TL;DR – This is a silly, over-the-top, ridiculous show in all the right ways …until its not.
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this episode.
Resident Evil Review –
When the original Resident Evil video game came out, I didn’t have a PlayStation, so I was tangentially aware of it and probably watched someone play it at some point. Still, I would never consider myself a fan at any moment and never had the drive to try and work out the convoluted lore built up over the years. But then the films came out, and at least the first couple were … let’s say engaging, but then they got … well, they got Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. I don’t think it would be hard to say that I was not chopping at the bit for a new Resident Evil TV Series, but then I watched one episode out of interest … and ended up watching them all.
So to set the scene, we opened in a ruined London in 2036, 14 years after the world ended. There are probably only 300 million people left on Earth in small walled communities or the few remaining nations like Fortress Scandinavia or the Umbrella Corporation. But there are 6 billion zombies or zeroes infected by the T-Virus ready to rip anyone’s throat. In a small research camp, Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska) has spent six months researching the Zeroes to see if the virus is mutating and allowing more cognitive control when she accidentally cuts herself and becomes a target for the horde. Back in 2022, three months before the fall, Jade (Tamara Smart), her sister Billie (Siena Agudong), and her father, Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), have just arrived in their new home in New Raccoon City in South Africa. It has a bland, corporate feeling, but behind the scenes, the new boss of the Umbrella Corporation, Evelyn Marcus (Paola Núñez), is pushing hard to get the new drug Joy delivered to the market. The only issue is just what did happen at their plant in Tijuana? Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
The first thing I want to discuss is the acting because that may or may not be a deal breaker for you. If I could use one word to describe the acting, it would be bombastic. Much of the cast is chewing on every piece on every piece of scenery that they can get their hands on. I liked the stark contrast we got between quiet reserved Albert Wesker and then “I’m going to blacklist you so bad you will never get a job” Albert Wesker. Also, Paola Núñez and Richard Baxter go for 110% at all times. There are these moments of pure tonal whiplash that are wild to watch play out. However, this is a particular style of acting, and while I think it works here, I feel it will grate on people.
From a structural perspective, I generally liked the timeline split between 2036 and 2022. Look, it is not as good as Station Eleven, but splitting the story up helps move the narrative along. It helps that both of the different timelines have a different mood to them. In 2022, we get a perfectly normal world but on the cusp of falling apart. In 2036 we get more of a race across a fallen England trying to escape Umbrella hit squads. They did a smart thing and limited how many characters exist in both timelines, which meant that when you put characters in danger, on the whole, you do feel it.
For me personally, I think the 2036 section worked better than 2022 on a narrative level. To start with, 2022 is very settled in the one quasi-corporate area where many dodgy business deals are interspaced with a lot of teenage angst. There were many teases that the virus was about to escape, but then it never did. While in 2036, we get to see a whole new world, which is legitimately scary at times. Most of this time period is set in the red zone, where the Zeroes have complete control bar some walled-off city-states. So you get a bunch of different locations, people, systems, and monsters. There are the lurkers that stab you in the brain with their tongues, and then animals that have been mutated to gigantic proportions.
However, while there was a lot I liked about this series, especially at the start, there were some growing frustrations with the show as it went along. With the 2022 timeline, many things happened [like no security at a top-secret lab] that seem to happen because the plot needs them to, not because they organically happened. As well as this, look, maybe, we got spoiled by All of Us Are Dead, but teasing a breakout but never showing it was annoying. Meanwhile, in 2036, we started so strong, but it struggled after the reveal of Billie (Adeline Rudolph). From this point onwards, nearly every choice Jade made in the narrative made no sense for someone who is meant to be as competent as she is. As well as this, the story’s pace grinds to a halt the moment we hit The University.
In the end, do we recommend Resident Evil? Welllll? Look, it is the best version of Resident Evil that we have seen in a while. It also starts really strong. However, it just doesn’t have the energy to last the entire runtime, which is a shame because there is a fascinating world here.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Resident Evil
Directed by – Bronwen Hughes, Rob Seidenglanz, Rachel Goldberg & Rachel Goldberg
Written by – Andrew Dabb, Mary Leah Sutton, Shane Frank, Garett Pereda, Kerry Williamson, Lindsey Villarreal, Jeff Howard & Tara Knight
Created by – Andrew Dabb
Based On – Resident Evil by Shinji Mikami, Tokuro Fujiwara & Capcom
Production/Distribution Companies – Amalgamated Nonsense, Constantin Television, Moonlighting Films & Netflix
Starring – Tamara Smart, Ella Balinska, Siena Agudong, Adeline Rudolph, Paola Núñez & Lance Reddick with Lance Reddick, Lance Reddick, Turlough Convery, Connor Gosatti, Ahad Raza Mir, Pedro de Tavira Egurrola, Lea Vivier, Anthony Oseyemi, Emily Child, Bjorn Steinbach, Mpho Osei Tutu & Adam Atom and Lance Reddick, Casey B. Dolan, Matt Newman, Ayushi Chhabra, Joe Vaz, Nicholas Pauling, Nicky Rebelo, Richard Wright-Firth, Emile Hager, Martin Davis, Lauren Steyn & Candice van Litsenborgh
Episodes Covered – Welcome to New Raccoon City, The Devil You Know, The Light, The Turn, Home Movies, Someone’s Little Girl, Parasite & Revelations