Welcome back to another Push to Smart water cooler discussion on Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead.
Jaylee and Stacey have some strong opinions on “In Harm’s Way,” particularly on the relationship between Kenny, Carver, and Clementine, as well as the use of violence in the series as a whole. So enjoy our latest and join the conversation in the comments section below!
Transcript under the jump.
Welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler! Today we join Clementine and the other survivors on their journey to Carver’s community. After the standoff of the last episode, we see the brutality of Carver’s reign first hand. This episode is full of tough choices and a few surprising character deaths.
So without further ado, let’s talk about The Walking Dead, Episode 3, “In Harm’s Way.”
JAYLEE: I actually didn’t find any of the character deaths particularly…
STACEY: Really? Not even Carlos?
JAYLEE: Oh my god no. I totally expected it.
STACEY: I thought he was going to live through the end.
JAYLEE: I don’t know. There was just something about him that just… he had an expiration date.
STACEY: He just looked disposable. (laughs)
JAYLEE: And Alvin because he could’ve died in the previous episode.
JAYLEE: You know those people never stick around.
STACEY: Yeah, definitely. And that was one thing I was a little interested in because Nick has, like, nothing to do in this episode. And I wonder… ‘cause, can’t he die in the episode before? If you don’t stop Walter? So I’m wondering if he’s just not going to do anything from now on. He’s just going to sit back and offer, like, “Yup, I think we should listen to Luke!” like, every so often. (laughs)
JAYLEE: So we start off in the truck. And Kenny will not shut the hell up. (laughs) I don’t know about you, but I am so sick of this guy already.
JAYLEE: And I was just like, as Clementine I was just like, “Kenny. Calm yourself. You need to stop. They have guns.” And I was, basically as soon as he, like the car stopped and he hit his head, I was expecting Clementine to be like, “Oh, thank god” (laughter) You know? “Dodged a bullet there.”
JAYLEE: But what were your thoughts on that?
STACEY: Um… First of all, I loved this episode. There are so many things that just—and Kenny is a big part of it. Not because I like Kenny, but I like what they’re doing with Kenny.
STACEY: In that he is so inconsistent. And, like, he—
JAYLEE: But also consistent! You know?
STACEY: Rebecca—who I’ve come around on in this episode because she actually does things and is consistent—she kind of… really calls him out on the fact that he does not think things through. And as a result, he is both really gung-ho and kind of macho in trying to—you know, take out all the guys. Like, “yeah, if a guy with a gun opens the door, I’ll punch him, take his gun, and shoot the next guy. Because that works.”
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: But then he’ll act really protective of Clementine when it’s convenient? And—
JAYLEE: mmhmm. Like he doesn’t realize his plan will probably get people killed.
STACEY: Right. And there’s times where he’ll volunteer her. “Like, she’s the one who should do it.” Like, you know, climb this rickety rope to drop into the base and, you know, she’s eleven. And I like how the new character, Mike, he’s just standing there like, “she’s just a kid.” He says that, like, ten times—every time someone volunteers her. Like, “what is wrong with you people?”
JAYLEE: (laughs) Like, “I’m sorry, you must be new. This is Clementine.”
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah. Um, but I really liked the way that when Kenny did protect her, like, sometimes it felt like it came from a sincere place like when he takes the radio? There are other times where I felt like it went to service our… perspective on Clementine, our role as playing Clementine, and our role in this universe. Which I thought was just really interesting and I would love to talk more about it (laughs).
JAYLEE: Yeah. Kenny is just one of those characters that the entire time I was just like, “shut up. Calm down. You’re making a spectacle of yourself, Kenny. You need to think things through.” But at the same time it’s like, he does these things and you’re like, “Fuck, he’s on my side.”
JAYLEE: And he does have the best of intentions, but it’s just such a complicated situation.
STACEY: I feel like—I’m just going to jump on in. And I feel like he and Carver work together to function to kind of show two sides of how to approach this game. And I feel like Carver especially… it seemed very meta to me without totally breaking the forth wall, the way that he would go to Clementine and be like, you know, “we’re alike.”
STACEY: And then you’d have… whenever he and Kenny would face off, that’s when Kenny would be protective of Clementine. And, like, for instance, in that final scene where he’s like, “Clementine, you don’t need to see this.” And Carver’s like, “she’s seen worse!”
JAYLEE: Yeah (laughs).
STACEY: And I thought that was just… that was such a brilliant… kind of commentary on what it means to play as this kid in this universe, and this idea of, like, what does separate us from Carver and Kenny?
JAYLEE: The fact that we’re eleven years old. (laughter)
STACEY: Right, but that’s it! Like, um, one of the big dramatic moments very early on is that you meet Reggie, who—
JAYLEE: Oh my god. Reggie.
STACEY: Is that a good “oh my god” or a bad “oh my god?”
JAYLEE: Best character in the game. (laughter). Though I have to say, when we were first introduced to Reggie, who is voiced by Kumail Nanjiani I was kind of taken out of it because he voices a character in Adventure Time named Prismo. He just has this amazing voice.
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah.
JAYLEE: I don’t know. And it’s just so perfect.
STACEY: And he just goes on forever. I really hope someone has extracted his monologue from when you’re exploring the camp, because I’d catch snippets of it and be like, “Wait, what?” (laughs)
JAYLEE: I know! Where he’s like, “so I was in America….”
STACEY: “In the coffee shot, and the guys yelling, ‘Reggie! Reggie!’” It’s like, “What?! Wait, what’s the rest of that story? Wait a minute!” Um…
JAYLEE: And of course, he has to die!
STACEY: Yeah, but my thoughts towards Reggie—I thought he was hilarious, but as soon as they establish that he has his own agenda, and he wasn’t helping me, I immediately categorized him as a threat.
STACEY: Yes, and I was like—
JAYLEE: The fact that he was just kind of… using you…
STACEY: And he wasn’t really… which, the way he was “using”, quote—I’m using air-quotes—was still very human, and it wasn’t very, like… he was just like, “Ok, guys! I don’t want to get into trouble so…”
JAYLEE: “I scratch your back, you scratch mine.”
STACEY: Exactly. And you have that hilarious, awkward scene where he pats you on the head. But still! Like, this guy wasn’t going to… when push comes to shove, this guy’s not going to help me.
STACEY: And then Carver responds, when he doesn’t help Carver, by shoving him off the roof. And it’s like, I would not have shoved him off the roof, but Carver is kind of personifying that attitude and the idea that, you’re not going to help us, you’re a threat, I’m going to just—what do I do to threats? I get rid of them. And it was really interesting to me that that scene happens and then he immediately calls Clementine into his office to give her that speech like, “you know, I like you. You and me, we’re the same. We need people like you in the next generation.” I just thought that was really interesting and kind of… changed how I read the rest of the episode—especially when Kenny started kind of getting uppity. And he and Carver were challenging each other. It kind of seemed like, this was not necessarily intentional or, like, super-post-modern, breaking the fourth wall. But there was definitely a conversation that could be read about the text itself, which I thought was interesting.
JAYLEE: I think it’s interesting that you saw Reggie as a threat and I didn’t. I kind of intrinsically trusted him. Because I feel like he wasn’t going to be a bad person, but at the same time, Bonnie, who I think is also a good person, I didn’t trust her. And I kept on going against her because of that initial backstab from her.
STACEY: Me too.
JAYLEE: And I was so raw about it, apparently—I didn’t even realize it—but I was just hitting those buttons just like, “I don’t trust you, da na na na na. I’m not going to tell you about this,” which was one of the choices, and… but she came through in the end. And I feel kind of bad about it, but at the same time, what are you going to do?
STACEY: Yeah! And I feel like, that was also—this really speaks to the strength of the writing and the fact that they force you to kind of confront that. And I really liked the way that Bonnie—when I saw her, she was also a threat, but it was weird because she seemed more overtly protective of Clementine. Like, she gets her the jacket, she pulls her out for what she sees as less threatening work… And the idea that, like, she thinks—you can tell that SHE thinks she’s protecting Clementine by having her not go out to the expansion. But you want to go out to the expansion ‘cause that’s part of the plan? So it’s like, “Oh! You have such good intentions! But I… I can’t work with this!” (laughs)
JAYLEE: How did you respond to the coat?
STACEY: I don’t remember what I said.
JAYLEE: I called it ugly! (laughs)
STACEY: I did not do that.
JAYLEE: And I felt bad, because she’s like “oh, it’s kind of cute!” And then Tavia comes in and she’s like, “that is ugly.”
STACEY: Which, Tavia is funny because she’s the character you play as in 400 Days trying to convince all the survivors to come into your group. And I played her as such like, a… like a mother hen. You know, like, “Oh, I’ll take care of all of you!” And then she is so mean in this episode!
JAYLEE: I know!
STACEY: It’s like, “oh, that’s how she’s like…”
JAYLEE: And in this episode there was a lot of play between Clementine and Sarah.
JAYLEE: Which I kind of started seeing Sarah as kind of Clementine’s Clementine.
JAYLEE: Which was amazing.
STACEY: Lots of meta stuff going on here (laughs)
JAYLEE: I know! And every chance I could, I would try to help her. I would kind of… stick up for her or, um, take the blame. But at the same time, I couldn’t help in the back of my mind thinking, is this helping her? Is this preparing her?
JAYLEE: And then you have that terrible moment where Carlos has to smack her. And you just can’t do anything about it. And it’s—there was just so much in this episode. (laughs)
STACEY: But that was one of the scenes why I thought Carlos was going to survive. Because, I don’t know if you did it, but in that scene you have the chance to speak up and say, “it was me. I was the one talking.” But Carver is going to make Carlos punish Sarah anyway. But Carlos kind of looks at Clementine and text appears, you know, “Carlos will remember this.” And I don’t know if that ever paid off? Which wouldn’t be the first time they acted like something—that someone will remember this and then killed them in the next scene, but it seemed especially like, um, at the end of the episode when they’re getting ready to walk into the horde and he’s helping out Clementine… like, you have Clementine being the lead to Sarah—as her Clementine—kind of helping her get all gross, and then Carlos comes and he helps out Clementine. And I thought, ok, maybe this is going to be kind of a restructuring of the relationships, but then Carlos just gets eaten. And you have no time to deal with it.
JAYLEE: And you’re just, like, walking in a line where you’re both protecting Sarah.
JAYLEE: She’s in the middle of you two and…
STACEY: Yeah, he even says, like, “Help me. Help me calm her down.”
JAYLEE: Knee-jerk reaction, kind of disappointed that the 400 Days characters are just kind of a passing mention.
STACEY: I wonder if they’re going to pay off a little bit later? But yeah, so far it’s…
JAYLEE: I don’t think so. I feel like that is the extent of which we’re going to see them.
STACEY: And we probably just doomed them all so… whoops. (laughs)
STACEY: Can we just talk about the very end with the cliffhanger, ‘cause I am dying to talk about it. This is the part that got me, like, so excited—this and the Carver/Kenny weird stuff got me so excited about this episode.
JAYLEE: Ok, so, Kenny is getting beaten because he took the fall for Clementine having the walkie talkie, and you can either rush to help Kenny or you can hold back Sarita. What did you do?
STACEY: I rushed to help Kenny.
JAYLEE: I held back Sarita.
JAYLEE: Because I was like, I was worried that if I didn’t hold her back, she would get killed.
STACEY: Ok, she did not, but I got smacked.
JAYLEE: Well then.
STACEY: Clementine got beat up a bit. She got, um, she just got hit really hard by one of the goons. Um, so it didn’t help at all, but Sarita also didn’t die—there, at least. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yes. More on that later.
STACEY: Yeah, but that was pretty brutal.
JAYLEE: One thing that I didn’t like about the episode—and I can’t recall exactly when this took place—but, um, when Kenny was talking about Duck—
STACEY: Yeah, that was weird!
JAYLEE: —that was kind of shoehorned in.
STACEY: It was.
JAYLEE: And it didn’t make much sense, and it was just, I don’t know, like, “we get it, you have a dead son. Um, let’s try next time to… kind of, weave it in more naturally?”
STACEY: Especially because no one on screen seemed to be paying any attention to him?
JAYLEE: Yeah (laughs).
STACEY: It was just like, he just started spouting this monologue to the audience. Like, ok…?
JAYLEE: “He was so energetic—that boy who died!”
STACEY: Yeah. Very Shakespearean! (laughs)
JAYLEE: And so basically from this, that’s—you get him patched up, and you decide we have to do this tonight.
STACEY: And Bonnie is on your side. Which was awesome. She just comes in, like, we’re doing it tonight. Pack your bags.
JAYLEE: That was. (laughs)
STACEY: Where did Kenny get the gun?
JAYLEE: It was such an intense scene, that I wasn’t really paying attention to where…
STACEY: (laughs) to who had what gun?
STACEY: Yeah, it started off kind of slap-stick-y though. Like, she jumps on him, she hits him into somebody else who punches him, and the next person punches him. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Oh, I loved that! I know it was kind of, you know…
STACEY: It was like, where is this going? But then it got dark really fast.
JAYLEE: Oh, yeah! But I loved that, as a team, they were beating the shit out of him, and that warmed my heart. (laughter) And then, the choice to stay or not. Um, when I was playing it, I was like, I wanted to tie him up. But as soon as I said it, I immediately regretted it, because I was like, I don’t think this is the choice that Clementine that I raised would do.
STACEY: Yeah. I did not do that. I was just like, nope. We’re getting rid of him. (laughs)
JAYLEE: We’re going to kill him now.
STACEY: He’s done enough.
JAYLEE: And then at the same time I was also like, you know, this is a waste of time, and I did not stay.
STACEY: Me neither.
JAYLEE: You didn’t?
STACEY: I didn’t.
JAYLEE: I would have sworn that you would have. When I was playing it with my boyfriend, he was like, “stay! It will be so satisfying!” And I was like, “uh…”
STACEY: Did you watch? I watched a video of it later—it’s pretty gruesome. But, like, I didn’t have Clementine stay which is… because I figured that would be… if the episode is a conversation between whether you’re going to be a Kenny or a Carver, that would determine “I am not either of these people.”
STACEY: “I am going to go my own path. I don’t need to do this.”
JAYLEE: That’s the thing. I feel like, in a way, leaving… it’s not saying that she’s against it, but she trusts the job will get done.
JAYLEE: But she doesn’t need to see it. Like, that is an unnecessary step to get that emotionally involved. Which… it was weird because it kind of—it almost took me out because, as a player, I wanted that satisfaction.
JAYLEE: Of killing him. Or kind of seeing this monster get taken down. But I, at the same time, the other side that’s pulling me is I don’t think Clementine would. I don’t think Clementine finds that necessary. I feel like Clementine is a lot more logical than me in that way because she’s been raised in this world.
STACEY: Which is a sign that this is a very, very, very good game!
STACEY: And one of the things I thought of immediately after playing this was The Last of Us, which I had a lot of problems with and I didn’t like as much as you did. And a lot of it was in the way that it handles violence. And I didn’t feel like it was very convincing in its argument that violence was necessary, and I felt that this was much more adept at confronting that question and the fact that we, as gamers, partake in virtual violence a lot. What does that mean? As Carver says, “she’s seen worse.” And then I made that decision, but she doesn’t have to see this. She doesn’t have to do this.
STACEY: Which I thought was just… ah. Magnifique!
JAYLEE: And so we’re outside. And I don’t know how I feel about Jane, but more on that later when we get to the “next time on…”
STACEY: Yeah, I saw her and it was like, “Oh, hey! Bloody Mary’s back! In a different game!” (laughs)
JAYLEE: Then Carlos dies. And then Sarah, I was just… as soon as Carlos died I was like, “Oh, god! It’s all going to head! Everything that I have been doing with Sarah, it’s all paying off right now!” And then she runs away.
STACEY: Yeah. But remember you taught her how to defend herself! So…
JAYLEE: I know! That’s why I was like, save yourself child!”
STACEY: (laughs) There’s hope!
JAYLEE: “You can do it! Don’t forget what I taught you!”
STACEY: And as all this is going on—you have no time to think of it—and you see Sarita, and she’s being bitten on the hand. And you have a choice.
JAYLEE: You kind of do have time because it slows down and then the music starts playing. You know? But I have to say, I’ve not witnessed a more satisfying cliffhanger in a video game—
STACEY: Oh my god!
JAYLEE: Than cutting Sarita’s arm off, and she’s screaming at you.
STACEY: So you cut it off too?
STACEY: Oh my god, because this—
JAYLEE: Cause killing the Walker isn’t going to fix both problems.
Stacey: No! Because Reggie establishes that. We know in the first season if we wait too long it won’t work, but Reggie functions in that first scene to be like, “hey, thank god I cut it off in time ‘cause it saved me!”
STACEY: That was just… that and the Carver/Kenny thing is what made me really excited about this episode and where it’s going, because this… Telltale has mastered the dramatic pause and suspense in a… in a medium where it should not exist. Like, suspense is purely temporal in narrative terms. They have figured out a way to harness that in the way that they frame things very cinematically along with the suspense of… “what am I doing?” And that kind of tension between what I’ve done and what happens after. And part of it starts when you make the decision whether to go for the arm or the monster. And when you go for the arm and it’s not a clean cut. And there’s that horrible pause, but I don’t think you even have the option to do anything else. It’s like, no turning back.
JAYLEE: Exactly. Well, you’re not going to just leave it, like, just limping off.
STACEY: Yeah, and then there’s that wonderful moment where it shows Sarita looking at Clementine, and then Clementine looking at her with this expression on her face like, “I don’t know!” And then it just cuts to her screaming and the cliffhanger, and it’s just like, that was perfect. That is exactly how these games should work as far as using all of the tools in their toolbox to evoke that much emotion and to make your actions feel like they have weight and they mean something. Even if it’s something horrible.
JAYLEE: And one thing that I loved about that scene is that throughout the episode, you know, Clementine to Troy, and Carver, and everybody, she was not taking shit. She would, like, stare back. She would, kind of, mouth off. But in this moment, she is unsure of herself.
STACEY: This is the moment where it’s wholly her too. It’s not whether or not she’s a Carver or a Kenny, this is Clementine. What’s Clementine going to do? Maybe not the best thing.
JAYLEE: And that’s the thing that I love is that you kind of think, that the choice—that the big choice of the episode is are you going to leave, or are you going to stay to witness this. And it’s not.
STACEY: That was thing, ‘cause I kept thinking like, it’s going to end. But then it was like, “wait, I haven’t seen all of that scene from the screen captures that were released.” (laughs) Like, “Oh, no. There’s more. There has to be more.” And then, oh, there was more. And it was wonderful.
JAYLEE: oh my god. Amazing.
STACEY: I loved it.
JAYLEE: And I also want to say, I think it’s very good that in the “Next time on Walking Dead” they did not mention Sarita at all.
JAYLEE: Like that made me very anxious (laughs)
STACEY: (laughs) Yeah.
JAYLEE: And it’s like, “nobody’s going to talk about this? Ok ok ok!” Um, but then you have Jane. And it seems like she’s trying to turn you against the rest of the group, and it’s another one of those, “are you a Jane or are you a Kenny?” kind of thing coming up, you know?
JAYLEE: But… I don’t know. I do think that this was the weakest “next time on The Walking Dead.”
STACEY: Definitely. Because…
JAYLEE: But you don’t need a good one with that cliffhanger.
STACEY: Exactly. There’s no way they could top that cliffhanger. No way.
JAYLEE: I need closure with Sarah. That is one thing that is like… my body is aching.
STACEY: (laughs) Awwww…
JAYLEE: I need to know what happens to Sarah.
STACEY: You can’t just leave you with an achievement of broken glasses. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Yeah! Exactly!
So thank you for listening to the Push to Smart Water Cooler! Let us know in the comments what you thought about this episode. If you thought it sucked, tell use why, because we’re very curious about that point of view.
STACEY: Gonna ban you. No, no sucking allowed. Terrible taste.
JAYLEE: (laughs) Terrible, terrible taste!
STACEY: Sorry, I ruined it. Sorry.
JAYLEE: And… definitely tell us your decisions, what you thought, how you relate to Clementine, where you think the series is going. And subscribe. Also. That’s important. Thank you.
STACEY: (laughs) Please turn in your papers by Monday….
JAYLEE: (laughs) No extensions will be given. If your printer breaks, you had plenty of time.
STACEY: Right? (laughs)
REGGIE (Prismo): Hey, hey! Did you guys see that? You know that was a ghost wearing a dead guy. That might be the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen. Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-Nasty! Nasty jazz!”
REBECCA: I can’t believe what I’m hearing.
REGGIE (Prismo): Whoa, sorry! Sorry! I didn’t mean nothing by it. I mean I have a lot of nasty friends. My uncle was nasty. I’m basically honorary nasty.