In Penamstan, Claire is working towards refugee relief and assisting with the building of schools to help get Penamstan’s youth back on track. She meets a young boy traumatized after witnessing a squad of American soldiers reanimate into zombies and wipe out a whole cavalcade of Penamstanis. This reminds Claire of what happened back in Racoon City in Resident Evil 2, so she heads to the White House to investigate. There, Leon is meeting with the president and two federal agents named Jason and Shenmei to discuss a cyberattack seemingly launched by China on the Pentagon. There’s a zombie outbreak in the building, and Leon saves the president (again).
Leon, Shenmei, and Jason head to Shanghai, where we soon learn that their motivations are not what they seem. Jason continually mutters something about “terror” and “fear,” as well as the fact that federal agents have to value the country over civilians as opposed to police (which somehow makes him a foil to Leon, who used to be a cop for one whole day). This further frustrates the supposed political storyline the show is attempting—they turn a valid criticism of intelligence agencies into a meme-worthy catchphrase. Somewhere in Infinite Darkness there is a glimmer of political consciousness making valid points on war profiteering, American meddling in global affairs, and the moral duty of whistleblowers. This is all unfortunately obscured by flaccid action and both-sideisms courtesy of Leon, which is a pretty disappointing arc for a character I otherwise had grown to love.
As for the leading duo, they feel refreshingly familiar and are easily the best part of the show. Leon’s back with some tongue-in-cheek quips (who else would say “wish I had some cheese” before being attacked by a squadron of zombie rats?), and Claire, despite getting the short-end of the stick in terms of screentime, is a delightful moral compass for an otherwise fraught series. This is only made all the more frustrating when a wedge is shoved between Claire and Leon, where Leon chooses loyalty to the government over exposing something that could have probably saved a ton of lives in the long run. The show is clearly trying to fill in a hole on the state of Claire and Leon’s relationship after Resident Evil 4, but occasionally lore comes at the cost of satisfying or logical conclusions. Claire’s motivation is always with assisting Penamstan however she can, but the show orients itself around Penamstan being little more than a pawn in some mercurial war between state actors.
Despite all the troubling elements in Infinite Darkness, it probably won’t get the sort of buzz required to have any actual discourse surrounding it. There’s a lot to dig in here in how Americanized propaganda finds itself even in Japanese-made survival horror franchises, and how China is consistently portrayed as a squalid hive of villains, but Infinite Darkness has a barrier to entry due to its heavy reliance on a preexisting investment in the greater Resident Evil series. Maybe we should count ourselves lucky for that.
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