This All Seems Familiar: Repetition and Contradiction in Resident Evil 2 and The Babysitter — Super Magfest (2023)

Resident Evil 2 (2019) has a unique storytelling problem: two contradictory storylines. It has two main characters, Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, and players pick one at the start.The player goes through that character’s “Main Campaign.” Once the Main Campaign is done, the player can access the other character’s “2nd Run.” Leon’s 2nd Run shows what he was doing during Claire’s Main Campaign (and vice versa). However, key events in the Main Campaigns and 2nd Runs contradict one another. One Resident Evil 2 fan even started a petition to get Capcom to release “story dlc that introduces minor changes in a way that Leon and Claire have complementing stories that result in a consistent overall plot!” The game reuses key items and boss fights between its four campaigns, and this structure creates plot inconsistencies.

One of the most egregious story inconsistencies centers on Claire and Leon’s repeated fights with William Birkin. Birkin is infected with the “G-virus,” which turns him into a monstrous creature. In the following example—the fight against William Birkin’s third form—I will only discuss Claire Redfield’s Main Campaign and Leon S. Kennedy’s 2nd Run. If Claire is described doing something, it is in reference to the Main Campaign. If Leon is described doing something, it is in reference to the 2nd Run.

Claire fights William in an underground laboratory. Annette Birkin, one of the scientists responsible for creating the G-Virus situation and also William’s wife, helps Claire and then dies shortly after. Annette then appears to help Leon fight William again, in the same room. She dies (again) shortly after. During Claire’s fight, the room is completely destroyed. At the start of Leon’s, it is perfectly fine. As the petition puts it, “Leon’s game contradicts Claire’s and Claire’s game contradicts Leon’s...The official canon story about what really happened can’t be extracted that way!”

Maya Sonenberg described a similar “problem” in The Babysitter, the 1969 short story by Robert Coover. As she said, “following the path of a single character through this story might be possible, but followed together, the contradictions tangle, form a dense web, and are finally impossible to tease apart.” The Babysitter is an interesting companion to Resident Evil 2. Both take place over the course of one evening. Both shift tone dramatically by their endings. And both contradict themselves over and over. The Babysitter does so to create an “excess of plots” for its readers (to borrow another observation from Sonenberg). But Resident Evil 2’s contradictions are a result of how the game implements an excess of repetition.

In The Babysitter Jeanie, the babysitter, arrives to watch the Tucker kids—Jimmy, Bitsy, and an unnamed baby. Mr. and Mrs. Tucker are going to a party. Over the course of this evening, Jeanie takes a bath, doesn’t take a bath, is caught having consensual sex with her boyfriend, is sexually assaulted by her boyfriend, is sexually assaulted by Mr. Tucker, gives Jimmy a bath, doesn’t give Jimmy a bath, dies, and doesn’t die. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it illustrates that multiple things that “happen” in the story contradict other things that “happen.” On top of all of these contradictions, it isn’t clear which of these events are really occurring and which are taking place inside the many characters’ imaginations.

Annette cannot die twice. Jeanie cannot simultaneously take and not take a bath. These are just some of the contradictions in each text. One review of Resident Evil 2 suggests “The only way [these inconsistencies work] is if you treat certain parts of the A-scenario [Main Campaign] as if they don’t happen while playing the B-scenario [2nd Run] and vice-versa.” But The Babysitter tells us that contradictions in a story can have a purpose. In fact, the contradictions are the point. In Understanding Robert Coover, Brian Evenson states, “Much of Coover’s fiction maintains that the world cannot be objectively understood--there is just too much to sort through.” The Babysitter blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, and it presents readers with a story that cannot be fully deciphered.

In an article for Lithub, Emily Temple points out that Coover “keeps revising the turn of events...without weighting one over another.” The story actually has two “endings.” In the first, Mr. and Mrs. Tucker come home. Mrs. Tucker notices the dishes are done, and she says she’ll drive Jeanie home. In the second, the host of Mr. and Mrs. Tucker’s party explains to Mrs. Tucker that her children are dead, her husband has disappeared, and the babysitter’s corpse is in her bathtub. The first ending is ordinary, the second is disastrous. The second is also impossible. How could the host of the party know everything that happened at Dolly Tucker’s house? But if, as Evenson suggests, “there is no clear line drawn in the story between fantasy and reality[,]” does the first ending’s realism suggest canonicity? Readers have to answer that question themselves. The story refuses.

For all its contradictions, Resident Evil 2 only offers one ending, but it repeats it two times. If players complete Leon’s Main Campaign and Claire’s 2nd Run, they see a cutscene where Leon and Claire walk down a highway with Sherry Birkin, Annette and William Birkin’s daughter. Claire rescued her. The game reuses the scene if players complete Claire’s Main Campaign and Leon’s 2nd Run. Unlike in Coover’s story, there isn’t an ending to debate. And if that’s the case, why would Resident Evil 2 contradict itself?

The contradictions in Resident Evil 2 are created by its repetitive structure. In her Main Campaign, Claire gets a grenade launcher from the police stations’s weapons locker. It is the only weapon there. In his 2nd Run, Leon goes to the same locker and finds a shotgun. Leon finds the shotgun in his main campaign, and there’s no grenade launcher present. Claire still finds it in her 2nd Run. If players choose, they visit the weapons locker four times, and they never get any clarity about who arrives first or where the other weapon came from.

Repetition in The Babysitter is similar—it makes it impossible to really discern what’s happening. Coover uses the following sentences twice in The Babysitter: “He loves her. She loves him.” Both times, he uses them to open a story fragment. In the first fragment, readers don’t know who he is describing, but it is a fantasy. Coover describes a “magical landscape of rose and emerald and deep blue.” This fragment isn’t grounded in the mundane reality of two adults attending a party while someone watches their kids. The woman could be Jeanie or Mrs. Tucker. The man could be Jack or Mr. Tucker. The second time these two sentences appear, the story fragment is from Dolly Tucker’s perspective:

He loves her. She loves him. And then the babies come...Dishes. Noise. Clutter. And fat. Not just tight, her girdle actually hurts.

Dolly is the only person wearing a girdle in the story. Because she has kids with her husband, readers can guess the “he” in the second fragment is Mr. Tucker.

The meaning of the repeated sentences changes depending on who the pronouns in the first fragment refers to. If it’s Mark and Jeanie, the repetition creates a parallel between their relationship and the Tuckers’ marriage. If it’s Mr. Tucker and Jeanie, the two fragments demonstrate how dissatisfied the Tucker’s are with their marriage. While Mr. Tucker fantasizes about the sitter, Dolly uses the same two sentences to imagine where her life went wrong. If it’s Dolly and Mr. Tucker, it tells readers they were happy once. Readers don’t even know which character is fantasizing in the first fragment, and the story doesn’t provide clear answers.

Both Coover’s fantasy and Resident Evil 2’s trips to the weapons locker create practical questions about the stories. Is Jack thinking about Jeanie? Is Mr. Tucker? Is Mrs. Tucker reminiscing about falling in love? Who arrives at the locker first—Claire or Leon? Does the answer change depending on the order you play their campaigns?

But this similarity is superficial. Resident Evil 2’s repeated elements seem like they cast the same doubts as those in The Babysitter, but Resident Evil 2 has players, not readers. Its narrative contradiction doesn’t obscure the meaning of getting to the weapons locker. For players, a new weapon for Claire or Leon represents progress, and as players we have to learn the path to the weapons locker. By repeating it, we can practice it. Unlike The Babysitter, the contradictions here are a side effect. Repetition is the point. In his work on Coover, Evenson suggests people “search for patterns, means of ordering and cataloging.” If we accept that as true, The Babysitter is meant to frustrate our efforts to order its plot. Its repeated phrases and patterns don’t manifest in definitive answers. Resident Evil 2 may create an indecipherable plot by repeating itself, but every repetition gives a player more information about how the levels are organized, how the enemies behave, where weapons and key items may be, and what the fastest routes are.

In her Main Campaign, Claire collects three medallions from three statues in the police station. The statues use combination locks with different symbols. When the player enters the combination, they get the statue’s medallion. In his 2nd Run, Leon collects the same three medallions from the same three statues. Claire already collected the medallions, but somehow, they’ve been replaced. The combinations are different. Leon collects the same three medallions in his Main Campaign, and Claire collects them in her 2nd Run. It is impossible to say who really collects the medallions within the text. But the player collects the medallions four times, and because the statue locations never change, they gradually become more familiar with the police station’s layout.

In the 2nd Run, the player collects the medallions again because they have already done it once before. They fight William Birkin because they’ve fought him before. By having players repeat fights and find the same items, Resident Evil 2 gives players a meaningful approximation of mastery. Finding the same items faster and beating the same bosses more efficiently isn’t necessarily the same as mastering the game’s systems. Players could learn to beat William Birkin quickly without learning to dodge zombies. But knowing what lies ahead can instill a sense of confidence. And as players become more confident—more familiar with the game—they see a tense, survival horror game become more approachable. Resident Evil 2 becomes a more knowable experience, even if its plot is indecipherable.

The Babysitter and Resident Evil 2 have different goals, despite superficial similarities. The Babysitter destabilizes our ideas about narrative, and it never settles on a chronology. Resident Evil 2 has a consistent beginning and a definitive end—unlike The Babysitter. What happens in the middle of both is a question of who did what and when. After playing through four campaigns, Resident Evil 2’s audience know the answer. The plot does not need to be “extracted.” Who did what in Resident Evil 2? The answer is “us.” When did we do it? We did it in whatever order we did it. The real question is “what did we learn along the way?”

David Bowman writes about games, music, and literature at dwbowman.com. His work has appeared in DomiCile and Thrice Fiction. He's @DavidWBowman on Twitter.

FAQs

How do you solve the puzzle in Resident Evil 2? ›

It's combination is Lion, Herb, Eagle. The Unicorn Statue is located next to the Library in the Lounge on the second floor. It's combination is Two Fish, Scorpion, Jar. The Maiden Statue is locked away behind a barricade in the West Storage Area on the third floor.

Do Resident Evil 1 2 and 3 happen at the same time? ›

Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 take place in September of the same year as the first game, 1998. These games take place at roughly the same time and explore more of the iconic location. Resident Evil 3 also ends with the destruction of Raccoon City, but is not the last game to take place there.

Who is the main girl in Resident Evil 2? ›

Claire Redfield (Japanese: クレア・レッドフィールド, Hepburn: Kurea Reddofīrudo) is a character in Resident Evil (Biohazard in Japan), a survival horror video game series created by Japanese company Capcom. She was introduced as one of two player characters in Resident Evil 2 (1998), alongside Leon S. Kennedy.

What is the lock combination in Resident Evil 2? ›

Resident Evil 2 Control Room Locker Code solution

Much later in the game is the Sewers Control Room Dial Locker Code solution, which is is SZF.

What is the code for Riddle Transfer 2? ›

Walkthrough. Click on the monitor. Enter the code 4003.

Who is Leon's love interest? ›

10/15 Leon Has Strong Feelings For Ada Wong

Leon S. Kennedy maintains an uncanny relationship with Ada Wong throughout the series. For him to look the other way on Ada Wong's illegal acts shows that Leon S. Kennedy must have some pretty strong feelings for her.

Is Ada in love with Leon? ›

Dying Declaration of Love - In Leon's B route for the original Resident Evil 2, Ada tells him that she fell in love with him shortly before she dies. First Kiss - In the original Resident Evil 2, they have their first kiss shortly before Ada seemingly dies.

Does Ashley have a crush on Leon? ›

Ashley seems to have a crush on Leon, having a few flirting moments when she asked for overtime after being rescued.

How old is Leon in re6? ›

A 28 year old Leon was selected by the president to take charge of the S.R.T. team due to his experience with the t-Virus. Under his leadership and advice, they learned how to effectively kill the zombies and rescued five survivors, including Claire Redfield.

How old is Leon RE2? ›

He first appears in RE2 as a rookie cop who joins up with Claire to fight the zombie horde. Like many of the RE characters, Leon's first experiences with the undying comes while in the bloom of youth – he's just 21 when he first starts taking down zombies.

Does Leon appear in re3? ›

While not playable in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Leon makes an appearance during the epilogue. He's approached by a member of the US government about joining their ranks. Although the game doesn't reveal his answer, he's a full-fledged FBI agent by the time Resident Evil 4 rolls around.

Who is Leon's girlfriend Resident Evil? ›

Claire Redfield

In 1998, Leon and Claire met in the dying Raccoon City, allying themselves in order to survive.

Is Lady hunk a Jill? ›

LADY HUNK is a downloadable costume for HUNK, serving as his second costume. She utilizes Jill Valentine's sweep kick attack from Resident Evil 5 and she has her own intro and ending voice clips, however she re-uses Rachel Foley's voice commands.

Who married Claire Redfield? ›

Claire Redfield (Alternate Timeline)
Claire Redfield
Family:Chris Redfield (Brother)
Occupation:Political Activist,Terra Save Member
Relationship:Chris Redfield(Elder Brother)
Spouse(s):Leon S. Kennedy
11 more rows

Can the knife break in Resident Evil 2? ›

Combat Knives can be found in a multitude of places, and are first given after meeting Marvin Branagh in the Main Hall. Attacking with the Combat Knife will lower its durability when hitting a target, and if enough damage is done the Combat Knife will break forever.

Is the Samurai Edge good? ›

Under The Microscope: It's A Ripoff

Despite the advantages listed in the previous section, there is an overwhelming amount of bad things to say about the Samurai Edge. With 110 power, a 2.6-second reload speed, a 0.4-second rate of fire, and a nine bullet clip, this gun is firmly in the lower tier of weapons.

How many lock combos are possible? ›

FACT: most master\lock padlocks have around 64,000 possible combinations.

What happens if you beat riddle School twice? ›

ALTERNATE ENDING:

This will occur if you beat the game two times. On a rather creepy and dark tone, words will say that you have been possessed by the monkey doll. The monkey doll's eyes will turn red.

What is the password in riddle transfer? ›

Take the daisy next to the ladder. Go back to F3 and enter Zack's room. Type 12345 on the dial pad.

What am I riddle password? ›

Batman's What Am I Zip password revealed

Rebirth. Restoration. Reformation.” The correct answer to the riddle is renewal.

What is Leon's full name? ›

Leon Scott Kennedy

What is Leon's real name? ›

Leon Robinson
BornLeon Preston Robinson March 8, 1962 New York City, New York, U.S.
Other namesLeon
OccupationActor, singer, producer
Years active1982–present
3 more rows

Is Leon left handed? ›

He is left-handed. Though initially he sides with the three previously-mentioned characters, he soon follows a different path than the others. After the Emperor's attack on Fynn, Leon mysteriously disappears.

Who does Leon Kennedy marry? ›

Leon S. Kennedy (Alternate Timeline)
Leon S. Kennedy
Relationship:Married
Spouse(s):Claire Redfield
Status:Alive
Weapons:Heckler & Koch VP70 Beretta 92F Custom 'Samurai Edge' AKMSU
11 more rows

Does Ada Wong have a clone? ›

Carla Radames is the name of Ada Wong's clone. The woman in blue is Carla and the one in red is Ada. Carla was a researcher for Neo Umbrella and the one responsible for the discovery of the C-Virus.

Is Leon Kennedy a ladies man? ›

Leon is definitely a ladies' man, and that just makes his character more engrossing. He's had this kind of tension with almost every female character so far, and it has been justified with the story. RELATED: Which Resident Evil Game Should You Play Based On Your Zodiac Type?

Did Ada survive? ›

An epilogue in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis as well as a fictional documentary in Code: Veronica confirm that Ada survived the ordeal. Her role in Resident Evil 2 is explored in more detail in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (2007) and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (2009).

Is the president in RE6 Ashley's dad? ›

Adam Benford was the President of the United States of America that took office after President Graham, father of Resident Evil 4's Ashley Graham. He is the one who recruited Leon as a U.S. Government Agent.

Is Leon still alive Resident Evil 8? ›

After the events of the sixth game, fans know that Leon is alive and well, but developers haven't given the slightest idea what he might be up to during the events of Resident Evil Village.

Who is the main villain of RE6? ›

Carla Radames is the main antagonist of Resident Evil 6, being the secondary antagonist in Leon's, and Jake's campaigns and the main antagonist in Chris and Ada's campaigns. She is also the overarching antagonist of the manga series Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire.

How did Leon and Claire not get infected? ›

They are only bitten for gameplay purposes. Lorewise they never get bitten. If I recall correctly, it's stated in one of the Resident Evil games that the herbs (green, blue and red) have properties that counteract the virus.

How big is Leon Kennedy? ›

Leon Kennedy
Leon Scott Kennedy
Re-orc-leon-kennedy.jpg
Height178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight70.2 kg (155 lb)
Blood typeA
8 more rows
20 Mar 2012

Is Leon Kennedy a father? ›

Leon was born in Washington D.C. he is the son of the U,S president. He was a Rookie police and the corusly is that he was only cop in only a day.
...
Leon Scott Kennedy (Sheva Alomar)
Leon Scott Kennedy
Marital statusMarried
Relative(s)Unkow Kennedy (Father), Sara B. Kennedy (mother) , Mikayla H. Kennedy (Sister)
StatusAlive
8 more rows

How old was Jill in RE3? ›

What makes her even more compelling is the fact that she is already an army veteran and is only 23 years old. Her character development is incredible for a videogame storyline. Jill makes appearances in Resident Evil 3, Resident Evil 5, and Resident Evil Revelations.

How tall is Ethan Winters? ›

Appearance. Ethan Winters is a fairly good-looking man, He has short slicked-back dirty blonde hair, dark grey eyes, a slightly muscular build, he is 5'11" (180 cm) tall and is 170 lbs (75 kg).

Does Leon fight Nemesis? ›

Last time we used Leon to take a stroll through the Raccoon City Police Station and engage in a fierce battle against Nemesis... How does DbD's Raccoon City Police Station compare to RE2 and RE3, and was Leon able to escape from Nemesis?

Who is Claire Redfield in love with? ›

In Code: Veronica Claire returns the romantic affections Steve gave her after getting to know him. Claire was apparently also very close to Neil Fisher in Revelations 2 and deeply saddened at his betrayal and mutation.

How old is Leon sword? ›

This is a transcript of the back of Leon's League Cards in Pokémon Sword and Shield. "Leon is known far and wide for taking part in the Gym Challenge at the tender age of 10 years old—and even more so for claiming victory in the Champion Cup on his first attempt.

What is Leon's middle name? ›

Even if it doesn't get a lot of use, and everyone just calls him good 'ol Leon, Scott is most definitely his middle name.

Does Chris have a crush on Jill? ›

To the disappointment of many fans of the two characters, Chris and Jill have never been confirmed as having any romantic feelings towards each other.

Who did Jill Valentine marry? ›

Jill Valentine (Alternate Timeline)
Jill Valentine
Relationship:Married
Spouse(s):Chris Redfield
Status:Alive
Weapons:Škorpion vz. 61 Heckler & Koch USP Ithaca 37 Katana
10 more rows

What is Jill Valentine full name? ›

Ada Wong. Jill Valentine (ジル・バレンタイン, Jiru Barentain) is a main character in the Resident Evil series of survival horror games. She is one of the most prominent human characters in the franchise and one of the most popular characters.

What color is Chris Redfield eyes? ›

His eyes in his in-game appearance are dark blue eyes, while in the FMV cutscenes, his eyes are naturally brown.

Who is Chris Redfield partner? ›

Chris debuted as one of the two playable characters of the original Resident Evil (1996), alongside his partner Jill Valentine, as a member of the Raccoon City police department's Special Tactics And Rescue Service (STARS).

Are the puzzles in Resident Evil 2 hard? ›

They're very very easily solved. you can't miss solutions. you get given a book with the first 3 puzzle solutions in right at the start. The game gets a lot of fun out of multiple playthroughs, even from people who never play through games more than once get a lot more out of this game by falling into it.

How do you solve the puzzle Head in Silent Hill 2? ›

Solution. Press UP, UP, and LEFT to rotate the room to the correct position.

How do you use the clock puzzle in Resident Evil 2? ›

As soon as you're in the Clock Tower, turn to your right. Interact with the vacant gear slot here, and use the large gear that you just picked up. This will cause a pathway to drop down nearby, meaning Leon/Claire can now reach the upper levels of the Clock Tower. Run round to the descended path, and take it up.

Is Leon or Claire story better? ›

For a more action-filled, thrilling mystery, players should pick Leon first. For a slightly more challenging survival horror and emotional experience, Claire may be the better choice. Both stories are strong, scary and exciting, with the overall plot ending up the same regardless of which campaign is played first.

What makes Resident Evil 2 so scary? ›

This game has gore in abundance, but what actually makes it scary is the graphics. Each rotted organ and ripped ligament that come spilling out of the infected are modeled to the highest degree of realism. The viscera in this game is so realistic, you could use it in an anatomy class.

How do you solve the secret of the dunes? ›

To solve this one, activate the statues in the order they are facing each other. Using the photo above as a reference the solution is: Back right (1), front left (2), back left (3), front right (4). Solving this puzzle will open a shortcut to Boiling Bay and unlock the trophy - That Reminds Me of a Puzzle.

How do you get the good knife in Silent Hill 2? ›

You can find the Great Knife inside The Labyrinth. It will be located in a red room connected to the circular hallway. You will know which area this is when you find Pyramid Head walking around.

What room is the coin puzzle in Silent Hill 2? ›

The Coin Puzzle is a Puzzle found in Silent Hill 2. More specifically, you can find it in Room 105 of the Blue Creek Apartments. In order to solve this puzzle, you must find three coins in the Blue Creek Apartments and the Wood Side Apartments. They are the Coin [Prisoner], Coin [Old Man], and Coin [Snake].

How do you solve the incinerator puzzle 999? ›

This puzzle is special, as the player must turn their DS upside down to solve it correctly. The top screen shows Akane's face and the combination to get through Door q (2 + 4 + 5 + 7 + 8).

How many doors does the Scorpion Key open? ›

n Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, the Scorpion Key is a Key that is one of the Items used to unlock doors. It is used to gain access to the Scorpion Doors found in the Main Hall and the door to Grandma's Room.

How do you beat Jack in Dissection Room? ›

Keep your distance, stun him whenever he's about to attack, and then go in swinging with the Chainsaw. After a few hits he'll go down on his knees and mutate, which is when you can run in and attack once more. Keep repeating this and eventually he'll be done for.

Does pausing stop timer re2? ›

Yes it Pauses the timer.

What is the Large Gear for? ›

The Large Gear is used to solve the Clock Tower puzzle and obtain the Power Panel Part 2. In the East Storage Room, this Large Gear is located on box/crate in the center of the room. You can get to the gear by going up a small ramp in the middle of the room or by just approaching it on ground level.

How do I get the Jack in Resident Evil 2? ›

The Records Room is located on the west side of the RCPD's first floor, but be weary of enemies like zombies, lickers, and the Mr. X tyrant on the way there. Use the Club Key on the Records Room door and search the Records Room to find the Mechanic Jack Handle.

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