What is there that I need to explain?
- "But I understand. I'm sorry for how I acted earlier, Dad, but I can't stand feeling helpless around here. Sitting around on watch was something important that I could do. Helping your "investigation" at the motor inn was something important I could do. Helping getting the train ready was something important I could do. But sitting on my ass in an empty mansion wondering when you'll return with a boat wasn't going to help anybody."
- —Tyler to Lee.[src]
- 1 Tyler's Character
- 2 Killed Victims
- 3 "Was It Worth It? Season One"
- 4 Conspiracy Theories
- 4.1 Jane's "Final Solution"
- 4.2 Save-Lots Bandits
- 4.3 Ben and the Hatchet
- 4.4 What Really Happened Between Carver and Rebecca
- 4.5 Was Arvo Lying
- 4.6 Was Larry Dead
- 4.7 July 20th 2003
- 4.8 Howe's Hardware Herd
- 4.9 How In The Goddamn Hell Did Clementine Get Lee Into The Jewelry Store
- 4.10 How Exactly Did Kenny Survive Savannah
- 5 My Favorite Video Game Characters
- 6 My Least Favorite Video Game Characters
- 7 Game Ratings
- 8 Episode Rants
- 8.1 "A New Day"
- 8.2 "Starved For Help"
- 8.3 "Long Road Ahead"
- 8.4 "Around Every Corner"
- 8.5 "No Time Left"
- 8.6 "400 Days"
- 8.7 "All That Remains"
- 8.8 "A House Divided"
- 8.9 "In Harm's Way"
- 8.10 "Amid The Ruins"
- 8.11 "No Going Back"
- 8.12 "Ties That Bind - Part 1"
- 8.13 "Ties That Bind - Part 2"
- 8.14 "Above The Law"
- 8.15 "Thicker Than Water"
- 8.16 "From The Gallows"
Tyler is a very thoughtful and compassionate boy when he maintains control over his emotions. As a child, he led a very antisocial life with other children his own age, but apparently had no problem in forming relationships with people not his age. As evidenced by his quick thinking personality, Tyler is extremely resourceful and intuitive in the face of danger.
Tyler is by no means a perfect person, however. Although he is generally compassionate, he loses himself to anger at random times. One of his most notable indications of him losing control of his emotions is when he is biting his upper lip, in which case, Lee advised other group members to stay away from Tyler. This suggests that Tyler may be prone to violence. Despite his fits of anger, Lee usually manages to calm Tyler down.
Tyler is extremely close with the people he does call friends. Tyler quickly grew attached to the group at the motor inn, even to the point where he would sacrifice his own safety in saving Carley from being shot by Lilly and to save Duck from a grenade.
Tyler also has an obsessive need to prove himself before others. He feels that he must be useful at all times, and is angered whenever he is told that he must stay behind while other people do work.
- An Unnamed Atlanta Cop.
- Gary (Caused)
- Sgt. Stephen Ray Tyler (Zombified)
- Numerous counts of zombies.
"Was It Worth It? Season One"
The link is right here.
"A New Day"
The episode progresses normally, where Lee admitted his true relationship with Clementine, partially lied to Hershel, helped Duck, sided with Kenny at the drugstore, did not give Irene the gun, and saved Carley at the drugstore. There are a few minor changes to reference Tyler, explicitly between the conversations with the police officer, Hershel, Clementine, Kenny and Carley. Lee also does not refer to the zombies at any point in the episode as walkers; therefore changing the texts that do refer to them as that when talking to Shawn Greene and Doug. Lee also challenges Lilly's assertions about her father being a good man at both the drugstore and motor inn, despite there being no option do that at the latter place. Lee's ex-wife is named in this chapter, as is the senator she slept with. Clementine's finger was never cut. Lee gave a candy bar to her, Duck, Carley and Lilly, though he did not find any batteries for Carley's radio, nor did he approach her about it. The episode contains a short transitional scene between the departure from Clementine's Neighborhood to the Greene Family Farm, and includes a bonus scene after Kenny helped Lee get up in the drugstore. Lee also pointed out the fact that Kenny never said his wife's name, Katjaa, when introducing her to Lee and Clementine. Irene also gives Lee, Glenn and Carley her name. Lee directly changes his conversation arguments when convincing Doug that the trapped walker had the keys. Lee does not tell Katjaa that his parents owned the drugstore. Lee takes the photo of his parents from the drugstore and another one of his son.
Tyler has a brief appearance in Lee's nightmare in Hershel's barn, where he witnesses Lee kill the state senator and call the police himself.
"Starved For Help"
The episode is played with the choices of leaving David Parker behind, giving the axe to Mark, feeding him, Larry, Duck and Clementine after Carley, Kenny and Katjaa abstained, initially choosing not to go to the farm, having Danny shoot Jolene, helping kill Larry, not killing the St. John brothers, and raiding the station wagon. Lee did try to free David Parker by cutting off the limb, but was stopped before he could complete the process. Lee sided with Kenny in the argument between Lilly and Kenny. Clementine did not eat Mark's legs. A few conversations had added words to either reference Tyler or redirect points, explicitly with Mark, Andrew St. John, Carley, Kenny, Clementine and Brenda St. John. Andrew ended up fixing the swing for the kids. Lee helped Kenny open the barn doors and directly asked Andy on it. Lee reasoned with his group over what they were eating and tried to plead with Brenda. Lee took the hay hook from the slaughter room and used it against Danny St. John. In the fight, Lee punched Andy repeatedly until he stopped midway without the intervention of Carley. Lee chose to be direct in saying that the St. John brothers were dead when talking to Clementine.
Upon arriving at the station wagon, Lee orders whoever was out there that he would shoot if they did not come out. He was met with a voice that he later found to be Tyler, holding a grenade as a weapon. After reuniting, Kenny revealed that the station wagon was full of food and supplies. Tyler suggested taking the car, but Kenny said that there would not be enough room for everybody. Lee ultimately decided to take the supplies and have Clementine wear the hoodie. While Tyler was greeting the rest of the group, Lee told Clementine to tell him should Tyler ever bite his upper lip, alluding to Tyler's anger issues.
Two weeks after the end of the dairy nightmare, Clementine shakes Lee awake in the middle of the night because Tyler was biting his lip. Lee found his son sitting outside in front of the barrels Clementine used to play soccer. Lee asks him what was wrong, and Tyler says that he had not been kind to his mother's last words to him before the outbreak, revealing that she had cancer. Lee consoles his son and then asks why he and Clementine were outside. Tyler jokes about showing her knife fighting techniques, to which he brags about his skills in fighting with a knife. Lee infers that Tyler must have used his knife on a living person, and Tyler confirms it shortly before storming off.
Deciding that he was awake enough, he tells Carley he could take her shift as lookout of the night, urging her to get some sleep of her own. Lee shares with her what he had just heard about Tyler killing someone. She advises him to find out who it was he killed, then leaves for her room.
"Long Road Ahead"
The episode is mostly played with normal progression, Lee's choices involving not shooting the screaming woman, leaving Lilly behind, being honest with Chuck, talking some sense into Kenny, having Kenny shoot Duck, sharing a drink with Chuck, and pulling Omid into the car. Lee told Clementine, Kenny and Katjaa about his past. He began talking to Ben about it, then brushed off the conversation before he revealed anything. Lee grabs the animal crackers, water bottle and map of the train routes from the train area and gives the food to Duck. Lee taught Clementine that fear would be the thing that kills them if they did die. His first words to Christa were "Define trouble." He convinced Omid to jump off of the bridge to the train without pushing him. Lee was honest with Clementine regarding why Duck was being taken into the woods. This episode had several major changes performed to the plot of the story. First, Kenny and Lee's supply run into Macon was described as the first of its kind, so some of the dialogue was changed. There was no air force pilot zombie in the drugstore, though there was still a crashed helicopter through the roof. Lee managed to grab all visible supplies within the time before the walkers broke through. Lee sided with Kenny in each discussion about leaving the motel.
Following everyone leaving Lilly's room, Carley does strike up a conversation with Lee, though it is cut short after Tyler booms out and runs towards Duck by the wall. It is revealed that Duck had pulled the pin on the grenade Tyler had brought in. Tyler and Lee both save him by getting the grenade over the wall and shielding the boy with their bodies. Tyler and Lee both retain no injuries from the accidental explosion, but Duck is rendered unconscious from the blast. Lilly rushes outside at the sound of the explosion and notices a large gap in the wall. Out of fear and anger, she raises her rifle on Tyler before he manages to take it from her and do the same. Lee stops Tyler from pulling the trigger, and he gives the gun back to Lilly. Embarrassed, she goes back to her room. Lee follows her, and some small changes in dialogue occur to accommodate the custom sequence.
Tyler takes over for Duck in the "investigation" of the missing supplies, and proves to be extremely helpful in arriving at conclusions. Tyler tells Lee about a second grenade he carried. He locates the chalk hidden away in the garbage dumpsters. Duck regains consciousness during the investigation, but is kept under close observation by his parents on the couch.
When the bandits took Lee's group hostage, Tyler was amongst the hostages. After Lilly killed the bandit leader, Tyler stabbed Gary through his foot, pinning the bandit in place, but forcing Tyler to abandon his knife once the bandits attacked. Tyler ran with Ben and Carley into the RV.
Tyler defended Ben and Carley multiple times during the argument in the RV. Lilly does not give him a vote when trying to get the group to turn against Carley. When she attempted to kill Carley, Tyler jumped in front of the bullet to save her. This horrified Lilly at who she had shot, and Lee wastes no time in beating her to the ground. Lee kneels down to check on Tyler and found him still alive. He carried him into the RV, leaving Lilly behind. Katjaa helped to clean the wound and bandage it before returning to the front. Lee goes up to the front of the vehicle and discovers Duck's bite. He tells Clementine about his parents to help her get her mind off of Duck.
Lee then enters a short dream before the one where a zombified Clementine attacked him. The RV inexplicably stops and the door opens. A woman steps in and kisses both Clementine and Tyler. She is revealed to be Ashley, and she berates Lee for letting Tyler get shot. She then mockingly kisses him to spite his "new girlfriend" before leaving and allowing both Tyler and Clementine to attack Lee.
Everyone exits the RV, including Tyler, once the car comes to a stop. Lee starts the train, then calls for Tyler's assistance in separating the train from the derailed cars. Their efforts are unsuccessful, so Lee searches the train for anything he can use to remove the coupler pin from the conjoining pilot. He returns to Tyler with both a spanner and spike remover, neither working to remove the pin. Tyler uses both tools to form and pulley-type object to remove the pin. After straining with everything they had, the pin is finally removed and the boxcars were unhitched. After more than a little nudging, Tyler reveals who he had killed and what he had done since the start of the outbreak. Tyler informs Lee that he had been with another boy his age that had saved him. A cop killed that boy, causing Tyler to kill him in return. Lee is shocked by Tyler's retelling, mainly because he did not understand how his dream of Ashley had been correct; Ashley had claimed that Tyler had killed a cop in Lee's dream, and was proven correct in reality.
Tyler accompanies Lee and Kenny in going to find Duck and Katjaa. While walking, the three notice a large plane in the sky. Kenny is indifferent, not caring because he believed his son had just died. Tyler identifies it as an Air Force plane because of its massive size.
Tyler is saddened upon finding Katjaa's corpse, as is Lee. Tyler stays silent as Kenny kills his son, then leaves just after Kenny.
He later tells Ben, Clementine and Chuck about what had happened, leaving Lee to tell Carley. She breaks down into sobs at both Katjaa's and Duck's deaths, and Lee consoles her. After the train starts again, Lee and Carley partake in their first kiss together.
After speaking to Chuck, Lee returns to the boxcar to teach Clementine how to shoot. He, Tyler and Carley all give her tips on how to perfect her aim, and they all compliment her shooting after each shot. Once finished, Lee asks Carley to cut Clementine's hair so he could give Chuck the whiskey in the boxcar.
Tyler stays silent during Kenny and Chuck's argument. He follows Clementine up the ladder, albeit slowly because of his gunshot wound. Lee gives a sunflower to Carley, earning him another kiss. He then takes Clementine to the train station, telling Tyler not to follow.
Tyler joins Lee and Omid on the bridge when cutting the tanker down. He initially suggested that Lee dangle him, but Lee did not agree on account of Tyler's injury. Tyler was the last person to jump off of the bridge. After making sure the train was a safe distance away, he tossed the grenade at the fuel tanker, exploding it and killing several dozen of the herd and dropping the bridge. He narrowly jumped to the train in time, being propelled most of the distance by the explosion.
"Around Every Corner"
Most of this episode is the same as the game's version, with Lee making the choices of killing the boy in the attic, being rational and honest with Vernon, letting Clementine go to Crawford with the group, letting Ben die in Crawford, and revealing his bite to the group. At the end of the episode, Kenny, Christa, Omid and Carley left with Lee for Vernon's lair. Lee told Christa that they had to keep moving when she asked for a break. Lee calmed the argument between Kenny and Christa in the backyard. Lee told the group the truth about seeing someone outside the fence, then sided with Kenny regarding leaving for the docks immediately. Lee bested Molly in their fight. Lee came up with the plan to sneak into Crawford. Lee confronted Molly on her lie and consoled her afterwards. He told Ben to not tell Kenny the truth twice, and told Kenny to calm down when trying to get to Ben. Lee told Vernon off when he made his offer to take Clementine with him. Lee asked the person on the radio what he wanted at the end of the episode.
Several major changes were made in the course of this episode; sometimes dialogue shifts, sometimes whole new sequences. More walkers were killed in the streets outside of the church than there actually were in the episode. Tyler was the one who saved Kenny at the start when he was tripped by a walker pinned beneath a burnt out car, and Carley shot several walkers that had attacked Clementine. Carley and Tyler focused on getting the shed open, though they were unsuccessful. Carley assisted Lee in searching the lower floor of the mansion, and later stood with him before he buried Fivel outside. Tyler and Lee got into a quarrel regarding whether or not Tyler would go with them to the docks, where Tyler eventually left the mansion on his own for the docks and was followed by Lee and Kenny. On the way, Kenny grew despondent when he saw Tyler had kept Katjaa's rag and not told him before taking it himself. Tyler also got involved after Lee defeated Molly and after she in turn defeated Kenny.
Tyler found himself a pistol with a broken notch when getting back to the mansion with Kenny and Molly. When Lee returned to the mansion, Tyler felt insulted that he got back and first asked about Clementine. Tyler later got into another argument with Molly about her role in Chuck's death. Lee told him he had to stay behind during the excursion to Crawford, and he accepted that, but challenged Lee when he learned that Clementine would be going.
Carley stayed in the classroom to help Ben open the armory door. After Lee retrieved the battery and climbed up to the semi-truck, a shard of glass cut and lodged itself in his left arm, which Brie later treated in the classroom. Carley left to get Vernon and Christa at the nurse's station, and Lee joined her after she had killed four of the walkers outside the door. Carley left with him to find Logan outside, and argued with him over him about secrets they had kept from each other. The two of them both dealt with the walker in the shed, and jumped over the fence to get to Logan. The two of them later climbed the fence to get back to the school, and returned to the nurse's office after opening Logan's locker. Carley left with Vernon and Christa back to the classroom.
In the bell tower walker attack, Carley and Lee worked together to kill the walkers from the bottom up. Lee tried to shoot Crawford Oberson, but Carley did so instead. Carley remained silent when Lee was deciding Ben's fate.
At the mansion, Tyler was found kneeling over a mangled walker corpse. Lee found that it had been a soldier named "Tyler" in life, and Kenny understood Tyler's behavior. The two calmed Tyler and checked on Clementine.
(Neither myself nor Solarsearcher can make claims on the works of John Steinbeck.) A custom sequence takes place during Lee's slumber in front of a crying Clementine, detailing an experience where he and his wife, Ashley, were getting an ultrasound checkup on their baby. The two joke to each other about why Lee was reading "Once There Was A War", and each not-so-subtly offer their opinion on the baby's gender. A hospital staff doctor questioned them both, where, during one of Ashley's responses, it is implied that she was a hyper-sexual woman.
Carley left with the group for Vernon's lair, but Tyler was ordered to stay behind.
My Favorite Video Game Characters
My Least Favorite Video Game Characters
Season 1 Ratings
"A New Day": 81/100
"Starved For Help": 87/100
"Long Road Ahead": 89/100
"Around Every Corner": 80/100*
"No Time Left": 94/100
"400 Days": 78/100
Season 2 Ratings
"All That Remains": 83/100
"A House Divided": 85/100
"In Harm's Way": 86/010
"Amid The Ruins": 81/10
"No Going Back": 85/100
No, actually, I'm not going to review this. Arthener didn't play a single episode and I only played the first. Solarsearcher agreed with me that it was terrible and I refuse to go back and search for specific things I hate since I only played it once.
Season 3 Ratings
These scales are given on an average of three numbers, with the exception of "Around Every Corner", which was weighted on average and then deducted points outside of the scores made by the three of us by the number of bugs we had to deal with in the writing of this chapter for "Was It Worth It?" The score without the deductions would have been a B (86).
Each of these ratings were discussed between Solarsearcher, Arthener and I. Feel free to pose any questions about it on my talk page.
"A New Day"
Telltale Games took the gaming community by storm with this first installment in what would be a five part series of grueling and emotional work. For their efforts here, we decided to give this first episode a solid B- (81).
Stuff We Enjoyed
The first crucial plot point that we took an interest in was Clementine's first appearance in the game. In her first appearance, Clementine showed up with a hammer to save our hero and make us care. Then came her reaction to the blood seeping out of the zombie's fatal head wound.
The next enjoyable sequence was when the whole group argued over Duck's bite, where it was our first instance of safety vs. morality. Regardless of what choice you make, the ending is just believably shallow.
Stuff We Hated
Well, you probably guessed this was coming. An error that really cost the episode points was the inability to actually make a difference with Shawn. What would have made the outcome better would be the option to save Shawn from being killed, but still ending up with him being bitten. Duck would still survive no matter what, but if Shawn could live beyond the player's seeing of him (Hershel would still throw Lee and Kenny out for outstaying their welcome), maybe it would not make the whole experience on the farm seem pointless save for the first information on Lee's family.
Another major error that the plot here contains is the one "flight path" that the story arc contains, even though the story is supposed to be tailored to the player's decisions. What this means is that the player is forced to save Irene in the motel even if the player does not want to.
"Starved For Help"
The release for this episode was a disappointment for a lot of players, as much of the details seen in the trailer were not used in the episode. Despite this, our rating is a B+ (87).
Stuff We Enjoyed
The quick action pace of the beginning with the option to cut a man's leg off to save him was an ingenious plot point, even if either effort is ultimately fruitless with a two deaths no matter what.
Some players felt that the final battle sequence was a bit wasteful, as Telltale could have used the "final battle during a storm" gig later. However, in this season, this was definitely the best place for it. With everyone watching Lee's struggle against Andy, the storm fight was definitely not used too quickly.
Stuff We Hated
The revelation that the St. John Family were actually a bunch of cannibals was not surprising at all. The "people become cannibals" gig, unlike the final battle during a storm gig, was indeed used too quickly. It might have been better storytelling if the St. John's were merely members of the bandits and that the dinner was a trap from the start. Then, instead of them all getting captured, they could all try to escape after Lee/Lilly blinds Andrew and Danny with a pitcher of water or some other liquid, where Larry is shot and killed by Andy if Lee had blinded the St. John's or Danny if Lilly blinded the St. John's. Katjaa gets taken down by a shot to her stomach, though Kenny does not see it and leaves with Duck. Lee/Lilly would attempt to take a gun from either Danny or Andy, depending on who blinded them, where they would fail and Mark would save them but get shot in the chest in the process, similar to how he shot Travis if the player did not cut off David's leg. Everyone still alive would escape after that and flee back outside. From there, they could go to the barn and ambush Danny from inside, then work from that regularly until Lee returns to the house to save Katjaa. Since Duck would have already escaped, Kenny would simply sneak around back and force his way inside while Lee keeps Brenda distracted. Using the gun he pilfered from Danny, Kenny would shoot Brenda in the back of her head, scaring Katjaa. Kenny notices her bleeding from her gut and asks what he can do, but Katjaa is still in shock at seeing Brenda killed right beside her. Lee can choose to help calm her down or go hunt for Andy. If the former is chosen, Lee successfully soothes her enough so that she can help Kenny help herself. If the latter is chosen, then Lee takes the gun from Brenda and goes back outside to see Andy holding the group hostage. If Lee chose to help Katjaa before looking for Andy, then Andy has beaten Lilly in front of Clementine and Duck. If Danny had been the one to shoot Larry and Lee had spared him, then Lilly had killed him while Lee was gone. Otherwise, Andy (and Danny, if he had survived; he would be leaning on Andy for support) is simply demanding to know where Lee and Kenny are. Lee can choose to give himself up to calm them down or try and shoot them. If the latter is chosen, Lee shoots Danny (if alive), and his blood lands on Clementine and Duck. If Danny had previously died, then Lee simply shoots Andy in the shoulder and his blood lands on the kids. He and Lee engage in a standoff with guns pointed at each other, waiting to see who would make the first move. Andy is then either shot by Carley in the ear or blinded by Doug. Lee will either then attack Andy or try to shoot him. If he tries to shoot Andy, his gun jams and Lilly attacks Andy from behind. If Lee attacks Andy, he tackles him as the kids run away and begins to beat him down, where Lee can stop willingly or continue beating Andy until he kills him. If Larry's killer was spared by Lee in either circumstance, then Lilly becomes mad at Lee. She tries to kill Andy herself if Lee spared him, only to be stopped by Lee. If Lilly had been the one to attack Andy when Lee's gun jams, then Lee has the option to pull her off of Andy or allow her to kill him. Pulling her off if Andy was Larry's killer makes her mad at Lee. Alternatively, if Lee had given himself up to Andy, then Carley would either shoot Danny and kill him (if he was alive) or shoot Andy in the ear as Lee pulls his gun out. The same conditions as before apply here. However, if Doug had survived "A New Day", then it would be Lee who shoots them after they are distracted by the generator being powered down, and the same conditions as before apply. After the whole sequence with the standoff and beatdown of Andy is over, then Lee would either see Kenny and Katjaa exit the house or hear a gunshot from the house, depending on whether or not Lee stayed to help Katjaa. If the gunshot is heard, then Kenny exits the house alone with tears on his face, saying that Katjaa had turned and he had been forced to kill her. Otherwise, Kenny would carry Katjaa out of the house and Lee leads them out of the farm with Danny and Brenda both dead no matter what, Andy determinant. This should belong on my own version of a video game page, but as any of you who have read everything else on the page know, I already have one called "Was It Worth It?"
"Long Road Ahead"
This episode had a very enjoyable plot, although it is not without its faults. For that reason, we have elected to give this episode a score of B+ (89).
Stuff We Enjoyed
The whole argument on the side of the road deal (yes, even including Ben's inconsistencies in his dialogue) was pretty enjoyable. The whole urgency of the situation was extremely real no matter what options the player chooses. And when Lilly killed whoever it was she shot in the head, the shock was real the first time we played it.
Stuff We Hated
The inability to effectively reason with those meth-heads in the forest... okay, maybe not the best example, but Lee never once made the option or was given the option to actually try to reason with the bandits instead of blindly following Lilly's orders and distracting them.
Also, the deaths of both Katjaa and Duck were not what they should have been. Katjaa never gave any indication that she was failing mentally, save for the one moment where her voice cracked when trying to convince Kenny that Duck had to be put out of his misery. If I were Telltale, I would have had Katjaa shoot Duck, then herself (if she was let go alone), or just have her fail to shoot Duck entirely while Kenny was there. Kenny would just wait for Lee and as Lee actually got there, Katjaa would hand Lee her gun and say she was going back to the train. She is seen on the way back being devoured by a walker.
"Around Every Corner"
In all honesty, the main reason that we scored this episode as low as we did was because of all the goofs and errors that normally would not detract from the plot, but did create a lot of holes in the story. That, and numerous glitches that Telltale chose to ignore rather than fix and prevent from ruining the experience. As such, this episode gets a rating of B- (80), and that's us being nice.
Stuff We Enjoyed
We enjoyed the notion of meeting a bunch of cancer survivors in the sewers, even if we hate all of the characters themselves.
Yeah, that's about it. We're thankful there was a video game to be played, but there really isn't anything else unique or specifically enjoyable about the episode.
Stuff We Hated
I'm sorry, were we supposed to feel sympathy for the boy in the attic? If we were, we're not sorry after all. The whole segment at the mansion was way too slow paced off of an intense if pointless action scene and a frantic if lazy search for a dog collar, and it held nothing new to the player: an undead boy, missing parents, dead pet.
Molly herself is just not a likeable character to the player. She's crass, rude, imprudent, deadpan, pessimistic, arrogant, shallow... sounds a lot like me, actually. Except I don't think I'd sleep with a doctor for medicine. I might be wrong, though, who knows?
Clementine runs away at the end of the episode. Was that meant to be surprising? Why was the hat left behind? I thought this was supposed to be a game based around choices. Why is there no option to actually give the girl what she wants and look for her parents? What, was there too little time to craft such a large branch? Guys, what could've happened was a forceful abduction from the streets of Savannah by the kidnapper if this option was chosen. Sure, it might have led to complications with the whole Vernon thing, but still, it would have given us the choice that this game is supposed to be tailored by.
And of course, all the major goofs and errors that we saw in this episode: Lee somehow re-entering the school the second time through a barbed-wire fence (oh, yeah, I had a heck of a time sorting through that one in "Was It Worth It?"), Brie not appearing during the break-in, Kenny with the rifle (another great time with that one), the bell-tower screw-ups; the list goes on and on.
"No Time Left"
In our opinion, this is the best episode of the whole series. Despite its bad ending in Clementine randomly seeing two shadows out in the distance that were clearly Omid and Christa, we have given this episode a rating of 94 (A).
Stuff We Enjoyed
One of the greatest aspects of this episode was the fight with the stranger towards the end. Telltale nailed this fight perfectly; no music, no background noise, just two grunting men straining to kill each other. No, this is not sarcasm; that was truly a stroke of brilliance. Unlike his showdown with Andy in a storm or his gunfight with the bandits in their escape from Macon, this scene needed absolute silence. In case you do not know why, it's because both the player and Lee understand the same thing in regards to the story; regardless of who wins the fight, Lee is dead. This scene was great and succeeded in all of the ways a few other slated deaths did not (Sarah, Sarita, Luke, etc.), but we'll get to those.
Stuff We Hated
If you care to know, our main (and practically only) problem with the plot in this episode is the lousy writing that went into separating Kenny from the group if Ben was saved in the previous episode. Whereas his heroic act of saving a woman he had feuded with for days now was noble and was poetic, him deciding to stay behind to give the kid who had killed his family a few more moments of life was just irregular and stupid. Keep in mind, despite my own beliefs about Ben, this decision was made by one Ben hater and two people who liked him. Kenny "sacrificed" himself for what? A few more breaths drawn in for Ben? And he decided that he wasn't going to die with Ben in the first place, so why couldn't he have just fought against the walkers for however long he felt necessary without locking the gate so he could leave when he felt himself no longer obligated? He could have shot Ben once he was done, no problem.
Something else that bugged us was the way that the group was just strolling across the rooftops of Savannah, as if they had not a care in the world. I mean, there is a dialogue option that Lee can say to reveal his anxiety, but this still felt wrong, especially considering how they all understood that Clementine could very well slip through their fingers or be killed by whoever was on the other end of the radio. Maybe Lee wasn't fit to run in his condition, but a little sense of urgency would have been nice.
400 Days is the lowest rated episode on this spectrum, which is really disappointing, considering that with several different branching storylines, this should have been Telltale's easiest project. We have rated it a C+ (78).
Stuff We Liked
Despite Solarsearcher's tremendous hate of the protagonist in this story, Vince's story was enjoyable to all of us, as it had the most diverse ending of any of the characters in "400 Days". Here, you have the first time you can value player's emotions and priorities regardless of the situation. You can see if the player is smart and quick-thinking or dull and confusedly slow-witted.
Stuff We Hated
Tavia. I think the epilogue and our reason to hate the character listed a little further up the page under "My Least Favorite Video Game Characters" section speaks for itself.
Bonnie's story in its entirety is awful. Here, Telltale thrusts at us three named characters, two of which supposedly end up dying in awful ways. Here's the thing: why should we care? We don't know who these people are nor have we been given any time to bond with them before we immediately end up in an argument. Why should I feel sorry for Dee or Leland (though in all honesty, I am actually a fan of Leland because of what I learned about him in the Epilogue if he survives Bonnie's story)? Why should I care about the emotional trauma Bonnie suffers at having killed one of the people who saved her?
Russell's story gave us an interaction with the mythical creature known only as Nate, but not much else. It really does not give the player any real choices, as regardless of what you choose, all characters seen in this episode have slated statuses, with a minor exception of Walt's wife, Jean, who can be seen as undead in Shel's story.
Speaking of which, Shel's story might actually be the worst in our collective opinion. We have no decisions of any real importance (and no, Boyd's survival has no impact on the plot), a good-for-nothing demon by the name of Becca, a bitch of circumstance Joyce, a charisma vacuum named Roman Reigns, a Kristen Stewart wannabe named Shel who just has nothing to offer... and Stephanie, the one character of the story with a soul.
Wyatt gave us nothing memorable, in all honesty. With no confirmation of any character's status other than the protagonist himself, Telltale tried to give us a bunch of fleshed out characters to be used as killers in future episodes, but there was no mystery of any sort. Everybody finds themselves in a ditch in the fog and nobody but the guy who gets hit by the car has anything going for him; he dies and possibly ends up as one of Shel's watchdogs.
Sorry if the above explanation is a little confusing; it might not be made very well and it doesn't give much, but that's exactly what Telltale did with "400 Days".
"All That Remains"
Much of this episode was very contrived, and if this were an actual television show that Telltale try to deliver with their episodic games, then this would have been a mild season premiere with very little excitement. Much of its very stale plot points are the reason why this episode gets a B- (83).
Stuff We Liked
Gameplay-wise, this season had much better visual effects, action sequences, and dialogue-captioning utility than the previous season, all introduced in this episode. However, this did not affect the score in a drastic fashion.
Plot-wise, we liked the dog and the dog-bite scenario. Getting bitten by a dog and others believing it to be a walker bite is something that is honestly overused in fanfictions across the site of our forum (or, rather, the stupid "the walker actually had dentures before it died, so it can't kill you" scenario), but it just works here.
Christa getting cut off was sad, but a decision made by the developers to make the player feel alone and vulnerable. It worked on us.
And discovering the bodies at the river added a bit of suspense, which was sorely lacking throughout the entirety of the next episode.
Stuff We Hated
I mentioned before that we enjoyed the "is it a dog or walker bite" scenario, but we did not enjoy the lack of decisions to be made regarding the situation. Regardless of whether or not you try to feed the dog, it still attacks you. Maybe we could've had an option to give the dog the can, even if we were hungry. Regardless of who you appeal to in the argument over the source of the bite, you still end up locked in the shed. Maybe we could've had an option to successfully appeal to someone and at the very least get let inside the cabin. Regardless of whether or not you make BFFs with Sarah, she will still give you the peroxide (by the way, this decision has no significant impact anywhere else in the season). Maybe choosing not to befriend her on principle would have prevented her from giving Clementine the disinfectant (by the way, choosing to not use the peroxide has no significant impact anywhere else in the season).
Also, I speak for myself, Solarsearcher, Arthener, and just about everyone who has ever played this game when I say "Fuck you, Telltale" for that dreadful "suturing your own arm" segment. It drags on for too long, gets incredibly annoying with the whimpers and shouts, and is boring as fuck during your second and third time playing the game. It was supposed to demonstrate Clementine's strength in being able to take care of herself, but it doesn't work because the concept of slow gameplay at a crucial moment makes absolutely no sense. It's an objective that takes near two minutes of constant moans and stupid facial expressions.
As I said before, there was a dearth of choices in this episode. Choosing to not help Christa leads to the same outcome as choosing to distract the bandits attacking her. Killing the dog directly or leaving it to die is really a choice that tells you what kind of person you are, but the result is both sad and the same in each scenario.
"A House Divided"
There were numerous errors in terms of narrative-based storyline that Telltale plugged in here without realizing how many holes they were leaving behind. Nevertheless, this episode gets a fair grade of B (85).
Stuff We Liked
(Now, let me preface this one by saying that, obviously, Kenny is a very divisive character amongst the game's fan base. Some, like the three of us, adore Kenny and all of his cute little psychotic actions. Others loathe the man and curse him for having such a useless son. And then there's people who take an objective look at what Kenny brings to the table. I'm gonna try and do that.)
Kenny's return. Granted, it was fairly obvious to anyone over the age of twelve that Kenny would be the one to make his return based off of the episode's trailer, so it dampened the surprise of his return. Undeniably, however, his reintroduction was an incredibly powerful scene, and even amongst Kenny haters, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who didn't pick the "HUG KENNY" option the first time around. You couldn't help but remember the good times of the first season when you saw his horribly scarred... ahem, bearded... face. Also, Kenny brought some much needed character development to the table with his return, as prior to this, just about every character encountered thus far in Season Two had been entirely one-sided. The only characters with true personalities we had found at this point were Pete, Nick, and Alvin. Pete was dead at this point, Alvin barely had any interaction with Clementine depending upon the player's choices, and Nick was clearly going to get himself killed in the episode (I know, only determinately; I mean that it was apparent to me that Nick was going to die after he shot Matthew, so it didn't make any dialogue with him feel special, even if I was wrong about him definitely dying in this episode), and no, Rebecca's sudden shift in demeanor does not count as character development. Kenny was a main character that had some much needed depth.
Aside from Kenny's return, there was also some incredible power to a few other scenes too. Luke falling through the bridge actually made it seem like he was in danger of death when I played this episode the first time (though a few non-canon scenes of him getting killed could have cemented that). Walter confronting Clementine about Matthew's death made the conflict seem all the more real. The option to run and protect Alvin from Carver reportedly brought a tear to Solarsearcher's eye the first time he played that option (that crybaby).
By the way, Carver. Good thing for this series. Michael Madsen brings some drama with his incredible performance as Carver.
Stuff We Hated
I mentioned before that we did have a few problems with plot holes. Some of them include the circumstances of Kenny's survival being unexplained (certainly would have helped narrow it down for Was It Worth It?), Clementine returning to the cabin and Carver happens to show up a minute later, and a bunch of other stupid fallacies that some characters commit like Sarah finding a gun under the house when Clementine didn't earlier, the doors of the cabin being unlocked in the first place.
Also, in terms of choice-based gameplay, Telltale utterly failed with this episode. Taking the blame for Sarah's photo is absolutely meaningless and has no impacts later on. Choosing whether or not to let Carver in the cabin is meaningless as he comes in either way. Asking Nick to tell Walter the truth is meaningless, as he will only tell the truth if you tell Walter that he is a good guy in the next choice. Choosing to find Kenny or to surrender has no consequence in later episodes, with only a few changes in dialogue and camera angles during this scene, and Alvin's survival is meaningless as he gets very little in the next episode before getting himself killed. Did you get that? Only one out of five choices in this episode actually makes an impact on future episodes, and you know what, I could argue that telling Walter that Nick is a good guy is also pointless as Nick serves absolutely no purpose in the next two episodes.
"In Harm's Way"
This was a great episode that was, in our opinion, the highlight of the season. A driven story forces our hand and receives a B (86) from us.
Stuff We Liked
People criticize the lack of real story that went into the opening parts of the episode, and we are no different. However, despite the pretty boring first four scenes, the rest of the episode picks up in short order. The plan to escape felt tense throughout its entire execution. Right up to the point when Luke got captured, we all felt some sort of anxiety. Games that inspire the sorts of emotions that the developers want us to feel are successes. When Carver beat down Kenny with only one fist, it made me scream "motherfucker!" at my screen. When he woke up, it was a genuine feel good moment, and continues to be a feel good moment through each playing of the game since the first.
Then came the choice that saw the type of person the player is; do you watch Carver die or beg for Kenny to let him live before leaving? I enjoyed the death scene, as it felt pretty satisfying.
Stuff We Hated
Don't let the numerous criticisms of this episode fool you; we still had a lot of fun with this episode. Regardless, there were some low points, like the aforementioned first four scenes. The bathroom break scene was stupid, in all honesty, as it really didn't mean anything, even if Carver smacks Clementine because, we get it, Carver's a bastard, and we didn't need to see child abuse to understand it. The argument in the back of the truck felt pointless, since we all saw the trailer that clearly indicated that Kenny wasn't going to break us out just yet. Reggie's introduction... I wish I could erase it from my memory. The forced child abuse between Carlos and Sarah was also pointless, as it did not inspire sympathy from us for Sarah.
Furthermore, like the previous episode, this episode really failed in making the game "tailored by how you play", though, to be fair, that message was not there at the start of this episode. Maybe they recognized themselves that this episode had no choices and chose to cut it out entirely. Choosing to help Sarah or to do your own work has no impacts on future episodes, and both end with Reggie getting killed (which might actually justify it being out of the player's hands). Choosing to tell Bonnie about Luke has no consequences in future episodes, and choosing not to tell her actually leads to an entirely senseless decision by Bonnie to tell Clementine to just scram. Trying to take blame for the radio means absolutely nothing, as Kenny will take the blame either way, get beat to shit either way, and will not talk to you about it in the next episode. Trying to help Kenny, trying to restrain Sarita, or doing nothing all comes with the same result; Kenny loses his eye, and nobody dies. Staying to watch Carver die has no impact other than minor dialogue changes, and this choice is only there for you to find out what kind of person you are. What would have been good here was an option to convince Kenny to make it quick instead of bashing his skull in, so he would respect you and the others wouldn't be scared of him as such if you were to convince him. Finally, whether you cut off Sarita's arm or kill the walker that has her arm, it makes no difference. She dies in the next episode with barely any lines, Kenny blames Clementine no matter what, and it does not carry over into the fifth episode in terms of whether or not you made the right choice.
"Amid The Ruins"
Okay, this episode was pretty disappointing. I've heard that the writer of this episode wasn't even a Telltale employee, so I'm not sure what Kevin Bruner was thinking by letting some outsider come in with no prior knowledge of their future plans and letting him have creative freedom with this episode. Due to this lack of foresight and some overall lack of real quality, this episode gets a B- (81), and even that feels too generous for the letdown we all experienced in playing this episode (Arthener gave it a 96 for some reason, while I gave it a 74 and Solarsearcher gave it a 73).
Stuff We Liked
There were a few notable positives that came out of this episode, though not nearly as many negatives. Many of the positives were picked out by Arthener, who scored this episode higher than "No Time Left", one of the most bizarre reactions to this episode I have ever seen.
Anyway, one of the positives we got was an ending to the Howe's Hardware story. We were content to leave it behind after Carver died, so it was kind of a relief when the antagonists in this episode didn't turn out to be Tavia seeking revenge.
Also, we got to see a few Kenny badass moments when he went out to fight the walkers (even though he only killed one in that scene). It was, we all agreed, an epic frame. To summarize our thoughts, we came up with this to describe the scene. "Thirty hungry walkers... one angry Kenny... the walkers are in trouble."
Also, we were glad to say goodbye to the worthless Sarah in this episode, as this episode actually gave us more of a reason to hate her for actually wanting to get herself killed.
There. Those were the only positives I consented to put up here. I don't know what the fuck Arthener was thinking when he gave this episode a 96. The three above were the only major positives I agreed with him on (Arthener thought that the museum scene should have been a positive, to which I promptly replied with a request for him to kill himself). He said that I should include Kenny's reaction to Sarita's death a positive, as he felt real fear when Kenny snapped at Clementine the first time. Seriously. I'm not making that up.
Stuff We Hated
Solarsearcher and I hated a lot about this episode. First of all, this episode changed the rules of the walkers. People could stand still and scream at each other in this episode, run through herds, and crouch down without getting eaten by the thousands of walkers around them. I don't care how many guts you have smeared across your face; Jane's advice to simply walk in the previous episode went unheeded and everyone still survived somehow. That is the only major negative that Arthener would agree with us on.
The reunion at Parker's Run felt forced and devoid of any emotion. Everyone was talking to us like we were dumb little animals. The player gets no say in any decisions the group makes, such as forcing you to go talk to a clearly angry Kenny who blames you for Sarita's death/bite for some reason, forcing you to go with Jane to search for Luke, and forcing you to lick their shoes. It was straight up condescending for Mike to list out all of the group's current problems, as Telltale actually thought we did not understand the situation.
Nick's death, if he was saved earlier, is one of the worst death frames ever. He died after getting stuck in a damn fence. He wasn't devoured by a walker while he was stuck (breaking the rules of the walkers even further considering that his blood should have drawn it to him). Nope, he just died of an infection two hours or so after getting bitten on the leg. That's it.
Jeez, do any of your choices matter in this game? For the second episode in a row, the opening message about the game is tailored by the player's choices is omitted, and for the third episode in a row, your choices do not matter. If you try to convince Sarah to live, regardless of whether or not you get through to her and convince her to live, she still freezes and you have to slap her, something I wish we were able to do a long time ago. Even if you save her, she still ends up dying in this episode in a death that serves no real purpose. Choosing to let Arvo leave with his bag still causes him to come after you at the end of the episode to rob you. Worse, even if you do rob Arvo and give the medicine to Rebecca in this episode or Luke in the next episode, it does not matter, as it does nothing for either of them. Crawling through the ticket booth- that's actually a choice they chose to highlight? The result is the same either way. Does Telltale really expect a bruise to count as an impact of your choices as proof that your choices matter? Hold the baby- that was a choice? Then there's the decision of whether or not to leave the observation deck in the morning or take a few days rest. Why is there no option send a few people to the nearby town to scavenge for supplies while Rebecca and the others stay behind until they return with the necessary food? Instead, we get a choice that has no consequences, as Rebecca will die either way and the Russian group will ambush you either way. And Rebecca's death, unavoidable though it was, was still pretty stupid, as her death was attributed to blood loss either way. Choosing to shoot the zombified Rebecca before she could attack Bonnie or choosing to call for help so as not to inflame the standoff ends in the same result; Rebecca dead of a gunshot, the baby still alive, and the Russians opening fire. I thought this was an interactive movie, where you could determine the outcome of any scenario. WHAT WAS ARTHENER THINKING GIVING THIS EPISODE A 96? And no, I don't hate him enough to divulge his address, in case you want to kill him yourself. He's my friend. I would never let some stranger end his life. No! He deserves my respect in killing him myself.
"No Going Back"
Arthener gave this one a score that I suppose is a bit more reasonable than the previous episode (he gave it a 82 while Solarsearcher gave it a score of 89). My score of 84 averaged this episode out at a solid B (85).
Stuff We Liked
I didn't hate this episode, unlike the last one, so there were a bunch of things I enjoyed that I don't feel compelled to type. One of them was the sweet return of Lee in a dream sequence. Solarsearcher marked the fuck out when he heard Lee's voice (I was there for his first playthrough and I made sure not to spoil that one). He squealed with joy and oh my, he's standing right behind me.
The climax of the episode was decidedly fantastic yet also decidedly stupid (I'll get to that part later). When I played through, I had already spoiled for myself the ending. The episode came out on the PC a day before it came out on the consoles, so I decided to see what the hell I was in for after the catastrophe of the last episode. Mainly, I only wanted to see who died in the firefight with the Russians, but way back then, there was only the major choices on the page rather than a detailed summary that I would end up writing (YOU'RE WELCOME).
Anyway, I digress. Despite already knowing that Jane had hidden the baby rather than actually failing to save it, I actually got into the story, even if that knowledge prevented me from helping Jane during the fight. I actually got teary-eyed when faced with the mere option to shoot Kenny, even when I had no intention of doing it in the first place. I got teary-eyed when I found the baby alive, even when I knew that he was in fact alive to begin with. Despite all of the spoilers, I still got embroiled in it. All three of us cried for real when we got to Wellington, me twice because I cried during mine and Solarsearcher's playthrough. It physically hurt me and distracted me throughout the entirety of my next week.
And when I went back weeks later and finally got myself to shoot Kenny, I cried again at having shot the one guy left in the game that I truly cared about. I went with Jane because I picked the wrong dialogue option the first time I went with her, so you know I wasn't looking forward to that. I did not enjoy the company of Jane and could not care about the family outside, so I just let them in for the fun of it. Turns out, it wasn't that fun, but it did reinforce by hatred of Jane, so that worked creatively.
Also, honorable mention of a good scene in this episode, Clementine's silly face to A.J. in this episode. Solarsearcher insisted I include it after he caught me going off about him.
Stuff We Hated
The circumstances of everyone's survival at the start of the episode were absolute bullshit. I know it, you know it, and Telltale knows it. Apparently, they understood they were backed into a corner by having limited options in who to kill without making the episode predictable with both Bonnie and Mike getting killed and Luke and Kenny surviving. Problem was, they couldn't kill either of those two either, otherwise the group would be entirely without conflict for the rest of the episode. Obviously, Clementine couldn't die, but getting shot wouldn't have hurt, right? Telltale just decided to rush through the scene as fast as possible so they could forget the whole firefight.
And then, there was the real sense of boredom that came with certain parts of the episode. I don't know about you, but the whole power station scene felt like forced comic relief. It dragged on too long, and Luke gave away his own death when he announced it was his birthday. Honestly, if anyone thought that he would survive after that, you clearly haven't been paying attention to the game. Or any game that involves death. You announce something good about yourself in a drama-blood game; you end up dead.
While I said before that Lee's return in a dream sequence was a nice moment, it has a major problem; it served no purpose. We had a conversation with a Lee that had to answer a question of whether or not we should have kept Lilly. This had no real relevance to the plot, especially after Arvo just shot Clementine. If Clementine had asked about Lee killing the senator and whether or not you should forgive those who wrong you, then it might have meant something. And while Lee's quote about protecting people you care about even if you have to hurt someone else was supposed to give the player some insight on what to do when given the choice to shoot Kenny to save Jane later on, it didn't make sense in that conflict. That wasn't a moment about the morality of your choice in where you needed to kill someone to save another person you cared about; it was picking which person out of the two meant more to you and siding with them in the fight.
Also, the climax was a tad stupid as well. It's good that Telltale went away from the expected "Luke vs. Kenny" ending and chose something entirely different, but it was a complete turnaround from their previous respect for each other. Now, sure, you could argue that Kenny lost his respect for Jane after her plan to get through the herd failed and got Sarita killed (not her fault, regardless), but this conflict only started in this episode. When we got to the fight between them, it was comparatively small when you had the choice of which life to end, as you probably had a vested interest beforehand.
Finally, once again, this episode struggled in making our choices matter. While it wasn't a horrendous failure like the previous three episodes, it still did not really make all of my choices matter. The first significant choice of the episode is whether or not to go for the baby during the firefight. If I go for A.J., he survives, I get out unscathed, and Luke ends up getting shot in the leg. If I don't go for A.J., he survives, I get out unscathed, and Luke ends up getting shot in the leg. Later, when I have to choose whether or not to help Luke or cover him, he dies either way. Bonnie has a determinant death, but considering how miniscule her remaining role is in the episode, it doesn't feel special at all. Do I give Mike the gun or threaten him? It doesn't matter, because I give him the gun either way and end up shot either way. Then comes the choice of Kenny vs. Jane, which is really the first consequential choice in four episodes. However, this was, as GCN pointed out, the easiest choice of the season, despite this being the most crucial moment of the story. Finally, the ending of who you are with in the end. (Pre-release) Recently, Kirkman confirmed that Clementine would return for Season Three, so this still has potential to be the first choice that really tailors to how I play, instead of what I expected a while ago that Telltale would just go with "it's been a while since that day of Clementine's choice, but now she's alone with A.J. after Wellington/Howe's Hardware fell". So, as for right now, we'll just wait and see, and honestly, after E3 2016, it does not look good. (Post-release) And after playing the first episode of Season Three, I must say that the disrespect tipped toward Clementine's roots is unbelievable to many fans of the series. I do not understand why a fresh start was so appealing to Telltale Games when they had so much interest in what came next.
"Ties That Bind - Part 1"
Well, this episode was easily better than any episode of the second season (Arthener disagrees, of course; he cannot function without playing "Amid The Ruins" once every ten minutes these days). My score of 88 with Arthener's score of 89 and Solarsearcher's score of 90 rounds our total score out at a B+ (89).
Stuff We Liked
Well, there is very little I can specifically point to, although I really enjoyed the playthrough. It was the most realistic one thus far, which can be attributed to the much better graphics than previous Telltale projects. The all-around presentation may be the best I've seen from the games I have played from this publisher.
Alas, I really should point to the specific events that I did find pleasing. All three of us were delighted by the prospect of a new threat that we haven't had to deal with before. Sure, Carver led a community against us before, but we've never had a particularly good "fight for your life" in an actual gunfight. The bandit attack from "Long Road Ahead" is not the same; this was not a first person shooter experience nor a stupid AI endeavor. Instead, we got the first gunfight that was actually fucking nerve-racking by the end of the episode.
Javier's nice, by the way. He's a character I would enjoy having in my game, if not particularly as my protagonist.
Also, I did enjoy the feeling I got when I made my choices; it felt strangely satisfying to side with Clementine and make the choices she recommended over the options that came from others, even though she really wasn't my Clementine any longer and she really wasn't a reflection of everything I've been through with her. It was neat for a reason I can't explain. I suspect that most of my positive feelings toward the episode are based on my first playthrough experience being a fun time with friends rather than a real liking of the game, although I cannot be sure.
Solarsearcher enjoyed the junkyard experience, calling it "riveting and super awesome" (I may be paraphrasing). He felt that there was a power in this being the first time in a while that we, as survivors of an apocalypse, actually have to scavenge for supplies (not including Michonne) rather than just moving from one place to another because the characters absolutely know that there's food waiting for them.
Stuff We Hated
Well, now that I'm looking back on it, I suddenly recall a lot I did not like about this episode. Firstly, I didn't much appreciate the opening of the episode taking place at the start of the apocalypse. It's frankly insulting to have to go back years and see someone else's sob story about where they were when the Patriots won the Super Bowl and the world went to shit. I don't really care about how it all started, and the story I got wasn't that good to begin with.
There aren't that many characters I like, either. Javier and Kate are about the only two from the start that I actively didn't want dead, but I would not at all mind seeing either one get killed by the season's end. They really don't offer anything special as compared to other characters from the past. I don't actively like or dislike Hector or Mariana in any way; I don't spend enough time with either one to form an opinion. I do actively hate several characters, though, and I wholeheartedly blame the game for my feelings of disgust with Gabe, David, and a few people in Prescott like Conrad (my hate stems from the following episode) and Eleanor (just a brat who happens to have medical training).
And then, the choices. Maybe Telltale should stop claiming that this is a choice based game and just make it a regular game with slightly different ways to play. I do not think that any choice I made here will actually matter in the end, even if I do not have enough context and one or two might matter sometime in the future. As of the time before the release of the third episode, I'm going to say that these choices suck. Choosing whether or not to stay in the junkyard is not only pointless since I get abducted either way, but it's a stupid decision to begin with as the whole family is in the junkyard in the first place because they are fleeing from a herd that is coming their way. Choosing whether or not Javier kills Rufus has had no noticeable effect anywhere, although that could change with the third or fourth episode. Don't mistake that for hope; I've come to expect that these choices about sparing random people in Telltale's games don't do anything other than give a token appearance down the line (here's looking at you, Tweedle-Dee). The decision of poker is pointless; is the lesson of the game that I'm always going to lose in the end no matter what I do? Clementine's argument with Eli is extremely contrived; I'm given a very clear good guy and a very clear bad guy in the scenario even without prior knowledge of Clementine. I think it would have been more powerful if Clementine had accidentally killed a good man who had made an honest mistake rather than the guy nobody in the world liked, as it could have influenced my decision to lie about what had happened to him. Speaking of which, getting locked up for the night causes nothing other than a lack of sparse exploratory capabilities, only giving Clementine something to relate to me with if I chose to lie or a reason to hate me if I told the truth. Whatever happened to that sweet little girl I raised over the course of two games, anyway? Clementine's experience after Season Two is just a kick to the dick anyway, proof that choices mean nothing in any case, because there's absolutely no consequence of any of your decisions in the previous two seasons that changes her personality in any way. Going with Eleanor or Tripp to the junkyard the next day gives no differences in gameplay except for a few altered lines of dialogue, a different mode of transportation, and a short scene dependent on my choices in the next episode. And finally, the final choice of going back to Prescott or fighting the aggressors off is pointless, as the exact same people survive and the exact same people die in both branches, so who really gives a fuck about the choice. Only reason I stayed in all honesty wasn't because I agreed with either one; I just wanted to kill some people in this episode. Post "Above The Law" release. Rufus's survival didn't affect shit, and his somehow knowing that Clementine had been the one to cut the tree down made no sense. Post "From The Gallows" release. And Rufus ends up dead by the season's end regardless of what you do with no meaningful impact on any part of the story, save for just being an extra device for David to reinforce his status as a total and complete asshole.
"Ties That Bind - Part 2"
The second part of the first episode (shit marketing; just release two different titles for fuck's sake) was a clear inferior to the first part. It wasn't entirely bad, really, but our combined scores (alphabetically, it's 84, 84, 81) hollow out a B- (83).
Stuff We Liked
This is one of the most violent episodes in a while, which I have to commend. This episode has the most player controlled kills possible since "Long Road Ahead" and they feel even more epic than the first-person-shooter did. Seriously. The walker fights were all pretty cool to watch with some awesome sequences and great animations (except for the fact that some walkers died from shots to the chest!) and almost every tense moment was dramatically represented with just the right amount of walkers. The one good thing I'd ever say about the walkers: they know how to die spectacularly.
Even if the choices were null (more on that later), the three of us agreed that the story-telling power was good to great during the middle portion of the story. The flight from Prescott to the forced stop before the train tunnel was consistently suspenseful and dramatic, although I would have preferred a few other creative challenges and solutions rather than the problem of a car blocking the way forward, a problem that we have dealt with twice before.
The train tunnel walker fight sequence was also fun thanks to some fine pacing and a real sense of danger that someone could (and probably should) have died in the dark. That's it, though, as the stuff before and after that was lame.
Jesus's introduction was cool, but that's about it. I telegraphed the whole encounter the minute I saw the decoy, which made me feel somewhat disappointed that things went exactly how I pictured it in my head with a twenty second guessing time. Still, nice to see him, I guess.
Also, Max. This episode made me feel something about another character other than abject disgust or bland fondness. Max made me feel something I haven't felt in a while about a video game character. Max made me feel outrage. Sure, he's not a guy I hate, but his circumstance and limited involvement indicates that Max could have been a stronger character than he was if shown more often. Unlike the one-dimensional destruction-loving Badger and the love-mongering Eleanor who just loves talking about other people's private business, Max seems like he is an actual survivor that wanted to live with the horrible shit he's been forced to do. Javier could be the same way, but I haven't been forced to do any grisly stuff I haven't wanted to do yet. At this point, before the release of the third episode, I feel like I could have been much happier playing as Max in this game, dealing with the time of Clementine first came to the New Frontier and her eventual departure. I don't like or dislike Max at this point (though Solarsearcher likes him), but I think that, with a bit more screen-time, I could end up liking him. Post "From The Gallows" Release. I absolutely hate how he became important at the tail end of the third episode and was never seen again. Such bullshit. A character I was intrigued by absolutely wasted by remaining a loose end unresolved by the new writing team.
Stuff We Hated
I'm starting to dread these flashback scenes with Clementine reflecting on how she got to where she was. This was her second, and both of the first two have, if nothing else, demonstrated that your choices don't matter. It's a running theme in these games that your choices don't really matter, but the flashback moments are the purest examples of this. In this one, Clementine and the baby who nobody cares about anymore (sorry, A.J.) meet a member of the New Frontier after narrowly escaping a horde of extremely slow walkers. Ava, this "mysterious" woman, makes Clementine an offer to join the New Frontier, which Clementine has the option to accept or refuse. Well, I refused. The very next scene, Clementine reveals to Javier that she joined the New Frontier. What the fuck? My choice was cancelled within a fucking minute, the game taking specific care to inform me of this fact.
The content of the opening flashback scene of Javier back before the start of the apocalypse is so goddamn pointless. It just adds pointless drama to the Cain and Abel story that Telltale seems determined to run with as the major story of the season despite David appearing as mostly a background character thus far and someone who used to be a problem for everyone. Kate breaks a glass that was somehow near and dear to David's heart in such a heinous way that he showed absolutely no concern for the gash in her skin that was literally covering her whole hand in blood. The fiend! How dare she do this to her adoring husband!
Any potential Conrad had as a character was wasted in this episode. Remember how he seemed like a somewhat cool bartender who gave Javier a free drink? Turns out, he's a hateful, weak little man who hates me because I did my best to save his girlfriend while he just stood there and watched as she died. Seriously, he hates Javier no matter what he does in spite of all of the actions Javier could have taken at great personal risk to save her. He soon forgets his hatred of Francine's actual murderer and decides to just be a problem for the group for the rest of the day, doing his absolute best to get somebody killed. The only way this could be forgiven would be if he had gotten Gabe killed, but that just doesn't happen.
David turning out to be the boss of the New Frontier is just so stupid. Nobody playing the game actually thought he was dead considering the amount of flashback time dedicated to him and all of the descriptions given by his family, so we all knew he was coming back. Him being the boss, however, is the dumbest thing I've seen in an antagonist in Telltale's many games. And yes, he is an antagonist, even if he is not officially recognized as one; he consistently seeks to interfere with the protagonist's goals, which makes him the definition of an antagonist.
Love how Tripp just abandoned his home when the gates went down despite him leading the community of people that looked to him to keep them safe. Gonna try and save your friends? No? Well, just grabbing the nearest car and getting away while you still can is fine too. People can be heroes in other ways.
Arthener asked me to include the point out the mere possibility of Clementine and Gabe being a couple in this section. I couldn't agree more. Why is it that Telltale thrusts this boy in front of me and expects me to empathize with his plight? I get that they expect their audience to relate to Gabe with his youth and helplessness, but his uselessness gets even more annoying than his attitude. Clementine shouldn't see anything in him other than a ticking time bomb, as he's going to die; he's going to die soon.
And, once again, the choices in this episode mean absolutely nothing. The initial choice of keeping quiet in front of David's outburst or firing back at him (with a response that was totally out of proportion, out of context, a complete lie, and not at all what I expected Javier to say when I selected the option) has no impact on my interactions with anybody in this episode, and I should hope that Telltale does not think that a single conversation four years ago should hold relevance in any way to these people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Letting Gabriel help work on Kate (if Javier left Clementine) is pointless; he's mad either way for his failure to adequately help his stepmom. The whole situation with Francine- in spite of me lauding the whole attack on Prescott- ends in the exact same way no matter which of the three options presented to me that I choose; Francine is dead, Conrad is inexplicably mad at me, and Prescott dies a quick death. The option of binding Jesus's hands is pointless; he breaks his damn bonds in the tunnel even if you did decide not to trust his very trustworthy face. This decision probably isn't going to haunt me anyway, as Jesus doesn't seem like the sort of guy to hold a grudge. The aforementioned decision on whether or not to join the New Frontier with Alvin Jr. is pointless for reasons I've already explained. Shooting Conrad or accepting his plan seems like a major decision that could end up mattering in some way next episode, but this decision was even easier than the "Shoot Kenny"/"Don't Shoot Kenny" choice I made at the end of "No Going Back" in Season Two. Who actually decided to accept Conrad's plan the first time they played the game? Killing him made me feel joy at having taken a named person's life (I let Rufus live the first time), so I didn't regret my choice. Finally, the choice of whether or not to surrender to Max is pointless, as David's sudden appearance as the leader of the New Frontier resolves any issues of firearms pretty quickly. It didn't affect my relationship with Max drastically, so what was the point? Post "From The Gallows" release. Conrad had no significant role at all in the remaining episodes, being given about five lines in the fourth episode, two minutes of appearance in the fifth, and no effect in the third.
"Above The Law"
If it were up to just me alone, this episode would have an even worse score than the three of us actually gave it. Aside from the Michonne episodes, I feel confident in saying that this is the worst thing Telltale has ever done, and that includes their other games not related to The Walking Dead, and the Michonne shit is not that much worse. Nevertheless, my score of 60 with Solarsearcher's score of 82 and Arthener's score of 82 rounds this episode out at a C (76), the lowest score to date we have ever given an episode.
=Stuff We Liked
I liked very, very little about this episode. I felt no proper emotions for any character for large portions of the episode, aside from my abject hatred of a few characters for all of the wrong reasons. Even the baby began to feel less like a thing to care for and instead felt like a cause for some useless tension. Most of the stuff Arthener and/or Solarsearcher liked is stuff that I did not receive very well. Look, I get why this episode was so poor; three of Telltale's lead writers left with a director also leaving in the months after "Ties That Bind - Part 2" was released. However, the blame cannot be totally placed on a newly promoted staff; if some reports are to be believed, each of the men who left did so because of creative differences with the executives explicitly pertaining to the projects related to The Walking Dead. If you agree with me that this episode was bad, the blame can fall on Telltale's executives who just couldn't keep their mouths shut and let the people they hired to do their creative work do their creative work.
Killing Badger was the best thing about the episode. How dare the game try to criticize me through Jesus for exercising my right to violate the abuser that had caused all of the suffering this game so far.
One good thing I'll say about the episode is keeping Gabriel off-screen for 75% of it, although I would have preferred it if he had died.
Arthener convinced me to add the pre-fight scene in the warehouse as a shocking revelation (in that Max was a part of it, not the stolen supplies themselves), if not something both of us agreed was good. Solarsearcher convinced me to include the fight with the walkers in the forest, which is, again, not something I particularly enjoyed.
Stuff We Hated
Where to start with this one?
I love being able to play the games I bought legally. When I buy a game, I expect to be able to play it. Sometimes, when I buy a game, I don't pre-order it, choosing not to indulge in any offers that come with the advanced purchase. Telltale, for some reason, decided that I didn't deserve to play the episode when it was available, giving it away ten days early to the people who purchased the season pass. I didn't get to pay to play the episode at the same time as everyone else because I didn't pre-order it. That heavily impacted my score for this episode, and if Arthener and Solarsearcher (who are both season pass holders) had experienced the same thing as me, I'm sure the total score would have been much lower.
In the actual game, once again, the flashback scenes were terrible. With the exception of Vince's Story in "400 Days", there hasn't been a single enjoyable flashback scene in the entire video game. In the two we were treated to in this episode, we saw yet another look at Javier's early attempts at survival and the separation of Clementine from A.J. I experienced none of the fear that Kate and Javier felt that whole sequence because- and this is very important to remember- this was a flashback scene, and all characters in it survived into Season Three's actual start. I cared nothing for the boy that attacked Javier because neither myself nor the goddamn protagonist had a relationship with the walker who I was charged with killing in a way that really made no sense, as a little child like that should not have been so hard to kill. Clementine's flashback scene was not at all what Job Stauffer claimed it was. It starts badly, with Clementine as a member of the New Frontier despite me explicitly telling Ava in the previous episode that I had no desire to join her group. Clementine's decision of whether or not to steal medicine from the New Frontier felt not at all like a question of morality or survival, but a pointless endeavor that just tests Clementine's ability to be stealthy. It starts out with "Oh, no! The baby has some unnamed disease that's going to kill him if I don't get the medicine he needs. Got to do something that I absolutely know isn't going to end well for me" and ends unwell for me. Honestly, I don't really care about Alvin Jr. anymore, and it's a real shame, because I used to actually want to keep him alive once, but lack of exposure and no real objective involving him has killed my interest. It did not bother me one bit to have him taken from me. Then, when Clementine actually has A.J. taken from her, she doesn't reflect the strong, developed character that I raised. Instead, she whimpers "You're cruel!", calls them monsters, and does her absolute best to look like a scared little girl. This character regression is absolutely unforgivable, and spitting in David's face didn't feel like nearly enough to regain any of what was lost.
Holy shit, this episode introduced a bunch of characters for me to hate and even ruined my interest in a few of the ones I liked. Joan and Dr. Lingard were two transparent characters; one was obviously evil (nothing screams absolute bitch than a person who claims to want as many supplies as possible yet wastes a bunch of ingredients on a chocolate cake that nobody eats because fuck you) and the other was a totally useless fool (there's been no evidence that he has done anything, given his admission of doing nothing for Kate or A.J. other than giving fluids and shelter, and his wholesale refusal to do anything at either church meeting because fuck you). Lonnie became a much less likeable character (remember when Lonnie seemed to show mercy before Gabriel coughed under the trailer and became a lying weasel that just stands there because fuck you), just like Tripp (who gets randomly mad at me for no reason for the first three chapters of the episode; seriously, haven't I proven a couple of times now that I am not a member of the New Frontier by killing my fair share of their number? He forgets all of this because fuck you). Tripp especially, as his character seemed to completely change from leader to whiner, and watching him get himself knocked out by Ava, a woman half his size and weirdly punching down at him, was hysterical rather than horrible. Yes, yes, Kenny also randomly got mad at me a few times and I loved him all the same, but here's the thing; I don't want another Kenny. Kenny is gone, and I've made my peace with that. I don't need a much more inferior version of the man coming back and getting angry all the fucking time but justifying his anger through his love for others in a way that makes no sense and- oh, fuck it. I'm done ranting about Tripp because fuck you.
There were oh so many leaps in logic that I was supposed to ignore for me to like some of the choices and characters, leaps that I refused to take. I tell David that Badger killed his daughter, and he doesn't immediately go for vengeance. David gets mad at me for asking whether or not he tried to come back to his family, despite the fact that he says a few sentences later that he chose to form up with his former army buddies rather than make it home to his family. Ava punches out Tripp way too easily. David, the security chief of Richmond, knows about a way into Richmond so that he could sneak past the guards and didn't have guards posted there. Joan thinks it's best to raid other communities so that her people could survive, yet she puts the extremely violent Badger in charge of these raids instead of a careful planner who won't get her people killed.
The walker fight scene in the forest, in spite of Solarsearcher's opinion, was not at all pleasant for me. When he is presented a clear opportunity to quickly get to the place David had marked for him to go, Javier chooses to taunt a walker with a sudden and bloodthirsty departure from the calm diplomat I had been playing as. He rightfully gets more than he bargained for in wasting everyone's time, but before he can be killed by two walkers (gasp!), Clementine saves him in a scene that was clearly designed to be funny, but was not at all humorous, and in fact just seems a bit desperate.
The "empty" warehouse David sends us to has a weak fence that was somehow not destroyed by other herds in the past before Javier arrived. This is the part where I actively turned on the game and stopped looking for redeemable qualities, by the way. I've played the video game's other episodes before, okay. I've learned basic problem-solving skills from playing as Lee, Clementine, Michonne (God help me), and even Javier. So when the group locked themselves inside a small area fenced in by a weak barrier and the only escape was getting into the building, I knew two things right off the bat; the garage would be my entrance and it was going to be locked. Naturally, I explored the small, enclosed area, ignored the garage entirely, and searched (this being the first and only time this episode I was able to move the stick in any direction, by the way) for a way to get the garage door open. I found that car with the walker inside and the means to open the garage. I was deflated when I realized that it would be nearly identical to the problem in "Around Every Corner", but at least I'd be able to save myself and maybe my group from the walkers. Except there was no prompt to open the car door. Confused and thinking that perhaps I was looking at the wrong part of the car, I flailed my stick around a few times and still got no response. As my screen turned red, I thought myself the victim of a glitch that prevented me from progressing. Then I died. I have never, never died in any episode of The Walking Dead unless it was on purpose. Yet there I was, having my throat and guts eaten by a single walker that Javier was unable to fight for some reason. Irritated, I started up the game again and encountered the exact same problem with no prompt to open the car door until I died again. Then, for the first time, I decided to test the garage. Obviously, it didn't work, so I scoured the area for anything I might have missed, maybe an elevated window or a ladder somewhere or perhaps I could hide in the dumpster. Nope. I just wound up back at the car, and after looking at it once more, I was at long last given the option of opening the car door and getting the necessary contraption to open the garage. It was no glitch; it was the game expecting me to have tried the garage first and finding it locked rather than intuiting that it would be locked regardless. It made me feel outraged that the game actually thought I would try to open the door when history has demonstrated that it's never that simple. How dare this stupid, played-out puzzle that never posed any challenge to anyone with a functioning brain insult my intelligence by expecting me to try the obvious red herring first.
After that, my next major issue was the revelation of the stolen supplies. Firstly, Max's involvement in the raids undoes quite a bit of his character work and actually serves to cheapen his reaction to the raid on Prescott by illuminating that he was on board with attacking communities without David's knowledge, but he didn't have the order to do it at that particular time. Also, why would Joan entrust raid leadership in a clearly volatile Badger who would attack without planning or the knowledge of his comrades and not give Max express control over the groups that scavenge other communities? Secondly, seeing the stolen supplies wasn't the big revelation Telltale wanted it to be; the New Frontier was clearly made up of a bunch of scumbags and we've already established that cake-makers are assholes. David actually looking shocked by the discovery made him look stupid for having been clueless of his men's illicit acts over a large range of surrounding countryside and communities for so long. Plus, David even drew a weirdly colorful map for Javier that showed the ruined communities; how could he have never been suspicious of anything? Thirdly, when I'm sneaking up on the three men in the warehouse, there's no option to attack them from behind, subdue them, and then interrogate them, which would have been much smarter than what we actually did.
When I saw the first trailer for the episode and watched the fight play out between Javier and Badger, I thought it looked awesome and couldn't wait to do it. Then the fight came around (which was a decently choreographed fight, in all honesty), but the logical gaps were so vast. First, when Badger shoves Javier through a window, why does Tripp slowly creep his way up the staircase when Lonnie had fled and Max had no possession of his gun? Second, how does Badger completely miss with the bat when I'm not even moving all that fast, and how is he totally unable to perform a return stroke? Third, why is there no option to shoot his nuts off rather than his guts? Fourth, how is Javier totally fine after the fight ends and able to walk without limping when he goes to see Max and David?
How dare Jesus complain to me about bashing Badger's head in. He was not there to see the circumstances of Badger's death; for all he knew, I was forced to kill him in the fight with the baseball bat. He had no way of knowing that I had executed a defenseless man.
David takes us to a secret, unguarded entrance into Richmond he knows about that he didn't have guarded in case someone else tried entering that way. Wonderful job, Mr. Security Chief. Your guards are also as dumb as fuck. What is the point of having a dedicated fire crew? Why not just have all guards be prepared and know what to do in case of a fire?
Gabriel's decision to remain with his dad in Richmond was meant to be him refusing make the same decision he made four years before, if Javier went with Kate out of Richmond, that is. I've already explained that it was David who abandoned us, so this was just Gabriel being stubborn for no reason. Plus, why was there no option to tell Gabriel that we would get David out too? Why did Kate and Gabriel just decide that it was okay to do that anyway when Kate had no way of knowing we'd be getting out? Seems that if Kate was really that impatient to leave, she would have tried to get out herself.
Joan's reveal as the antagonist was neither a surprise nor a powerful moment. Maybe it's just because I let Max live the first time I played this episode, but I found her to be entirely in the wrong for shortsightedly keeping all of her dark, shady actions to herself and the most violent members of her community. What exactly was her thought process by putting Badger in charge and validating all of his beliefs about the use of force? Of course, Badger wasn't very smart, but by teaching her underlings that strength was the right of rule, how long would it have been before Badger or someone else decided to take control of the community from her? By undermining her own system of leadership, she did herself no favors. If her plan was just to be a mastermind from behind the scenes and pull the strings of each of the others' duties from under their noses, why not just declare herself ruler of the New Frontier with the armed force of Badger's men and push Clint and Lingard into cowered silence? If David was going to be a problem, just have him killed quietly outside of the walls, then put people in charge who aren't complete assholes.
And, as has been a continuing theme, choices mean jackshit in these games. The first decision of comforting Kate or telling her to get back to safety quickly is a stupid one; why is getting her to safety not a top priority that also allows me to be romantic with her if I wanted (I didn't, by the way)? I later have to decide what to advise my cellmates on what to do (wasn't I in a prison in the third episode of the last season as well?), but it's all for naught when I don't see them until we're all thrown out, and Tripp's reaction to Ava is no different in the end. Keeping quiet about Mariana's death causes nothing. Arguing over a body that means nothing to Joan and Clint is a poor strategy, and even when I do begin shouting, Max somehow sounds more reasonable than I do. Funny that. Do I steal medicine (for the umpteenth time this series) from the New Frontier to save the baby? Well, who cares; baby lives either way and I get kicked out either way. Do I let David into the warehouse despite Clementine's threats? David gets inside regardless. Do I let Max live or die? I doubt letting him live had any real consequences, as we all end up getting locked up and Joan firmly establishes her role as undisputed leader at the end. Do I agree with Gabriel or Kate? Doing neither seems like the better move; fuck you both, I'm leaving you both here. Can I pick that? No? No! Fuck this fucking episode! Post "From The Gallows" release. Joan and Clint contribute little to the climax of the season, Max disappears if you let him live, same with Lonnie, and David holds nothing against Javier for long, as there is absolutely no test of loyalty with him you can pass that avoids the fistfight in the final episode.
"Thicker Than Water"
It has been a very long time since I graded this one, so I've had time to temper my original thoughts about it. I'm not changing the grade, which is fortunate for this episode, since I thought it was better than the previous one. As a result, our combined scores (alphabetically, we gave it a 83, 85 and 75) result is a grade of B- (81).
Stuff We Enjoyed
Well, for me, this was a huge positive: no "Above The Law".
As for what all three of us could agree on, I'll start with the Clementine flashback scene. Yes, unbelievably, Telltale managed to include a good flashback scene for once this season. It's the only one of its kind, and I'm only talking about the Kenny flashback, not the Jane and Ava flashbacks. Jane's flashback felt forced, considering that the relationship that she and Clementine had lasted all of two months at most. Ava's flashback felt forced, considering that the relationship that she and Clementine had lasted all of two months at most. (Sorry, this section is about what we enjoyed. It's just been so long since I played this episode for the first time that it's hard to explain.) Kenny's flashback felt like a nice moment of remembrance and hope, reminding me why I care about the baby.
The episode also had a fairly interesting morality choice in deciding Lingard's fate. I didn't really care about the doctor- in fact, I still hated him for his circumstance- so I had an easy decision in having Javier kill a non-antagonist, but it certainly got us thinking about whether there was a way Telltale could have conditioned us to make choices like these (do you care about the baby more than the health of a hundred people?) with haste. The choice itself is meaningless, but more on that later.
Also, a quick note; I definitely am not heavily invested in this whole Javier/Kate/David love triangle... at all... but at least I got free from having to listen to Kate prattle on about it. Which is weird, considering that she’s been off-screen for the majority of each episode thus far.
Stuff We Hated
A glitch in the save file ruined my experience through the middle and end of the episode; I killed Conrad during my first playthrough, but he showed up alive in this episode for some reason. Since this season saw fit to remove the rewind feature, I chose to power forward.
I found the episode fairly boring up until the armory escape, and it really shouldn't have been that way, considering the episode leads off with a daring escape and a stealth endeavor through the city. At no point of it, however, does Javier seem at all pressured by the situation. Plus, the reunion in Eleanor's apartment (I guess I'm going to call it that now) was almost purposefully boring, as if Telltale thought I needed a break from the highs of the previous fifteen minutes. Even after the part where Javier gets stabbed in the shoulder, it was still boring, as no one seemed at all concerned by it until Kate brings it up briefly halfway through the episode.
Wow, was Gabriel really acting like a bitch during this episode. Even if you experienced what I did and had Conrad turn up after killing him or you killed him and had that choice stay, he doesn't shut the fuck up! He causes Javier to get stabbed in the shoulder with his panicking, he gets visibly hurt when Clementine doesn't accept his gun when he first offers it, he almost breaks down at the mere thought of Joan doing anything violent, and he needs to be coaxed by Clementine or Ava to do literally anything reasonable. Tripp was almost as bad, a big strong man sitting on the sidelines for the majority of the episode as he gets shoved into the background in favor of more time with... Gabriel. Was the actor too busy to provide more than twenty lines?
Also, and I cannot stress this enough, fuck the Javier flashback for this episode. This one was the worst of them all, arbitrarily forcing me to spend some time with David in a way that attempts to make me feel closer to him. Here's the thing; we know exactly where it leads, and the occasion isn't at all fun considering that we engaged in America's pastime. I was so pissed by David in the flashback that I continued to be an asshole to him when returned to the apocalypse. Not that I was treating him any differently than he treated me.
The word choice must not exist in Telltale's dictionary. There is no significance to any choice you made this season; a few things you did are mentioned casually, then forgotten. Did you spare Conrad or kill him? He speaks five times this episode and does nothing but gloom until the end if he's alive. What did you do to Rufus? If he's alive, he doesn't care that you spared him. Did you return to Prescott with Kate and help during her surgery or let her be handled by Eleanor? She's practically fully healed only three days after having been shot in the gut. How did you deal with Badger and Max? No matter what you did, Joan successfully turns the people of Richmond against you. What about the decision you made regarding whether to try to leave Richmond without David? No one cares after the first ten minutes.
And the "choices" in this episode? I highlighted the Lingard choice before as something I liked, only because I liked the dilemma, not the outcome. The choice in the flashback is meaningless, since we know how everything turns out in the end. Parting with Ava on good terms gives no benefit to Clementine later on in the episode. Killing Lingard causes no difference other than his absence from five lines in the finale. Accepting Kate's feelings only results in dialogue shifts in the following episode, not differences in actions. Shooting Joan or freeing David has the exact same consequence: Richmond in flames and the plan falling apart.
"From The Gallows"
A rather tepid season finale to a rather tepid season. Perhaps that is appropriate, considering that there were very few characters and plotlines that intrigued me. Due to this, our combined scores (alphabetically, they were 84, 81, and 75) round out this episode at a fine 80 (B-).
Stuff We Enjoyed
The fact that there were several possible endings is a plus, though not as much as it could have been (I'll get to that later). We had the option of killing David and Gabriel in one fell swoop, even if I did not get that ending the first time I played through this episode. We also had the option of keeping them alive and having Kate bite it. Each of the endings are somewhat impactful, as Telltale did a good job with the endings (though Solarsearcher strongly disliked the ending where Kate is just missing).
We enjoyed the gameplay involved in the herd-walking scene, particularly the "talking walker" Easter egg. Having to avoid bumping directly into the roving walkers too many times is quite the challenge, and it's a good kind of challenge.
Story-wise, the feature involving Clementine's choice at the end is almost handled well enough to be considered great. I wish it had been handled better.
And, finally, the ultimate positive of this episode: the promise of continuing Clementine's story. Yeah, that's not that much.
Stuff We Hated
The flashback scene is once again a pain. Firstly, they changed the name Rafael to Salvador and thought nobody would notice. Then, no matter which hand you play, you lose to David's benefit (which is a nice summation of your entire relationship with him in this episode). Then, we get an arbitrary choice of whether or not to push for your father to fight the cancer, even though you already know he died at the very start of the apocalypse. Finally, he tries to guilt you into promising to look out for and grow closer to David, a promise that you can break independent of whether or not you actually promised it. Are you confused? It's confusing to me why they included this at all.
Most of the episode felt simply tedious, which is unbelievable considering that the episode begins with the walkers invading Richmond after a fiery explosion. Once we get inside the nearest building, the tension grinds to a halt right away and never picks up (save for a brief moment with Fern) until the fight between David and Javier. Almost nothing about this episode raises the stakes; not standing on the ledge with David, not traversing the bridge through the downed helicopter, not even the prospect of herd-walking to get into the garage.
This episode really put a premium on logical consistency when it comes to character motivations. First, we have Gabriel, who- in my playthrough- began to see his father as the shithead he is over the course of the episode. At the end, he chooses to go off alone with his shithead father just because he's his father, even though he appeared to lose all the respect he had for him over the course of the episode preceding it. Now, you can have a playthrough where he loses his respect for Javier instead, but that's not the point; my playthrough saw David murder a man and cause a needless shootout, brutally attack Fern and then wave a gun at his family in defending his choices, decide to abandon everyone he had sworn to protect because he was stuck in the past, and attack an unresisting Javier out of envy and anger. All of these actions horrified Gabriel and the last one was even performed with David hitting Gabriel in his rage. Gabriel then goes off with his shithead father despite all of his bad actions and clearly dangerous tendencies instead of trying to convince his father to keep the family together.
Additionally, I am very confused by Clementine's motivations when it comes to the choice of whether to go with Javier, the opposite way of Javier, with Kate or after Gabe. In my first playthrough- I did go back and make sure that Conrad was dead in the second episode this time- I had Clementine reject Ava's offer to join the New Frontier, inject AJ with the medicine stolen from the New Frontier, and then spit in David's face. From the page for the episode, I am told that this makes Clementine cold. This matches with what I saw on the final screens (though I don't understand why these choices make her cold, exactly), but she did not go with Kate in my playthrough; she went after Gabe. I was disappointed in her decision, as I thought that Lee had taught her to do the right thing back in the first season and I had tried to always do the right thing in the second season. Honestly, I don't know what to make of the personality system, considering that the choice she made does not match with what this site says she should have done under those scenarios, so I have to assume I was the victim of yet another glitch in this game.
And the choices, by golly, the choices. Am I going to promise my soon-to-be-dead father that I would give my soon-to-be-dead brother my undying love and support? Does it matter? No; making a promise doesn't inhibit my decision to fight back later in the episode. Should I cut off Rufus's arm? Well, I wasn't expecting him to live anyway, but I didn't expect Javier to be so clumsy about it, neither preparing a tourniquet nor anything to cauterize the wound. Do I stand on the ledge with David? Nothing changes in their relationship if I don't, and I know this because I didn't. Do I support or denounce David at every turn? Doesn't matter; he attacks me regardless. Do I defend my relationship with Kate or lack thereof? Doesn't matter; he attacks me regardless. Do I fight back? Doesn't matter; he attacks me regardless, and Gabe goes with David regardless. Do I go with Kate or after Gabe? I guess this matters somewhat, since I can pick whether or not Kate or Gabe will definitely survive, but Kate will succeed in saving Richmond no matter the cost or support she receives. Maybe if Kate went alone and Richmond died because of it, I would have placed more importance on this choice, but I guess the two scenes that come with Richmond's survival were just too important to branch. Finally, do I tell Clementine to go after AJ or leave him be? It doesn't matter, as she goes after him regardless and never brings him back to Richmond if I tell her to return.