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Pre-Game Character Analysis: Leon S. Kennedy & Helena Harper

Tridenter August 19, 2012 User blog:Tridenter

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I'm going to be doing some very brief posts regarding the cast of Resident Evil 6 from a faux-analytical point-of-view. I'll be focusing on Leon Scott Kennedy, Helena Harper, Chris Redfield, Piers Nivans, Jake Muller, Sherry Birkin, and Ada Wong (and perhaps Derek C. Simmons). These are just my opinions. Be warned, I will be touching about SPOILERS

As part of a little side project, I've decided to add some other quotes from outside sources that I basically think would apply to the character in some way. Take from it what you will.

Leon Scott Kennedy

Cg leon

Leon Scott Kennedy

Leon has come a long way since the first time he rolled into Raccoon City back in 1998. Through each incarnation he has transformed into very different beasts, shown through his change into a typical Hollywood Action Hero in Resident Evil 4 (made more evident by his overzealously daring debonair, his awful wit and his desire to bring the bad guys more than simply saving the day). He transcended this on his way into Degeneration, turning into something more along the lines of an angst-driven character. He was considerably darker and more serious, acting even somewhat cold in certain regards. Leon was determined to the point of being a dark and gritty broken record.


Regret

"Adam... I'm sorry."

"This is where the reception was going to be. They'd all be here eating dinner, if..."

LeonScreen10

Leon apologizing to the deceased Adam Benford.

Resident Evil 6 sees the first time that Kennedy has really grown and mature (and about time for someone now in his thirties). The first notable thing about Leon in the latest title is his deeper and closer relationship to another individual, something that doesn't seem so much circumstantial as his spontaneous friendship with Luis which was more out of convenience than anything. Leon's link to President Adam Benford was one of mutual respect forged through his service, which prompted Leon and Benford to being joint partners two years prior in forming a private branch (the Division of Security Operations). Leon comes across as someone much less angsty and much more pained when he's put into a situation where he has to put Benford down when the President is mutated into a zombie through the C-Virus. Pained with his responsibility as a hero, Leon still takes the leap and shows a much more mature degree of regret than what we saw in Resident Evil 4.


Bewildered Hero

"I can't believe this is happening again. It's just like Raccoon..."

LeonScreen15

"We're making the time."

Throughout the game it seems that Leon transcends the stigmas left with him after his previous appearances and becomes the true Ideal Hero (particularly in the wake of events with Chris Redfield). His position as The Kirk of the game makes this all the more apparent. A level-headed balance of compassion and logic, Leon has become the face of what it takes to not only survive but to protect - even if situation makes that impossible. Resident Evil 6 has this in spades, seeing Leon - tragically - losing innocents that he becomes more protective of. President Benford, Liz and her father, other students of Ivy University, and an innocent woman in the Tall Oaks Station. While demonstrating the wherewithal he's established for himself throughout the series as he tells Helena about the simple black and white facts when it comes to fighting zombies, flashes of his history with Benford and his constant reminder of the tragedy in Raccoon City that he, Claire, Sherry and Ada lived for keep him more grounded than a Leon we are used to.


Disgust

"Makes me sick seeing good soldiers die like this."

"Too many good agents have died here today... You're not getting added to that list."

LeonScreen3

Leon helping an injured Helena.

As the story goes on, Leon is put into a very unfavorable spot by the Big Bad as he is framed for the awful events that are plaguing Lanshiang. While seemingly still holding on to his hero status, Leon is transformed mid-way into The Seeker as he is forced to find the truth of who is behind the bio-terror attacks. True to the hero status, this seems to be less about clearing his own name (made evident by his request of Hunnigan to fake his death, along with Helena) and more about putting an end to all of this once and for all. He still shows regret and disgust at what has happened to the people around him, civilian and soldier both, and shows a strong determination to make sure that the same doesn't happen to Helena, often acting as her Guardian.


Maintaining Sanity

"Welcome to the club. You get used to it."

That's not to say that Leon has adopted an entirely serious persona. There is still the room for the occasional wisecrack that gives him just enough balance from becoming that brooding bastard that was seen in Degeneration. On the other side of the spectrum, his moments of joking and sarcasm are not so overplayed that he comes across as making light of the situation as he had so often in Resident Evil 4. From the perspective of looking at it on the outside, the feeling comes across more as trying to keep sane in the face of so much tragedy. A human being can only take so much before they crack of they don't learn to ease up once in a while, and Leon no longer eases up so much that it seems he isn't taking it seriously. This becomes balanced with the rare occurrence when Leon becomes frustrated with events, causing him to come across as more aggressive than normal.


Conclusion

I am someone who hasn't liked Leon. He was forgettable in Resident Evil 2, disinteresting in Resident Evil 4 and downright annoying in Degeneration. I think this may change in Resident Evil 6. Like all of the cast, it seems considerable effort was put into crafting Leon into what he has. Of course, Leon has had the hit-and-miss past that Capcom had to work with, finally finding the balance between two polar opposites. I don't feel comfortable with Leon yet being the great character so many fans perceive him as, as this is one out of four chronological titles that I finally am interested in him... but I can at least now say I do not think he'll piss me off and shows promise. Which is a shame as I don't see him lasting much longer.

"Without heroes we are all plain people and don't know how far we can go. "
— Bernard Malamud

"To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth. "
— Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)

"What really raises one's indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering. "
— Friedrich Nietzsche


Helena Harper

Cg helena

Helena Harper

In her favor (in spite of being the freshest main protagonist in the game), Helena starts as being very capable. A member of the United States Secret Service, although Helena lacks the experience with bio-terrorism that others do she at least has some degree of training for combat, it would be presumed. She is clearly able to keep her own alongside of Leon (and other characters at other points) and shows signs of quick-thinking and reflexes in situations not as emotionally disturbing, as seen when she has her Picador pistol ready to unholster when Jake and Leon butt heads. It is unlikely she has as much training as the rest of the cast but it's enough to prevent her from coming across as useless and a waste of space. Also, thankfully, the lack of the same kind of training and experience prevents her from being a Mary Sue. Of course, none of this is what makes Helena interesting or promising (albeit the quickshot with her unique Hydra shotgun is quite possibly one of the most awesome things in Resident Evil 6).


Normal Person

"I... I can't believe this."

"Why did this have to happen?"

HelenaScreen7

Helena hesitating to shoot a zombified Liz.

In the scheme of this game, this series, Helena Harper is the Normal Person. She is Joe Everyman (or rather Jane Everywoman). She is the embodiment and the manifestation of everything that the series has been lacking since the second title, really. For many, many years we have dealt primarily with characters that not only have combat experience, but have previous encountered creatures like these. When you see the same characters return again and again, it is to be expected that they will remember their ordeals and what happened to them. It also becomes customary to begin to pair them with characters with the same familiarities (such as Carlos Oliveira to Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis or Sheva Alomar to Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 5).


Fear

"I'll only slow you down. Just go."

HelenaScreen65

Helena watching a security feed, horrified, as students are eaten alive.

What makes Helena Harper quite possibly the most interesting person in the game right now is one very simple thing: fear. Unlike everyone else, Helena has never dealt with bio-organic weapons, she has never been face to face with a zombie. At best, she may have read about them in written reports or heard about them on the news. Although not hysterical to the point of being the resident dumbass, Helena is panic-stricken for at least a portion of her and Leon's shared story. She makes the same kind of rookie mistakes that you would expect of someone new to this situation, the same kind of rookie mistakes that would normally annoy someone looking from the outside - such as failing or hesitating to shoot a zombie (shown with Benford and Liz). The key difference is these have been mostly unheard of in the series for many years. Helena is essentially the new players to the series. Even in her position as a government agent, she is every frightened person who is thrown into a tragedy, the survivor who must muster up the strength and willpower to push on. Albeit she has it a bit easier being stuck with a veteran like Leon.


Self-Blame and Mystery

"Leon, we don't have time to-"

"It's all my fault. I... I did this."

HelenaScreen58

Helena telling Leon they don't have time for detours, before being cut off.

Right from the very start, Leon is hooked in by her proclamations that all of the events are her fault and she is to blame. Whether the blame is direct or a typical over-exaggeration is unknown, but it's enough to keep someone in. She also shows a degree of stubborn determination at first, to the point of being unwilling (for the most part) to waver from the goals she set. With the subtle hints dropped about the possibility of Helena "using" Leon, there is some promise in what the future of the story will hold for her.

At this point, it is unknown what Helena's motives are by the time she and Leon are set-up and framed and they are on their way to find Simmons. Revenge? Seeking the truth? Or perhaps something else entirely? Though it seems safe to say by that point, Helena has grown somewhat more accustomed to handling certain things, such as facing the more monstrous forms of bio-organic weapons (namely the Ustanak). However, she still seems clearly bothered by humans that have been turned into zombies - such as seeing the turned soldier while they are in Lanshiang.


Loving Sister

"I'm so sorry, Debra! It's all my fault!"

"Stop! Don't shoot, please!"

HelenaScreen3

A bound Helena, pleading for Simmons to let Debra go.

A strength in Helena's character seen is in the revealed moments of encountering her sister, Debra, after being mutated in into a B.O.W. Previously we saw Helena pleading with a not-so-concealed Simmons to let her sister go, offering herself in Debra's place and screaming after her sibling as she is dragged away. In the later confrontation with the mutated Debra, Helena has much the typical reaction of any loving sibling even in spite of Leon and Ada both warning Helena. As to be expected from her character archetype, Helena remain mostly blind to the fact that Debra is no longer her sister anymore, begging her temporary companions to not kill her and holding on to Debra even when in immediate danger. Due to the increased quality in writing and voice-acting, the moments between Helena and Debra become something more heart-wrenching than eye-rolling.


Conclusion

I had reservations about Helena at first but the more I've seen from trailers and gameplay, the more I've grown to like her. Although I see her as a one-off bit character in the Resident Evil series, she shows the most promise of them all - and more promise than some recurring characters. Her immediate involvement in the story keeps her interesting and her characterization as the unfamiliarized make her something refreshing in the series.

"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength. "
— Unknown

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." ... You must do the thing you think you cannot do. "
— Eleanor Roosevelt

"Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future. "
— Fulton Oursler



Next time I post, I'll be covering Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans.

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