And so we finally get to the end of Netflix’s incredibly muddled Resident Evil adaptation and I don’t mind telling you, it’s been quite the slog. Episode after episode of uneven tone mixed with a pace that at best could be described as snail-like has tested the patience of even the most ardent of devotees to the continued and questionable actions of the Umbrella Corporation, but now we’re at the season finale there’s always that slight hope that the writers, directors and show runners have managed to tuck an ace up their sleeve to make the watching the whole bloody thing worthwhile.
So, will a horde of zeroes, a final reckoning between Jade and Billie and a fucking great alligator manage to achieve what the previous seven episodes could not and make us give the slightest of shits?
In 2022, as Umbrella CEO Evelyn Marcus tries to convince child-minded Albert Wesker clone Bert to work on a new project ominously titled the Tyrant, her tightly wound personal life seems to be unravelling before her eyes. To make matters worse, the Wesker sisters are trying to make a getaway, but when their escape is blocked by Umbrella agents, Billie’s T-Virus enhanced strength kicks in, causing her violent hallucinations to return – something that will ultimately spell a terrible fate for Jade’s friend and Evelyn’s son, simon. As the sister’s reunion with their father and his clone brother hurtles toward disaster that’ll scar the twins for decades to come, a far more immediate threat emerges from the rubble of New Racoon City.
Meanwhile, in 2036, still rocked by the revelation that Billie now runs Umbrella through a mind controlled Evelyn, Jade waits for the end as the multitudes of zombie-like Zeroes she summoned converge on the small Umbrella encampment where she and her sister are based. As the painfully expendable guards do their best to keep the horde at bay, Jade springs the second part of her plan as she’s immune to the Zeroes due to an enzyme she extracted from the head of a mutant Zero she came across on her journey and when an opening presents itself, she make a break for it while Billie cuts bait and uses her armed drones to exterminate anything that isn’t her.
However, Jade has one last card to play as being towed behind the ship belonging to the scientific community known as the University is a massive, mutant alligator that they’ve managed to subdue with a spot of handy brain surgery and it’s released in an attempt to bring down what remains of Umbrella’s high command.
However, there’s one thing Jade hasn’t counted on and that’s her daughter Bea who has followed her mothers awful advice and has fled the University just in case everything goes sour and if Billie survives and get wind of the fact that her niece has a strange effect on creatures with the T-Virus, we’re all going to be back to square one…
So, while Revelations has enough incident to keep things ticking along all the way to it’s predictable final cliff hanger (quite the risk considering Netflix’s habit of smothering shows in their crib before they get a second season), there’s really nothing here that rewards the hours lost watching this rather lackluster show. Despite the occasional nifty action sequence, the laboured duel plots have frequently made me yearn for the simpler times when a crappy Resident Evil adaptation would only waste two hours of your life instead of eight and aside from Lance Reddick’s fun turn as Wesker and his many clones, the characters stubbonly remained self centred and thoroughly unlikeable. While I guess Billie gets a pass considering her villainous destiny, Jade has steadily remained an incredibly irritating presence that goes far beyond simple character flaws and virtually everything she carelessly says or does causes everyone around her to endure an unending shower of shit. For the second time now, her abysmal parenting skills has put her daughter in mortal danger as her advice backfires hideously. Why would you would tell your daughter to leave the safety of a friendly community to wander alone in an apocalypse just in case things good bad? Of course the worst case scenario plays out exactly as you’d expect with Bea being spirited away by Billie to end the 2036 segment without a single surprise.
Meanwhile, back in 2022, things aren’t much better with the entire episode hinging on the shock death of a character – however, while the death certainly comes out of the blue – and at the hands of his mother no less – was anyone particularly enamored enough of Simon in the first place for this to be anything more than a cheap shock? Young Billie and Jade continue to feud, Bert sacrifices himself for the greater good (don’t worry, we still have plenty of Reddicks to go around) and we get teases of legacy character Ada Wong (also spotted in last year’s movie) and classic RE end of game boss, the Tyrant – but none of it means a toss if the show isn’t renewed.
So it’s down to the action beats to keep things moving and the show follows the old adage “when in doubt, chuck in a bloody huge alligator” and the arrival of a fringe villain of the games is a legitimately cool moment that finally gives us the sense of scale we were all hoping for when the show was first announced. Another moment is Billie directing her drones to kill everything around her on her tablet like she’s conducting an orchestra as an exquisite expression of contentment sits on her face and if the season had included more memorable imagery such as this, maybe the shortcomings of the writing wouldn’t be so apparent.
In hindsight, Resident Evil biggest problem is is that it turned out to be far inferior to a lot of similarly themed shows that Netflix has already made (most of them Korean) that understood the sci-fi/horror brief with far more intelligence and a darn sight better story telling and surely the most damning evidence of this is I’m actually not at all bothered if we never get to see the continuing bad and selfish choices the Jade would no doubt continue to make.
Frustrating, unappealing and often unforgiving dull, Resident Evil shows you have to do more than fling an icon monster or two at the screen in order to pull off an engrossing adaptation.
A announcement of a season 2 at this point would be a resurrection worthy of the T-Virus itself.