Every antihero needs a femme fatale, and for our Henry Case, that role gets filled by none other than Molly Millions, the butt-kicking, shuriken-throwing, boyfriend-ditching street samurai we've all come to know and love. Like all femme fatales, this girl's a walking, talking, oh so alluring killing machine. Her entire body has been modified to be a deadly weapon, from her razor sharp fingernails to her vision-enhancing eye mirror eyes (see the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section for more on those).
More deadly than her modifications is her attitude. Molly is strong, confident, and not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone from Chiba City street thugs to ninja assassins. She's also not afraid to speak her mind, like when she tells off Teribashjian for his sexist comments (7.33). In short, you don't want to be on her bad side.
But it can be just as tough being on her good side, too. After all, she jumps in the sack with Case faster than you can say capsule hotel, and then ditches him with only a note when she thinks she's lost her edge. We imagine being in Molly's life is no walk in the park, and she certainly doesn't make the road much smoother for our main man.
So what gives? What's with the roller coaster, Miss Molly?
Short answer? She has a tragic past. But then again, so does everyone on a dystopian future. That's kind of how dystopia goes. In Molly's case though, it's very tragic. Not Hamlet levels of tragic as the body count is lower but still, it's no past you'd want a part of.
When Molly was first getting her transplants, she worked as a "meat puppet" (11.142), which is exactly as awful as it sounds. A meat puppet is a prostitute that has had a chip inserted into her head so she can't remember anything that happens while she's on the job. If that sounds bad, well, we haven't even gotten to the truly awful part: unfortunately for Molly, her chip malfunctions because her modifications aren't compatible with it. She wakes up and discovers her pimp has been renting her out for some heinous snuff film type activities. Yeah, we'll spare you the details.
Later, she meets up with a man named Johnny. The two fall in love and do what any couple of young lovers will do. That is, they team up and try to blackmail a fortune out of the Yakuza. The only problem was that the Yakuza make the Mafia look like schoolyard bullies. And they send someone to kill Johnny just when Molly thought they might have been home free (15.9-19).
And these are just the two tragedies that Molly tells Case about. We can only imagine what other awful memories Molly keeps to herself.
Naturally, Molly has a lot of pent-up emotional issues. In a way, this makes her a lot like Case, since they both seem to define themselves based on their past and the people or things they've lost. But Case seems to be seeking forgiveness for his past, while Molly seeks revenge.
Her target? Riviera.
To be fair, Riviera didn't do anything to Molly in her past (as far as we know). But he does remind her of the men from her past, like the Senator who used Molly to kill a girl (11.147). To her, Riviera is exactly the kind of guy who would use a meat puppet for cruel and horrible ends. That's basically all it takes for Molly to decide this guy's gotta go. Maybe she's atoning for the girl she was forced to kill. Maybe she's avenging the wrongs done to her. Or maybe Molly's profoundly messed up and wants him dead out of pure anger and spite. Whatever the case, it's clear she has few qualms about icing the guy. She's a-okay with the morally murky stuff.
Although she succeeds in killing Riviera, we're left to wonder whether she has come to terms with her past, or whether it still haunts her. She leaves Case before we can get the scoop on these questions, and ain't that how it always goes in a book like this? Like many of the other characters in Neuromancer, Molly's a bit of a mystery, and she doesn't get a resolution all tied up with a pretty bow in the end. Molly's much too messy for that.