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For the William Birkin of other realities, see William Birkin (disambiguation).

"You think I didn't know you were coming? This is my life's work! I'm not handing over anything!"
— William Birkin, before being gunned down by J. Martinez.[4]

Dr. William Birkin (ウィリアム・バーキン Wiriamu Bākin?) was a virologist who worked for Umbrella Pharmaceuticals in the 1970s-1990s. The head of the Golgotha Virus research project,[5] he turned against the Umbrella Corporation after failing to achieve a promotion to its executive. The company's attempts to prevent an unauthorized deal with the U.S. military served as a catalyst for the events of the Raccoon City Destruction Incident.

Background

Early years

Birkin was a child prodigy who earned his doctorate as a teenager. In 1977, at the age of fifteen, he was employed by Umbrella Pharmaceuticals, and offered to take the executive training program at a laboratory in Arklay County under the oversight of Dr. James Marcus.[6][7] Birkin and Dr. Albert Wesker developed a friendly rivalry at the school while being conditioned to Umbrella's ethical ideals.[6] Their education was concluded on July 29, 1978 when a decision was made to close the laboratory's school. Birkin and Wesker were offered senior roles at the nearby Arklay Laboratory, and transferred there two days later.[7][7]

Arklay Lab (1978-1991)

On their first day as senior researchers, the two were introduced to Lisa Trevor, a young woman who had been a test subject at the lab since 1967.[7] The laboratory's chief researcher approved Birkin's study into the splicing of their experimental Tyrant Virus (or "t-Virus") with genes from recently-collected Ebola Virus samples Umbrella had acquired for the purpose of vaccine research.[7] The t-Virus strain at the laboratory had a rapid and high fatality rate, making it useless as a weapon as it was unlikely to spread far. Birkin's study led to a new t-Virus strain which could keep humans alive in an aggressive, brain damaged state.[7]

In July 1981, Umbrella officially employed the child prodigy Dr. Alexia Ashford as a senior virologist.[8][9] Believed at the time to be the granddaughter of the Umbrella co-founder Dr. Edward Ashford, 5th Earl Ashford, the ten-year-old quickly gained an aura of majesty within the company. Birkin was severely affected by this, firstly with it damaging his pride of being a child prodigy, and secondly his fellow researchers' constant discussion of it.[8] With research having stalled since 1978, Birkin was determined to prove himself and took part in constant research to solve the new problem of some 10% of the population being immune to the t-Virus. This, Birkin solved, with the development of Bio Organic Weaponry, and successfully developed Hunter α, a bio-weapon created through bonding reptilian DNA with a fertilised human egg through the t-Virus.[8] In 1983, Dr Ashford's death was announced company-wide, though Birkin continued in his own research even with the imagined rivalry over.[8]
Thebirkinfamily

From left to right: William; Sherry and Annette.

During his time at the Arklay Laboratory, Birkin began a relationship with another researcher named Annette. They married sometime in the mid-1980s and a daughter, Sherry was born around 1986.[10]

By 1988, the Arklay Lab hit another dead-end in research when its latest project, "Tyrant", was met with a serious flaw. As advantageous, mutagenic properties of the t-Virus were linked to brain chemistry, a strain that caused brain damage was an obstacle. At some point during the research that gave them the Proto Tyrant and T-002, Birkin created a t-Virus strain which lowered the level of brain damage. However, this strain still required the infected to have certain, rare genetic traits that only one in ten million possessed.[10] During this year he gained access to Dr. Marcus' t-Virus research to bolster his own, when Dr. Spencer ordered his assassination. Birkin followed the USS raid party and began confiscating the research, gaining the moniker of "creator" of the t-Virus while the elderly Marcus laid dying of gunshot wounds.[11][12]
Img-23

Birkin alongside Wesker during Marcus' assassination.

As another possible solution to the intelligence problem, Birkin arranged with Dr. Spencer himself to acquire one of Umbrella Europe's NE-α Types, parasitic creatures able to take-over brain functions. However, the parasites were notorious for killing their hosts in their attempts to bond. After exhausting other options, Birkin resorted to using the parasite on the only viable host, Lisa Trevor, who  had still survived the years of experimentation.[13] When the parasite was placed within Lisa, her body destroyed the intruder and its DNA was added to her genome, giving her tentacles. An investigation isolated a mutant Progenitor species within her body identified as the cause. Seeing the eugenics potential of a virus capable of mutating humans into a superior subspecies,[14] Birkin sought funding from Umbrella HQ to allow him to work on "Golgotha", known in shorthand as the "G-Virus".[13]

Underground Laboratory research (1991-1998)

When Birkin's discovery got Dr. Spencer's attention, Umbrella constructed the NEST adjacent to their chemical plant in the northeast of the city, completed in 1991.[15] There, Birkin was chief researcher, and directly led research into Golgotha with his wife, Annette and a team of researchers, with unrelated B.O.W. projects also conducted by other teams in the facility. The Raccoon Police Department's chief, Brian Irons, received bribes to keep any investigations away from the laboratory, and was given updates as to the research.

Though work on Golgotha was promising along the 1990s, Birkin began to suspect Umbrella was disinterested in giving him a position as a corporate executive. In May–July 1998, the t-Virus broke out across the Arklay Mountains, leading to dozens of deaths and mutations of civilians as well as the investigating S.T.A.R.S. members, the loss of the Arklay Laboratory itself, the recently re-opened training school, and a train transporting staff to it. Birkin had the training school destroyed, though he and Wesker already drew the ire of Umbrella executive Col. Sergei Vladimir, who blamed the pair for losing control of the school in the first place. Wesker made the decision to leave Umbrella and sell secrets to a rival company, though Birkin, adamant on completing Golgotha, officially stayed with the company. Plotting to betray them from the inside, Birkin entered talks with the US military to sell them Golgotha for their own bio-weapons project in exchange for an asylum for him and his family.[16]

In early September 1998, Birkin began sabotaging the facilities. The newly-commissioned P12A facility, designed to process contaminated waste, was rendered useless when Birkin flooded the facility with a radically accelerated supply of failed test subjects. The chemical effectiveness was diluted, allowing the virus to mutate and infect the staff with a strain their antiviral medication could not fight. The t-Virus also made its way around the city, infecting the staff at a water treatment plant near the Raccoon Police Station,[17] and sending dozens to the hospital to be treated for the so-called "Cannibal Disease". Umbrella took notice of Birkin's erratic behavior and, knowing only his lab had samples of Golgotha, grew evermore concerned he would prevent them from receiving the virus.[15]

Mutation and death (1998)

"SHERR-RY!"
— William Birkin calls out for his daughter following his G-Virus mutation

RE2make P-4 Testing Lab (12)

With Golgotha complete, the U.S. military sent a team out to meet with Birkin. Having moles within the military, Umbrella HQ's suspicions were confirmed and a USS squad was sent out on a race to confiscate the virus first. With advanced warning, the USS operation was disrupted when a police officer spotted them entering the sewers and recovered C-4 explosives. On the night of 22 September, Alpha Team leader "HUNK" arrived at the facility with a subordinate to obtain the virus. In the standoff, Birkin was gunned down with automatic fire after attempting to resist Alpha team. Alpha Team retrieved a duralumin case containing "t" and "G" samples and left for the sewers to their extraction point. The injured Birkin infected himself with a remaining G sample, but the virus didn't properly stabilize onto his body and the scientist himself was unable to become a G-human,[14] and instead transformed into a large creature simply known as "G".

Intent on vengeance, G followed the USS into the sewers and they were all either killed or seriously injured. To guarantee no more samples were at risk of theft, G ate the Golgotha samples.[18][19] In the process, he also destroyed several "t" samples, allowing rats to consume them and spread the virus into the city's water supply.

Dr. William Birkin 12

Over the next week the city's population of 100,000 were either killed or infected, and the U.S. military blockaded the city to prevent classified information relating to their dealing from getting out. Driven entirely by basic instincts, G searched for food, whether alive or dead and vessels for reproduction. The sewers fell under the control of rejected G embryos, which had made themselves a colony.

Ultimately, G sought out Sherry who, as a blood relation, was a viable carrier for his parasitic larvae. During his search of Raccoon City Orphanage for carriers, he parasitised Chief Irons, who was holding Sherry hostage. He seriously injured T-00 at an elevator to the Umbrella sewer facility as it tried to attack Sherry and another survivor, Claire Redfield, and later moved into the sewers as well. During his confrontation with the survivors in the sewers it became clear he had successfully parasitised Sherry, either in the orphanage or in the sewers, and when she was rushed to NEST for treatment he followed.

While in NEST, G was attacked by Annette with an anti-B.O.W. weapon and suffered serious injury. In his further mutation, he threw Annette at a wall, causing internal hemorrhaging. As the facility began to self-destruct, he followed the Claire as she headed down to the lower levels of the facility to activate the emergency train. His fourth defeat would leave him severely wounded, but G was able to continue on and boarded the escape train. Mutating into his fifth and final form, a blob with multiple limbs, eyes and tentacles, and entered the rear carriages of the train. After a short fight, the carriage was unbuckled, and he was engulfed in the explosion from NEST.

Birkin's G Forms

Birkin from RE2 - HD

William Birkin's G forms

G1

After mutating into his first G form, Birkin's right arm grew drastically larger and more muscular, developing a tumour-like eyeball and a bony projection on the shoulder. The outline of a pair of vestigial hands have begun to develop on his sides, a sign of his further mutations. In the FMV cutscenes, his skin is grey and purple after his mutation. His transformation shredded his buttoned shirt, leaving only the tattered lab coat covering his malformed body from the waist up.

In The Darkside Chronicles, his appearance remained the same, save for the hems of his trousers becoming tattered and some slight damage to his shoes.

In the Resident Evil 2 remake, he became bulkier in appearance as his right arm became more monstrous and grotesque due to the change of graphics. The tumor-like eyeball became larger and gained a red pupil to match its light red sclarae. His trousers are covered with blood stains, and the right half of his face is now covered in bloody parts of the skin to match up his mutated body; on the other hand, he lacks the vestigal hands on his stomach.

Interestingly, G1's right arm periodically "de-evolves" slightly, becoming smaller as the eye on the shoulder closes and the spikes retract; this seems to represent Birkin attempting to restrain the G-Virus's degenerative effects on his mind, although it's clearly a losing battle. This is taken further in the Resident Evil 2 remake, where Birkin seems to retain a degree of his humanity; when his right arm shrinks, his cries become less monstrous and distorted, he screams "Help Me!" and "Kill!", and he occasionally pauses to swing at thin air or attempt to pry open the eyeball on his shoulder, leaving him vulnerable. In cutscenes, he also appears to be attempting to protect Sherry by attacking threats to her safety (such as Brian Irons or the T-00) before the G-Virus instincts take over once again.

G2

In G's second form, his body becomes even larger, more twisted and inhuman: his skin takes on a black hue, the vestigial hands begin to grow into a second pair of arms, and a second tumor-like eye appears on his back. In this form, only shreds of the lab coat hang from his twisted body, while the ruined trousers now only reach the knees and the shoes are completely destroyed. Perhaps most dramatic of the changes is that his original head is forced down into the left side of his chest, while a second developing cranium emerges in its place. Discarding the pipe he previously used, this form of G instead attacks with the long bony claws that grow out of his massive right arm.

In Darkside Chronicles, his appearance has minor changes and his skin is not black but replaced with bloody parts of his skin as his new, monstrous head is shown to move when trying to observe his wife, Annette before he fatally slashed her with his talons.

G2's general appearance was retained in the Resident Evil 2 remake, but only its left secondary arm is functional; the right side of its stomach shows either signs of the other arm developing or part of its rib cage. Its claws are longer, and the developing rings of spines on its chest have been removed. The developing secondary cranium has yellow eyes (bloody parts of flesh slightly obscuring the right eye) and a mouth to show its fangs. 

G3

In his third form, G’s body gains more muscle mass and a leaner physique, destroying all remaining traces of clothing. His new head becomes more skull-like with a lipless grin, while Birkin's original face is just a warped impression in his side, seemingly frozen in an expression of agony or rage. The second pair of arms have become fully developed and functional, the primary arms now both have talons and have shifted to the shoulders, and a new eye appears on his thigh. Additionally, sharp bones sprout from the center of G's ribcage, forming a bizarre kind of mouth.

In the Darkside Chronicles, his skin is grey, but the Resident Evil 2 remake replaces it with dark, bloody textures.

The remake version of G3 has a slightly more hunched physique and an elongated neck, giving his head a slight resemblance to his later forms in the original game. The remnants of Birkin's human face are horribly distorted, barely visible under G's lower-left arm, the eye on its left thigh has become proportionately larger, and the monster has several more bony protrusions on its limbs. The "mouth" on G's chest is slightly smaller and less toothy; however, it's revealed to contain a cluster of small eyeballs that are exposed when the monster is significantly damaged.

G4

In his fourth form, G becomes like a quadrupedal animal; his primary arms become forelimbs, with an eyeball on both shoulders. The second set of arms now serves as replacements for its primary arms, and his mouth extends to the ribcage, the bones becoming an array of massive tusks.

In The Darkside Chronicles, his body is much larger and shows a couple more extra eyes on his backside, but otherwise remains similar to the original.

The Resident Evil 2 remake takes G4's design in a noticeably different direction, resembling a heavily-degraded version of G3 on its way to mutating into G5. Its secondary arms have vanished, and the "mouth" on its chest now dominates most of its torso, with large tusks and eyes protruding in an almost random fashion. Its flesh has become bloated and almost tumorous - seemingly dissolving into independent tendrils only partially fused together - but the monster maintains a bipedal stance, dropping to all fours to move more quickly and climb up walls. The eyes of its degraded head are green, while the rest dotting its body are their usual yellow-to-red.

G5

In his fifth and final form, G’s body has been damaged to the point where almost all semblance of higher biology has collapsed entirely. He is a massive, shapeless blob with giant eyes, tentacles and other limbs sprouting all over the body; the front is dominated by a huge, gaping maw with countless long, sharp, tusk-like teeth arranged like a lamprey's mouth. The remnants of G4's head protrude above this enormous mouth, appearing almost worm-like and nearly completely disconnected from what used to be its jaws.

In The Darkside Chronicles, G5 manifests long, thin tentacles ending in three-clawed hands with small red eyes in the palms.

In the Resident Evil 2 remake, G5 is larger than previous appearances, being able to rip off the top of the train car to accomodate itself. It has several tumour-like eyes inside of its mouth, the largest of which ends up being impaled with a pipe. It also seems to spread tiny tendrils of biomass ahead of its main mass, giving the train car a fleshy, "rotting" appearance as it advances. 

Further notes

  • In the original Resident Evil 2, Birkin dropped a mug, which startled the U.S.S to shoot him.[14]
  • William's death in the original Resident Evil 2 had him defeated by whoever was used in the B Scenario. As Birkin's viral presence caused the train to auto self-destruct, Leon, Claire and Sherry fled the train after successfully using the emergency brake to stop the vehicle. After the trio leave the tunnel, the train detonates itself, killing William.
  • When William injects the G-Virus into his own body, it was different in the three games.
    • in the original Resident Evil 2, he injects the virus on his stomach as his eyes glow red.
    • In The Darkside Chronicles, he injects the virus on his incapacitated left arm and evilly grins before mutating into his first form.
    • In the remake version, he injects the virus on his chest out of anger and frustration for losing the G-Virus while he slowly mutates and walks off, witnessed by his wife Annette.

Bibliography


Sources

Notes
References
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 CAPCOM
  2. Evident by his research into the Golgotha Virus.
  3. Resident Evil 2 (2019)
  4. Capcom. Resident Evil 2 remake. (Capcom Co., Ltd.). Scene: VHS recording 2.
  5. Capcom. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles. (Capcom Co., Ltd.). File: William Birkin.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Resident Evil 0 (2002), "Assistant Director's Diary".
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Wesker's Report II, part 1
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Wesker's Report II, part 2
  9. Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), file: "Newspaper Clip".
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wesker's Report II, part 4: "Enter Nemesis"
  11. Resident Evil 0 (2003), scene: "Confrontation With Marcus".
  12. Resident Evil 2
  13. 13.0 13.1 Resident Evil (2002), file: "Observation Note".
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 http://www.projectumbrella.net/articles/Yasuhisa-Kawamura-Interview-Project-Umbrella
  15. 15.0 15.1 Tahara (ed) Official Guide Book, p.259.
  16. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (2007), file: "William Birkin Profile".
  17. Resident Evil 2 (1998), file: "Watchman's Diary".
  18. Tahara (ed.), Official Guide Book, p.260.
  19. Capcom. Resident Evil 2 remake. (Capcom Co., Ltd.). Scene: VHS recording 1.
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