What are ya buyin?
I recently decided to replay through Resident Evil 4 on the Xbox One to relive some of the excitement and fear that I enjoyed back in the days of the Gamecube. It was the first Resident Evil game I had ever played, and I enjoyed it immensely. In my most recent playthrough however, my adult cynicism was set off by the Merchant. What is this random masked weirdo doing roaming around a backwoods area full of parasite infested villagers? Where did he get his guns, and how does he seem to make his way everywhere? These are questions I wanted answers too, and through my own ideas, and lots of research through online message boards, I feel like I have a pretty good theory.
First things first, let’s look at the merchant’s character model, he wears a heavy duty coat, which is used to carry weapons for sale, a large pack on his back which we can assume is also full of weapons, and he wears a purple clothe mask across his face, leaving only his eyes present. His eyes share a trait with the Plagas infected ganados, which glow a red color in the dark. This glowing would indicate that the merchant is similarly infected, but raises the question of, if he is infected, why is he helping Leon on his journey? If we look at some other major characters in the game, we can see that the Las Plagas infects people in different ways, with primary villains like Chief Mendez and Salazar being able to utilize the power of the Plagas while maintaining control of their own mind and body. Whether this is explained through sheer will power or because Saddler allows it is never explained, but my belief is that it is through will power. I believe that Saddler saw how Mendez and Salazar resisted the infestation, so chose to manipulate them through the promise of power in exchange for loyalty. This is why Mendez is made the Chief of the village, and why Salazar remains the head of his castle, both are promised and given power in exchange for loyalty (and eventually are sacrificed to try and stop Leon). So, if those two were able to resist the power of the parasite, and were offered power, doesn’t it make sense that the Merchant could as well? Except, when Saddler offered this man the same deal, he was rejected, and the Merchant was forced to flee. This would certainly explain why his eyes glow, how he is able to survive getting shot, and why he has to hide his face for fear of Saddler finding him.
Next I think it is important to look at what the Merchant does, and how he gets around the country so quickly. We first meet him after being captured alongside Luis Sera, and he continues to pop up throughout the game, offering to buy treasure and sell weaponry. His motivation on the surface is clearly money, but what use could he have for it, and more importantly, where did he get his weapons? I believe that the Merchant is a local who has lived in this country his whole life, but who has traveled the world as an international arms merchant. This would certainly explain his armory of weapons which include everything from hand guns to literal rocket launchers. My theory is this; I believe that the Merchant is actually Luis Sera’s grandfather, who is mentioned in one of Chief Mendez’s notes found in the village. In the note, Mendez talks about how Sera knows the land, because his grandfather taught him how to hunt there, and showed him “old secret passages” that are scattered throughout the region. This note also provides evidence on my earlier idea that the Merchant is a local who is infected and was able to resist, because the note goes on to say “If his grandfather was still alive, I would have used him to find Sera…” This indicates that Mendez knew who the grandfather was, and believes him to be dead, because he saw Saddler attempt to kill the Merchant! His knowledge of the country would explain how he gets around so quickly, his selling weapons to Leon is how he chooses to fight back against Saddler, and let’s not forget where we first met the Merchant, right outside the shack Luis Sera was being held! The Merchant was there to help his grandson escape, and this is where he first meets the man he believes can save his home.
Keep in mind, that this is all a theory, and the Merchant may simply be a game mechanic which is meant to replace the concept that you could find a machine fun in a box in the middle of Spain, but I think this theory holds water, and was definitely fun to think about, so why not share your thoughts on the matter? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or on Facebook! And don’t forget to follow Bonus Level Gaming on Facebook and Tumblr for the latest in gaming news, memes, cosplay, and more! Thanks for reading!