Welcome back to the second part of our tour through all things Dante in Resident Evil: Revelations. Last time we delved into the first four chapters of the game, looking at the origins of Veltro as well as the surprising ancestry of some of the Queen Zenobia’s resident zombies. Now we’re entering our very own Purgatorio with the game’s middle arc, Chapters 5 to 8. There’s still more ooze inspirations than you can shake a shotgun at, but several quotes actually play a more geographical role this time when it comes to foreshadowing the game’s main events. So if you thought all those underwater sections were just a nice change of pace from all the running and shooting, then think again, because just like before there’s a lot more to these quotes than meets the eye. There’s a whole ocean of hidden secrets just waiting to be uncovered, so without further ado, let’s put our Dante hats back on and dive straight in!
O me, Agnello, how thou changest!
Behold, thou now art neither two nor one.
~ Canto XXV
Poor Agnello. At this point he’s being semi-raped/molested by a giant six-legged serpent while being mocked by his two friends. Some guys just can’t catch a break, can they? Then again, we are in the eighth circle of Hell now, so maybe he deserves it. The serpent’s six limbs have pinned down Agnello’s arms, legs and stomach, and it’s even wrapped its tail round underneath him in a crude and perverse kind of penetration. The “neither two nor one” line is, as you may have guessed, a lurid parody of a man becoming one with his wife. As Dante watches them from above, he describes how the outlines of the two creatures completely disappear, leaving nothing but one body. But rather than this grotesque coupling bringing forth new life, these thieves and fraudsters must repeatedly endure this strange metamorphosis into something neither man nor reptile.
At first glance you might think it’s a rather odd quote to choose for this chapter, but on closer inspection the Sea Creeper is almost the mirror-image of the six-legged serpent. As Jill and Parker descend into the flooded depths of the bilge, these silent terrors will rear up out of the water without warning, wrap their six slimy legs around you and gorge themselves on your flesh as they try to drown you underwater.
Officially worse than Zelda’s re-deads.
Thankfully Jill can kick them off and save herself from Agnello’s unfortunate fate, but let’s not forget that Chapter 5 also plays host to several other story elements which fit into the idea of Agnello’s metamorphosis. Having just played a chapter focused entirely on Jill and Parker, their mission now starts to dove-tail with that of Jackass and Grinder as they re-investigate the Veltro hideout near the crash site, and we have two stories slowly merging into one. Likewise, when Jackass discovers the co-ordinates of the Queen Semiramis (even though he thinks it’s the Queen Zenobia at this point), we also have two ships that are “neither two nor one” as well. Despite being two obviously distinct boats, they’re so similar in design that we really believe that Chris and Jessica have landed on the Queen Zenobia during the next chapter. As they rush through the ship’s corridors, we, like Dante, can’t tell the difference. It’s only when we barge through a previously locked door or storm through a once-flooded corridor that we begin to see the cracks in the paint, but we’re so focused on getting to Jill and Parker that many of us probably ignored what was right in front of our eyes. As far as we’re concerned, the metamorphosis is complete, and it’s not until we reach the empty power room that we discover “how thou [hast truly] changest”.
Indeed he lives, and thus alone.
Me it behoves to show him the dark valley;
Necessity, and not delight, impels us.
~ Canto XII
In this quote, Virgil’s speaking to Chiron, the leader of the centaurs who guards the seventh circle. They’re about to cross the Phlegethon River, a river of blood which boils any soul who tries to escape their designated circle, but Chiron is slightly bemused by Dante’s appearance so Virgil explains to him how they’ve come to be here. He tells Chiron that he’s been tasked by Beatrice, Dante’s muse, to be Dante’s guide, and they’re definitely not here just for the fun of it. They’re here for a purpose, and Virgil finishes by asking if one of Chiron’s centaurs could take Dante across the river on their back. He’s no floating spirit after all, and needs another guide to help him across.
In Revelations, having just had the cliffhanger ending of Jill and Parker slowly drowning in the bilge, Chapter 6 opens with Chris and Jessica storming in to save the day. It’s a slightly more apt quote this time as necessity does indeed impel them to rescue their team-mates, and Chris is determined to find Jill as quickly as possible. But they’re not the only ones impelled by necessity in this chapter– with Chris and Jessica in fact on the wrong ship, Jill and Parker must also escape asap unless they want to be swimming with the fishes (and when said fishes will eat your face off, I wouldn’t fancy leaving anything to chance either).
Consequently, we’re introduced to the game’s first underwater section, but unlike Dante who gets ferried across the Phlegethon River by Nessus (a centaur slain by Heracles for stealing his wife, who ironically also carried her across a river), Jill’s in slightly more dire straits. Luckily, she doesn’t get boiled alive the longer she dives, but the placement of this underwater section also heralds the upcoming boss fight with Draghignazzo on the Promenade Deck as well.
The last thing you want to meet on a dark and stormy night.
As mentioned above, the Phlegethon River is located in the seventh circle. Draghignazzo, on the other hand, is one of Inferno‘s infamous Malebranche (along with the more well-known Scarmiglione, Barbariccia, Cagnazzo and Rubicante– the four fiends of Final Fantasy IV), a group of demons who reside in the eighth circle. Okay, so there’s nearly ten cantos and several bolgias, or sub-pockets, in the eighth circle separating Draghignazzo and the Phlegethon River, but hey, there’s only so much hell you can reasonably cram onto one boat.
Aye, to that truth with a face of falsehood,
A man should close his lips shut,
Because without his fault it causes shame.
~ Canto XVI
This is Dante’s warning about speaking truths which appear to be lies– he says it’s better to stay silent than voice them aloud and risk shaming yourself, but Dante can’t be silent here. In the very next line, he swears by every rhyme in the Inferno that his next vision is absolutely true, and what he sees is the coming of Geryon, a beast with the face of an honest man but the body of a reptile and the tail of a scorpion. He describes Geryon’s ascent through the dark air as like a diver swimming to the surface, and when Geryon finally surfaces in the next canto, Dante condemns him as a filthy image of deceit and the worst kind of fraudulent monstrosity.
Of course, this chapter is full of similarly fantastical sights as Jill and Parker hurry to launch the UAV. It’s almost too ridiculous to believe– if the imminent return of the Regia Solis wasn’t enough, the solar satellite used to destroy Terragrigia, we also see nearly the entire spectrum of the game’s B.O.W.s in this chapter as well, from the Hunters on the helipad to the return of Rachael and Scagdead in passageways almost too close for comfort. That’s two former bosses, hoards of Hunters and oozes who’ve set dozens of well-placed traps, and we have to contend with timer as well! Then again, this is Resident Evil, so maybe it’s not that insane after all…
Even so, crazy plot-twists aside, I actually think the quote above is perhaps more relevant to O’Brian and Raymond than the chapter’s unexpected barrage of obstacles. Geryon may be the ultimate representation of fraud, but Dante must also resort to tricking him into giving him and Virgil a lift down to the eighth circle. So despite the alleged truthfulness of his words, his actions are anything but, and O’Brian and Raymond aren’t being entirely honest with us either at this point in the game. We don’t know anything for sure, but when we come back down from the communications tower we hear a snippet of Raymond talking on the phone about the Regia Solis, something he shouldn’t know anything about. But just as Dante warns, we can’t voice our concerns yet because we don’t know all the facts. We’d look complete idiots if we started accusing Raymond of things we couldn’t prove, so we’re forced to keep our mouths shut. At least for the time being…
Toward the reins, countenance was turned,
And backward it behoved them to advance,
As to look forward had been taken from them.
~ Canto XX
Here Dante describes the sorcerers and false prophets in the fourth bolgia of the eighth circle. Much like all the other sinners in Inferno, their punishment fits their crime– they may have tried to see the future in life, but in death their heads have been twisted round on their necks, meaning now they can only ever look backwards. As a result, they have to stumble around in reverse, so it’s perhaps a bit unsurprising then that Jill and Parker find themselves underwater again, revisiting a lot of familiar territory as they try to escape the sinking Queen Zenobia.
But it’s not all about backtracking in this chapter, as Raymond’s dying words send a reunited Chris and Jill back to discover the truth about what brought them here in the first place– Terragrigia. So far we’ve been pretty pre-occupied with events in the present, escaping flooded engine rooms and dodging deadly solar satellites to name just a few, but with most of the game’s main mysteries now drawing to a close, the only remaining riddle is one that started back in 2004 right on this very ship, so it’s back down to the lab we go.
He may not have any wings or hooked talons, but this Scarmiglione packs one mean shield.
Equally, however, we’d be foolish to ignore the present entirely, as there are several new B.O.Ws just waiting round the corner who are itching to sink their teeth into us. One of those is Scarmiglione, who Jill encounters in the sterilization chamber. Much like Draghignazzo, he’s also another member of the Malebranche, and is a little too eager to poke his hooked claws into Dante’s backside. But he’s held back by Malacoda, the leader of the Malebranche, who also makes his first appearance in this chapter (albeit a little earlier). Remember those giant sea tentacles Chris and Jessica had to fend off before they boarded the Queen Zenobia? That was Malacoda, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in chapters to come– quite literally. Those tentacles were just the beginning, so we’ll definitely be looking back in more ways than one when we meet him again.
Speaking of tentacles, that wraps up Part II. Next time we’ll be entering the Paradiso stage of our Dantean Resident Evil retrospective by looking at the final four chapters of the game. Will Norman turn out to be Resident Evil’s answer to Satan? Find out in two weeks time!