There Is No (Christmas Season) Rest For The Weary (and The Wicked)

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Some time ago I realized that a few of the most memorable adventures in the Resident Evil series take place during the Christmas season. I don't know if this is random or if it was a conscious choice from part of the scenario writers for some reason, but in any event it is a very interesting detail that deserves some exploring.

The events in Code Veronica happen three months after the Raccoon City incident which, as we know from both Resident Evil 2 and Nemesis, occured on the 28th of September 1998. This puts Claire Redfield in Rockford Island on around the 27th or 28th of December of the same year, that is in the heart of the Christmas holidays.

The time of year doesn't seem to play a part in the story as it develops in the original Code Veronica game. In The Darkside Chronicles: Game of Oblivion, however, which is a retelling of the Code Veronica story, there is one reference in the opening scene of the scenario: we see Alfred holding a snow globe with a scenery showing two little children playing in the snow.

The two children in the snow globe depict little Alfred and Alexia

This scene, albeit brief, is particularly strong as it demonstrates Alfred's growing insanity, partly due to the seclusion he's been subject to on the isolated island. It is Christmas season, yet nothing around him is festive, and the only happy scene he sees is the one in the snow globe, which represents his obsession with the past and his denial to see things as they are. Deep inside, he never grew up and he prefers to view both himself and Alexia as little kids, going back to a time where they were supposedly careless and happy.

The snow globe is the last thing that he holds in his hand before he dies, in a version of the story that strays off the original scenario of Code Veronica.

Alfred holds the snow ball in his hand while Alexia is killing him

In the Game of Oblivion version, Alexia, after waking up from her long slumber, mutates thanks to the Veronica virus and, before going after Claire and Steve, she attacks her brother, who is already heavily wounded after falling off a long drop during the fight with Claire and Steve, and kills him. As he dies, the snow globe drops from his hand and shatters on the floor.

The broken snow globe symbolizes not only Alfred's death but also the shattering of his delusions

For Claire and Steve, this is no Christmas season either, as they find themselves on the eery grounds of the prison, where soon they are surrounded by zombies.

The cold air and, later on, the snow are the only elements that hint at the time of year

Neither of them has a mind for anything festive; Claire is desperately searching for her brother, and Steve was imprisoned together with his father who, as we find out later, turns into a zombie and Steve is forced to kill him to save Claire. Christmas is the last thing they could possibly think of, as their main concern is to survive. However the fact that all this happens during the Christmas days, intensifies the tragic essence of the story: Claire and Steve are two innocent young people who, at this time of year, should have been in a nice place, having a good time with friends and family, yet they are trapped in a nightmare. Same goes for Chris, who comes to Claire's rescue and finally reunites with her in Antarctica, in the Umbrella facility there.

The cold setting of the North is the opposite side of the Christmas season. We usually identify Christmas with snow, but this identification has only positive connotations. Antarctica in Code Veronica is an unfriendly and deserted snowy place where danger and death lurk around every corner.

The Antarctica facility is not exactly the snowy place you'd choose for a Christmas vacation

Fourteen years later, and specifically on the 24th of December 2012, Chris Redfield had the most traumatic experience of his army life. In Resident Evil 6, while in China with memoy lapses, he has a flashback and recalls the tragic events of his mission in Edonia.

The (imaginary) eastern European city is covered in snow as Chris arrives there with his team; there are no civilians anywhere, and although it is Christmas eve, not even a hint of festive element can be seen in the streets or behind the house windows of the war torn Edonia.

Christmas time here would have been idyllic in other conditions

Later on, as they enter the City Hall, the whole place is full of dead people trapped in coccoons. The only other living human being they encounter is Carla Radames, who apparently had been hiding in the building all this time. If Chris and his soldiers have to forget about the Christmas season because the duty calls them, Carla obviously doesn't even care for it.

There is nothing festive about the lights and candles in the City Hall

The disastrous end of the mission leaves Chris devastated, making this yet one more Christmas season in his life that will be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons: Carla reveals her true intents and attacks his soldiers with a lethal ball that throws infected needles on them, instantly killing them and turning them into monsters.

Carla's perception of Christmas ornaments is rather extravagant

On the same evening, somewhere in the snow-covered mountains of Edonia, Jake and Sherry struggle to make their way to a shelter, while running away from bloodthirsty mutated soldiers. The scenery around them looks naturally christmassy in the cold night with all the imposing cypresses, but in fact it is not friendly at all, and the snow can easily become a lethal trap for the two heroes.

The cypresses remind to Jake and Sherry that it's Christmas eve

After a long chase that involves snowmobiles and an avalanche, Jake and Sherry end up in a cave which could have been a wonderful setting for a romantic Christmas day. What awaits for them in there, however, is anything but. Ustanak, Jake's relentless stalker, is guarding the place and although he gets defeated at some point, he eventually comes back to life, leading them directly to Carla's hands.

Jake is the perfect gift for power-hungry Carla

This happens on the 25th of December, but neither Carla nor Jake or Sherry have the time or mood to realize it's actually Christmas day. Maybe Carla did a little bit at that point, since her biggest desire was to capture Jake and use his antibody, and she actually managed it, achieving a rather illusive and very temporary victory.

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