Tarantino’s career as a filmmaker began in 1992 with the crime movie Reservoir Dogs, and while it was a critical success, his big break arrived two years later with Pulp Fiction, another crime movie with the particularity of being told in a non-linear style. Since then, Tarantino has explored different genres with his movies – from slasher with Death Proof to alternate versions of historical events with Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – and in 2003, he paid a visit to the martial arts genre with Kill Bill and Kill Bill: Volume 2, released six months apart. Kill Bill follows The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), an assassin described as “the deadliest woman in the world” who is seeking revenge against Bill (David Carradine), her former boss and lover.
The Bride fulfilled her mission in Kill Bill: Volume 2 and, as the title says, she finally killed Bill with a legendary death blow known as the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, taught to her by martial arts master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). However, a theory suggests that, even though Beatrix and the audience saw Bill die, it was all a lie and he’s still alive.
Beatrix Kiddo’s backstory is mostly unknown, which only adds to the mystery of her character, but the driving force of her arc is her relationship with Bill. Beatrix was a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad under the code name “Black Mamba”, and Bill sent her to train with legendary martial arts master Pai Mei, who, at first, ridiculed and tormented her. However, Beatrix ended up earning Pai Mei’s respect, so much so that he decided to teach her the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, a move that Pai Mei refused to teach his students due to how dangerous it is, as it can leave their opponent able to take only five steps before dying. Beatrix became the deadliest assassin at Bill’s service, becoming his right hand and lover, which in turn provoked the envy of fellow Viper, Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah).
When Beatrix became pregnant with Bill’s child, she left the Deadly Viper Squad in order to leave the assassin lifestyle behind and start a new one with her daughter. Beatrix became engaged to a man named Tommy, and on the day of their wedding rehearsal, Bill (believing the father of Beatrix’s child was her fiancé and thus feeling even more betrayed) ordered the assassination of everyone at the chapel. With Beatrix wounded and lying on the floor, Bill shot her in the head. Beatrix was put into a coma for four years, during which her child, B.B, was delivered successfully. B.B was raised by Bill, and when Beatrix woke up, she plotted her revenge against the whole Deadly Viper Squad and Bill himself.
Bill didn’t show up until Kill Bill: Volume 2, where after ending with the whole squad (except Elle Driver, whose fate was left unknown), Beatrix finally found Bill and her daughter. After spending some time with B.B, Beatrix and Bill talked about what happened and engaged in a fight, which ended with Beatrix using the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique on Bill, who dropped dead in his garden. Beatrix then left with B.B, and finally started a new chapter with her daughter. However, a theory posted on Reddit claims Beatrix didn’t kill Bill, and uses various moments throughout Kill Bill that could support the idea.
The author of the theory explains that Beatrix went through a major life shift when she learned she was pregnant, going from assassin to mother, which is why she didn’t fight back at the chapel, but when she woke up from her coma and realized she wasn’t pregnant anymore (and believed her daughter to be dead), she shifted back to assassin. However, there were moments during her revenge mission that made her fluctuate between assassin and mother, such as Vernita Green’s daughter, Nikki, watching her kill her mother. After that, she didn’t kill Budd (Michael Madsen), who was instead killed by Elle, nor Elle, and she didn’t go after the man who helped Budd bury her alive, and she went straight to meet Bill.
At Bill’s place, they played with B.B and pretended to be shot and die, which the author sees as a foreshadowing of what was about to happen. This was the moment that turned The Bride back into a mom, and when she hit Bill with Pai Mei’s technique, it was all an act. When Bill asked her if Pai Mei taught her that, The Bride said he did but shook her head. This is seen by the author as another hint at all this being an act, with Beatrix pretending to kill Bill and him pretending to die. Bill then stood up and took six steps, not five as Pai Mei said, and then dropped to the floor. At the end of Kill Bill: Volume 2, when Beatrix was crying and laughing on the bathroom floor of her motel room, she said “thank you”, which could have been her thanking Bill for playing along and letting them go. Last but not least, the author explains that the black and white credits of Kill Bill 2 confirm that Bill didn’t die, as every actor on the death list has their name crossed out (except Daryl Hannah, who gets a question mark), and David Carradine’s name is not marked.
The biggest question around the possibility of The Bride not having killed Bill is what could have happened to him after the end of Kill Bill 2. Although Beatrix killed most of the Deadly Viper Squad, there are two members still alive: Elle Driver and Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus), O-Ren Ishii’s (Lucy Liu) lawyer, confidante, and second lieutenant who was also a protégée of Bill. There’s also Nikki Green, Vernita’s daughter, who could have grown up looking to avenge her mother’s death and could have been taken in and trained by Bill. If Bill is still alive, it’s possible he could have formed a new team with Elle, Sophie, and Nikki, though whether he would have sought revenge against The Bride later on or not is up to the imagination of the audience.
There has been a lot of talk about Kill Bill 3 for years, with Tarantino sharing what the story could have been about. Kill Bill 3 would focus on Nikki Green, as The Bride told her that if she still felt “raw about it” when she grew up, she would be waiting. Nikki would have been raised by Sofie Fatale, who inherited all of Bill’s money, and so Kill Bill 3 would see Nikki’s revenge against The Bride and B.B. Now, if Bill never died and Kill Bill 3 happened, he could return but as an unseen presence, very much like in the first movie, as it’s unlikely Tarantino would choose to recast the role. Bill being alive and his “death” scene being nothing more than a play-act with Beatrix would hurt The Bride’s entire story, as she wouldn’t have fulfilled her main plan and she and B.B. would still be in danger, as Bill proved many years ago that he can’t be trusted, and he would definitely seek revenge at some point.