The Walking Dead Season 2: Final Thoughts – A Review
Its been a while since I talked about the second season of The Walking Dead, partly because of my busy schedule and partly because Episodes 3 and 4 were such bummers. The first season was really a landmark in video games so to expect the second one to top it is asking a bit much. With that said, here’s my thoughts on the season as a whole.
The second season is very fast paced, and to the detriment of the season quality, a lot happens in a short amount of time. We follow Clem and her new crew(s) and never does it really seem like they get their footing anywhere. The series has taught us not to trust anyone, and be careful with your choices because they will come back to screw you in the end. The focus on Clem is a welcome change from the now dead Lee, but with that comes some unrealistic story beats and strange expectations being placed on the protagonist. I mentioned this in previous reviews, but it remained a factor until the end. A group of adults should not be basing their actions on the opinion of a 10 year.
The return of Kenny in the second episode was a huge win for the season, that guy was one of the highlights of season 1, and his arc totally pays off in the end. We’ll get to that later. What this season really suffered from is a lack of memorable characters. Outside of Luke (who is only memorable because of the amount of screen time he gets) and Carver, most of the cast is disposable. As it gets closer to the end, it becomes more and more clear that all of them are in fact VERY disposable. We learned in the first season that most of the story lines will end up meaning nothing because nearly everyone dies. This hurts the second season because it creates reluctance to attachment.
It became apparent that the major players in the end were going to be Luke, Kenny, Clem, Jane and Alvin Jr. The biggest waste of a character goes to Carver. Michael Madsen did a great job voicing what looked to be a truly menacing antagonist, but Kenny killed him dead too early in the story for that to really happen. The Carver story could have taken up the whole game with the climax being drastically different. It really seemed like a squandered opportunity, much like Luke and Kenny’s rivalry. They were positioned really well to become natural foes with their relationships with Clem being so different, but in the end that didn’t pay off either. Sure Jane was there, but her flaky nature and her late entrance kept her from seeming like a serious story player.
In the end, most of the season was redeemed with the concept that played out in the final scenes. Clem having to deal with Kenny being her oldest friend and realizing that he is the most poisonous thing in her life had a real impact. The way I played the ending, Kenny died at the hands of Clem. Jane, Alvin Jr., and Clem returned to Carver’s compound for food and shelter. This really felt like a huge growth step for Clem. She is already weathered by her time in the Zombie apocalypse, but now she knows that even her closest friends, regardless of their good intentions, may not be a good fit in her life. This is a message that is echoed by her new mentor Jane, and while the season ends with it seeming like Clem might be ok for awhile, there’s the reminder that people are always looking for help and that death and struggle will always be a factor.
Chapter 5 was really the best episode in the series, it was the one that held the most tension and the most emotional weight. However it was also full of predictable story beats that hurt the experience. One thing I did not see coming was the highly effective flashback scene to Lee and Clam in the RV from Season 1. It really helped flesh out the growth we have seen in Clem’s character and solidify exactly how important Lee was was in her life. Unfortunately it also foreshadowed the end of the episode a bit too heavily.
If you are looking for “Oh S***!!” moments, this season has plenty and its break neck pace will keep you engaged. Overall I would recommend the second season, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to sing its praise, either.
Verdict: $25 for about 12 hours of gameplay ain’t too bad and its good enough of a sequel to the first one to check out.