Kidman's Ghosts

Saturday 10 August 2019

As a protagonist of The Evil Within's complementary episodes, Juli Kidman has her fair share of journeying in Ruvik's twisted world. Appearing as a reserved, quiet, rather secretive person in the main game, she offers us a chance to get to know her a bit more in The Assignment and The Consequence. It is in these two extra episodes where we learn for the first time that she is in fact working for Mobius, the secret organization that stole and used Ruvik's experiment and that was responsible for the kidnapping of Lily, Sebastian's daughter.

Juli used to be a rebellious teenager who would often end up in trouble with the law. As a child, she lived in a home where maternal affection was absent. She used to go out at nights and wander in the nearby cemetery where she would regularly steal the memorial statuettes that decorated the graves, to make people believe that they were cursed. Growing up as a delinquent in her adolescence, she was eventually recruited by Mobius agents who took advantage of her desperate state so as to lure her in the organization, offering her a home and protection on first look, but essentially using her as one of their numerous pawns towards the realization of their plans.

When Juli enters STEM in the main game, she is largely unbeknownst to it. Up to that point, she was made to believe that her role would be to simply spy on Sebastian's activities, being a rookie detective under his guidance, to make sure that he would never go anywhere near to discovering and exposing Mobius, and subsequently report to the Administrator, her boss. In reality, however, she was used almost as all the other victims of STEM, getting herself in an even riskier position as soon as Mobius discovered that she was, in fact, hindering their plans both because she wanted to protect Sebastian and, mainly, because she started to realize that the organization's motives for hiring her were not innocent and that their plans were evil.

After she wakes up in STEM, the world around her looks distorted and unreal. The people that she comes across in the corridors have a blurred blotch instead of a face, the pictures on the walls are blank and there is a vicious monster stalking her even before she takes notice. Later on, STEM becomes a huge trap with scarce light, filled with zombies guarding the halls and gradually revealing nightmarish visions of the recent past, first hinting at and then showing directly the real intentions of Mobius. In her journey, Juli has to face ghosts that have a special significance for both her character and the story.

The terrifying Shade (or Light Creature) is the most memorable ghost monster that Juli meets in her path. An unnaturally tall, ominous figure with long legs in black stockings and red high heels, the Shade has a huge spotlight instead of a head and its hideous torso which looks like a combination of a mouth and a vulva, is covered with a bloody sheet. It walks clumsily, making chilling noises as it goes, from time to time scanning the environment with its spotlight head the light from which paralyses whoever happens to be in its radius. The Shade seems to be looking for Leslie, as it can be heard calling his name, but later on we find out that it is searching for Juli as well. The role of this particularly gross monster is dual and contradictory, as it chases Juli so as to literally devour her, but from time to time it clearly acts as her guiding light.

The Shade looks like a monstrous, vile version of a woman. It wears high heels, just like Juli; and like with her, this is the only obviously feminine element about it. Juli never had a real, normal childhood, something that apparently made her grow into a confused adult. She has an attractive figure but her tall, lean legs do not have anything particularly feminine about them. Her short hair and child-like face make her look more like a teenager than a 27-year-old woman. We see this particular detail about her character even better in her 'Missing' poster, where the sketch of her head, closer to the game's concept art, reveals a girl with almost boyish features (check it here). In the same picture, we also notice that her dressing style looks somewhat vintage, matching that of Ruvik and Laura. Juli is still a little child trapped in a female body, unable to handle her sexuality and come to terms with it. The Shade seems to openly mock her, walking clumsily on its own high heels as if it is about to fall in pieces. It is as if the Shade is trying to tell Juli that inside she also is messed up like this and has almost no identity of herself.

A recurring ghost in Juli's story is the Administrator of Mobius who appears before her on several occasions, mostly to threaten her. Although he is a real person, he shows up as a looming dark figure, usually in unexpected places, to remind Juli of her duties and tasks and warn her that she will face severe consequences if she either fails or betrays the organization.

The Administrator looks and sounds like an automated bot; he is a man who obviously has no moral compass, an amoralist who is blindly and obsessively devoted to the cause of the organization that he governs. At some point, he summons what seems to be a huge monster with large claws, which we can only see as an ominous shadow and that chases Juli relentlessly in a sequence where one wrong step means instant death. In the end it is revealed that said monster is yet one more ghostly version of the Administrator, its hands and claws symbolizing the way Mobius controls - or at least wants to control - the world.

When Juli beats that monster, she makes one first step towards taking Mobius down. But this still happens in Ruvik's reality. In the real world, she continues to be a member of the organization, and she has a long way to go to actually achieve this, as shown in The Evil Within 2.

In connection with the Shade and its significance concerning Juli, are the clones that the Administrator summons at some point before the end so as to intimidate her. They are clones of herself, albeit frightening in sight and murderous in attitude, dressed just like her but in red, and they run around like walking dolls whose mechanism has gone berserk. They are chasing Juli around yielding axes, which again is a means to mock her as the axe is her primary defense weapon for most of her story. When the clones appear, it is like the Shade finally takes a more specific shape. 

Ruvik also appears in Juli's path, like he does in Sebastian's. In Juli's story however his role is a bit different. Slightly less threatening, although equally (if not more) creepy, he briefly appears in side rooms or passages and when he faces Juli, it is in order to warn her and actually guide her to realize that, for Mobius, she is just as expendable as their victims. Regardless later on he shows his intentions directly, attempting and at some point achieving in getting Leslie whom Juli is accompanying.

But Ruvik is not alone in STEM; Laura's ghost also roams the halls but can be only spotted by Juli once, through a pair of broken automatic doors. Unlike in the main story, where Sebastian comes across Laura's monstrous form and he has to fight with her, in Juli's adventure Laura appears in her regular, human form when she still had her innocence and good heart. Her appearance however is particularly frightening and intimidating, even more so since she does not speak or move.

Ruvik and Laura haunt Juli as part of the memory sequence that STEM incites and, as far as Laura is concerned at least, not because there is any other sort of connection between them and Juli. Still, as Laura is part of Ruvik's memories, he is the one responsible for her appearance in the zombie-infested STEM. Ruvik himself continues to show up from time to time in Juli's path in several ways, the most memorable being on pictures framed with blood cells in the last part of The Consequence, which are in fact portals revealed only after Juli sets the pictures on fire. In this case, Ruvik is trying to stop Juli from reaching Leslie, whom he wants so as to be able to escape STEM.

Ruvik is also responsible for yet one more ghost of sorts that Juli meets: Sebastian in a Haunted form who attacks her in the mannequin factory. While in the main game we are under the impression at that point that Sebastian indeed turns into a Haunted, when we reach that segment in The Consequence we can see that it is actually Ruvik that creates that illusion, attempting to hit two targets with one shot: on the one hand to scare Juli and on the other to make Sebastian believe that he is more vulnerable than he thinks and that Ruvik can do what he pleases with him. We do know for sure that it is only an illusion because Juli shoots the Haunted Sebastian, but as soon as Sebastian becomes himself again, there is no wound on his body.

Unlike Sebastian, his friend Joseph does turn into a Haunted on quite a few occasions - one of them being while the two of them are wandering together - but it is in Juli's story that we can see this transformation in more detail. Joseph may or may not appear close to the start of Juli's journey, in a dark, spooky corridor which is actually where the normal (so to speak) part of STEM ends and the ghosts start to appear. Juli can spot him in the distance with the help of her torch and hear him laughing evilly. The way he appears and disappears at that point, combined with the fact that his showing up is random, signifies that this specific manifestation is an illusion, one more ghost summoned by Ruvik.

Later on, after they part with Sebastian in the sewers below the asylum, they wander together for a very brief segment during which Joseph suddenly turns into a Haunted and attacks Juli, rattling out cryptic threats that may have more than one interpretations. In this case, he does turn into a Haunted, and it is not an illusion; however part of him is again possessed by Ruvik, which is why his words have a dual meaning: one which is related to himself and one that is connected to Ruvik speaking through him.

Specifically, when he tells Juli "I'm not going to let you take him", on one part he simply spells out Ruvik's threat that he will not let Juli take Leslie away, while on another, speaking for himself, he again threatens her that he, as Joseph now, will not let her kill Sebastian, as were her orders from Mobius.

When Juli meets Joseph again, he is still a Haunted, and this time he is determined to kill her. Juli manages to defeat him leaving him for dead, only to discover a bit later that he is alive and well and has reunited with Sebastian. This revelation confuses her even more, and hints that Ruvik is playing with her mind, as her previous fight with Joseph, which supposedly ended fatally for him, proves to have been yet one more illusion.

Juli comes upon an epiphany when she arrives at the STEM room while chasing Leslie, and bumps onto something unbelievable. She sees herself sedated in one of the tubes, in a sequence that is similar to the one that Sebastian goes through close to the end of the main game when he arrives in the same room and finds himself, along with the others, asleep in a tube, and which resembles the phenomenon of astral projection, but in reverse: she finds out that she is in fact asleep in STEM while up to then she thought that she was wandering in full consciousness around the place. This revelation makes her realize that Mobius was using her just like all the others, proving what Ruvik told her earlier about her being expendable.

It is actually thanks to all these ghosts that Juli starts to see more clearly and take decisions about her attitude towards Mobius and her life in general. Like when we have epiphanies through dreams, in a similar way Juli had her revelations through her nightmarish adventure in STEM. What is particularly interesting about Kidman is that we see her develop gradually in the course of two games. Her character starts as an outline in the main Evil Within, it becomes more solid in the extra episodes, and gets fully colored in The Evil Within 2. In a sense, her journey and the ghosts that haunt her in The Assignment and The Consequence mark the beginning of her sentimental coming-of-age. Her actions in The Evil Within 2 show that she finally put her past behind and found her own place in the world. By taking Mobius down, not only she frees the world of their threat, but also liberates herself from their grip and the constant reminder of the dark years of her life. By facing her ghosts one way or the other, she finally becomes a whole new person.

Related articles:
» The Symbolisms of The Evil Within
» The Evil Within Hearts and Minds 

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