The Pitch: Taking on a new installment in the sprawling Resident Evil media franchise is a daunting task. Since the groundbreaking survival horror video game was released in 1996, there have been more than a dozen games that provided source material for six Milla Jovovich-starring films, three animated movies, and a CGI Netflix series.
With such a rich backstory to pull from, Netflix’s new live-action series, simply titled Resident Evil, centers around one of the franchise’s most memorable villains, Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), while creating a new set of characters around him. In 2022, Wesker moves his twin teenage daughters Jade (Tamara Smart) and Billie (Siena Agudong) to the sterile corporate housing of New Raccoon City to be closer to his work for the nefarious Umbrella Corporation on the cure-all drug Joy (which may be too good to be true).
Meanwhile, 14 years in the future, the grown-up Jade (now played by Ella Balinska) fights for survival in a post-apocalyptic world overridden by infected humans they call “zeroes.” Moving between the two timelines parallels Wesker’s mistakes that led to the end of the world with Jade’s attempts to undo his wrongs.
“It’s You and Me, Always”: As a longtime fan of Resident Evil, showrunner Andrew Dabb (Supernatural), who co-wrote the series with Mary Leah Sutton (The Following), understands how the franchise has always emphasized establishing strong relationships between its characters just as much as zombies and the sins of Umbrella.
The present-day timeline focuses heavily on the relationship between the gregarious Jade and the more reserved Billie: Though they have their share of short-lived tiffs and Billie gets jealous about a boy at one point, the sisters are a team that will go to any lengths to protect one another — especially when they turn up some real shady information about what Albert’s been up to at Umbrella. Smart and Agudong do a believable job establishing this strong bond, especially after a scary incident sets up the stakes almost immediately.
In 2036, it’s established Jade had a falling out with Billie, but that hole in her heart has been filled by her daughter Bea. While spending months at a time away from home, Jade always insists that the often reckless decisions she makes are to create a better world for Bea. Just as she did with Billie, Jade promises that no matter what, “It’s you and me, always.”