Ever meet someone with a truly bizarre job? Time stands still as your mind races with questions about how this particular person wound up in their given profession. But as far as unconventional careers go, chances are you've never met a real-life assassin. Luckily, that's why we have TV.
Killing Eve and Barry are two critically acclaimed series that couldn't be more different. Killing Eve is a gripping spy thriller and Barry is a pitch-black comedy. But both shows have one thing in common — their main characters, Villanelle and Barry respectively, are contract killers.
They also happen to be polar opposites. To Villanelle, professional slaying is a dream job; to Barry, it just became a way to make money after he left the Marines. So who makes the better assassin? The enthusiast who loves her job a little too much, or the emotionless block who tries to keep it all business? Here is Killing Eve vs. Barry: 5 Reasons Villanelle Is A Better Assassin (And 5 Barry Is).
10 Barry - Planner
Given the choice, Barry prefers to save the improv for his acting group. Seeing as how he commits serious crimes for a living, it's smart to play it safe.
You likely wouldn't even be able to say "contingency plan" to Villanelle without her rolling her eyes, but Barry always has one at the ready, even if he doesn't want to use it. The Season 1 finale sees Barry imploring Janice not to arrest him. He clearly doesn't want to kill her, but he still plans for it anyway, by hanging a hidden gun from a tree branch. Villanelle may be a risk taker, but Barry's a risk assessor and it serves him well.
9 Villanelle - Quick on her feet
The assassin game is unpredictable. While planning is important, it will only get you so far. Villanelle enjoys premeditation to an extent but usually saves it for her sick power games. In the field, Villanelle lets her instincts be her guide. When she discovers she's being followed by Bill Pargrave, a colleague of Eve's, Villanelle leads him into a crowded nightclub, through a crush of dancing bodies. It's there that Villanelle reverses the roles, going from prey to predator. In the midst of the sweaty dance floor, she stabs Bill and nobody appears to be the wiser. While Barry sticks to the script, Villanelle loves nothing more than flipping it.
8 Barry - Better boss relations
Fuches is an antagonist to Barry. He wants Barry to remain an assassin and give up this silly acting pipe dream. But as much as Fuches may drag Barry kicking and screaming back to the criminal underworld, we know that Fuches truly cares about him. Barry is like a son to Fuches, albeit a moody teenage one who refuses to do his math homework. In a profession like Barry's, it's important that he can trust his boss.
Try as Villanelle might, she doesn't have that kind of relationship with Konstantin. He values her talent, but ultimately she can always become disposable. Like any other job, being a contract killer is all about finessing relations with your higher-ups. You need the perfect blend of familiarity and distance, which Barry and Fuches seem to have mastered.
7 Villanelle - Lack of remorse
Badass as they both may be, Villanelle and Barry do terrible things. Then again, they're just doing their job. That argument is something that Barry would do well to remember. Just like in baseball, there's no crying in assassination. It sucks that he has to kill his former Marine buddy, but he was a liability. Plain and simple.
This job is tailor-made for sociopaths, which makes Villanelle a natural fit. She legitimately doesn't care about any slaying she commits. She's not completely without feeling; Villanelle shows affection for several people, like Eve and Konstantin. But when it's time to go, it's time to go. When it comes to life, Villanelle doesn't let anyone overstay their welcome.
6 Barry - Lack of intimacy
After the deed is done, Villanelle is entirely nonplussed. That bodes well for the job. But beforehand, she sometimes lets her emotions get the better of her. Barry may be a hot mess after the fact, but leading up to the kill, he manages to keep his cool—at least a lot better than Villanelle. He kills people he doesn't want to, but solely out of self-preservation. He doesn't have time for grudges. Revenge is where things get muddy. Even if Barry doesn't always have his head in the game, when he does, it's never clouded by personal vendettas. In the interest of professionalism, cool detachment is always better than hot passion.
5 Villanelle - Everyone's disposable
Barry may not have an intimacy problem in his professional life, but he sure does in his personal life. Meaning he's naïve enough to think he can have one. In Barry's line of work, his job is his life. If he invites anyone into it, he's just signed their death warrant. He and Sally have had their ups and downs, but Barry seems to really love her. If that's the case, he should recognize that keeping his distance is the likeliest way to ensure her safety.
Villanelle, on the other hand, loves to blur the lines between personal and professional. In her own sick way, Villanelle loves Eve, in the way a cat loves a particularly clever mouse. In an early Season 1 episode, Villanelle's attempts at having a separate personal life hilariously backfire when her lover accidentally gets a whiff of her poisoned perfume. Predictably, Villanelle reacts with a shrug.
4 Barry - Follows orders
Okay, okay, not all the time. But Barry's Marine background keeps him focused on the job at hand. He's a mercenary who leaves the bigger questions to Fuches. There's no ego to Barry, whereas Villanelle is dripping with it. She rankles at every command she receives and always finds a way to disobey. When she's ordered to work with a team, Villanelle's response is to kill them all. She just hates to keep things simple. But Barry thrives in simplicity. The handler gives the instructions, the assassin carries them out, the world continues to turn. In the business of killing people, there's no room for complication.
3 Villanelle - Manipulative minx
It's established—Villanelle does not play well with others. But while she may be an atrocious team player, Villanelle is an expert puppet master. Getting others to do your dirty work for you is a handy ability, particularly when your job is illegal. It is sheer art watching Villanelle play Eve like a fiddle. In the recent Season 2 finale, Villanelle is even able to get Eve to kill a guy with an axe. Meanwhile, Villanelle has a gun the whole time. She could have easily done the job and for her, it would be just another day at the office. But where's the fun in that?
In contrast, Barry has zero manipulation game. An unfortunate encounter finds Barry thrown into business with Taylor, a bloodthirsty loose cannon. Thankfully, Taylor's foolhardy antics get him killed before he can get Barry into more trouble. Really, Barry should have just pulled a Villanelle and sent Taylor a designer dress.
2 Barry - All business
It's ironic that Barry wants to be an actor, because Villanelle is the real show-woman. Is a non-flashy kill even worth it? Why shoot someone from several feet away when you can stab them through the eye with a poisoned hairpin? As much fun as she may be having, Villanelle's ostentatious kills quickly become her calling card. And that's not good for business.
Barry is an expert marksman. Though he relishes the approval from his Marine buddies after his first kill overseas, Barry doesn't turn his assassin work into performance art. That's what makes him so sought after. When you remove the pomp and circumstance, everybody wins. Except for the dead guy.
1 Villanelle - Loves the job
The biggest problem with hiring an assassin? The high turnover rate. If they're not getting caught, they're getting killed. Or, in Barry's case, getting out. But as long as Villanelle is alive and mobile, she'll never leave her line of work.
As kids, we're told that we can be anything we want. But often what happens is that somewhere along our journey, we let go of our dream and settle for a job that pays the bills. That's how Barry sees his job. Not Villanelle. She's a deranged sociopath but golly, does she take pride in her work. And isn't that what life—and slaying—is all about?