilities, warning her, “The way I see it, being a hero just puts a target on your back.” The thing is, she already has a target on her back with Killgrave arriving to the scene. We only get a glimpse of Tennant himself in Marvel’s Jessica Jones trailer, but he’s not short on scenes in show itself. And even when he’s not there, he’s all Jones can talk about. Did we mention Killgrave can control minds? Oh, yeah, well, that might explain why she’s so rattled by him. Jessica Jones is available for streaming over at Netflix.
Is Villanelle your new favorite fictional psychopath?