It’s time to return to the Push to Smart Water Cooler for a look at the first episode of season two of TellTale Games’s The Walking Dead. Does 2012’s nearly-unanimous GOTY hold up? Is the bleak tone too overbearing? One thing’s for certain: Dog will remember this.
Transcript after the jump.
This episode contains spoilers for both seasons of TellTale Games’s The Walking Dead.
JAYLEE: Welcome to the Push to Smart Water Cooler. Today we’re going to be talking about the very first episode of season 2 of Telltale Games’s Walking Dead series.
JAYLEE: The first episode, “All That Remains,” released in late 2013 picked up months after season 1 with a reunited Clementine, Christa, and Omid. And it’s all down hill from there. So let’s just dive right into this tragic train wreck.
STACEY: Yeah, it doesn’t pull any punches. (laughter)
JAYLEE: It really doesn’t.
STACEY: It’s kinda funny, like, a lot of the initial promo leading up, you know, was all that “I am Clementine”—which is awesome in and of itself—and then we see some screenshots of Omid, and everyone was like, “Hey, Omid’s back!” And then five minutes into the game he is dead. (laughter)
JAYLEE: Not even five frickn’ minutes.
It’s like, hey! Christa’s pregnant! That’s cool, we kinda expected that. Oh, Omid! You’re the joy of the group.
And then it’s just like… BANG. You’re dead. And then Christa has had it and shoots this random person.
And then, “The Walking Dead”—title screen.
JAYLEE: I was playing with my boyfriend and I literally had to turn it off.
STACEY: Oh, no!
JAYLEE: I was like, nope! That’s it. I can only take so much. I was not expecting that.
STACEY: I powered through it, but I was just sitting there like, ‘Oh, God.’
And then the scene that really got me, but I still powered through it,
was when she first meets up with the dog.
I was like, “Oh, God. Don’t give her a dog. There’s only one way this can end.”
JAYLEE: Yeah, there’s only one thing that happens to dogs in these kinds of video games.
STACEY: And it’s just… the kid and the dog, too. It’s like, Jesus Christ! (laughter)
JAYLEE: It’s extremely bleak, and we flash forward. Christa’s no longer pregnant which is like, “Ok, this is even worse.”
STACEY: Yeah, no baby.
JAYLEE: And thank god at least they haven’t gone into what happened because I don’t think my weak little heart can take that (laughter)
And they’re obviously very broken. But it seems like Clementine is getting used to it, which is heartbreaking in and of itself.
You have to start a fire, and the game is just stirring shit and being like, “do you want to burn the picture of Lee?” Yeah, that sounds reasonable, you monster.
STACEY: Yeah, it’s like, there’s literally like four options. “You need to feed the fire. Burn picture of Lee, burn childhood drawing of family that was brutally torn apart, or put the log in.” And literally…I think I literally said ‘are you fucking kidding me?’ to my computer screen at that point. It was… It got to the point where it was almost comical. It was just so… it was drilling that home so bad, just ‘this is not going to be a happy game just because you’re playing as a kid. You know? We’re not afraid to go there.” But it was almost too much.
JAYLEE: I think Christa can die? I don’t know. I didn’t go there. I didn’t want to replay the game to find out. But I did save her life and that made me very happy. Hopefully she’ll get to keep it. But who knows.
And then you meet a dog (laughter).
Then you meet a dog. Dog will remember this. And it’s like, oh, you have a companion… for four minutes before it tries to kill you. And then you accidentally kill it which oh my god
STACEY: Oh, which was terrible! Oh my god. Did you kill the dog? I think that’s one of the choices you have to make. You have to either mercy kill it or just leave it on that stake making these horrible noises.
JAYLEE: Oh, no. I definitely mercy killed it.
STACEY: Me too. My dog is whining for treats for affect in the background. Stop it. (laughs)
JAYLEE: But then the game gives you some fucking room to breath—finally—when she comes across this new group and… she’s been bitten by this dog. Of course, it doesn’t look like a dog bite and nobody has the training to tell whether it is a dog bite. So…
STACEY: Which was, I thought, one of the few really good points of drama in the game that really worked. And the idea that, well, nobody knows what an animal bite looks like. And this is an actual threat to them. And it’s like, how are YOU going to handle—even if it is a small child—coming to you with what could be a fatal bite that would infest the rest of your group.
JAYLEE: And it’s one of those things where you’re like, at one point you’re like, you a-holes. It’s… I’m not a zombie! But at the same time, they have no way of knowing that.
STACEY: And the ultimate payoff for it where you’re in the barn, you’ve killed the zombie that snuck in, and Clementine is just standing there going “I. AM. NOT. BIT.” That was a great moment. That was the high of the episode for me.
JAYLEE: Ah, Clementine. I love Clementine.
STACEY: Me too!
JAYLEE: We talked about in our Wolf Among Us Episodes that when we played as Lee, it felt like a blank slate, but when we played as Bigby there was a lot of package. And I think this is kind of in the middle. Because all throughout the first season you are trying to teach her lessons, make her a survivor, and now she is and you can… you can kind of put yourself in her shoes, but there’s also all this…we know her past, we know where she’s coming from—the lessons we tried to teach her.
STACEY: Which is interesting because that baggage, as you put it, is something that we can claim ownership over. It’s something that we’ve helped mold. And it has this kind of… this extra sense of authorship which is really quite interesting, because this is one of the few games where you play as the daughter that you spend and entire game—in most games, as we talked about in our Bioshock Infinite videos, to go back to that—you spend all that time playing as fathers who must care for their daughters, and now, in this game, you are playing as the daughter that you spent so many hours, you know, teaching and protecting in a previous game.
JAYLEE: And one thing in my playthrough is, like, whenever i saw the options to be nice and stuff, I was kinda upset because I was like, “you don’t know what she’s seen! She wouldn’t be nice!” (laughter). “Listen, guy who tried to shoot her, I’m not here for your shit.”
STACEY: Yeah, there was one option I did by accident and I didn’t like and I’m trying to remember what it was… It’s when you’re—I don’t remember any of the new survivors names, by the way. I’m just going to come out and say that I think they’re really weak so far. The one that was kind of nice to you? You’re having supper with him, and you have the option to kinda tell your story to him? And, my Clementine ended up just spilling her heart out about Lee and how he helped her… and part of me did it for the validating of, yes this is my legacy from the past game, but then as she was doing it, I was like, “this is wrong. If I taught her anything, it’s not to tell this much to strangers.” It kind of put me in a weird position. Part of me wanted this validation, wanted to hear the characters acknowledge my deeds in the previous game, and acknowledge that continuity in words, but on the other hand, I wanted them to behave that way as well.
JAYLEE: When I played, it was very much close to the chest. There were little tidbits, like very short. “There was this guy. He helped me.” I agree, I tried to avoid—I tried very much to have Clementine be an individual and not—even though she was very much is defined a lot by her relationship with Lee—in this game I tried to have her be very much like, this is what happened to me, but I am Clementine, and not, like Lee’s daughter. Does that make sense?
STACEY: Yes. She’s not a Lee clone, she’s just someone who was affected by him. Um, just out of curiosity, talking about the relationships, how did you approach the doctor’s daughter?
JAYLEE: Oh, uh, you know, I felt a little duplicitous because when I was playing, I kind of had her be friends. To me, it never felt completely genuine. It felt like there was this want for connection—for a peer. But also, at the same time, I felt like Clementine ultimately wouldn’t find this person to be her peer because she’s so sheltered.
STACEY: I thought I was choosing options that would connect. I went into that conversation like, “Oh, yeah! Let’s be friends! Girl friends in games! Awesome!” And then when I would choose a response that I thought would be much more open, it would be read as much more guarded. Which I thought was quite interesting. And it kinda shows… It broke that illusion of control and of authorship. And the idea that, she still wasn’t really doing what I wanted her to do, but I would still have to deal with the consequences.
STACEY: And I’m not sure how that’s going to pay off, given the history of The Walking Dead series, and how characters tend to drop dead—especially if they are of the female persuasion.
STACEY: But—I guess that’s not really fair. Everybody in The Walking Dead drops dead at one point.
JAYLEE: That’s true, but they usually save, like the hard-hitting deaths, like in the first season when the student-guy—I can’t even remember his name. I try not to get too attached to these characters (laughter). But when he’s dead and then Kenny—ugh!
STACEY: Oh my god! That was a great scene!
JAYLEE: Yeah! But that’s kind of how they use death in this series.
JAYLEE: Let’s talk about a couple of the choices—actually the big choice at the end. Did you choose, A, the guy who was nice to you and got bit. Or B, the guy who was an asshole and still has a chance to live.
STACEY: The guy that was nice to me and got bit.
JAYLEE: I actually chose the asshole. (laughter) I was like, A, Clementine doesn’t need another nice guy dying around her, and B, kind of survival skills… This guy’s bit. You can’t do anything about that—even if you cut off your arm.
STACEY: I don’t know. That’s kind of funny because it’s like you’re almost still in Lee Protective Mode. Like, “No! We gotta protect Clementine! She can’t see another one!” I just… I didn’t trust the guy that wasn’t bit. I just.. I didn’t trust him, and I knew I could trust the guy that was bit for whatever time he had left, and that maybe they could formulate some plan or he could help her get to wherever she needs to go. It’s funny because when I played the first game, I kinda tried to Commander Shepard it, and, like, talk everybody down, and get everyone to get along—which did not work. In this game, I totally, you know, tried to keep Clementine guarded from everybody, because I did not trust anybody.
JAYLEE: Well, yeah. That’s really interesting because in your first playthrough as Lee you try to do that, and then you see where that gets you as Clementine.
STACEY: Right. Which, actually, now that I think about it, I feel like this is representative of The Walking Dead’s whole philosophy a lot more… effectively, I suppose? Than the actual comic books. Because—I hate the comics. I’ve read several of the trades and I don’t know why. But they always just reiterate the point that you can’t trust anybody, humanity falls apart and you have to look out for number one. And I’m reading this like, “this is ridiculous! Why? You know? This gives no reason!” And here I am enacting that. So that’s quite interesting.
JAYLEE: Something that you resent is actually your philosophy when you’re playing.
STACEY: Right, and I wasn’t even consciously aware of it until I just articulated. (laughter)
JAYLEE: I guess from that we can talk about the preview a little bit. I immediately regretted my decision a little bit. Even though he’s not going to turn into a zombie that I know of, he seems like he’s turning into an alcoholic and he’s just useless.
STACEY: Oh, wow.
JAYLEE: And so… what did yours look like? How does he react in the preview?
STACEY: I don’t remember.
JAYLEE: Oh, well… thanks, Stacey.
STACEY: The only part of the preview that I remember is the part where she’s like, “I thought you were dead!” That’s the only part!
JAYLEE: Who do we think that is?
STACEY: Um, I was thinking about that. The obvious answer would be Christa. But I feel like that’s too obvious.
JAYLEE: I think it’s Lily.
STACEY: (huge gasp) And they meet up with the Governor’s group?!
JAYLEE: Oh my god, that’d be terrible. (laughs) But yeah, I do think it’s Lily, because she’s the only one I could think of.
STACEY: I want that to be true now.
JAYLEE: I thought Lily was such an interesting character in that first season, because she was trying really hard to be a good person even though she had this asshole of a father always breathing down her neck. And she wasn’t very good at handling the pressures of being a leader.
JAYLEE: Which, you know, I don’t think anybody in the group was. Yeah…I’m very curious to see where this is going.
STACEY: I’m going to be so disappointed if it’s not her now.
JAYLEE: So that does it for our first Water Cooler discussion on the second season of the Walking Dead. Let us know your thoughts on all that remains, and who you think is going to be making a grand return in episode 2. In the meantime, subscribe to our youtube channel where you can get updates on our the latest videos, discussions, and critiques of video games.
LUMPY SPACE PRINCESS: “I’m doing so awesome on my own. Like, right now, I found this can of beans!”