"Jane, divided, but I can't decide which side I'm on."
We've reached the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead Season 2, and while it's still not clear where events are headed, enough is happening to keep things interesting.
This is a review of episode 4 of 5 and will contain spoilers for the first 3. If you haven't caught up, stay away, and check out the review for the first, second, or third episode instead.
Unsurprisingly, this episode starts where the previous one ended, with the gang covered in zombie guts, trying to sneak through a huge zombie herd. Your final decision in In Harms Way has immediate (and perhaps somewhat surprising) repercussions. As always, Clementine will be separated from the group, and will spend half of the rest of the episode tracking them down and the other half dealing with Rebecca, who is having a baby in the middle of nowhere, in a world full of zombies.
Babies in fiction only ever represent innocence or hope, and it seems that this one is all about hope, or the lack thereof. Major plot points involve dealing with Sarah and her despair over the loss of her father, Carlos, in the previous episode. Kenny will once again slip back into hopelessness, an unnecessary repeat of his story in Season 1. Rebecca is a bit more optimistic about the future of her child, while we learn about Jane and her scars from a major event in her past that was the direct result of a loved one's hopelessness.
We'll actually learn quite a bit about the mysterious Jane this episode. She's tough and resourceful, but not quite as rough as she appears on the exterior, much like Christa. She has already taken a liking to Clementine, and seems to intend to take her under her wing.
This episode brings a feeling of general moodiness, though, instead of outright despair, despite some pretty sad events for the characters. This tone is certainly supported by the episode's uniquely purple colour palette. It looks nice, though maybe a bit distracting. I kept stopping to think “Man, this is definitely the purplest episode I've played so far. It's like The Wolf Among Us up in here.”
The death of Carver in No Time Left raised the important question of “What next?” for both the player and the characters. It seemed that Carver was going to be the main antagonist of the season, but he's dealt with before Episode 4 even starts, and, while the episode does end with a cliffhanger and a setup for the upcoming finale, it all feels kind of disjointed. Season 1 could be summarized as “The one where Lee raises Clementine to be a survivor on her own” or “The one where Lee and Clementine hunt for Clementine's parents” or “The one where the group travels to Savannah to look for a boat on which they can live.” These are all goals that were present from early in the season and stayed in play the entire time, right up until the final episode. Season 2 doesn't seem to have any such goal. We've known Rebecca's baby has been coming since Episode 1, but it's not the main focus of the season. Otherwise, it seems like a simple collection of episodes about a group of people just trying to survive in a world full of undead, which is interesting on its own, but still feels like it lacks a certain focus that the first season had from the start.
Even the episode select screen image for Amid the Ruins shows characters that don't actually appear here. The guy on the right is almost certainly Wyatt's friend Eddie from 400 Days and he's nowhere to be found. Speaking of 400 Days, it's surprising that we've made it through 80% of Season 2 without Nate making any kind of appearance. Even if it lacks focus, Season 2 has been a good story so far, and this episode meets the standard set by the previous three. What happens in the finale is anyone's guess, but I'll be there to find out.
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (July 24, 2014)
Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.
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