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Previously On: The Walking Dead - "Amid the Ruins"

After one of the best episodes in the series, "Amid the Ruins" kills a bit of this season's momentum with some odd character and plot choices.

Editor's Note: As always, this is a spoiler-heavy discussion of the events that take place in the latest episode of The Walking Dead. Still intend to play this yourself? Then don't read this yet!

The Walking Dead's success (and, really, the success of any of Telltale's choice-focused adventure games) falls upon how well it crafts the illusion that your choices have a meaningful impact on how the story progresses. This season has been a bit less successful at maintaining that illusion than the first, but by and large it's done a good job of establishing believable stakes for Clementine and her new group of survivors to reckon with, and provided enough seemingly important decisions for the player to make. "Amid the Ruins" is the first episode of this series that I felt failed to deliver on those elements. There are tangible dangers and some troubling choices to make, but cracks begin to form in the framework of the story almost from the beginning, and by the time the credits rolled, I found myself feeling more manipulated than intrigued by what had taken place.

Case in point: the episode's opening salvo, in which you pick up right where the last episode left off. In my playthrough, Sarita has been bitten, and I opted not to chop her arm off as the last episode wrapped up. I was regretting that decision right up until "Amid the Ruins" kicked off, expecting to suffer some terrible consequence for not having learned one of the key lessons of the last episode (I.E. the example of Reggie's missing arm). Instead, I soon discovered that the choice really didn't make much difference. Because I killed the zombie and didn't chop off her arm, Sarita escapes through the horde of walkers along with most everyone else, but ends up infected and dying by the time Clementine arrives at the planned meeting place. Upon arriving there, we find out that Kenny is steaming mad, and when Clem approaches him, he snaps, launching into a tirade about how just because she's a little girl, she doesn't get to skip out on blame when she gets people killed.

This is odd, because apart from not cutting her arm off, Clementine didn't actually do anything other than kill the walker that attacked her. In reading up on how things would have played out otherwise, it turns out that if you cut Sarita's arm off, she ends up swarmed by more walkers and eventually dies in the middle of the fracas. That scenario feels much more like the kind of situation Kenny would blow up over, but that's not what happened in my game. In my game, Sarita is infected and dying in Kenny's arms, and he's still yelling like her death is all Clem's fault. One could chalk this up to Kenny just being angry in general, but some of the dialogue still feels too specific to fit the situation I just played through, which took me right out of the scene.

If that were the only scene that felt off, I'd probably have just ignored it and been fine, but it's far from the only example. Some of that "off" feeling undoubtedly comes from the episode's drastic shift in energy from its predecessor. After spending hours dealing with Carver and his band of misfits, as well as the massive horde of walkers that attacked their home base, "Amid the Ruins" is a much more sedate episode, focused on Clementine's relationships with her few surviving friends. Most of the episode takes place in and around a single location--a Civil War memorial site and the few buildings that sit around it--and save for a single detour to rescue Luke and Sarah, there's not a lot to do until the final minutes of the episode.

Some of that downtime is at least of interest. When you go hunting for Luke and Sarah, you're paired up with Jane. Jane's had little meaningful screen time up to this point, and "Amid the Ruins" does flesh her out into something of a surrogate sister for Clem. She's every bit the loner she makes herself out to be, but you learn a lot more about why she's become that way as she teaches Clem some of her best zombie killing techniques. You learn that she's grown to not trust groups of survivors--in her mind, they all inevitably turn on each other--and that she once had a sister very much like Sarah. Her trust issues and lack of faith in other people prevent her from getting too attached, and though she tries to impart this wisdom on Clementine, I couldn't bring myself to take it entirely at face value. After all, my version of Clementine has, up to this point, still retained some basic ideas of right and wrong. So when it comes time to save Luke and a decidedly catatonic Sarah from a group of walkers, I didn't just leave Sarah there, as I had the opportunity to do. I had promised to look out for her, to be her friend, and if that meant slapping the shit out of her to get her to wake up and move, that's what I was going to do. Jane unsurprisingly admonished me for risking my own life for someone who had clearly "given up," but I couldn't just quit on her.

Unfortunately, Jane is the only character who gets much in the way of advancement in this episode. Apart from another, better scene with Kenny--where he wistfully describes what it's like to be beaten almost to death--and a couple of small moments with Rebecca, everyone in this episode essentially treads water, or ends up markedly worse off than before. A scene with Bonnie and Mike goes pretty much nowhere, and appears to only exist to add an additional Major Player Choice (do you agree to crawl through a small space to unlock a door, or not) and a cute scene with a family of raccoons. Luke, who once seemed like a more promising character, has suddenly turned into an only slightly less frazzled Nick, making lousy suggestions and actually ignoring his walker guarding duties at one point to share some brief, post-apocalyptic intercourse with Jane. It's a strange turn that doesn't fit too well with what the character has been portrayed to be thus far. Maybe this is the build to some realization that he's been putting on an act of confidence up to this point, to hide his own insecurities and character failings, but it still comes across like the writers decided he needed to be Nick now. Which is to say nothing of Nick himself, who dies rather unceremoniously early in the episode.

Unceremonious death is not a new concept in these games. If you've played both seasons, you know full well that characters you work hard to try and save probably won't survive to the season finale, let alone the next season. The difference is that in "Amid the Ruins" deaths feel less like calculated plot points and more the writers just trying to hastily remove personalities they no longer know what to do with. Nick never got much of an arc beyond his accidental shooting of Walter's partner in episode two, and losing him didn't exactly leave much of an impression on me. I felt similarly about Sarita, who has spent the last two episodes either talking about Kenny, crying over Kenny, or a combination of the two, and not doing much else. There were glimmers of more interesting personalities in both cases, but we never got to see them.

And then there's Sarah. Whether you found her crippling anxiety pitiable or just plain annoying, there's no denying that this season seemed bent on trying to make you feel something for her. She never came across like a throwaway character, given that her actions--taking the picture of Clementine, whispering during Carver's speech, refusing to do the plant shearing--often were the catalyst for one bad situation or another. Again, I spent a lot of time trying to comfort her, while also trying to snap her out of whatever fear-induced paralysis she'd fallen into. I saved her time and time again, and the reward for doing so? Watching her die helplessly in a situation I had zero control over.

Near the end of the game, you're surrounded by walkers as Rebecca is delivering her baby in a second-floor gift shop. Outside, you and other survivors are shooting away at a swarm of walkers that are trying to crash through the gate. In the process, a wire used to hold up the wooden deck outside the shop gives way. Sarah falls, pinned underneath pieces of the deck, while Jane hangs by Luke's hand. There appears to be a choice here, where you can grab Jane's hand and help her up, or try to get her to save Sarah below. That this is not actually one of the Big Five choices of the episode says all you need to know. There is no way to save Sarah. This is how she dies. In some way, it's probably my fault for allowing myself to ever get attached to her. Between Jane's warnings and actually just about everything else that's ever happened in this series, I probably should have learned that building relationships with characters like this is only going to result in disappointment. For my part, the second she went crashing to the ground, I knew it was over. I didn't even send Jane down to try to rescue her. I just grabbed her hand, and resigned myself to Sarah's terrible fate. I'd promised I'd take care of her, that I would protect her, that I would be her friend. If the point to Sarah's arc was to harden me, to make me wary of ever promising to protect anyone ever again, then I suppose mission accomplished.

Except, I expect this won't be the last time I'm faced with making that kind of promise this season. After all, there's still Rebecca's baby to worry about.

Yes, the baby is successfully delivered, despite the onslaught of walkers and everything else. Kenny looks happy for the first time in ages, Rebecca looks exhausted but okay, and Jane finally decides that it's time to up-out. She and Clem exchange a short, terse goodbye, wherein Jane presents her with a nail file (a very useful tool, you see). This leaves an even smaller group to try and decide what to do from here. You can choose to leave the next morning, or take Luke's suggestion to stay an extra couple of days so Rebecca can rest. It's getting colder outside, and snow appears to be on the horizon, but I opted to stay, because up to this point, it felt like every decision I made would end up with some terrible outcome regardless. Turns out, I was right!

Cut to the survivors crossing over a snow-covered field, Kenny righteous with indignation over how right he was about wanting to leave right away. Rebecca looks even sicker, Kenny and Luke won't stop arguing, and suddenly, a lone figure appears. This is Arvo, a character you briefly encounter earlier in the episode with Jane. He happens upon you while you're searching buildings, and you end up surprising him. Jane easily disarms him, and discovers that he's carrying a bag full of drugs. He claims it's for his sick sister, and you can't tell if his nervousness is due to his less-than-firm grasp of the English language, or if he's just a liar. This Big Choice forces you to decide if you'll steal his drugs or not. I chose not to. Why? Because of what took place in the first season, where the man whose supplies we inadvertently stole came back to haunt us. As much as my group might have needed those drugs, I just felt wrong stealing them from him outright. I thought maybe my act of kindness would come back to benefit me in a dire situation later on. Not so much, sadly.

As Arvo approaches, we quickly discover that he's just a scout for a group of (Russian? Eastern European?) thugs. Arvo is the only one who speaks English, and somewhere in there he drops the tidbit that he recognizes you as the girl who robbed him. I protest. I did not steal from him. The only thing either Jane or myself took was his gun, and she's long gone. No matter. Whether it's because Arvo is a liar who took the drugs for himself, or because the story itself couldn't find a way to make this final scene go without Arvo accusing you of stealing, it does not matter. With guns drawn on all sides, Rebecca slinks to the ground. She has died, and within seconds she begins to resurrect while still holding the baby. Here you can just shoot her, or you can cry out for help. I cried out, which led to an instantaneous shot by Kenny straight to Rebecca's skull. Another unceremonious death of a character we only got to know a little bit about. And if the numerous gunshots that rang out as the screen cut to black are any indication, I expect the season finale will feature at least a few more of those right out of the gate.

If I'm down on "Amid the Ruins," it's probably at least in part because it has the unfortunate distinction of following one of the very best episodes in this series. It's a come-down that also regrettably features some of the least-engaging storytelling of either season. With a suddenly huge void left by the death of Carver, the writers struggle to come up with conflicts that carry similar weight, and end up with a story that feels like a lot of wild stabs in the dark toward dramatic tension, with only a few that actually connect. The ones that do connect are genuinely terrific, mind you. Jane's presence throughout the episode is wonderful, and as off as that first Kenny encounter came across, his intensity throughout the episode is equally gripping and terrifying. Elsewhere, the remaining characters feel lost in the shuffle, both figuratively and literally, and the plot sputters as it tries to build tension toward what should be one of the biggest moments of the season. Suddenly, The Walking Dead feels like it's backing into its finale, a far cry from the flawed, but incredibly tense penultimate episode of last season. Given that this season has largely been very good, I'm hopeful that this is just a bump in the road, and that the finale will recapture the intensity that "Amid the Ruins" mostly lacks.

Random Notes:

  • I don't have a whole lot left to add on this episode, but I will make one VERY EXCITING FINALE PREDICTION. Though I don't know how it'll get there, my theory is that the season ends with everyone but Clementine and the baby dead. Season three (assuming there is one) is a several-years-older Clementine trying to raise a child in a doomed world, effectively making her the new Lee to a new Clementine. Please to be putting your own theories in the comments below. I would love to see what everyone else thinks this is all building to.
Alex Navarro on Google+
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Posted by Mentaur

Glad to read that Sarah would have died whatever as I did worry about that. The biggest problem I had with this episode was what Alex and others have said - if you do your best to treat Arvo right he still claims Jane stole from him. OK, so the gun maybe counts, but as a player I was instantly confused as there was a massive disconnect between my choices and what was playing out. For a game that usually pays a lot of respect to that I thought it was a cheap way to funnel me into the episode end, and my emotion was annoyance rather than exhilaration as it had been at other episode endings this season.

Edited by Xpgamer7

I really enjoyed the focus on characterization in this episode, maybe due to the fact it seems both me and Telltale love loner characters like Molly or Jane. On the other hand this does feel like the weakest episode. Most of your choices are based on appealing to emotions, and some characters got so little writing they came across as either character standees or even uncharacteristic (the point with Luke). To some degree it's looking for ties to characters with "more" dialogue. The first season did a good job of keeping conversation feeling balanced by having you approach characters more and playing everyone in arguments. The increasingly cinematic style of Season 2 keeps more of the quiet moments in one on one talks while making walking around feel urgent. It makes everything feel better paced and more personal, but veers the writing away from groups. Anyway, despite all my complaining I enjoyed this episode. The dock house feels like a place you wonder about when seeing it broken down. And despite Alex's claim I feel having a lack of control should be exactly how this game makes you feel at points. The bigger problem is both making you connect to the character up till then AND make the moment feel like a tense choice, even if you feel unable to do anything. It also was the biggest turnaround of the Sunny farm, Duck's a detective reverse foreshadowing thing from even earlier in the season. To sum up: yes. This is an episode with discussion.

Posted by ThunderSlash
@mentaur said:

Glad to read that Sarah would have died whatever as I did worry about that. The biggest problem I had with this episode was what Alex and others have said - if you do your best to treat Arvo right he still claims Jane stole from him. OK, so the gun maybe counts, but as a player I was instantly confused as there was a massive disconnect between my choices and what was playing out. For a game that usually pays a lot of respect to that I thought it was a cheap way to funnel me into the episode end, and my emotion was annoyance rather than exhilaration as it had been at other episode endings this season.

Yeah, that was a bit weird since the beginning of that encounter was definitely different depending on whether you stole or not. They could've removed that dialog about stealing and things would've played out as convincingly since it seems that Arvo's group is looking for trouble anyway.

Edited by Honkalot

Seemed like Arvo was trying to stuff the bag of meds into the trash can at the lookout deck. I think it's likely he stole them from his group in the first place.

Posted by AndrewB

The weird thing about the arm this is that cutting off the arm is the smartest move for survivability. I don't see what else Clem could have done. It doesn't seem like her fault in either scenario. Also it doesn't really give you the chance to explain that she was bitten which was why I cut the arm off in the first place. When I missed that explanation prompt I was unclear if Kenny realized it himself and it made it frustrating arguing with him cause it didn't give me a second chance to bring it up, and that was vital in my decision to cut her arm off. In the end it came across like Kenny thought I intentionally murdered her, which makes no sense what so ever.

I think he keeps spouting "you had no right," which leads me to believe he knew the why yet even now, after having seen Duck and Lee (he wasn't there for it, but he knew the outcome) turn, wasn't hardened enough to see it was the best move at the time, and literally the only way of potentially saving her life even if it didn't end up that way.

I guess I'm still rather have had her zombify and at least give Kenny no even potential reason to be angry at Clementine, letting Sarita die on her own terms, but I'm here to try to make the tough decisions in the heat of things and logic wins even taking into account the consequence for me in this situation.

It's also good to see Alex calling out the same questionable parts to the episode I did so at least I know I'm not alone. But honestly, I still enjoy the series, and even this episode. We're just at the point where the choice needs to be less of an illusion, because really the promise of a branching story is all this series has going for it as a video game, and there's already a comic and TV show that work just fine at telling a linear story.

Posted by ch3burashka

by the time the credits rolled, I found myself feeling more manipulated than intrigued by what had taken place.

Exactly. I immediately replayed this episode to see the other side of my choices and guess what? Sarita dies, Nick dies, Sarah dies, Jane leaves, Rebecca dies, Arvo accuses you of theft. NONE of the choices allow you change any of that. My prediction for the finale? Fuck it, Clem's dead. Mike, you're up.

EDIT: Just wanted to add to this. I'm feeling very pessimistic (obviously) but I feel that Telltale is conditioning me to feel that way. I thought Jane was also very pessimistic, and I tried to keep Clem optimistic but it seems Jane was right. Bad shit is gonna happen and you can't change that. Just like real life! I'm gonna play the finale but...goddammit.

It's entirely possible Telltale is losing their 'touch' and are in fact manipulating rather than integrating your choices, but I don't believe that's true. First off, prior to release they made it clear that, as a child, you're not as respected or appreciated as an adult. There have been a few choices in the game that are clearly meant to give Clementine a chance to act the petulant child, and do some manipulating of her own.

That's Telltale's strategy. My opinion is that we need more of these kind of choices. The Bombcast has brought up the issue of the protagonist as superhero - in Mass Effect, your choices single-handedly change the fate of any one entity or race that it touches. While dramatic, it isn't realistic. Had Clementine's choices had the same sort of weight, I think that would take me out of the moment even more than the lack of it. Telltale's strength isn't their ability to deliver on what YOU want the game to be; it's obscuring the consequence of choices and muddying up the moral implications of those choices. Either it will go as expected or it won't, but the choice is still there for you to roll the dice on.

Edited by Dan_CiTi

B-Rad!

Anyway aside from that and the weird light in the sky at the end, OK episode. It felt like a lot of running around...Jane was cool, but a lot of the choices were weak. It just felt really shallow in a way it never has. And that ending...what the hell man.

Posted by AlKusanagi

I wish there was a straight up "murder everyone in their sleep" option, because my Clem doesn't have any time for these damn fool survivors. I was more than happy to dump the dead weight that was Sarah, and I would have put Kenny out of his misery if given a chance to.

Posted by MightyDuck

Just finished episode 4! I feel like an asshole now for not slapping Sarah and rescuing her out of the trailer.

Edited by LackingSaint

@alorithin said:

Too much work has gone into Bonnie's character for her to die.

Remember how the climactic finale of Episode 1 of the Season was whether or not to save Nick?

Remember how a major conflict of Episode 2 was making sure Nick survived after Walt found out he'd killed his partner?

Remember how Nick dies off-screen in Episode 4 without having said anything in the last two episodes?

It's painfully obvious that TellTale is making up the story as they go along at this point, wildly grasping for arcs and then throwing them away the second they feel like they've run out of space for the characters. With the exception of maybe Chuck, none of the major character deaths in the first Season felt this throwaway.

And god, I don't know who decided it was a good idea to have that stupid melodramatic music play at the end of every episode. I know i'm supposed to be bummed out, TellTale, why don't you let me just feel my own feelings without throwing a sad soundtrack at me every time?

Edited by Milkman

Just finished this episode and while I definitely enjoyed it while I was playing it, I can't really argue with any of Alex's criticisms here.

Posted by Jabbawocky

@lackingsaint: You know what I think I agree with you on Telltale making it up as they go along. Although I don't think that was their intention at the beginning.

If you play The Wolf Among Us from the first episode straight to the last you can tell that was very much a story which changed. It helps me believe the rumours that the story was re-written due to fans apparently working out who the murderer was going to be from the get-go.

I think they had planned to just make the TWAU and in their downtime write a more flesh out story for TWD. But in the end they basically found themselves writing two stories on the fly and making two games with the intention of getting them out as soon as possible.

Also let's not forget their sudden decision to take on Game of Thrones and Borderlands stories. They have just taken on too much for their developers to handle sufficiently and its going to hurt them in the long run.

Posted by Jacanuk

Why does this grumpy Alex review not come as a surprise, i knew it weeks before he wrote this and i knew it because he clearly got tired of The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us and Telltale games awhile back and anyone who have followed his cast with Klepek knows this. Also the critique of the kenny situation is wrong, its a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't so it doesnt matter if you took the arm or not and anyone with psych 101 would know its pretty normal response to a situation like kenny is in, he would blame anyone even Clementine and since its Clem who walks over there he lashes out at her, blaming her.

But with that said i have to agree with one thing and that it wasn´t a usually telltale episode, it felt empty and most of the choices you make feels predetermined, its not like before where it felt like you actually had control.

Also one thing is clear , everything this season has been building up to a showdown between Kenny and Luke and if you look back at the choices its clear that this is an important red line, you can choose kenny´s side or you can choose Luke´s side.

Posted by Jacanuk

@honkalot said:

Seemed like Arvo was trying to stuff the bag of meds into the trash can at the lookout deck. I think it's likely he stole them from his group in the first place.

Spot on and Alex seems to forget that Arvo since he clearly went to the deck to hide the drugs, he likely would stash them another place and tell his "group" that he got robbed, particular when he could prove it by leading them straight to Clem.... Alex seems to miss the boat a few times during this episode.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

@blackout62:

yeah, sadly it was just soooo formulaic. Both girls are written fine but like....dude.

I'm calling it now: Arvo's "sister" is Christa!

???

Edited by SharkMan

yeah, this episode pissed me off too, when i went to go with bonnie and mike (a throwaway character if you ask me) the walking in the game was extremely slow, all of the gameplay elements were unneededly attached to shit parts of the game, i just wanted to go through the story and turn the stupid game elements off.

I chose most of Alex's choices bar, I cut sarita's arm off, and i shot rebecca. I didn't steal the meds, but it was because i couldn't decide in time. Sucks to hear there was no way to save Sarah, i also helped jane up, since sarah seemed really messed up after saving her from the trailer. this whole story arc was kind of shit, and i really wanted to leave the party after jane left. Oh also i let Jane keep her nail file.

overall this episode was trash compared to the previous one, probably one of the worst, Alex is right.

oh one last thing, I wish i could just permanently turn off the keyboard/mouse controls in the game, bump the mouse or keyboard and all the dialogue options are fucked for the controller.

Edited by ThunderSlash

@dan_citi: I was mostly making up a crazy plot twist that sounds slightly plausible. Like what if it turns out that Christa grouped up with the Russians sometime after being separated from Clementine. They both were heading up north. I mean, maybe Arvo actually needed those meds for a sick Christa. He did seem kind of sincere about it when you ask him about his sister the second time you meet him. Of course I'm not saying that Christa is a biological sister to Arvo. /chemtrails

Edited by Fram

I actually thought this was one of the better episodes of the season. I'm playing Clem as a character who has made the decision to distance herself from the feelings of others. I saw Jane as a grown-up version of who I/Clem needed to be - driven, decisive, but also a loner. I bonded with Jane about not being like the others in the group, and learning new ways to take out walkers. It was only near the end of the episode that I realised what I was doing - getting attached to a character I knew wasn't going to hang around.

The moment where Jane was about to leave, I asked if I could go with her - knowing full well that she wouldn't agree. In this moment, I realised what it actually meant to walk the path of the loner, and just how lonely it is. That little exchange was my favourite moment of the season, and I can't wait to see how this all plays out.

Edit: Of course, the lack of variation in how things play out regardless of your choice does sound like a bummer, but I can only speak for my playthrough, which felt organic and compelling.

Edited by Pierre42

@hellknightleon said:

Yeah... at the end it will just be Clem and the baby... boy or girl? I don't think they said or gave the baby a name. I bet it will be a boy and she will call him Lee. The end.

And then the baby will turn and Clem will become the food for the baby to grow into a nice strong healthy young Zombie?

Also I got the awkward 'stealing' line from Arvo as well but I kinda interpreted it in a way that made sense.
I mean Arvo's English isn't great at any time. Rather than 'robbed' literally where you took the stuff from him he's just talking about the sheer act of getting mugged by a little girl and Jane. Whether or not you took the stuff in the end doesn't matter it's hilarious to think the little innocent girl outdid the Russian Mobster in any case. Just replace "Robbed" with "Held you up" and it makes fine sense whether you took the meds or not.

As for whether his comrades would have went for you because of the theft? Hell no, he was conning you just like Bonnie did with Carver in episode 2. You get a chance to say something along the lines of "You aren't really in trouble are you?" to which Arvo hangs his head and mumbles "No" then the goonsquad comes out and holds you up. He was obviously just the distraction, the gang was getting assaulted no matter what.

Posted by Heycalvero

I don't think this season will end without a major major decision involving Kenny. They've been building up the relationship between the player and him throughout both seasons, now with the added point of him losing his shit once or twice per episode.

In some way or another, I think we will have to pick to keep ourselves and/or the baby with him, with some suggested bad consequences either way.

I just don't want to have to kill him...

Posted by gschmidl

I feel this entire season has been a mix of soap opera and shitty 2000s disaster movie. All it needs is the girl who hates her dad but has to team up with him anyway.

Posted by Deckard42

I'm disappointed that not stealing the drugs really doesn't change what happens on the road later in the episode. I decided to take the meds because I didn't trust him but I don't know if they did anything meaningful.

I agree with your prediction for episode five though, with as much as Jane says that Clem would be fine on her own I think she ends up on her own next episode.

Posted by golguin

I'll need a few days to pass before I know how I feel about episode 4, but it wasn't as good episode 3. It would have been tough to surpass episode 3 since it was the best part in the series, but I don't think episode 4 was bad. I enjoyed watching Clem interact with Jane.

The ending was probably the first moment in both the Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us where I thought, "Oh god, what did I just do?" I shot Rebecca without thinking since Jane talked about not hesitating to put people down. As soon as the shot rang out I realized that it would cause everyone else to shoot.

I predict Clem will be the only survivor with the baby. She'll walk for a few days and find Christa. Christa will have baby flashbacks and we'll finally find out how her baby died. I really thought Clem would snap when she held the baby. Christa's baby is going to play some part in the ending. We'll find out Clem secretly killed the baby to stop its crying from attracting walkers.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

You know, I'm liking this season so far but I can't ignore the flaws. I have a feeling that Season 3 (which IS coming) will completely lose its way. Season 2 is already losing it a little bit.

Posted by Kaiserreich

I enjoyed the episode. That may have something to do with the fact that the decisions I made (cutting off Sarita's arm, robbing Arvo) seemed to fit best with how the characters reacted to me. Also, I still care about Kenny and his inevitable death is going to suck.

Posted by KlUMZeE

I can definitely see them going in the baby/Clem story for next season but, as much as I don't want to see the infant die, I feel like saddling Clementine with it could really limit what they could do with the story and I just don't want to see it go in that direction.

Posted by eXists

From my end, really enjoyed the episode, doesn't always have to be super stressful and Jane's character and zombie killing technique was pretty sweet. Looking forward to the last episode + just read that Season 3 may happen, can't wait!

Note: This is the only game that makes me go back from XOne to X360 (other than Forza 4 = car seat/wheel setup investment)

Posted by andrewf87462

Good write up Alex, was interesting to read someone else's perspective of the episode. I actually really enjoyed it and thought it was on par with episode 3. I however, do agree with your prediction about Season 3

Posted by sublime90

Having just played Ep 3 and 4 back to back i agree with what Alex said. with episode 3 and much like season 1 the choices i made, felt like i actually made them. i picked mostly the opposite choices alex did and while i see they had the same exact end results it actually felt that way when i was making them. the one thing that truly irritated me was the whole drug stealing thing. i also let him escape with the drugs only to be accused of stealing them anyways. i chose to shoot rebecca and when the screen went black i instantly thought, well that would have happened anyway even if i yelled for help. Episode 4 really did a bad job at hiding the seems. how the season ends? dont really know or care except i kind of want kenny to survive still. the other characters i really dont care about one way or the other. if season 3 happens i really hope they leave this whole arc behind thats what made 300 days so cool was all new people with new backgrounds. maybe have a brief run in with clem and baby? but i dont want to continue down this story path.

Posted by civid

@fram said:

I actually thought this was one of the better episodes of the season. I'm playing Clem as a character who has made the decision to distance herself from the feelings of others. I saw Jane as a grown-up version of who I/Clem needed to be - driven, decisive, but also a loner. I bonded with Jane about not being like the others in the group, and learning new ways to take out walkers. It was only near the end of the episode that I realised what I was doing - getting attached to a character I knew wasn't going to hang around.

The moment where Jane was about to leave, I asked if I could go with her - knowing full well that she wouldn't agree. In this moment, I realised what it actually meant to walk the path of the loner, and just how lonely it is. That little exchange was my favourite moment of the season, and I can't wait to see how this all plays out.

Edit: Of course, the lack of variation in how things play out regardless of your choice does sound like a bummer, but I can only speak for my playthrough, which felt organic and compelling.

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I couldn't agree more with you. This does however pose a serious problem, which is, that The Walking Dead Season Two is bad at handling multiple choice-situations. Because Clem is a character with a very specific arc. While Lee was a great character, he was somewhat bland, the everyman who could either be harsh or nice to people. His character and the plot allowed players to make those choices and because he was somewhat generic it felt natural either way.

With Clem, it's obvious the writers want to give her a very specific arc. I chose EVERY other choice than Alex (no joke), and while I got the same results, which is somewhat dissapointing, but understandable, the way I got there felt more natural. This season has NOT been about how Clem is the one last good bit of humanity and that she is proof that we still need to be humane and decent to one another even in the face of disaster, in fact it has been quite the opposite. She has done nothing but harden over this season. And so, watching Sarah die (in the trailer), stealing the meds, because SHE needed them, choosing to move on at the end and siding with Jane on every occassion possible makes sense for her as a character. Forcing the character to be some rightious knight in shining armour, defending the weak, when they are dragging her down, doesn't.

To be honest I actually hope Telltale will leave this choice-gimmick behind and start focusing on making better, more coherent stories instead. Because at this point, these games aren't adventure games anymore, they're visual novels. And that's fine, it's just annoying to see them stumble because they force themselves to give the player choices, that doesn't make any sense.

Edited by BisonHero

@lackingsaint said:

@alorithin said:

Too much work has gone into Bonnie's character for her to die.

Remember how the climactic finale of Episode 1 of the Season was whether or not to save Nick?

Remember how a major conflict of Episode 2 was making sure Nick survived after Walt found out he'd killed his partner?

Remember how Nick dies off-screen in Episode 4 without having said anything in the last two episodes?

It's painfully obvious that TellTale is making up the story as they go along at this point, wildly grasping for arcs and then throwing them away the second they feel like they've run out of space for the characters. With the exception of maybe Chuck, none of the major character deaths in the first Season felt this throwaway.

And god, I don't know who decided it was a good idea to have that stupid melodramatic music play at the end of every episode. I know i'm supposed to be bummed out, TellTale, why don't you let me just feel my own feelings without throwing a sad soundtrack at me every time?

Just finished Season 2 now, so I'm going back to these articles of Alex's.

Yeah, this whole season felt like improvisation. Characters get introduced that feature in multiple episodes but never matter (Luke exists to be Good Guy Luke right up until he gets injured and randomly dies, and why does Mike exist?). Characters get introduced that seem like they matter at first (Nick, Sarah), only for their character arcs to go absolutely nowhere and have no payoff, and not even a real gut punch moment where your lament their terrible fate. Episode 4 has the gall to include a pointless filler scene with Bonnie and Mike in the museum where nothing of any consequence happens, when this whole season desperately needed to use any spare moment it could to flesh out any of its characters that aren't named Clem, Carver, Kenny, and Jane.

Just so many throwaway deaths, but I guess they're oddly fitting when the season had so many throwaway characters aside from the 4 I just mentioned.

Also, I can't tell if TellTale knowingly wrote the same characters in Season 2 as in Season 1, if they subconsciously wrote Sarah to eventually be Ben, and Jane to be pretty much exactly Mollie. Baffling.

@honkalot said:

Seemed like Arvo was trying to stuff the bag of meds into the trash can at the lookout deck. I think it's likely he stole them from his group in the first place.

Remember when episode 5 doesn't even try to address A) why Arvo had that many drugs and meds all in one bag, or B) why he was hiding them in a trash can secret stash that is seemingly 3-5 hours walk from the shitty house the Russians were staying at?

Good times.

(Sorry, not trying to make fun of you from the future, but I can't fucking believe that they never explain what the deal with the drugs was. The whole thing just seemed like a manufactured scenario to give Clem the choice of "rob Arvo of his drugs" or "give the drugs back", and then it ends up being completely irrelevant because he accuses you of robbing him regardless.)

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