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Kill Bill: “My baby shot me down”

The real climax of Kill Bill Vol. 2 comes at the end of the credits. The Bride has found herself a new identity, one that’s not chosen for her but actually chosen. Just because she drives off into the sunset as Mommy doesn’t mean she’ll be Mommy forever, but it is a new start. There’s a liminal moment where this change begins to take hold, in a doorway no less! Gun in hand, Beatrix spins to face the most cunning trap Bill could have set, beatific B.B. holding a toy gun. After a painfully long moment of shock, Mommy falls, in the clearest (and maybe first) display of real emotion in all of Kill Bill.

Of course, Daddy has been a bad Daddy, and not just because he lets B.B. stay up past her bedtime to watch Shogun Assassin. Bill tried to kill Beatrix in what he describes as a fit of agony over lost love, which also included anger and betrayal that he’s lost his favorite toy. Daddy metes out gentle punishment to B.B., firmly discussing the death of her fish and the guilt she feels over her role in it. He hasn’t grown more kind or fair to B.B.’s mommy, whom he shoots again, this time with a dart that gives him the power to extract truth from her against her will. Can this “marriage” be saved?

Beatrix has made a lot of choices in her life, but we don’t get to see them. Her only backstory is a glimpse of what she was with Bill, a lovelorn assassin, and what she is because of Bill, the vengeful Bride. Bill and the Vipers wiped out the wedding party and the hope of a new life, and Beatrix has done in the Vipers, so those two identities have been destroyed. “Beatrix Kiddo” is a name suitable for the sort of jokes it inspires in the movies, and she doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to go back to that. But suddenly on the floor of a California mansion she finds an alternative. Her story won’t be over when she kills Bill because now she once again has something to live for!

Beatrix and Bill have been locked in a power struggle for years. Young Beatrix submits to Pai Mei both to prove to Bill that she can (thus proving his warnings wrong) and to make him proud, and indeed it turns out she succeeds more thoroughly than Bill realized at the time. Bill enjoys his control over Beatrix and the Viper Squad disintegrates once that link is lost. Is this mutually destructive bond some Grand Passion or just a standard abusive cycle? And how does little B.B. fit in? Daddy and Mommy both love her very much (or do they?) but they don’t love each other anymore (right?) and so it’s better for everybody if they resolve their disputed custody with a fight to the death! It makes no difference to little B.B. whether Daddy cared for her out of love or for Beatrix or to atone for his violent past (and present) or just because he knew it would make Beatrix more angry. She had a Daddy and she had a life, and now she has a Mommy and a new life. Has anything really changed?

In Westerns, a cowboy heads off into the sunset because he hasn’t been domesticated, hasn’t settled down. If he wanted to complete his Oedipal trajectory, he’d find a nice woman (or make a woman nice) and start a solid life for himself in town or on a homestead. In becoming Mommy, Beatrix is trying to twist this. She’s domesticating herself, switching from murderer to caregiver in a matter of minutes. It may not work this way and may not work for good, since she’s left two little girls half-orphans in a revenge culture, but she’s a determined woman when she puts her mind to a task. She’s still defining herself through her relation to someone else, but that’s what has to happen to some extent if you live in society, and now she has someone who depends on her, has power she can use to do great good. It’s a wide horizon, full of promise, and mother and daugher are heading right in, not looking back.


  1. Jeff says:

    Yours may be one of the most insightful responses to KBV2 that I’ve read yet. Thanks!

    — 21 April 2004 at 2:30 pm (Permalink)

  2. Rose says:

    Thanks, Jeff!

    I found it a frustrating movie, and I’m not promising I’ll write more because I’m having trouble making sense of what I think, and because I get annoyed about having to think about Kill Bill too much, but if you check back, there may be more someday. I’m still interested in the use of sexual(ized) violence and naming and the way its viewers understand and justify their emotional responses, but I’m not sure when or if I’ll get around to writing about it.

    — 22 April 2004 at 1:45 am (Permalink)

  3. Ken says:

    I’m going to have to second what Jeff said. I think you captured the essence of KBV2 very well. I didn’t stay through the credits so I guess I missed that last scene :(

    I see a volume 3 somewhere in the future…

    — 17 June 2004 at 2:46 pm (Permalink)

  4. Rose says:


    Thanks! That scene is at the beginning of the credits, as I recall, and calling it a “scene” was unfair of me. It’s the moment when (as I recall, having seen it only once) you see Uma Thurman’s face and all her code names and real name are listed and then it fades to MOMMY, as if that supplants all the others. It made me giggle internally, but I assume that wasn’t the intention.

    I know Tarantino has discussed a volume 3, but I’m not exactly excited about it. I was incredibly ambivalent about both volumes so far, and I think it would just get worse in Kill Bill: The Next Generation. We’ll see, I guess.

    — 17 June 2004 at 5:05 pm (Permalink)

  5. John says:

    The very last person they show in the credits is Nikki Green

    — 30 July 2004 at 9:50 pm (Permalink)

  6. Rose says:

    Thanks. I should have been clearer in my initial writing, since we don’t care about spoilers on this blog, but I meant the MOMMY moment rather than the actual last person in the credits, but I didn’t want to bother rewatching to check where the placement really was.

    — 2 August 2004 at 1:12 pm (Permalink)