*** Warning: This article contains spoilers through the X Company episode “Naqam” ***
Aurora Luft isn’t a name that many television viewers know and, frankly, that’s a travesty. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons why my emotions run the gamut of feeling fortunate, sad, frustrated and everywhere in between when I think too much about how, outside of Canada, no one really knows the brilliance of Aurora or X Company. The CBC WWII drama about Allied spies is one of those rare shows that is perfect from the top down every week. Thanks to excellent writing, beautiful direction and heartbreaking performances, the show fully immerses viewers in its story. Evelyne Brochu’s Aurora Luft is a huge part of X Company’s success, and a character that we should be screaming about and touting her greatness every chance we get. And yet, very few TV viewers have even heard of her.
While the television landscape is certainly getting better for female characters, there is still much work to be done. However, one would be hard pressed to find a better written and more expertly played feminist icon than Aurora. To begin with, X Company takes place during a time where women leading men wasn’t the norm. Yet here she is, a French-Canadian/Jewish/German undercover specialist, the only woman on a team of five, and she’s in charge. Women played a tremendously important role in WWII and X Company always takes care to tell their side of the story.
Aurora is a skilled, intelligent and crafty spy. She often uses the fact that women could get away with being in places that men can’t without looking suspicious to her advantage. Last season she saw her leadership questioned, but regained it in full force, something that has been made clear time and again in Season 3. There are few characters as brave as she is, always finding herself right in the middle of the action and never backing down from a fight.
Aurora has had to make many sacrifices along the way. Whether it be mercifully killing her lover Rene, pushing down and hiding her feelings for Alfred, or sacrificing parts of her soul, Aurora always keeps going. She is tough as nails, but viewers can relate because there are certainly times where she’s been afraid or unsure of what to do, and yet still goes forward. An array of complex emotions are always brewing just below the surface and a lesser actress would fail to properly conveyed that to viewers. However, in the hands of the expertly skilled Brochu, everything Aurora is experiencing is conveyed through just a look on her face.
So many of our female heroes on TV today are characters that openly rebel against societal norms and are usually pretty snarky smart asses in the process. Don’t get me wrong, I completely love those characters, but that’s not Aurora. Aurora is a whole different type of feminist hero, yet equally as amazing and praiseworthy as her counterparts. For her part, Brochu brings such an elegant delicacy to the role that we aren’t used to seeing from many of our feminist icons. Lest you be fooled, on a dime she can turn Aurora into a straight up killing machine when the situation calls for it.
While Aurora can certainly hold her own on a team with four men, one of the best things X Company did in Season 2 was explore her friendship with Sabine (Livia Matthes). On the surface Aurora was only being kind to the Nazi officer’s wife in order to get closer to her prime target. But it was soon clear that Aurora needed Sabine and her friendship on a personal level as well, even admitting that “there were lots of times our friendship was real.”
So often female characters are pitted against each other, and it would’ve been very easy for the show to do that once Sabine learned the truth about Aurora’s spy identity. But X Company never does what you expect and it realizes the unique power female friendships hold. With only two episodes remaining, here’s hoping we can see some resolution between these two former friends.
In Season 3 the show threw a new foil Aurora’s way with the introduction of Heidi Adler (Madeleine Knight), by all accounts a progressive, intelligent woman with many qualities Aurora admires. Yet, over the course of the season, X Company has masterfully unfolded the true darkness living within Heidi and routinely tested Aurora’s willingness to do whatever it takes for the greater good.
Aurora was possibly never tested more than last week’s episode when a hunting party at Obergruppenführer Schmidt’s (Morten Suurballe) estate went swiftly from shooting game to shooting Jews. Through her work as a spy Aurora has seen a lot of horrors, but none so devastating as being asked to shoot a defenseless man point blank in the name of “sport.” Yet, somehow Aurora pushed her emotions down further inside and once again pressed on.
It was a risky move for X Company and one that easily could be seen as sensational or for shock value. The audience is also apt to turn against Aurora for her compliance in the act. But X Company and Brochu never lost sight of the end goal and skillfully kept us on track, pushing the Allies ever forward toward their ultimate goal. And thanks to Brochu being the master of once again conveying so much with so little words, viewers were well aware the toll the move had taken on Aurora.
This week delivered the long awaited showdown between Aurora and Heidi and a beautiful chess match between two very powerful women. Hatred seemed to seep out of each woman’s every pore, and when the two cunning, fierce and intelligent women faced off it was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. While Heidi may have been smart, she forgot a valuable lesson viewers have learned time and again over three seasons: never bet against Aurora Luft. She will always find a way. Always.
As things turned violent, with the women fighting in the woods in full on dress clothes and high heels, it was a visual reminder that the women of X Company have never, and will never, fit into a mold of what people expect them to be. It was extremely satisfying to see Aurora finally get the revenge she, and viewers alike, have been wanting for so long. Revenge doesn’t taste much sweeter than Aurora extinguishing the final flickers of life out of Heidi and reminding her that she herself is a Jew.
Neil and Alfred did eventually arrive to help Aurora, but as is usually the case, she didn’t need to be rescued. By the time they got there she had already taken care of things and gotten out of another jam all on her own. And in true Aurora fashion after killing Heidi she simply stood up, straightened out her clothes, put her high heel back on and was right back to business. Because above all, their mission was still safe and that is what is truly important to her.
With just two episodes to go in the show’s final season things are more dangerous than ever for Aurora. She’s now fully entrenched herself by Schmidt’s side in Berlin, and he proves to be more and more horrible with each passing week. Could he have finally met his match in Aurora? We’d bet good money on the fact that if anyone is smart enough to outwit this monster and get the better of him it’s Aurora.
The ride may be over soon for X Company and Aurora, but thanks to the many streaming services out there shows can find a second life these days. Here’s hoping that’s the case for X Company and that it finds a distribution deal making it available outside of Canada. TV viewers should know this show, not only for its sheer brilliance, but also for the timeliness of its message of resistance. In that same vein, Aurora Luft may be the most underrated feminist icon on TV. Her character is deftly skilled at flying under the radar, but Brochu — popular with many TV viewers from her role as Delphine on Orphan Black — doesn’t receive nearly enough praise for what she is doing in this performance.
In today’s world people are starting to realize just how important it is to speak up. They are realizing how important it is to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s hard and even when it’s not popular. X Company has known these lessons since the beginning. So next time the conversation turns to TV’s strongest and most empowering characters, here’s hoping the name Aurora Luft is mentioned. She proves time and again there’s more than one way for a woman to be strong. Until that happens, I’ll be obsessively rewatching Brochu’s amazing performance and living in denial that only two new X Company episodes remain.
What do you think of Aurora in Season 3? Sound off in the comments below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.