Last time on Resident Evil, the show stayed almost entirely in 2022, with only a pair of bookends venturing into 2036, albeit for a doozy of a plot point: Jade has been cornered by her apparently estranged (but very much alive) sister Billie. To address that (though less thoroughly than we might expect), “Someone’s Little Girl” reverses that ratio. The 2022 storyline is confined to the first few and last few minutes of the episode, with the younger versions of Jade and Billie nowhere to be seen. Instead, Wesker does some more Walter White action, selling his evil boss on a plan to extract information from amateur journalist Angel while secretly furthering his own agenda: Find out whether Angel has told anyone about his infected daughter (nope) and poison him under the guise of a truth-serum experiment gone wrong (check).
But Evelyn Marcus suspects Wesker may be up to something and imprisons him. During his confinement, he spies a familiar face: His own. On the other side of one wall is a bearded Lance Reddick, playing … Wesker’s clone? His identical twin? Whether literal or not, his casual “hey bro” before the episode cuts to black cleverly echoes the “hi, sis” that Billie offered at the end of the previous episode — almost enough to justify the screenwriter-beloved “bro” and “sis” shorthand that I’ve never heard a single sibling ever use with each other in real life.
That’s it for 2022. The rest of the episode is planted firmly in 2036, following Jade on a journey that threatens to turn a fast-paced zombie series into an overfamiliar story of a woman whose ambitions destroy everything around her.
But first, a chat with Billie. Though Resident Evil has sometimes struggled to reconcile attempts at snippy YA-style banter with a more efficient, swear-y writing style, the confrontation between grown sisters stays pleasingly off-kilter, zig-zagging between backstory (Albert Wesker “died asking for” Jade; Jade had her daughter at 18; Billie is working for Evelyn Marcus) and comic relief (Billie anticipates her sister’s “fuck off,” and can’t resist adding: “Twins. Jinx.”). The tartness comes to an abrupt end when Billie confesses that she regrets choosing Umbrella over her sister, doesn’t want Jade to join the corporation, and is giving her cover to escape (along with the poly-bagged head of the “zero” (zombie) who can control other zeroes). Billie also claims that she isn’t completely immune to the T-virus; it’s just working much slower on her.
And just like that, Jade is back home, reunited with her family and friends at the “University,” which is actually a ship sailing over zero-infested waters (shades of the end of Resident Evil: Afterlife and the beginning of Resident Evil: Retribution). This is how Resident Evil semi-inexplicably becomes a story about Jade, a resilient (and, okay, fairly lucky) survivor and quick thinker who gets too wrapped up in her own zeal for saving the world, placing her in supposed parallel with her dad, Albert Wesker. As with the chilling side of Wesker that is supposed to stand in contrast to a square, nerdy side that we don’t see, the show stumbles a little in imposing all of this hubris on Wesker in other characters’ dialogue. From what we actually see on the show, he’s both guarded and conniving, out to preserve himself and his family; not exactly the picture of a god complex run amok.
It probably should be heartbreaking to see Jade back together with her possible genius of a 10-year-old, only to leave the kid’s piano recital to examine new research data based on that severed head she toted back to the boat. Instead, it feels like Resident Evil wriggling its way from the dark, forbidding hallways and post-apocalyptic landscapes and stumbling into the laziest possible stand-in for parental devotion: the all-important recital! The plotting goes from musty to vaguely stupid when Jade, following a possible breakthrough in zero-blocking technology, retrieves a soggy zero from the water, brings it on board the boat, and experiments on it. Does what happens next even need recapping? The zombie repellent doesn’t work! Her daughter shows up and is imperiled! And, of course, the person marked for death is the friend whose pregnancy Jade has just intuited. Cue the Umbrella helicopters; Jade may also have to answer for leading them to the boat. Was Billie’s emotional confession all just a ruse that she was too eager to accept?
Look, it’s interesting to watch a Resident Evil series that can accommodate a little more reflection than the average Paul W.S. Anderson shoot-’em-up. But it’s always a little disappointing when material so dependent on horror and action still can’t find a way to express itself through those elements and has to resort to adding in the boilerplate drama that wouldn’t pass muster in a show without zombies or gnarly gore. Sometimes there’s bravery in eschewing psychology altogether, especially when that psychology amounts to, You’re just like your father! You work so much that it makes you actively stupid! Ella Balinska isn’t bad in this episode, but her Jade is more compelling as a daring creature of instinct out in the world (or as a mouthy teen; same difference?) than as a myopic working woman who breaks her piano-recital promises. The University may be trying to preserve whatever bits and pieces of the destroyed world they can manage. But maybe the tired stuff about obsessive scientists who screw over their families can stay buried in the past.
Resident Evil Afterlife
• Arjun (Ahad Raza Mir), Jade’s partner and co-parent, is not the biological father of their daughter B (Bea? Bee?). I apologize in advance for bringing up clones anytime anyone’s parentage is in any way questioned.
• Fair enough that on a mobile “University” self-tasked with keeping art and culture alive, a piano recital would be a pretty big deal, but isn’t it kind of weird that the episode makes such a big deal about Jade’s daughter being especially fluent in works of literature, and then have her playing an ultrafamiliar piano tune to demonstrate her prodigious skills?
• More questions! Okay, so Jade’s big project is to develop a spray you can put on that will make you essentially invisible to zeroes? This is what she’s got up her sleeve vis-à-vis fixing the world? Doesn’t that seem more like a stopgap than a viable long-term solution? Then again, maybe this is just the zombie-apocalypse version of, “Hey if you feel unsafe, you can just wear a mask!”
• Much of this episode is gorgeous: The blues of the sky are bright and rich, and the murk of the underwater shots of the zeroes in stasis provides a few effective horror-show images.