Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Walking Dead: Season 2: Episode 5: No Going Back review


    That was a trip.

    No Going Back is, easily, the best of the Season 2's episodes. I also think it's got some of the most troublesome plot twists. A lot of the drama is forced and requires the characters to act like idiots but I was willing to overlook this because the story was so good. The funny thing is this is probably the least "plot-centric" episode of the series and works due to the strength of its characterization.

    The premise of this episode is the group has survived its shoot-out with some Russian Survivors and is now stuck with a teenage boy who was traveling with them. Kenny doesn't trust him because, well, the boy was part of the group which just tried to rob them.  The rest of the group doesn't trust Kenny due to his violent murder of a character in Episode 3 and his depressed rage from his second wife's death.

    The group splitting up is something which was foreshadowed in Episode 4 and the events which do it are shocking. By the end, you will probably hate some characters you previously liked and possibly killed some.

Tensions rise in the group for very good reasons. Also, because everyone hates everyone else.
    Either way, Clementine will know the sting of betrayal.

    Or she'll commit it herself.

    The theme of No Going Back seems to be, "sometimes good people will do bad things when they're scared." No one is evil in this episode. Even if you buy into some conspiracy theories about the character of Arvo, he's just a guy stuck with the people who killed his group. Everyone just wants to be safe and that means getting rid of the people they don't trust. The sad part? The only person trusted by everyone is Clementine.

    And she can't keep this group together.

    One thing I liked about this episode was the fact Telltale forgoes its usually railroading to allow no less than five different endings. While none of the choices really "matter" until this point, the final choices can have a dramatic effect on who lives or who dies. I'm happy with my ending, Clementine staying true to herself and not abandoning those she loves. I've seen the other endings, though, and they are pretty damn bleak.

    So I guess I lucked out.

Amazing how a touching moment like this can go downhill so quickly.
     Sadly, as I mentioned, some of the characters are required to be idiots. They must be willing to go over, rather than around, an avoidable natural hazard. They must be willing to trust the opinion of a relative newcomer to someone they know well. They must be willing to endanger their own lives in order to make another character appear less trustworthy. Really, the characters make stupid decisions this episode. I can't be too mad at them, though, because people in real-life do that under stress.

    As a finale to Season 2, No Going Back was a good one.There's some truly powerful moments like a flashback to Season 1, the fate of a character who I'd grown to like, all of the finales, and conversations where you get into the heads of characters who all want your approval. Clementine is the glue which keeps this group together but none of them really see her. I was glad for the opportunity to mention, in-universe, no one listens to Clementine even when she's talking sense. No wonder this group was doomed.

My ending actually brought tears to my eyes. Okay, not really, but it came close.
    Some gamers may complain the finale for Season 2 isn't very well plotted out but I think the actual plot-plot ended with Episode 3. Carver was the main threat which drove the story and everything else is just denouement. The threats which menace Clementine here are human nature and distrust, which can't be shot or beaten to death with a crowbar. It's a nice contrast to the Stranger plot which so dominated the end of Season 1.

    Goodbye Season 2, I look forward to your sequel.



  1. My over-arching opinion on season 2:

    It wasn't quite as revolutionary as the first one, but I actually liked it more. I suppose it's probably because there's no "Ben" character who screws everything up accidentally.

    I love that Kenny was brought back. Kenny was one of my favorite characters because he was in the same situation Lee was (having to protect a child). The conflict with him and Jane felt a tiny bit forced at least as I was playing. Everyone treats him like he's completely insane, but considering how much stress he's under he's actually holding up pretty well (save that one time he hit Clem-that was a dick move, and too be fair their skepticism about heading north isn't irrational. But Jane seems to be criticizing him for being really worried about AJ)

    Anyways, the endings are good, though I'm not sure if they'll be able to make the next season a direct continuation of it. There's a lot of different places where Clem could be right now. Perhaps they should have the next season revolve around the characters who fled the party?

    1. I felt the second season had a lot going for it but it tried way-way too hard. Basically, the cast was set up for the purposes of being massacred and you never got the chance to get attached to them before everything went to crap. I am excited about Season Three with a teenage Clem, though. They've already released the trailer for it.