Thanks to the dubious choice of splitting each episode between dueling time periods, Netflix’s Resident Evil has had the trouble of keeping its pace consistent while having to essentially two stories simultaneously. As a result, both timelines have noticably suffered with all the conspiracy guff in 2022 noticably dragging while the events set in a zombie ravaged 2036 never really having the space it needs to feel truly apocalyptic – but with episode 5, it finally gives itself a chance to finally move itself although by almost dropping all the future stuff entirely.
That’s right, by dropping all the end of the world stuff except for brief bookends that set up and pull off a gargantuan twist we probably all saw coming, the entirety of this episode takes place in 2022.
Does this mean that Resident Evil has finally given itself enough room to manuever in order to move its dragged out setup along?
In the last episode, sisters Jade and Billie got some disturbing insider information from anti-Umbrella activist Angel Rubio about themselves and their father, Albert Wesker, before he was caught and spirited away for a nasty face to face with unscrupulous CEO Evelyn Marcus. However, the man who is brought in to interrogate him is none other than Wesker himself, who, despite some initial reluctance, shows some suspicious skills when torturing a confession out of a man.
Meanwhile, back at their apartment, Jade decides to act on the leads that Angel hurriedly gave them about what originally happened to the first Racoon City and how it’s supposedly linked to her very existence. So despite Billie’s reluctance, Jade’s determined nature sees her roping in computer nerd Simon (Evelyn’s son) to help them avoid the security cameras and sold a clutch of irritating riddles and techno-puzzles in order to gain access to a basement they never even knew their house had. Their searching uncovers a stash of $10,000, numerous passports in their names, a gun, a very creepy video of a masked girl named Lisa Trevor – and a fail safe device that almost incinerates both of them as all the damning evidence goes up in smoke. They’re rescued by an understandably pissed Albert, but after he’s subdued he starts spilling some telling beans. But even though he fully discloses that the girls were born from two woman’s eggs at the UCSF School of Medicine and were genetically modified at birth to display superior physical and mental traits – which is why Billie didn’t go full zombie after being infected by the T-Virus three days after being bitten by a mutant dog – Wesker insists he isn’t the man on the Lisa Trevor even though it’s obvious to the girls that it blatantly is. However, Wesker he finds out that Angel knows Billie has shrugged off the T-Virus like a bad dose of the flu, he realises that if Marcus finds out, Billie will become a lab rat faster than you can say 2036 plot twist.
Oh, speaking of 2036 plot twists, the identity of Jade’s latest captor hits close to home when its revealed that it’s none other than Billie herself.
So even though Home Videos returns us back to the slog of earlier episodes, the singular focus of Episode 5 proves to be incredibly important, even if all it does is finally squeeze some desperately needed exposition through that bottleneck of a plot we’ve been muscling through. We get confirmation about the girl’s origins and the reasons behind their birth, we get more references to the first Racoon City and we get proof that Wesker has a particular set of sinister skills and even a cameo from Lisa Trevor, a tragic character who comes from the Leatherface school of headware and who even popped up in last year’s Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City. However, to claim all these revelations, we have to sit through what seems to be an eternity of puzzle solving as the girls crawl through their own house (some unnecessary shit about avoiding hidden security cameras that just slows things down even more), figuring out stuff while alternating between bickering, bonding and storming out. The problem with all this is, even though the RE games are renowned for a spot of unlikely riddle solving, sticking it in the middle of a TV show adds no tension whatsoever and we know full well that these obstacles will totally get solved and therefore are merely more filler in a show already drowning with it.
Still, hopefully with all this clog of information finally cleared out of the pipe, this should lead to things moving at a more rapid pace and also having the two timelines actually feel more connected, however, the important thing to remember about clogged pipes is that one of the things they infamously carry is big clumps of shit and for all I know, it’s just be the same old crap just moving at a faster pace…
Even though I’m getting slightly tired of saying this every time, it doesn’t make any less true that Lance Reddick is still carrying the entire show on his Atlas sized shoulders and some details involving Wesker’s reactions to the Lisa Trevor video hint that there might be much more Reddick on the horizon which could even give us the more overly villainous Wesker RE fans are more familiar with.
Also, the blelated arrival of Billie into the 2036 section of the story means that the future set sections of the show might actually start having a point beyond Jade getting into yet another scrape with some drooling monster and then immediately getting captured, but I’m not holding out too much hope. After all, the script has had these girls continuously snipe at each other for five whole episodes, why on earth would the end of the world mean they’d suddenly stop being hideously self obsessed for even five minutes and it could all mean that it’s the future stuff that now gets bogged down with endless sibling rivalry. However, if it ultimately means that the 2022 set stuff finally has a fire lit under its feet dragging butt, then I guess it’s an annoying trade off I will have to live with.
Well, only for three more episodes, at least….