(Spoilers for Resident Evil Biohazard and Resident Evil Village below.)
Not since the surprise smash success of Disney’s Frozen in 2013 has a large media corporation struggled to catch up in order to meet the demands of a market absolutely ravenous for more Tall Gay Lady content; at least, not until the first look at the eighth installment of the Resident Evil franchise, which boldly dared to ask the question any major horror game had yet to posit:
What if the giant, unkillable monster was a MILF?
Lady Dimitrescu’s popularity is impossible to avoid - she is, after all, now legally recognized by Wikipedia as a breakout character - but Capcom somehow didn’t anticipate such a strong response to her or the other lords dominating the titular village, all of whom have accrued their own modest fan followings. So when DLC content for Village was announced at E3, in response to the game’s overwhelmingly positive reception, fans immediately began speculating that more Lady Dimitrescu-centric content was on its way.
And let me be clear: I want more Lady D. I would be shocked if we didn’t get more Lady D, given the shockwaves she sent across the internet from the moment of her reveal. And I’m very excited to see what Capcom concocts to meet the demands of a viciously horny market. But if Capcom wants to make the most out of Village DLC, I posit that the potential intrigue of the erstwhile adventures of Lady D is second to a thread still tantalizingly hanging over the game’s core narrative - one which rectifies a misstep from the previous game.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (or Biohazard 7: Resident Evil if you’re in Japan, which I think is just nifty), being the series’ return to form following the divisive fifth and sixth installments in the franchise, took the opportunity to experiment rather than fall back on tried and true mechanics. While most divergences from the Resident Evil formula were met positively, there was one late game story element which was unanimously considered to be a disappointment, if not altogether worthless: Mia or Zoe?
One of the tasks you, as the protagonist Ethan Winters, must complete in Biohazard is developing a serum to cure the mold-infected Baker family, as well as your infected wife, Mia. Zoe, the Bakers’ daughter, has been helping you from a remote location, and eventually manages to whip up two serum doses; one for herself, and one for Mia. However, a surprise attack forces you to kill mutated Baker patriarch Jack with one of the serums, leaving you with one dose left. The game then stops, and asks you, Telltale Games style - do you cure Zoe, or cure Mia?
Both Ethan and the player have been presented pros and cons for either decision. Sure, Mia is your wife and you love her, but she’s also been missing for years and did lie to you about her involvement in engineering a bioweapon with the mentality of a little girl; Zoe, on the other hand, has offered you a lot of help and is clearly trying to save her family while fighting the infection, but you don’t know her all that well and you’ve already gone through a lot of horrifying bullshit with the singular goal of rescuing your wife. It’s not an easy choice to make, and the game has seemingly set it up so that there’s no obvious answer.
Except there is an obvious answer, one that’s only apparent once the decision is locked in - cure Mia, or both of them die and you get the bad ending. Zoe is killed almost immediately once you leave Mia behind to wait for you, and you are forced to kill Mia yourself not long after. Other than that, there is no variance in how the rest of the game goes down whatsoever, which is inevitably kind of a disappointment once the concept of player choice is introduced to you. The choice was invalidated even further with the release of the End of Zoe DLC, which showed Zoe finally receiving a cure herself after the base game’s canonical good ending. It’s not controversial to propose that an inclusion like this necessitates an all or nothing approach: either write two branching third acts, one for Zoe and one for Mia, or remove the choice altogether. It was the one speed bump in Biohazard’s otherwise smooth narrative, but it was a nasty bump all the same.
But fast forward four years, and we see the opposite problem arise - a moment where players are presented a potentially interesting choice and forced by the script to decide against it. After you’ve whittled the four lords of Resident Evil Village’s village down to one, the last man standing, charismatic Lord Heisenberg, offers a ceasefire and confides in you that he has been building an army of half-cadaver, half-machine creatures to rebel against his “mother,” Miranda, who created the lords and orchestrated the kidnapping of Ethan’s infant daughter Rose. When he outlines his plan to turn Rose’s latent power against Miranda, however, Ethan indignantly refuses to use his child as a weapon, choosing to face the horrors of Heisenberg’s factory rather than team up - and Heisenberg, stung by the rejection, happily obliges.
Sympathy for the devil has been a prevalent theme in both Biohazard and Village: the Baker family and the village lords are some of the most engaging and sympathetic antagonists in the Resident Evil franchise, striking a healthy balance between tragic and campy, scary fun. The difficult relationship each lord has with Mother Miranda is revealed to the player in each of their individual domains - Heisenberg’s workshop follows the encounter with Moreau the fish-man, so twisted by Miranda’s experiments on him that his hunched back is just a heap of grotesque tumors, yet so desperate for her love in spite of the fact that she views him as a failure. It’s unsurprising that many players, fresh off defeating the most pitiable of Miranda’s creations, heard Heisenberg rant against a woman who turned him into a monster against his will and found themselves intrigued in taking a more diplomatic offer to team up against a common enemy. While he is no less guilty of the human experimentation the rest of his family has participated in, his goal has always been to take down the person who abducted and mutilated your child - is there some small merit, if any, in accepting the olive branch?
And sure, the game does give you a new ally not long after you turn Heisenberg down - but that ally is Chris Redfield, who has spent the majority of his screen time thus far bro-tastically fucking up by refusing to let you in on any crucial information about, say, why he broke down your door, murdered your wife, and separated you from your baby at the start of the game. It says a lot that many fans are more interested in what Heisenberg has in mind to take out Miranda, despite his plans to use an infant as a weapon being fairly dubious in nature.
Let’s be clear: the narrative as is doesn’t explain how Heisenberg thought, exactly, he was going to integrate a very confused dad and his baby into his plot to kill Miranda with zombie robots. Nor does it reveal whether or not he would have double crossed Ethan and taken Rose for himself had Ethan gone along with the plan. What that leaves us with, however, is a large and fascinating grey area, one that changes depending on your impression of Heisenberg. Are his intentions good enough to warrant your trust? Or are you following along with his rebellion for purely pragmatic reasons? As any choice-driven game will demonstrate, players don’t need much in the way of justification to eagerly explore different storylines, but Village offers that justification and then some: the opportunity to take a (comparatively) peaceful option in dealing with one of the four fan-favorite lords, spending more time with him and learning what consequences might arise from going down the road less traveled.
So while fans are eager to see more of the inimitable Lady D - and trust me, I really don’t think we have to worry about not getting Lady Dimitrescu DLC down the line - the narrative potential for an alternate Heisenberg path is just too juicy to ignore. If played right, it could be the highlight of the bundle: an outcome which would, no doubt, please the show-offish Heisenberg and his diehard fans to no end.