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Resident Evil on Netflix: A Fresh Take on a Tired Franchise

The new and ‘improved’ Resident Evil show has finally hit Netflix as of July 14th. Now I’ve watched it so you may not necessarily have to, but the main question is, is it finally a decent adaptation of the games we’ve all been waiting for; or is it just another tired, predictable and poor take on what has been an outstanding game series for over twenty years?

Previously we had the seven-movie-long Resident Evil saga starring Milla Jovovich which started off relatively linked to the games, using them as a decent backdrop for the story before departing into a completely different beast that’s unrecognizable to what Resident Evil fans grew up with. Then we had the recent reboot starring Kaya Scodelario and Robbie Amell as Claire and Chris Redfield, which leaned heavily into the first game’s story and lore, and somehow still became a boring, by-the-numbers mess.

Related: Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City; All Easter Eggs You Missed

Now we have the most recent attempt; an eight episode season of Resident Evil, with a completely new story, no legacy characters from the games and some completely new (and in some cases, contradictory) lore compared to the games.

Netflix's Resident Evil
Netflix’s Resident Evil is streaming now.

A Faithful Adaptation or Just Full of Easter Eggs?

This adaptation revolves around the Wesker family, two timelines and plenty of zombies. Oh, and of course Umbrella. The first timeline is 2022, with a middle-aged Albert Wesker moving him and his two daughters Jade and Billie to New Raccoon City, and the second timeline being 2036, where Jade has struck out on her own in the middle of a zombie apocalypse to try and find a cure. Oddly enough, the latter timeline actually is the worse of the two, and with the least amount of links to the games.

There’s plenty of lore mentioned between the two timelines. It seems the events of the first game actually still happened, with Raccoon City being the centre of an incident that resulted in a zombie outbreak thanks to Umbrella, and the subsequent nuking of the city by Umbrella and the U.S Government. William Birkin is named dropped, as is a conveniently named helicopter pilot only known as Barry, who Jade needed but unfortunately was already dead, who surely is a connection to the first games Barry Burton.

Read also: Resident Evil 4 Remake Arrives On PS5, Trailer Confirms

Wesker and His Daughters

Now long time fans will immediately recognize Wesker, or at least the name, because this iteration of the character is a far cry from the sunglasses and trench coat wearing schemer from the games. There’s still some mystery to the character, and some heavy hints to the more recognizable versions we know, for example, there’s a line of dialogue confirming Wesker died in an incident involving a volcano, which is the exact fate of the character from 2009’s Resident Evil 5. There’s also the less than subtle nods to T-virus overdosing with Wesker injecting his daughter’s blood, although that’s later explained in a different, less enjoyable manner.

Lance Reddick as Albert Wesker in Resident Evil
Lance Reddick as Albert Wesker in Resident Evil

All-in-all, for the diehard fans there’s a lot of smaller connections to the games, mostly contained in throwaway dialogue and easter eggs, rather than hard-links or continuations from the games. There’s even a nice part in one of the later episodes that has a full-on puzzle for the daughters to solve in their house, reminiscent of the games puzzle-solving sections. That said, you could easily watch this show and not realise it’s anything to do with the franchise as a whole, especially the future timeline, where other than the occasional Licker and chainsaw-wielding, bag wearing henchman, there’s nothing particularly Resident Evil about it.

So for now, if you want to immersed in a Resident Evil world, just put one of the games on and enjoy that.