It seems that no matter what Netflix’s Resident Evil series does, it seems to screw things up more that newbie trying to explore the streets of Racoon City while having the game on an impossible setting. The previous episode saw the show mostly forsake its dual timeline structure in favour of focusing entirely on the events that transpire in 2022 in an attempt to squeeze the clot of backed up plot threads along through the clogged artery of the show – but still managed to do in in a way that was typically sluggish and annoying. This time, with the sixth episode, Resident Evil reverses the trick, this time leaving our brief time in 2022 to bookend an entire adventure set in the Umbrella ruined shithole of 2036 to also try and shift along a story that’s frustratingly also been going nowhere fast. Can it build on the long predicted plot twist that Jade’s sister Billie is still alive and is working for Umbrella into something that doesn’t suck like a zombie gorging on blood from an open wound?
A quick intro set in 2022 sees Albert Wesker try to protect his genetically altered daughters from being discovered by the sinister company he works for by attempting to assassinate the captive whistle blower, Angel, who knows young Billie’s immune system has impressively managed to shake of the deadly T-Virus. Suggesting to CEO Evelyn Marcus that he uses enough of the wonder drug “Joy” to become a truth serum (just go with it), he actually manages to succeed while claiming that the man’s death was a mere accident, but Marcus’ bullshit detector sees through his lies easily.
Meanwhile, in 2036, Jade is stunned to reunite with her sister, Billie, having not seen her since 2026 when Jade was pregnant with her daughter Bea and their father, Wesker had apparently died, but despite working under Marcus for Umbrella, Billie claims she’s made a mistake and that the T-Virus is still in her system and will eventually kills her. To prove this, Billie removes a tracking chip Jade unknowingly had in her arm, frees her and even gives her the location of a team from The University – the anti-Umbrella group that’s trying to heal the world – so that she can deliver the severed head of an advanced breed of Zero.
From there, Jade finally makes it back to the ship her people live on, reconnects with her daughter and her boyfriend Arjun and gets to work examining the severed head of the zombie controlling Mother Zero in an attempt to maybe find away to nullify the dangers of the undead once and for all. However, Arjun’s worries that Jade’s dedication supersedes everything else in her life – even the safety of her own daughter – is tragically proved correct when a failed experiment leads to an escaped Zero nearly killing Bea and killing a pregnant woman which unsurprisingly sours the rest of the population against her.
Elsewhere, back in 2022, an imprisoned Wesker finds that the man in the next cell has a few things in common with him – his exact DNA, in fact.
So, with the sixth episode of Resident Evil in the bag, my feelings about the show has admittedly shifted a little. Unfortunately it’s shifted from impatient frustration to outright dislike as my tolerance for the thing is finally running out. The reason for this? It’s mostly because the same problems that plagued the mainly 2022 set last episode have continued twofold over to this episode that primarily based itself in the ruined apocalypse of 2036 and then quite simply gives us the most boring episode to date. The chief problem is that the show has maintained such a swift pace for its future set segments that we never actually got a healthy grasp as to why Jade is risking her life studying Zeroes and ducking Umbrella beyond some rushed dialogue over a couple of face time calls on a tablet and so, the story decides to slam on the brakes and spend virtually the whole episode filling us in on characters, details, locations and backstory that we should have been told episodes ago. What’s even more annoying us that it does it at the expense of episode five’s twist which reveals that Billie is still alive in the future – however, those hoping for a revealing emotional showdown between the two will be irritated to learn that this is dome and finished with before the episode is even a quarter of the way through. Now, I realise that pissing promising cliffhangers up the wall is a long standing tradition in the history of live action Resident Evil adaptations (Remember when RE: Afterlife wiped out all of Mila Jovovich’s clones in its first ten minutes?), but wasn’t this a huge detail the show was essentially hanging its entire premise on – because if it wasn’t, why the fuck have we been watching five whole episodes of the two sisters gradually grow apart while 2022 endlessly teased the fate of Billie.
So, what we get instead is Jade returning to the ship The University works from and spending time with the remarkably boring people she lives with while her boring partner chastised her on not spending enough time with her boring daughter. However, despite being boring, they actually have a point because for all the times she’s openly pined for her daughter, Jade turns out to be something of a genuinely shitty mother. Why exactly the writers chose for Jade to perform an experiment with a lethal, killer zombie in the same room as her daughter, especially when he the whole point of the exercise is to use zero juice to make Jade invisible to the undead, is unclear, but its lazy as hell and it further damages an already seriously unlikable character. Oh don’t get me wrong, horror characters do dumb shit all the time, I understand it all comes with the territory, but I’m genuinely unsure why the show would allow its main character to such a stupid thing simply to make the other characters hate her. I understand Jade’s supposed to be overconfident and reckless, but that’s when she was a teen and unless Wesker also genetically engineered her to be a grade-A hard-hit, it’s a massive, illogical last straw for a show that seemingly has no idea how to present any themes without making all of their protagonists come across as whining wastes of skin.
So, what’s to come? Well, it looks like we’re finally going to get an explanation to what’s going on with Wesker (I predict clones), but while the idea of numerous Lance Reddicks sharing the screen does indeed sound like a reason to click on “next episode”, at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if the show runners managed to screw this up too…