Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Walking Dead: Episode 5

Geez, could one thing this year NOT have a disappointing, nonsensical ending?


First of all, I'm seriously supposed to believe that while you're out, your entire group gets ambushed by Vernon and the other really old cancer survivors? When Kenny told me that, my suspension of disbelief died.

WHY WOULD THEY EVEN DO THAT? At what point was that ever established as something they would do? These were frail, scared, old cancer survivors, not bandits. I do not buy the idea that they would steal the group's boat by force, nor do I believe they would be physically capable of it. Even if you choose the situation where the entire group goes with you, leaving the boat unattended. That is not something Vernon would do, not even if you have a heated last confrontation with him in Episode 4.

(Maybe if Clementine were still in the house at the time, I could see them trying to "rescue" her that way. But she's not. It doesn't make sense, because it was an obvious contrivance, an excuse to go to the Marsh House.

...Which was completely unnecessary, because that's where Lee knows Clementine is, and was heading there anyway!)

Removing the boat just makes the entire previous episode completely pointless. It also denied the players the chance to decide who would get to be on the boat to escape, which would have been a much more interesting direction to take(and would have been a much harder decision than chopping off your own arm).

I also don't like it when characters die offscreen, in ways that make it difficult to tell if they even died or not until it's an hour later and they haven't shown up again, so shit, I guess they really did die. That part in the alley killed the illusion for me. At that point, it became obvious that it wasn't an artistic choice to kill off those two. They just needed to cut the amount of dialogue they'd need to write.

To clarify, I'm not mad that they killed off two characters I like. This game killed off a lot of characters I like. I'm mad that they chose the most contrived, forced, artificial, meaningless way to do it. One would almost call it fatalism if it didn't reek of a deadline. It was an uncharacteristically weak, rushed ending for two characters.

Maybe if you could decide which one of them jumps to the other roof first? That way you'd be deciding which character does the noble thing? Or if you could decide if one of them lives? But no, I guess that wouldn't be rigid and static enough for a game that was supposed to be shaped by player choice, the way it freaking tells you at the start of each episode.

Is anyone else disappointed that Molly didn't come back? I know she said she was going to go off on her own, but I left episode 4 feeling like she wasn't totally out of the picture. If anything, it might have made more sense if SHE stole the boat, because we've seen her get the drop on Kenny before.

Also, if they wanted an ambiguous ending, I don't think what they went with was right for this story. It goes back and makes much of the previous episodes feel like a waste of time and personal investment. And besides, what happens right before the credits is ambiguous enough anyway, except that actually worked on an emotional level.

Although now that I think of it, technically THAT'S the ending, and the rest is the epilogue. So I suppose it's more fair to say that the Epilogue was kind of unfitting, unrewarding and frankly dumb.

Here's what it should have been:
"Is... is that...?",

Instead we got:
"I... I can't see... What? I don't understand. I don't know what that is. Oh, it's over. WAIT, THAT'S IT?!"

If they wanted to end this season on a particular facial expression, why did they go with "2 Girls, 1 Cup Reaction"?

On the plus side, it was nice to see more of Omid and Christa. It was good to see Ben stand up to Kenny and actually, finally earn a bit of sympathy and compassion from him. Cutting through the walkers with a shard of glass and a meat-cleaver while latin guitar music plays was pretty neat. The conversation with the Stranger is exactly what it needed to be. And the climax to Lee and Clementine's relationship is terrifying and perfect.

But I can't ignore the fact that a game focused so heavily on player choice removed nearly all of it at the last second. I can't believe the same game that had the talk with the Stranger is the same one with the alley scene. It's like if bits of a Uwe Boll movie were interspersed into Dawn of the Dead. It stopped feeling natural and engaging. It stopped being a video game. It became the story of a disgruntled DM, intent on dropping rocks onto player characters too smart for their own good. If the design stupidity didn't ruin the ending, it was not for a lack of trying.

It's not as bad as Mass Effect 3, or The Dark Knight Rises. But this is definitely the "Return of the King" for this franchise. If RotK ended with Sam squinting in a field at what could possibly be Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn, or maybe three orcs, but it's too far away to tell and, what is this I don't even-



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