Resident Evil – Season 1, Episode 4: The Turn

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It been only three episodes since I started Netflix’s Resident Evil series and I swear it’s felt more like 14 – and not in a good way; but as we round the midway point and set sail toward the home straight with the forth episode entitled “The Turn”, I can’t help but notice that the last two episodes weren’t as painful to push through.
Could it be that the show is fast finding its feet, or is it more likely that I’ve quickly resigned myself into realising that this show was never going to be the next Walking Dead and am now simply enjoying it for the goofy nonsense it actually is. Odds are it’s blatantly the latter, but while The Turn offers the same, annoying tonal shifts, unimaginative plotting and insipid characterization I’ve come to expect from the show, it continues the streak started by the previous episode to keep things moving at a fair old clip and finish before anyone has a chance to question how stupid it all is…

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Still sweating through the effects of the T-Virus, Billie realises the ticking clock her life is teetering on shouldn’t be governing her life, so she insists to her sister Jade that she escorts her infected ass to the party of Simon; the son of Umbrella CEO Evelyn Marcus. While we can technically forgive the normally responsible Billie for making such an incredibly dangerous request thanks to her violent, T-Virus-y mood swings, Jade unbelievably goes along with it and instantly makes matters worse by ditching her mere minutes in in order to see is Simon has dug up any more dirt on his mother’s corporation. This obviously triggers Billie, who’s temperament isn’t exactly all that stable to begin with, but answers (or at least some pertinent questions) are finally forth coming in the form of anti-Umbrella activist Angel, who has snuck into New Racoon city hoping to get info on what exactly happened to the last one and the sisters realise that this conspiracy hits closer to home that they ever could have realised.
Meanwhile, in 2036, Jade, along with Umbrella Yes-man Baxter, has been captured by a French cult named the Brotherhood who have managed to find a way to make the zombie-like Zeroes docile and have actually put them to work keeping the generator moving and supplying power to their lair. It seems that they’ve managed to do via something called the “Mother Zero”, a sort of zombie general that can control her species thanks to a large, pulsating growth on the side of her neck and is placated by the Brotherhood who feed her the chainsawed victims they sacrifice alarmingly regularly. Spotting that this new breed of Zero may be imperative to analysing and even stopping this deadly virus, Jade makes a deal with Baxter in order to team up and break out, but as always, Umbrella is waiting.

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Not to take any cheap potshots at actor Turlough Convery, but his character of inconsistent Umbrella agent Richard Baxter is actually a fine metaphor for the entire show so far. Bumbling, yet persistent and tonally feeling completely out of place at all times, the character has stood out as one of the most inconsistent things in a show that makes inconsistency its main focal point – is he actually supposed to be funny? Threatening? Are we supposed to actually give a shit about him? Are we supposed to take him seriously even when he’s continuously blurting out sarcastic understatements that melts any tension like ice in a hot tub (in a stunning act of tongue in cheek homage, he actually describes himself as “the master of unlocking” as a nod to the iffy voice acting in the original game)? We get no real answers from The Turn, but we do get lots more time with the hairy Irishman as he teams up with Jade and gets far more screen time than usual as the episode even seems him worthy of an extended action scene. It’s a confusing move on the part of Netflix’s latest zombie show as it once again makes you question what kind of tone the show thinks it’s actually aiming for as the doughy agent wades through numerous zombies in a moment reminiscent of one of those hallway sequences from Daredevil while Jamiroquai’s “Feels Just Like It Should” pounds on the soundtrack for reasons I haven’t quite worked out yet. The result is equal parts fun and cringe inducing and almost a perfect example of everything that works and everything that doesn’t in a show that continuously feels like every scene was written by a completely different writer who refused to collaborate with one another on how the show should actually feel.

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With that being said, where the dystopian parts of Resident Evil started off feeling like the weaker part of the show, this is the second episode in a row that managed to flip things the other way because even though the future stuff is painfully derivative, at least it moves. Watching Jade and Baxter negotiate their way through the underground lair of a chainsaw wielding french cult may not have that many lasting effects on the story as a whole, but watching Jade graphically saw the head off the Mother Zero gives out warm feelings reminiscent of the crazier moments of Ash Vs. Evil Dead. Yes, the plot is overwhelmingly similar to the last time Jade got caught up with an outpost with questionable morals and yes, its yet another episode that ends with Jade in the clutches of yet another enemy (poor girl is getting passed around the apocalypse like a hit of weed), but it’s fast, gory and say what you will about Baxter’s big action scene, it’s well done even if its overwhelmingly weird.

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On the other hand, the 2022 sections now really need to start paying things off because despite the sisters finally getting some concrete issues getting spelled out directly to them by Angel (who seemingly has wandered past the security of the gated community like a lost toddler in a supermarket) who hits them with some mysterious facts like their father, Albert Wesker supposedly died in 2009, the infection in the original Raccon City was cured with a Nuke and that Jade and Billie have no records or birth certificate to proof they exist. Hopefully answers are forthcoming soon (the show isn’t exactly great at the art of the slow burn) as even though we seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough, the fact that the Wesker sister’s combined IQ seems to have plummeted as Jade thinks that bringing her infected and bullied sister to a heavily populated birthday party is a perfectly normal thing to do. However, dumb shit like this isn’t actually as annoying to me as much as it once was two episodes ago, so I guess I’m finally getting used to the poorly planned randomness of the whole enterprise.
If the show keeps the gore coming and starts untangling some plot threads that’s overstayed their welcome, Resident Evil might actually manage to bring it home…

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