Capcom unleashed the T-Virus and Resident Evil in 1996. The video game would quickly gain a cult-like following that’s been rampant ever since—gaining new fans with each sequel game and rerelease. There would also be a film franchise and anime films/shows to follow. The only actual discrepancy so far is what is canon and what isn’t. Insert Netflix’s new Resident Evil series; while it acknowledges events that happened in the video games, its being canon is still up in the air.
Resident Evil follows two separate timelines. One in the past and one in the present time after the outbreak happens. The show navigates between the two timelines messily, but the writer’s room figures out a way to get the job done. Creator Andrew Dabb has a vision for this series, and after the first season, I’m sure it’s a solid one.
The series follows Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska/Tamara Smart) yes, the daughter of the Resident Evil bad guy Albert (Lance Reddick). We see a different version of Albert in the series. One that’s the father of Jade and Billie (Siena Adugong/Adeline Rudolph). In the past, the girls must deal with moving to New Raccoon City. We all remember what happened to Raccoon City; this story follows what happens after Umbrella Corp covers up and moves their operation to a new city.
The past timeline shows a young Jade and Billie moving to New Raccoon City. Billie has a hard time adjusting, and Jade fits right in. The girls go through the motion of any teenager just starting high school in a new city. After an incident at school, Billie discovers some secrets about her father and Umbrella that spring her into activist mode. Billie’s new crusade turns into chaotic fun as they discover secret after secret that leads into our present-day timeline.
The present-day timeline follows Jade. She is trying to make it back to the haven known as “The University” after an incident happens while she’s researching. She is studying the zombies and trying to find a cure for the T-Virus or a way to live amongst them. She’s on the run from Umbrella and refuses to return to the company that built her life. All she wants is to return to her daughter Bea (Ella Zieglmeier) and her boyfriend Arjun (Ahad Raza Mir). She will do anything to get back to them.
The show itself has an exciting story that is well put together. Dabb, Jeff Howard, Tara Knight, Garrett Pereda, Mary Leah Sutton, Shane Tortolani, Lindsey Villareal, and Kerry Williamson all contribute to this wild first season. The first episode is an excellent template for how the season will go. The back-and-forth timelines make for a mess, but when they’re clicking, it’s beautiful. The writing works well for the product at hand. For example, a modern take that includes a few Covid references. It’s an interesting extended take on Resident Evil.
The director Rachel Goldberg, Bronwen Hughes, Rob Seidenglanz, and Batan Silva all give us different styles that work well. The show is very female-centric, as Resident Evil has always been. Whether Jill Valentine, Alice, or now Jade and Billie, that’s always been the base of the series, no matter the media form. Much like the Alien franchise and Ellen Ripley. Resident Evil always contains a strong female character which draws intrigue. The directors do a fantastic job taking these scripts and navigating them, especially the case with the female characters.
Resident Evil has always been about the zombies. Ironically, zombies may be the one area where the show lacks. There aren’t enough mindless zombies running around trying to eat brains, but when the zombies are onscreen, they take over the show. Whether they are giant CGI monsters or the “zeroes,” it’s a lot of fun. They did not learn from The Walking Dead creators, though; never make the zombies an afterthought.
The cinematography is thorough and possibly my favorite part of the show. Carmen Cabana captures some great shots. Whether it’s by drone or regular camera, it’s incredible. There’s a fight scene in episode four with some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in a TV show for a long time. The acting helps the show a lot as well. Yes, there are some ridiculous scenes, but they are minimal. Smart, Balinska, Agudong, and Reddick are exceptional in their roles.
As I mentioned, this isn’t the Albert Wesker we know from the games or the Paul W. S. Anderson movies. Wesker is entirely different. The show does acknowledge characters from the games like Chainsaw Man, Ada Wong, and Evelyn Marcus’ (Paola Nunez) James. This is why I’m hopeful the show gets to continue. The writing could use some fine-tuning and better editing. The video game tie-ins are all there, and it’s just a fun show.
Overall, I enjoyed the show. It stayed true to its first-person shooter roots and dedicated itself to the game’s origins. Dabb is passionate about this, and it’s obvious. Resident Evil isn’t a money grab; it’s a passion project from somebody obsessed with the game. Could it have been better? Sure, but that doesn’t take away the groundwork for the series to continue. I hope Netflix takes this forward, and we see Dabb’s Resident Evil vision come to fruition. – Rascal F Kennedy
Rating – 7/10
Resident Evil is now streaming on Netflix!