This Resident Evil article contains spoilers.
The big question for longtime Resident Evil fans with regards to Netflix’s new take on the franchise is whether or not it exists within the same canon as the games. Does this show continue or enhance the timeline of the video games in some way?
The definitive answer is revealed in episode 7, “Parasite,” in which we learn that the show’s Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), father to Jade (Ella Balinska/Tamara Smart) and Billie (Adeline Rudolph/Siena Agudong), is one of several clones the Wesker from the games made of himself. We even see Reddick don the signature leather trench coat and shades for a short flashback scene in which the original Wesker physically and verbally abuses every soul in his vicinity, as only he can.
“I think Wesker from the games kind of gets pigeonholed into being this villain with a Superman complex,” showrunner Andrew Dabb tells Den of Geek. “But if you look at his backstory, there’s a real story of trauma there. If you really look at the lore, you understand why he became the guy he became.”
According to lore, Wesker was taken from his family as a child by the founder of the Umbrella Corporation, Oswell E. Spencer, who essentially brainwashed Albert and experimented on his body. Traumatic indeed.
For Dabb and his team, the show’s mission was always to build on and continue the story from the games while introducing new characters that could carry the story forward. “You have 25-30 years of lore from the games to look at,” he says. “I’m a big fan of the games, but not everyone who watches the show will have played one of the games or any of the games. Probably not all of the games. So it’s like, how do you parse things out so that people can understand that story [in the context of the show] but also build on the lore so that longtime fans find it interesting?”
While the show’s Albert Wesker is different from the man we see in the games, and his daughters are new characters entirely, they’re still connected to the original games in a very direct way. And while the original Wesker died in a volcano in RE5 (as is hilariously eluded to by Bert, another clone, on the show), his legacy is felt even in the show’s 2036 timeline, in which Billie bears a striking resemblance to the first Wesker in more ways than one.
“Albert and Bert are his children, literally his genetic copies,” Dabb explains. “And he’s not a great guy, so if you were the clone of Hitler or Genghis Khan, does that make you evil? I think that’s something they struggle with. As the series goes on, Albert realizes that there’s a little bit of the original Wesker in there. Maybe more than he would like to acknowledge.”
There are other ties to the games in the show as well. The original Raccoon City catastrophe and its subsequent media coverup is a pillar of the main narrative; Albert’s boss Evelyn Marcus (Paola Nuñez) is the daughter of scientist and Umbrella co-founder James Marcus from the games; and in the final moments of the show, Jade opens a letter given to her by her dad before his untimely death that reads “Ada Wong” along with a Japanese address. In other words, Netflix’s Resident Evil is definitely canon, and looks to delve even deeper into its video game roots should the series continue for season 2.
Resident Evil is streaming now on Netflix.