Ever since the end of Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Resident Evil” film saga with “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” in 2016, the property has been going through something of a cinematic identity crisis. Not their games though, those are great! Unfortunately, the adaptations have failed to capitalise off renewed interest in the franchise’s games like “Resident Evil VII: Biohazard” and “Resident Evil VIII: Village”. Where these two games struck a fine balance between disturbing grit and haunted house fun, recent media adaptations have yet to show the same tonal maturity. The series “Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness”, while a treat to diehard fans of the original game’s aesthetics, couldn’t stand on its own two feet with compelling characters or a standalone story. Far too sombre and lore-heavy to attract newcomers. Then in the same year, we got “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City”, and it was the exact opposite. A film as loud and brain-dead as the infected!
Now it seems Sony is trying again with yet another live-action adaptation of the franchise, that’s not at all related to “Welcome to Raccoon City”. Enter Netflix’s “Resident Evil” series. So will the first season of the show prove to be the cure to the franchise’s creative issues? Or will this be yet another failed experiment? Let’s find out!
Season 1 Review
We’ll cut right to the chase: this isn’t really a “Resident Evil” show. Sure it has some characters that bear similar names to those in the games. There are visual homages and neat Easter-eggs to cash in on fan nostalgia. It even nails some of the creature effects well but make no mistake, this is just a mash up of a CW teen soap opera and generic post-apocalyptic series with a paper thin coat of “Resident Evil” paint on it. By large this is due to the way the narrative and characters are constructed.
The series follows the story of sisters, Jade and Billie, born of two different mothers with the same father. That father just so happens to be Albert Wesker. Yes, the ruthless, superhuman Albert Wesker who has served as the cold, calculating main villain of the game series. Here, however, the Netflix series decides to depict him as a conflicted family man trying to find balance between his shady job at the nefarious Umbrella Corporation and his desire to connect with his two daughters. If you forget for a moment about his video-game counterpart and simply see Reddick’s rendition on its own, you’ll find the Albert Wesker of this universe to be quite an interesting and likeable take on the character.
Sure, he isn’t running around doing backflips and transforming into a grotesque tentacle monster but Reddick’s quiet dignity and gentle restraint does a fantastic job on selling Wesker as a father-figure. There are probably some out there who will whine about Wesker’s ethnicity being changed but who cares? A good performance is a good performance. He displays wonderful range and versatility throughout the show. Unfortunately, not much can be said for the remaining cast of characters here.
So the shows oscillates between two timelines, the present 2022 one and the 2036 one. In both timelines, we follow the struggles of both Jade and Billie to uncover the truth about the Umbrella Corporation and the T-Virus. Watching the 2022 plotline unfold with teenage Jade and Billie, played by Tamara Smart and Siena Agudong, is nothing short of excruciating. It suffers from a common trope in which teenagers are depicted as petulent, disillusioned brats that lash out at the world. This goes doubly true for Jade. Why is it so hard to write a likeable group of teen protagonists? News flash writers, being angry and depressed aren’t character traits!
The actual conspiracy regarding how the experiments in the 2022 plotline correlates with the apocalyptic 2036 future is relatively engaging. There are a good number of shocking twists and emotional stakes that resonated with us. Particularly, one involving Wesker. The 2036 plotline is far more aligned with the roots of the franchise with adult Jade and Billie, played by Ella Balinska and Adeline Rudolph, going on a crusade to take down Umbrella, all while trying to survive a world populated with monsters.
If there’s one are we were hoping the “Resident Evil” series could excel in, it would be in its horror setting. Unfortunately, the Netflix series fails to deliver any real scares or disturbing imagery. To be fair, the creature design in the series isn’t terrible. From Cerberus Dogs to Lickers, it’s clear that the effects department placed a lot of care and intention in the way they brought these beasts to life. That being said, “Resident Evil” lacks any of the spooky, eerie atmosphere of the original 1996 game. Something that every film and TV series has yet to properly convey. We know that the story of Umbrella and the T-Virus is well established in pop culture at this point but this show was craving for some mystique and restraint.
While Netflix’s first season of “Resident Evil” can be applauded for its novel approach to the property, it fails to evolve beyond the realm of confusing mediocrity. It is neither intelligent subversion or faithful adaptation. Instead, it slips between the cracks to be yet another forgettable entry into the post-apocalyptic genre with perhaps the distinction of bearing a popular video-game title. Newcomers will think it “The Walking Dead” but with giant bugs. Die-hard fans will wish double-tap the skip button on this one.
Season 2 Explained
We saw at the end of the 2022 story arc in the first season that Billie and Jade’s relationship is now strained after the death of their father, Albert and their friend Simon. As the two teenagers are under the care of Albert’s clone, Bert. Both Albert and Bert are revealed to be clones of the original Wesker. The 2022 plotline concludes with Jade revealing a note pointing her to a mysterious character named Ada Wong. At the end of the season, we get the bombshell reveal that Billie, Wesker’s daughter, is running the Umbrella Corporation in 2036 and that Evelyn is her puppet during the future timeline. Billie betrays Jade, shoots her and kidnaps her daughter Bea, who seems to display some sort of neutralising effect on those infected with Umbrella’s virus.
Wow, so there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start off with the 2022 plotline. Ada Wong, according to the lore in the “Resident Evil” games, is a secret agent working for Wesker. Wesker eventually grew tired of serving Umbrella and decided to start his own rival organisation. It’s never given an official name in the franchise but it is popularly known as the Organisation. It’s most likely that 2022 Jade will track down Ada Wong in the show together with Bert and Billie.
From there, Ada could bring them to meet their true father, the original Albert Wesker as seen in the seventh episode. Also there’s a strong chance the cop, Leon Kennedy will appear in the second season, seeing that Ada and Leon share a rather romantic relationship together in the games. The second season’s 2022 plotline could conclude with Jade, Billie, Bert, Ada, Leon and the original Wesker working together to take down Umbrella. Fingers crossed we get to see them go up against the infamous Mr X.
As for the 2036 timeline, Jade has been trying to better understand how the Zeroes are capable of organisation under the influence of a queen so to speak. With Bea displaying the ability to halt the mutated-crocodile in its steps in the final episode, it seems that she may also be a queen. The second season will probably see Jade mustering forces to save her daughter while Billie finds a way to weaponise Bea in an effort to control the Zeroes. One thing’s for sure though, Jade will not hesitate to put Billie down in the second season.
So what do you think of the first season of Netflix’s “Resident Evil”? Did you love it or hate it? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
Netflix's "Resident Evil" Season 1 Review
While Netflix's first season of "Resident Evil" can be applauded for its novel approach to the property, it fails to evolve beyond the realm of confusing mediocrity. It is neither intelligent subversion or faithful adaptation. Instead, it slips between the cracks to be yet another forgettable entry into the post-apocalyptic genre with perhaps the distinction of bearing a popular video-game title. Newcomers will think it "The Walking Dead" but with giant bugs. Die-hard fans will wish double-tap the skip button on this one.
Netflix's "Resident Evil" Season 1 Review