Sandra Oh’s ‘Mother-Daughter’ Comment Has Some ‘Killing Eve’ Fans Annoyed, But It’s Not What It Sounds Like

Killing Eve is a show that not only has a passionate and dedicated fan base, but it also evokes emotional responses from even casual viewers. Eve and Villanelle’s relationship is so tangible, dynamic, and different that it’s meaningful, just as much as it is obsessive. And that’s just in reference to the audience; the two characters themselves also can’t get enough of each other. But they’re also stuck in a cycle of outside tension and personal strife about it. 

Sandra Oh recently described their relationship as “mother-daughter,” though, and it annoyed some fans. However, don’t be fooled; the sexual and romantic tension has not gone anywhere, nor should it. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for Killing Eve]. 

Villanelle with a knife on Eve when they first meet in Season 1 of 'Killing Eve'
Jodie Comer as Villanelle and Sandra Oh as Eve in Season 1 of ‘Killing Eve’ | BBC America

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Sandra Oh briefly described Villanelle and Eve’s relationship as ‘mother-daughter’

In a new interview for Watcha Player, Oh had a conversation with Sharon Choi, Parasite director Bong Joon-ho’s interpreter during this past award show season. They talked about several things, one being Villanelle and Eve’s relationship. Choi brought up how tumultuous it was, how it was a love-hate relationship filled with a lot of sexual tension. 

“A type of relationship that is set up like that, which is high stakes, high sexual tension, high everything… One of the challenges in having these characters in a television show as opposed to a play, is that it is very difficult to keep that level of tension believable,” Oh said. “Because in a television show, you are needing to move the characters forward no matter what, even if they have a baseline connection.”

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With such a strong bond between Oh’s Eve and Jodie Comer’s Villanelle, they had to keep that energy, even when they weren’t together. Which was a lot in Season 3, as Choi pointed out. But Oh explained how it wasn’t even written in; it just came to be what audiences know now as VillanEve. 

“This ambiguous, charged, sexual, energetic rivalry, mother-daughter, all this stuff, that’s all in it, it started in the pilot,” Oh said. “We never even really discussed it. And I don’t really think Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] necessarily thought it out… The way that Jodie and I played it out was the way that it played out. And it was… the kind of magic that can happen in film. ‘Cause it’s an energetic thing.”

Fans started trolling the heck out of her comment

Per usual, Oh gave an elaborate and really analytical answer that definitely hits exactly on why Villanelle and Eve work the way they do around each other. However, what stuck out for some fans was the “mother-daughter” comment from Oh. 

Now, a lot of the reaction was playfully annoyed and mostly troll-based. And it makes sense that they’d feel that way. When you have two characters who have always had a ton of sexual tension, and now are even emotionally attached, it’s a bit jarring to see it described as maternal. Especially when Oh herself used the words “charged, sexual, energetic rivalry” right before it. 

But, Season 3 showed the audience that Villanelle had issues with her own mother and has an affinity for “family.” Oh was correct to mention a “mother-daughter” aspect to their relationship because it is there. 

Oh has a point and it doesn’t diminish Villanelle and Eve’s romantic connection

Right off the bat: No there is no incestual undertone to Villanelle and Eve, and it’s not what Oh meant either. For one, it’s clear by this point that Villanelle is sexually attracted to Eve and Eve feels the same. They literally had one-way phone sex in Season 2. Their obsession with each other has stemmed past just work-related. 

The show dove into Villanelle’s past and showed that she didn’t have a loving relationship with her mother, but more so with her father. On top of that, she had a very paternal relationship with Konstantin, even if it was fraught. And that was destroyed this past season as well. Killing her mother brought a pivotal change to Villanelle, one that has her showing remorse and no longer wanting to kill-for-hire. 

Villanelle has always lacked a nurturer. And while Season 1 Villanelle was fine with that, present Villanelle is in need of one. So while neither Eve nor Villanelle is going to see Eve as her mother, Eve steps into that caretaker position in Villanelle’s life. 

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A perfect example is during the ballroom scene in the Season 3 finale. Villanelle is showing her most vulnerable side to Eve, the only person she really does this with. There’s trust there, and Eve can see Villanelle is troubled by something. “What happened?” Eve asked, concern etched on her face. And Villanelle, for a split second, was going to tell her everything that happened in Russia. It shows that aspect of their relationship. While Oh called it “mother-daughter,” there’s still nothing platonic about them. It just digs into the protectiveness of their dynamic. 

That protective trust they both now have is clear in their final moments 

Oh then touched on the difference between their first meeting in Season 3. The now-famous bus-kiss scene has “a lot of energy,” Oh said, and both Villanelle and Eve are “going through a disillusionment in some way.” But after that ballroom scene, on the bridge, all their development is laid out, bare between them.

“When they come back together, in the end, they’ve realized when they’re not afraid of each other in the same way,” Oh said. “The charge has now even kind of moved into trust or the charge has moved into understanding. You’re not my mortal enemy anymore. We’ve now gone through the same war together and they’re still the enemy.”

Just like Oh’s answer is complex, so is Villanelle and Eve’s relationship. With the development fans have gotten thus far, Season 4 should bring a whole new dimension to their bond. Even though making funny memes are always welcome. 

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