Ethan Winters, An Unfortunate Hero

Thursday 10 March 2022

One might think that Ethan Winters is an unfortunate hero because of all that he had suffered in both Resident Evil 7 and Village, but in fact his real misfortune lies somewhere else.

Back in Louisiana, as the unexpected twist towards the finale of Village revealed, Ethan was brutally murdered by Jack Baker, as soon as he stepped his foot in the Baker residence while looking for his lost wife Mia. Being exposed to the highly infectious Mold, like the rest of the Baker family, he nonetheless came back to life, albeit he had no idea that, from that moment and on, he would be a walking corpse. The Mold in his body made him super strong, which is why he was able to sustain all sorts of pain and damage and recover from all kinds of injury in seconds. For some reason this never rang a bell, maybe because it was a situation that had never crossed his mind. Because if you remember Sherry in Resident Evil 6, who was able to self-heal from a seemingly mortal wound in front of a gobsmacked Jake, she was well aware that such a thing could happen to her, since she knew about her medical history and the fact that, when she was little, she had been exposed to the virus which gave her regenerative powers. But Ethan didn't know or, to be more accurate, none of the people who knew about it ever bothered to tell him. Mia obviously knew, because she was there; Zoe also knew, for the same reason. Jack, Marguerite and Lucas knew as well, and quite possibly Jack's brother Joe was at some point informed about it. All the hints that Jack Baker threw at Ethan during their dramatic encounters, suddenly made sense once we were informed about Ethan's condition. It was not due to the miraculous medicine in the green bottle that Ethan was able to heal himself so impressively fast, even stick his cut arm or leg back to their original places. At least it was not only due to the medicine. For the most part, it was because he was already Mold inside, and thus able to regenerate even from lethal hits.

Given this, one big question comes to mind. When the story of Village begins, it's been already three years since Ethan and Mia returned from Louisiana, with Ethan being a walking corpse filled with Mold all along. How can it be possible that he never suspected something was going wrong with himself? Of course being Mold inside was not something evident to the naked eye. But he surely underwent extremely detailed medical examinations after he was rescued from the Baker residence. Didn't his blood analysis betray anything weird? From Mia's dialogue with Chris in Miranda's lab near the end of Village, it is made very clear that Mia knew about Ethan while Chris had no idea, something that again doesn't make sense, because Chris was the one responsible for Ethan and his family and supposedly knew everything related to them.

Although Mia's decision to conceal such critical information from both Ethan and Chris was irresponsible and dangerous, let's say that for the sake of fancy and imagination, some things were left unsaid, in order to open the path for a new story. Now this brings us to Village. Apparently Miranda, in her century-long struggle to bring her daughter back to life, had been experimenting on humans, trying to find the perfect host for the resurrection of her little Eva. Just like Simmons in Resident Evil 6, who had Carla experiment on both women and men in order to find the perfect candidate to create his Ada clone, Miranda as well experimented on all sorts of people. This explains why she used grown men (Moreau and Heisenberg), grown women (Donna and Alcina) and young girls (Bela, Cassandra, Daniela), as well as plenty of other people of all ages and sexes in her tests. She didn't care, because once she found the right candidate, she would turn them into raw material, like she finally did with Rosemary, and make them born again as Eva. Obviously she experimented on Mia too. How she found out that little Rosemary was gifted with the powers of Mold, is unclear, but it is very possible that, during her research, she discovered that Mia, being one of the people who was greatly involved in Eveline's case, had been exposed to the Mold herself and kidnapped her in order to experiment on her and see if she could use her as a candidate for Eva; in the process she found out that, since Mia had been cured in time, was to no avail for her plans, but learned that she had a daughter who could be used instead.

This leads to one more big question. Since Miranda knew that Rosemary had the powers of the Mold, for which her mother was apparently not responsible, how come she did not conclude that the baby's "gift" could very well come from her father? She was an experienced scientist after all, and had the luxury of researching everything for more than a century. Certainly she knew that Rosemary couldn't have been born with Mold powers just out of a whim of Mother Nature. She inherited them from someone. Since that someone was not her mother, the only other option was Ethan.

Until Rosemary was found, Miranda's experiments were a disaster. Even almost perfect candidates, like Heisenberg, didn't respond to her tests as expected in the end, and all of them suffered serious and unexpected side-effects. Alcina became an unnaturally tall, blood-thirsty creature who could grow claws from her fingers; her three daughters turned into vampires. Donna's face got partly misfigured, and she developed the ability to create hallucinations and move inanimate objects, preferably her beloved dolls. Moreau grew gills and a hump and his whole body resembled a fish. Heisenberg was turned into a human magnet, capable of manipulating electricity and attracting metallic and iron items all around him. And all the other candidates apparently had side-effects, therefore the hordes of lycans that ended up inhabiting the previously peaceful village.

Then Miranda found Rosemary, who seemed to be the most perfect candidate of all. Or at least Miranda thought so; I would guess this was for two reasons: one because Rosemary had already Mold powers, and two because she was only a baby, therefore she was like a blank canvas. Pretty much like Lily in The Evil Within 2, who was chosen as the perfect STEM core because she was little and innocent, in a similar manner Rosemary's choice seemed ideal, because a baby has no will of its own and cannot pose any resistance. The tragic irony for Miranda is that when her "ceremony" is complete and she holds whom she believes to be the new Eva in her arms, Rosemary does not react. The whole process of recreating Eva didn't have the slightest effect on her. 

This practically means that Miranda was confident about the success of her "ceremony" with Rosemary, simply because, in theory, everything about the little girl seemed perfect. But in practice, things were much different. Rosemary may have had the typical qualities, but in the essence she was unable to respond to Miranda's highly ambitious resurrection process. What Miranda apparently didn't know was that, while confronting Ethan, she had possibly her ideal candidate within her reach. "Gifted" with his regenerative powers, that, apparently, had accustomed well in his body after all this time, Ethan had been transformed into a super powerful bio-weapon, although he didn't have the slightest clue about it. Consider this: we have been playing with a bio-weapon for two full games, while being unable to see it at its full potential. If Miranda had bothered to experiment on him instead of Mia, she certainly would have discovered his "secret" and would have left Rosemary alone; she would have attempted to turn Ethan into raw material instead and resurrect Eva through him. If anything, Ethan by default possessed the ability of coming back to life, therefore Miranda would only need to do half the job, compared to all the fuss she had to go through with the four Lords of the village. And who knows, maybe this time her ceremony could have been a success. Or maybe Ethan could have side-effects too, in his case insane powers that would turn him into an almighty entity, able to devour Miranda in the blink of an eye. And this is exactly where Ethan's misfortune lies. In the fact that he had been a superhero all this time, but nobody ever knew nor made good use of his powers, not even himself. Instead, he lived and died like a mundane mortal, sacrificing himself for practically no reason, since Miranda had already been defeated, both Rosemary and Mia had already been saved, and Chris had already everything set for the destruction of the Megamycete.


Mar Lox said...

A perfect, in-depth analysis! I guess that if Ethan did know about his powers, the game's plot would have been a lot different, and much (infinitely) more complex. Perhaps the developers counted too much on the players' suspension of disbelief, in order to avoid such complications. Still, as you note, it does make one raise an eyebrow at quite a few improbabilities in the story.

hisbrokenbutterfly said...

@ Mar Lox: yes, exactly. I don't know if they did this on purpose, but if you take it from this aspect, the whole story is built around tragic irony.