After several decades of watching men commit the lion’s share of violence on TV, women have achieved true parity — getting a chance to shoot, stab, poison, castrate and otherwise dispose of anyone they want.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) have embodied this bloodsport since 2011 in the fantasy world of “Game of Thrones.”
On a more earthly plane, KGB agent Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) made female violence all the more shocking when “The Americans” premiered back in 2013. Elizabeth had no compunction about snapping a neck or slashing a throat to dispatch her victims — all in the name of Mother Russia. It helped put “The Americans” on the pop culture map and earned Russell two Emmy nominations — and perhaps a third for Season 6 (nominations are out Thursday).
Her successors in TV land are more than capable of carrying out what has become a grim tradition. Here’s a look at a few of TV’s “Killer Women.”Emily, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
After running over a security guard with a car in Season 1, Emily (Alexis Bledel) was still angry, especially when she was shipped off to the Colonies, a toxic wasteland where wayward handmaids were sent to die. She wasn’t there long before she met Mrs. O’Conner (Marisa Tomei), an adulterous commander’s wife. Emily saw her as a symbol of the patriarchal oppression of women and poisoned her. But that wasn’t the end of Emily; she was granted a reprieve to return to Gilead, but she was not to be trusted as viewers will see in Wednesday night’s season finale.Dolores Abernathy, “Westworld” (HBO)
As a leading figure in the Wild West portion of the Westworld park, there’s no reason why Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) wouldn’t know how to use a gun. But who knew she’d be so good at it? We reckon the homespun sharpshooter has shot dozens of people, among them park patrons, “Westworld” mastermind Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), his business partner, Arnold (Jeffrey Wright), her robot boyfriend, Teddy (James Marsden), Karl Strand (Gustav Skarsgard) and his security team in the Forge. No matter how you program her circuit board, Dolores — also known as the Deathbringer — is one badass.Villanelle, “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
Don’t let the long blond hair and lithe physique fool you. Russian assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer), this year’s chic psychopath, is as dangerous as Frank Underwood, Tony Soprano and Walter White combined. As an employee of The 12, this demented Emma Peel goes about her business without a trace of emotion, capably switching accents depending on the country where the kill is going to take place — using an unusually sharp hairpin to finish off her victims and, when that becomes too traceable, retrieving one of the vile weapons from the cabinet of cruelty she keeps in her Paris apartment or mixing up a special batch of poison. Improbably named after a 19-line poetic form, Villanelle always gets her man or woman.