Mother Miranda's Secret Manifestation and Other Theories in Resident Evil: Village

Tuesday 19 April 2022

The two confirmed manifestations of Mother Miranda, the villain mastermind in Resident Evil: Village, are the creepy village crone and Mia Winters, Ethan's wife. But, as she herself confesses to Ethan during the final battle, she could take any shape and form that she wanted, listing a series of creatures that he may or may have not encountered on his way to find and rescue Rosemary. Technically, this means that, as Ethan went through all those impossible trials, Miranda could have been anyone or anything among the hordes of enemies and very few allies that he came across. Essentially though this was not exactly the case; Miranda was too busy trying to put everything in order for her ceremony that she definitely had better things to do than constantly shape-shift in the lycan-inhabited village. There is one person though whose form Miranda could have possibly taken, with this manifestation passing unnoticed due to the distinctive circumstances in which it might have taken place.

When Ethan first arrives at the village, the first person that he meets is a terrified resident who very soon is grabbed and devoured by something that attacks from the roof. Minutes later, our hero listens to a radio transmission which directs all survivors to "Luiza's house near the fields". After surviving an attack by a group of lycans, Ethan bumps onto the local crone, who we now know is a manifestation of Miranda and who confuses him with her creepy riddles. As Ethan is about to reach Luiza's house, he finds Elena, a young girl hiding in a shack with her father, Leonardo, who apparently had been attacked and bitten by a lycan.

Elena is the first sane-looking human that Ethan encounters in this cursed place, so he instantly clings onto her for emotional support. He offers to help her and her father get safely to Luiza's house, opening the way for them since they are in an extremely dire situation. When they knock on the door, however, Luiza's gamekeeper, Iulian, refuses to let them in, his main concern being Leonardo's wounds that may attract the monsters towards their temporary shelter. At this point, Luiza arrives and orders him to allow Elena, her father and Ethan to get inside her house before sending him out in the fields to look for more survivors.

When all but Iulian are safe in Luiza's living room, and after only a few minutes have passed, the lycan-bitten Leonardo suddenly turns and mortally attacks first Luiza and then all the other survivors, except Ethan and Elena who somehow manage to move towards the back of the house. As Leonardo is about to attack Ethan, Elena shoots him with a gun and saves Ethan's life. Moments later, during Ethan and Elena's eventful attempt to escape from the attic while the house is on fire, Elena tells Ethan that she hopes his family is safe, to which Ethan casually responds that they would all have the chance to meet each other once all this was over. Just then, Leonardo appears, calling Elena by her name, something that makes her drop her guard and run towards him. Within seconds, the burning floor collapses, burying both Leonardo and Elena in the flames below.

Ethan leaves the house from the upper floor but just as he is about to exit to the fields, he hears a gunshot and a man's voice calling Mother Miranda's name. He opens the gate just in time to witness a mysterious figure, who now we know was Miranda herself, brutally killing poor Iulian then evilly laughing as she walks away. A bit further down, in the church courtyard, Ethan once more bumps onto the crone who again gives him the creeps with her sibyllic chanting.

Now let's switch our focus for a moment away from the main story, which is the hard road that Ethan has taken to find his daughter, and set it on the village itself. Except for the terrified old man who got killed as soon as Ethan met him at the start, most of all the other living souls in the village were already gathered in Luiza's house. The only missing ones were Elena and Leonardo. When Ethan found them, Elena confessed to him that when she knocked on Luiza's door, nobody answered. So apparently, Elena and Leonardo had attempted to get to Luiza before Ethan arrived, but no one let them in. Judging from what happened when they knocked again, with Ethan this time, quite possibly Iulian saw them and didn't want to allow them to enter. And when he finally did open the door, he even pointed his gun at them, making it very clear that they were not welcome in the house, because of Leonardo's injury.

The whole scene that takes place in Luiza's house is quite intense, and there is a lot going on under the surface. People are arguing, crying, praying, shouting, but never nobody asks Ethan what he is actually doing in an isolated village to which he clearly doesn't belong. They acknowledge him as a stranger and an outsider but none of them expresses any wonder as to what business may a stranger and an outsider have in such a place which is, obviously, very hard to locate and reach. So the whole scene ends without anyone ever mentioning anything about why Ethan is in the village. Which makes it extremely weird and suspicious when Elena tells him, as they are climbing towards the attic, that she hopes his family is safe. How could she possibly know that he was actually looking for his family in the village? Since he was not a local, he could have arrived there for whatever other reason. The only way Elena could know about Ethan, since he never had the chance to mention anything himself, was if she already had heard about him, which is impossible since she and her father had apparently been stranded all this time.

When Ethan first meets the Duke, he is surprised to hear that the eccentric merchant already knows him. When he expresses his surprise, the Duke replies with a cryptic "Anyone who is anyone has heard of the likes of you". Anyone who is anyone - not "everybody", not a humble peasant girl like Elena, not even Luiza, who seems to have once been a powerful figure in the village, but anyone with a higher status. Anyone who is anyone, like Miranda's four children, like the Duke and like Miranda herself. 

These peculiar details made me suspect that Elena could very well have been another manifestation of Miranda, who, in the process, was revealed to have done far more complicated things, so killing an innocent peasant girl, then shape-shifting to take her form and place would be nothing for her. My theory is that Miranda wanted to keep Ethan isolated without any potential allies around him. Seeing how all the survivors were locked in Luiza's house, she needed to find a way to infiltrate their shelter, since it was her perfect chance to eliminate everyone at the same time and make sure noone was left alive, but without revealing herself to Ethan just yet. So she somehow caused Leonardo's injury, which could have been very easy with all those lycans roaming the fields, knowing that sooner or later he would turn. At some point, she killed Elena and took her place without her father taking notice; she had already done it with Mia, so she knew very well how to repeat the process with success. Before Ethan arrived, she had tried to enter Luiza's house but Iulian refused to open the door. It is very possible that he did sense something weird about Elena, which made him be so hostile towards her. When Ethan arrived, it was the perfect chance for Miranda to make one more attempt to enter Luiza's house, and this time the plan worked. Under that light, it is not random that, excluding Ethan, Elena was the only person among the locals who managed to survive Leonardo's attack. When Elena / Miranda made sure that everyone was dead for good, she "sacrificed" Elena and then reverted to her original form. Once back in the fields, she bumped onto Iulian whom Luiza had sent out before the tragedy happened. Ethan saw her killing the poor man, but not before he managed to cry out her name. 

Following my theory, Miranda had two reasons to kill Iulian with her own hands: one because if he remained alive he could become Ethan's ally and she didn't want that; and two because, unbeknownst to him, he had "disobeyed" her by refusing to let her in the house when she appeared at Luiza's door in Elena's form, and this disobedience was something that she could never tolerate. But there could also be another reason: maybe Iulian "caught" her during her transformation from Elena to her real self, which partly explains why he said her name before she killed him. So if Elena really was Miranda in disguise, she knew about Ethan already, meaning it is no surprise that she made that comment about his family. Of course Ethan was too overwhelmed with anxiety and fear to actually make the necessary connections, so he simply witnessed the tragedy of the villagers as one more dramatic incident in his life.  

Elena being a manifestation of Miranda kind of ties with my analysis in the article Ethan Winters, An Unfortunate Hero, in that this theory may shed some light on whether Miranda actually knew something about Ethan being a bio-weapon. If she really appeared to him in Elena's form, planning to lure all survivors in Luiza's house and have them killed but leave Ethan alive on purpose, it could possibly mean that she at least suspected that he had super powers and she actually wanted him to get to her so as to be sure and decide what would be the best way to deal with him. Or maybe she did know that he was all mold, but by closely watching him during his interactions with Heisenberg, she realized that Ethan was too strong for her and she would be unable to control him like she did with all her other victims. She knew he would stop at nothing to save his daughter, therefore it would be impossible for her to make him part of her experiments in any way. So killing him would be the only solution for her, but since he had regenerative powers, she knew he would be able to come back to life anyway. She had to make sure to exterminate him in a way that would leave no room for regeneration, so she ripped his heart out. Still, he did manage to revive himself and even fight her afterwards, albeit with very little life left in him. That said, in the dramatic finale we never did actually see him die. We only saw him returning to the ceremony site and then, from Chris's helicopter, we witnessed the explosion down below. This is Resident Evil after all, so we can never tell for sure that someone has definitely died.

If Miranda is a character defined by her dark secrets, the same albeit on a different level can be said about another mysterious figure, the Duke. Although his role is not new in the Resident Evil series, his predecessor, the Merchant in Resident Evil 4, was a neutral character whose part in the story was entirely practical: he would appear in the game's stages, usually positioned in safe havens or at least places that could not be easily reached by enemies, presenting an array of goods and equipment that Leon could choose from and arm himself accordingly. Leon had no other interaction with the Merchant who would only express his opinion about the guns that Leon would decide to buy from him. The Duke in Village, though, is an entirely different story. To begin with, we get a special cutscene when he first appears outside Alcina Dimitrescu's castle. The Duke is an obnoxiously obese man, whose clothing style seems to come from many years ago, yet as we have the chance to observe near the finale, his haircut is rather modern, with the lower back of his head being completely shaven. 

The Duke recognizes Ethan as soon as he sees him, and moreover he seems to know everyone in the region. As the story proceeds, he offers Ethan valuable information about Miranda and the four Lords of the village, as well as about the things that Ethan has to do and what he needs to look for. Additionally, he is obviously in good terms with at least three of the four Lords, since he can be seen in places where normally outsiders wouldn't have been exactly welcome: we find him in the Dimitrescu Castle, in Heisenberg's factory and in the heart of Moreau's Reservoir. He doesn't go near the Beneviento residence, though, which is quite curious, given that there is nothing truly lethal or dangerous in Donna's house, except for whatever creepy hallucinations are produced as an effect of her tricks; but the Duke would definitely be aware of all this anyway.

When Ethan gets back to his senses after Miranda rips out his heart and after Eveline's revelation, he finds himself in the Duke's carriage, lying on the floor, while the Duke is riding at the front. Just then, Ethan asks the Duke who or what exactly he is, to which the Duke replies "Even I can't quite answer that". So really, who or what exactly is the Duke? Is he simply what he appears to be, a merchant who puts his financial interests above all so he doesn't care who he does business with as long as he has money to gain - which would explain why he is in good terms with both the good guy (Ethan) and the bad guys (the Lords)? Is his unusual appearance also a result of Miranda's experiments? Or is he something far more complicated? Is he truly how we see him though Ethan's eyes or, like with Miranda's case, he is a manifestation of something else? 

If we attempt to decipher the Duke via clues offered by the game's scenario itself, there is one crucial keyword we could start from. When Ethan bumps onto him again after killing Alcina in the castle, it is when the Duke starts to be more talkative and to give more information to him, albeit he still speaks in riddles. At the end of one such conversation, Ethan gets frustrated and calls him "Joker". This characterization, on first look, refers to him seemingly making fun of Ethan, like the jesters did in royal courts in the very distant past. But the Joker also nods to the wild card figure that is always featured in a deck of cards. The "Joker" card serves as a balancing one, and can be used in a variety of ways when something is missing, or even as a means to bluff the opponent. It is a card that, plainly put, adapts to its "surroundings", corresponding each time to the rule that its owner sets. Similarly, the Duke assumes a series of roles in the story, depending on how he is needed to act. The peculiarity of his looks is there to highlight his obvious status, that of the merchant who always looks for ways to make money, meaning he is greedy enough so as to overlook other things, like the evilness of a customer like Alcina or Heisenberg, for instance. But when it comes to Ethan, his attitude becomes more friendly and more human. 

So could this mean that the Duke's attitude changes depending on who he deals with, or maybe that he is literally a wild card that takes up the role that its "owner" decides each time? Or does he even exist as we see him, in the first place? Ethan may not be aware of his own situation until near the end, but him being not exactly human definitely grants him with a power to see and feel things that normal people cannot. Given that he is the only one whom we see interacting with the Duke, we can not even be sure that the Duke is just how he appears. Mind you, in Chris's part of the story, there is no sign of the Duke at all. The last time that Ethan interacts with the Duke is when the latter transports him near the Ceremony Site in his carriage. When Ethan gets out of the carriage, we can see that it is led by a black horse. If seen from a distance, the carriage at that point looks like a Victorian hearse. 

Considering that, after this, Ethan confronts Miranda and then sacrifices himself in the subsequent explosion, we could assume that the Duke at that point in the story acts like the Grim Reaper, leading our hero to his death. But while the Grim Reaper is always depicted as a silent, skeletal figure with no human features, the Duke is obese, flamboyant and loud. In that part of the story, Miranda has already ripped out Ethan's heart, which means that Ethan is then in a sort of zombie state. From that point and on, the only entirely human being that he interacts with is Chris. Miranda is more or less like him, Rosemary has been ripped apart then put together again by Miranda; in that stage, Ethan has already crossed the boundary between the living and the dead. But since he had always been more dead than alive anyway, everything he sees, everything he says and does, is anything but normal, and things appear to him in reverse. The Duke could very well have been a manifestation of the Grim Reaper himself all along, appearing in front of Ethan as a figure seemingly opposite in appearance, but in the essence all the same. Isn't the Grim Reaper a merchant of sorts after all? In ancient Greek mythology, the dead were obliged to pay Charon, his counterpart, in order to be able to cross the river Styx to the other side. 

Something that Miranda and the Duke have in common is that they were both introduced to us for the first time in Village, unlike someone else, a most familiar and beloved face, no other than Chris Redfield himself. Chris has been the protagonist or co-protagonist in several stories so far, and we know quite a few things about his stellar career, however very little is known about his and Claire's childhood. In fact we know nothing about the early years of the Redfield siblings, except for the fact that they lost their parents at a very young age. There is no information about how and where they grew up, and how they managed until they became adults.

After Chris saves Ethan and Mia and takes them away from Louisiana, he secretly locates them in an isolated region of Eastern Europe so as to keep them safe. But it is exactly in that place where the heart of Miranda's activities lies. The Megamycete, the fungus that she uses to carry out her experiments grows in the mountains surrounding that area. Even if Chris already had information related to this, it would be very unlikely that he would put Ethan and Mia deliberately in danger by having them live in a place so close to a most dangerous source. So why, from all the places in the world did he choose specifically that region for them to stay? One explanation could be that he indeed have information about Miranda and the Megamycete, but he couldn't leave Ethan and Mia without his protection, so he took them with him; this way, he would be able to investigate the case further while still keeping an eye on them. But even so, it would be too risky to have them exposed to such an extreme danger. So maybe there was another reason why he chose that specific country of Eastern Europe as a hideout for Ethan and Mia.

Since there is almost no information about Chris and Claire's early years, we cannot even be sure that "Redfield" is indeed their real surname. Because they are both so strong and imposing characters whenever they appear in a game, you rarely ever - if at all - enter into the process of wandering about their past. Could it be possible that Chris had his own reasons for picking that specific part of the world to relocate Ethan and Mia? Maybe something personal, something about his past. Consider that one of the promo images of the game features him in a rather cryptic collage, his half face being replaced by that of a wolf. 

The symbolism and imagery of wolves are both very strong in the story and play a great part in its development: the name of Chris's rogue team is Hound Wolf Squad, his own professional alias in it is Alpha (as in, the Alpha wolf, the leader of the pack), and the respective aliases of his team mates are also related to wolves. And of course there are the lycans, the terrifying creatures that inhabit the once peaceful village and its countryside, that are, in their essence, werewolves. These two depictions of the wolf, like a representation of the "good Wolf, Bad Wolf" idea, have both a realistic and an allegorical interpretation. The realistic one has to do to the story itself: the literal lycans that both Ethan and Chris encounter, and the actual name of Chris's team. The allegorical interpretation pertains to the psyche of the two protagonists and how it changes as the story progresses. Ethan is, on a first level, the "good wolf" from the start until the end; he is the good and clean hero, set on a journey to save his daughter. On a second level, however, after it is revealed to him that he is actually mold inside, his human substance collapses and although him being a bio-weapon doesn't make him necessarily bad, it still makes him potentially extremely dangerous. 

Chris, at the beginning, seems to be the "bad wolf", what with killing Mia in front of her husband without explanation. Gradually however, as the truth comes out, he assumes his well-established and pre-determined role as a protector and savior. Therefore we could say that both sides, the "good" one and the "bad" one exist equally in Ethan and Chris. But although Ethan is not responsible, so to speak, for his "bad" side, Chris's case is far more complex. There is something undefinedly dark about him, something that keeps him distant and mysterious, something marginally unworldly. His presence in the game carries a vaguely ominous aura, as if there are things connecting him with that place that he would rather not share with anyone, not even his own team.

Among the various interesting journals and notes that Ethan finds in the Castle Dimitrescu, is one featuring a list of tasks written possibly by someone in charge. One of the names that appear in that list is "Rednic". 

Although "Rednic" and "Redfield" have no common root or meaning, their sounding is cunningly similar. Could it be that Chris and Claire had ancestral roots in the area, and their surname was initially Rednic, then after moving away and relocating in the USA, they changed it to Redfield? Probably keeping the first part as a reminder of their origin, but changing the suffix to make it sound more neutral as far as the ethnic identity was concerned. If this is the case, there could still have been relatives of theirs in that area, who not only were involved in what was going on in the Castle Dimitrescu, but had something to do with the lycans as well, thus connecting Chris with his "wolf" self, his decision to give that specific name to his team and the respective aliases to himself and his partners, and to which the image depicting him as half-human / half-wolf may hint. As an additional side note, when Alcina Dimitrescu was human, she suffered from a hemoglobin deficiency, due to which she needed to consume blood on a constant basis in order to survive, which is why she became an actual vampire after her mutation. This disease, more commonly called vampirism, is also known under the scientific name "Renfield syndrome", which unavoidably alludes to Chris and Claire's surname, and maybe this is not something random.

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