You see, it wasn't Ada's gun that we heard being cocked, it was Annette's. Ada heard it too, and she lowered her gun not out of love for Leon, but because she knew that she too had a gun pointed at her. Ada would have shot Leon, given the chance, but Annette's blind rage saved his life.
Capcom's manipulation of the Resident Evil timeline hasn't exactly been kind to this particular theory surrounding Ada Wong's fate.
Despite this, Leon leaps at the chance to grab Ada before she falls into what appears to be a bottomless pit. His police officer instincts kick in, and he acts out of pure reflex rather than kindness or remorse. Remember, it's his job to protect her.
As she hangs by her uninjured arm, Ada tells Leon to let her go, echoing previous conversations where Ada tells him to abandon her for his own safety. Even as Leon does his best to convince her that she can be saved, Ada tells him there is no hope for her. But while the large wound on her arm may lead you to believe she means no hope of her making it out alive, that's not the case. She means there's no hope for her soul. No hope of Leon ever turning her into a good person.
"I really wanted to escape with you Leon, escape from everything" she says in a lifeless tone. Leon remains silent, though the gears in his head are spinning. He realizes that she is, once again, lying. The two could have very easily escaped together countless times already, were it not for Ada's constant disappearing, backstabbing, and murderous tendencies. A light bulb flickers on in Leon's mind as he finally accepts that she was right all along, and there really is no hope for her.
Ada quietly says, "Goodbye," and Leon, pushing his moral instincts aside for a fraction of a second, allows logic to overrule his drive to protect. He doesn't say a word, he doesn't groan or cry for help, he doesn't even reach out with his second hand - he lets go.
Realizing what he's done, Leon immediately calls out to Ada as she disappears into the darkness. He falls to his knees, visibly shaken up by what has just taken place, but he doesn't cry. Are these the actions of a grieving man who lost a comrade? No. It's the frustrated tantrum of a trusting police officer who put his faith in the wrong person, and ultimately realized she was too dangerous to be left alive. Leon Kennedy made the decision that Ada Wong needed to die, and he carried out that judgment by simply opening his hand.
If you're shaking your head in disbelief right now, I can't really blame you. Capcom's manipulation of the Resident Evil timeline hasn't exactly been kind to this particular theory surrounding Ada Wong's fate. When Ms. Wong eventually made a triumphant return seven years later in Resident Evil 4, fans began to question just how this was possible. The answer is very simple: Capcom has buried Ada's falling death scene so deep within the franchise's lore that you're not supposed to acknowledge that it even exists.
In November of 2005, nine months after Ada reappears in the fourth numerical Resident Evil title, Capcom released an official Resident Evil story guide called Resident Evil Archives. The 303-page tome explores the events of Resident Evil as Capcom chooses to remember them.
As you may or may not remember, Resident Evil 2 has a total of four different endings. Playing through either the disc one or disc two with a fresh save file yields different versions of events for both Leon and Claire, called "Leon A" and "Claire A." But when you beat the game using one disc, a save file is created allowing you to play through the game with the other character. These stories are labeled "Leon B" and "Claire B," and they feature some big changes from the A versions.
Using their power to decide which events are official and which ones aren't, Capcom stitched bits and pieces of all four Resident Evil 2 scenarios into a patchwork that the company insists is the official canon. In doing so, they choose to ignore this scene entirely and instead focus on Ada's actions in the Leon B scenario - where she is wounded by the Birkin mutation but survives, and eventually aids Leon in killing the monster.
In fact, this supposedly all-inclusive Resident Evil retrospective doesn't even mention Ada's constant betrayals or very obvious history of manipulating people to get what she wants. Capcom very opaquely painted over the lore in Resident Evil 2 simply for the sake of keeping Ada alive, and in doing so have chosen to abandon Leon's decision, and one of the most complex and intriguing personal struggles ever to appear in polygons.
This is made all the worse by the fact that this scenario is the very first that most gamers played when picking up the game. We're talking about the first playthrough of the first disc. This isn't some offshoot or crazy unlockable add-on, this is the version of events chosen by the developers to be the showcase, and seven years after its release we are told it never happened? Why? Did too many people catch on to Leon's decision to end a life, or too few? Is Ada really likable enough to alter the most accepted series of events simply to keep her alive?
I don't buy it. Only Capcom knows why Leon's most emotional decision in Resident Evil 2 is being denied its rightful place among the series' history, but the release of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City may have held a small nod to those who believe Leon let go: In the "Heroes" multiplayer mode, Ada Wong doesn't fight alongside Leon Kennedy, she fights against him.
If you have the opportunity, I strongly urge you to play Resident Evil 2 disc one again, even if you've played it a hundred times before. But this time, rather than assuming Ada simply slipped, look at the scene through Leon's eyes and ask yourself if you would have saved the black widow hanging from the ledge, or if you would have just let go.
Mike Wehner has been a gamer since the Atari 2600 days, and holds a somewhat unhealthy adoration for Mega Man. He is the Senior News Editor for Tecca, which specializes in consumer technology. You can follow his shenanigans on Twitter.