Set in the year 2036, 14 years after the spread of Joy (a tiny pill containing the T-virus) caused so much pain, Netflix Original resident Evil follows Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska) as she fights for survival in a world overrun by infected and terrifying bloodthirsty creatures. But history is not only about the present, it is also about the past. In the main story, we get flashbacks to 2022, where it all started with Jade and her family being welcomed into New Raccoon City. In it, we see his father, Alber Wesker’s (Lance Reddick) creepy ties to the Umbrella Corporation, the corporate greed, and what happened to his sister, Billie (Siena Agudong).
Telling a new story that we haven’t seen using franchise features (puzzles and creature designs included) is something that resident Evil does extremely well. From the imagery to the enemy types, the TV series manages to feel like it’s part of Capcom’s iconic series lore and world. We know from interviews that everything that happened in the games is canon in the series. That said, by choosing an era that we have not seen, resident Evil is able to stand on its own with an interesting story and a sustained pace even when skipping between periods. resident Evil is good. It’s not a one-for-one adaptation, but rather a zombie-inspired series from capitalism that we all love dearly and knows exactly where it came from, including the matter of the volcano at the center of it all.
Listen, I love Resident Evil as a game franchise. And while it’s easy to argue that this series didn’t need the name to make it and could have been an untethered original story, there’s a lot to like for existing fans of the franchise in all its guises. From movies to animations, Resident Evil as an IP keeps changing, investigating different lore elements and telling new stories along the way.
I mean, in no way would I have thought that the events of Resident Evil Village would be a branch of the franchise when I first played video games. And yet, here we are. This leeway and openness that we are giving Capcom to tell new stories in video games should also be given to those looking to tell new stories in other formats as well.
I would be remiss if I did not emphasize the visual beauty of the series. The use of color throughout the series, especially in large sets and sweeping shots, makes it stand out. Neighborhoods with all the identical buildings in blue soap lined perfectly over the sinks, or the red glow of the Umbrella installation as the zombie dogs run through it, resident Evil is a visually stunning series.
Moreover, the series’ action sequences are well thought out, dynamic, and feature extremely interesting and exciting creature designs. From the start of the first episode to the last episode of the season, the monsters and the fights against them are the reason to watch. Exciting and fast-paced, the mix of CG visual effects and hands-on makes for a damn good time, with Jade excelling at selling every minute.
And really, resident Evil is a success thanks to Jade. She’s a tenacious, relentless force that we see as a rebellious teenager, played by Tamara Smart, and a smart, strategic adult, played by Ella Balinska. Whether it’s the focus on sisterly relationship with Billie and her dedication to finding the truth in 2022, or whether it’s her action star status in 2036, Jade is the heart of the show.
Balancing him against his father, Albert Wesker is a choice that added depth to the series and allowed us audiences to explore something totally original. At this point, Lance Reddick as the favorite game villain works amazingly. Whereas Reddick brings an entirely different style as a Wesker dad that we haven’t seen (and probably won’t see) elsewhere. A series in the near future, starting in 2022 and stretching to 2036, the choice to make all sci-fi elements feel grounded in reality works extremely well. In fact, the science of the series plays a pivotal role, as the mysteries of Umbrella’s town, company, and misdeeds are unraveled.
He’s a different Wesker, but he’s compelling nonetheless, and by the end of the series strikes the intimidating, powerful man we know from existing canon. Capable of violence and so much more, Reddick’s Wesker is a take on the character that excites and turns on a dime in the best possible way. Whether it’s smart writing or Reddick’s charisma is a question, but the character delivers both ways. But without spoiling the surprise, there’s a lot more to Wesker than you see at first, well, just a lot more Wesker too.
To push the diabolical selfish moves of Umbrella, the series features Evelyn Marcus (Paola Nuñez). She is calculating, hungry for money, and refuses to see anything in her path as an obstacle to getting what she wants. She’s focused on getting Umbrella bigger and Joy’s expedition, regardless of the consequences. One of the original characters in the series that I desperately need more of.
As a character, she is physically smaller than Reddick’s Wesker, and yet, in the scenes opposite him, her intensity and intimidation match her stature. Evelyn is as dangerous as she is gorgeous and the show never lets you forget, with each scene she methodically ramps up the tension. Add to that the exploration of experiments on Mexicans in Mexico, exploiting people just because they can, and Umbrella like the specter of runaway capitalism is clear.
To be fair, the choice to spend eight episodes early in the fall of Raccoon City and the current hellscape works well for developing characters and showing growth over time without falling into a rhythmic nightmare. The slow growth of infection we see on the show and the connection to the Wesker family is one that I was hesitant about. But the human element and the slow descent while constantly reminding the audience where it will all end helps create effective tension.
Netflix managed to keep the spirit of the franchise alive in Resident Evil. This series is something original and thrilling. And while the bulk of the live offerings, between Paul WS Anderson’s series and Johannes Roberts’ Welcome to Raccoon City, easter egg minefields (and lacking in just about every other area), this series avoids that. Like a horror series, resident Evil is tall. And while some elements seem like backdrops to remind audiences that this is inspired by the game franchise, the gist of the show is at the heart of the franchise: rampant science helping capitalism lead us to our end.
If the series has any flaws, it’s the inconsistency of science and infection rules. That said, some of them can be explained by the choice to show and not tell the exposure points, but others stick out like a sore thumb. At some point, however, the inexplicable can be pushed aside because the monsters and infection fights are so well designed. Although there is a lack of knowledge about how the rapid descent from 2022 to 2036 occurred and the acceleration involved in the greatest of infected creatures, the Suspension of Disbelief can overcome this.
Moreover, the inequality of the two periods explored in the narrative required more precision to balance them. Although 2022 is quite interesting from a science fiction and mystery point of view, it sometimes overwhelms the events that take place in 2036. In 2022, young Jade and Billie try to solve the mysteries of Umbrella and their father must confront the danger he helped create with the T-Virus. But in 2036, it’s all about survival, action and racing. As the pacing slows in the series’ final episodes for the 2036 timeline, this section of the show is swallowed up by the intensity of flashbacks to 2022. However, where the two time periods meet, it’s wondrously close together. .
At the end of it all, if you go into Netflix resident Evil open to a new and original story, then you’ll have a great time. Judging by any standard of video game purity, any adaptation is hard to pull off, but unlike Kaya Scodelario’s outing from last year, this Netflix Original series is actually good. With squirming creatures, well-paced and edited action, and an absolutely smashing cast, resident Evil worth watching immediately. With great sci-fi, great horror, and even better action, I need more. Give us season 2, you cowards.
resident Evil is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.
At the end of it all, however, if you go into Netflix resident Evil open to a new and original story, then you’ll have a great time. Judging by all the standards of video game purity, any adaptation is hard to pull off, but unlike Kayla Scoldalario’s outing from last year, this Netflix Original series is actually good.
Kate is co-founder, EIC and CCO of BWT. She’s also a certified Rotten Tomatoes reviewer, host and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Was it necessary?. She also handles all PR dealings for comics, manga, movies, TV, and anime. She holds a master’s degree in cultural anthropology and religious studies focusing on the impact of pop culture on society.