Faith & Fandom
Resident Evil Village: State Of Decay
First off, SPOILERS!!! Like For Real For Real. This will be discussing major plot points of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Resident Evil 8: Village.
So, you are about to once again enter the world of survival horror....devotionals.... good luck.
This chapter is going to focus on Ethan Winters and his experiences and his character revelations across Resident Evil 7 & 8. Resident Evil is a game series I've experienced much joy watching develop over the years. 6 was an ambitious effort, and while executed as well as could be, the game definitely felt jumbled and left many people feeling “well, they had a good run.” But you have to expect more from a franchised anchored in the Undead. When 7 was announced, it looked not only like a return to survival horror, but also a fresh take. As our protagonist Ethan Winters. We see him in his first-person journey to the horrifying destination of...Louisiana? But as we get our own psychotic blend of “Deliverance” and “The Hills Have Eyes,” we are also introduced to some interesting tweaks in the game play.
Resident Evil has never been the biggest game to be anchored in realistic logistics. A random potted green herb can heal most wounds. A can of first aid spray can do what should require years of surgeries. But it was always moderately subtle. We just took it as face value, and honestly, we were just really glad to have our screens stop pulsating red doom at us. But with Ethan, things get interesting. Early on in 7, in what truly was a horrifying wakeup call, Ethan gets his hand severed at the wrist. I can’t imagine the look of shock and actual horror the first time I played that moment. This shock didn’t last long because this seemingly game changing injury is resolved as Ethan’s hand is repaired by...stapling it back on? That’s the type of stuff you see in the Far Cry games (that’s not a knock or dig, I love Far Cry), but didn’t fit the model we’d seen in Resident Evil. When I first played it, I genuinely thought, “Man they worked so hard to make this a more ominous tone, and then throw zany injury recoveries at us, really pulls you out of the experience.” This style of stuff played out through 7, but it worked.
Between 7 & 8 though, we got snazzy remakes of 2 & 3. Returning to the heyday of the franchise with crisp graphics and tight gameplay. Not only did it have those things, it also returned to the no nonsense wounds and healings. So, when I popped in Village and within a few moments of gameplay Ethan got 2 of his fingers bitten off, I thought, “here we go again.” It kept going though. Lady Dimitrescu slices Ethan’s whole arm off, and he just rejoins it together like he’s popping an action figure’s arm right back in the socket. He also was hung by Lady D through his hands which he conveniently just ripped through and kept on trucking. All the while dumping some first aid fluid on his stumpy hand and moving on through life. As gangster as the predecessor games were, we wouldn’t have seen this level of comedic carnage with Leon, Jill, Chris, Claire or any of the O.G.’s. As Ethan I got run through by zombies with drill arms. I got chewed on by werewolves. Ground up by a walking food processor, but just kept taking it. Then when we finally are confronted by Mother Miranda and our heart is ripped out Temple of Doom style, we finally learn the shocking truth. As Ethan is in his perpetual state between life and death a shadowed figure of Eveline from Resident Evil 7 helps Ethan understand that Miranda didn’t kill him, because in fact, Ethan has been dead the whole time.
“You were always dead... Miranda didn’t kill you. You mean you didn’t think it was weird...no matter how much you got hurt? Remember? Three years ago, the Baker house? You were murdered by Jack. You died there, three years ago... You shouldn’t even be able to walk around.” - Eveline.
He was murdered by Mr. Baker at the beginning of Resident Evil 7, and the mold we’ve been hovering around for 2 games straight kept him pseudo alive, animated, and sturdier than most. We straight up got Sixth Sensed.
So almost the entire time we’ve known and played with Ethan Winters, he was straight up dead, and walking by the sheer power of evil mold. All of the sturdiness and self-repair seem a little less corny and more understandable in that light. But still, it’s a shock. Hearing that your life is over, that it’s not what you thought it was, and that even though you are still functioning and existing, you are already walking death. This bares a less gross and moldy resemblance to some principals in scripture.
Scripture paints this picture that we ourselves are dead already in our sin, but Christ makes us alive. That we are walking around unaware of the fact death has a hold on us, and that reality changes the whole of our existence. One of the most jarring reminders of that concept hits me about like it hit Ethan, and it follows immediately after one of the most encouraging verses in scripture. John 3:16 is like a rocket launcher of hope and grace, and then like a jump scare of unwanted information, John 3:18 pops up with this;
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Out of nowhere, we’re told that we aren’t just sinners, or have a problem with sin, but that we straight up stand spiritually condemned already, when we didn’t even know there was a trial to begin with. Dead men walking, with most of us never knowing or understanding that there is a crime. And at a glance, without the full perspective, this can seem harsh, and assaulting, but much like Ethan’s case, there’s more to the story.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:1-6
Ethan had been given life beyond his death before he even knew he had died. His resurrection came from a sinister mold of malevolence, but it’s not a far notion from what scripture shows us Jesus did on our behalf. We were dead before we knew it, condemned in our own sin, and before a single person reading these words took a breath, Jesus had already given life and redemption to us. Paul further elaborates this notion to the Colossian church.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave u s all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:13-15.
When Ethan was presented with the fact that he was dead, but made alive, it was of course alarming, but it didn’t stop Ethan’s focus.
““Then what am I? I did all that...”
No! Rose! I have to save my daughter! I... Will.. Save...Rose!!”
He was less concerned with himself, or trying to wrestle with his death, resurrection, or continued existence, and more focused on what he needed to do with the life he had been presented with. He recognized that what lied ahead of him in most importance was rescuing his daughter. Which by the way, the whole, baby in 4 jars things....weird. I get they needed to divide the bosses and all but...weird. Ethan recognized that he needed to use the life he had been given for what had the most value. He, Miranda, and the Megamycete were all connected. This toxic mold of living death had hold on them, but also threatened his daughter’s life and future. Ethan not only took on Miranda, but in directly attacking the Megamycete, he was attacking the one thing that was basically keeping him moderately functional. He knew that he would rather be truly dead and cut off this furious fungal root, than to exist and it be a threat to what he loved.
Paul gives a similar reminder and challenge to the Roman church as well,
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” - Romans 6:11-14.
Would it be nice to be able to walk up to our sin and just blow it up with a huge detonator charge? Absolutely. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way in our lives. Ethan was dead to Miranda, dead to the Magamycete, and in that way he chose to willingly die to make sure those things ended. For us we don’t have to physically die or blow anything up, but what it does take for us is to daily make a choice not to let sin have control over our actions, thoughts, and choices. This may actually prove to be harder on some occasions than some of the trials Ethan faced in the Village, but as Ethan determined Rose was worth the sacrifice, we have to determine on a daily basis is living in the spirit and walking in the love and obedience of God is truly worth it for us. That’s not a guilt, shame, or Jesus juke, just an honest question, because until we are willing to actually accept that reality and live it out, we’re just walking around in our own death.
Chris told Mia on the helicopter ride fleeing the explosion that Ethan caused “He stayed so we could all escape.” Jesus did what he did in our lives not so we could continue walking in our own sin and death, but so we could escape. Not just escape eternally, but escape right here, right now and find the life that He wants for us. Jesus states in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus wants us to have life, he’s given it to us, and there will be a lot of counterfeits along the way offering us death in ways that are meant to look like life. All of Mother Miranda’s children offered perverted alternatives to life and freedom for Ethan, but he had to reject them in order for his family to be free. It would be my hope and prayer for you to be able to see in your life what is real. What is death in disguise, where freedom truly lies, and where hope can be found. We've spent our lives as dead beings given life, and it’s up to us to choose which of those we are going to live in.