I needed time away after finishing The Walking Dead: Season One. While great, the tense and oppressively dour story wore at me. I couldn’t go through another season of that immediately. Recently, several years later, I jumped into Season Two for another five episodes of tension and frustration with sullen characters just trying to survive in a world dominated by zombies. I finished this season feeling the same as I did after completing the first season: glum and eager for something lighter.
That’s not a detriment to either season, but a compliment. I couldn’t shake off or make light of the horrors inflicted upon the generally likable cast, as much as I wanted to. I fell into this grotesque well and went along for the ride as a participant, not a casual observer able to conjure up what characters “should” have done. Instead, they felt like my stupid, made-in-the-moment decisions.
Clementine is the protagonist for the second season, a decision that I wasn’t entirely on-board with prior to the first episode. Now, I applaud the decision. While she’s able to land head-shots on the lumbering, slow-moving undead, she’s still an 11-year-old girl among adults better able to force their opinions and decisions. Even when playing the rational one rightly asking for civility, Clementine is often pushed aside by the complicated mixture of people being put over the burner.
That mixture slowly grows more volatile, but Clementine, and the player, is powerless to curb the impending destruction. This happened with Season One, but not to the same degree.
Season Two hammers home your uselessness from the start. After injuring herself, Clementine meets a group of people unwilling to give her the medical attention she requires. Soon after, regardless of what Clementine says, she’s locked in a nearby shed, forced to side-step these adults to heal her injury herself. Although a number of her companions (and foes) recognize Clementine’s smarts and ability to survive, she’s still unable to stop the declining state of the group.
Depending on the decisions made, Clementine might be the only person still around after the vexing finale. Of course, those choices aren’t easy. Telltale Games is the master at creating morally vague decisions, the kind that we wish came with a few hours to mull over instead of a few seconds. Season One was full of such decisions, and they haven’t faltered in Season Two.
As with the first season, I walked away from Season Two with a hollow feeling in my gut. I needed something lighter, with decisions that don’t promise death for companions. The Walking Dead isn’t a world I wish to visit for long, but it’s a hell of a ride for that short time.