This article is part of a series. Starting from here may spoil the overall experience, so it is advised to start from the beginning, which can be accessed HERE!
Come one, come all for the “finale” of Season 01 from Telltale’s The Walking Dead. We have been convening and discussing the actions we have taken, which have all lead up to this point. Now it is time to see how everything pans out…
After all, there is “No Time Left!”
You begin right where you left off. Zombies are piling up around the fallout shelter and you are looking for a way out. You search the immediate area and come across a set of rib-spreaders. Moving over to the elevator, you find the power is out and you need a way to pop open the doors. Conveniently enough, the rib-spreaders are an almost perfect tool, but as you start to open the door, you feel a wave of nausea and collapse. You are led to believe this may be due to your freshly-bitten arm.
When you awaken, you decide it is time to make a choice on the fate of your forearm.
Khin : In my case, the whole group were making a decision about my arm, until I woke up.
Ellen : I decided that the best course of action would be to remove the arm. If I am going on alone, I wanna make sure I am in the best state possible. If there is a chance that I can stem/remove the infection by removing my arm, I will try it. I searched the area and found a bone saw with some surgical tube. I put a tourniquet on my arm and sawed away. I must say, this whole sequence made me very uncomfortable; it is so visceral and featured some brutal sound design. Well done, Telltale!
Khin : I chose not to lose the arm. I know I’m dying, and I know from previous experience (well, as far as Lee is concerned) that the last time we chopped anything off it didn’t make a difference. I’m going to turn one way or another, and keeping the arm gave me the best possible chance of getting to Clem without falling off a roof or something.
You then prise open the elevator door and ascend the elevator shaft. As you climb, you pass floors of the undead, who start to notice you and tumble into the shaft. You avoid a couple and continue to the roof. You suffer a woozy turn whilst climbing, but your legs keep hooked onto the rungs and you come to upside down.
Upon reaching the roof, the camera pans out to reveal you had climbed onto the hospital roof, and that at some point there had been survivors here. You look out upon Savannah and realise just how many zombies your train brought into town. You see the fire escape and go to escape until you realise that it has been compromised by undead. You decide an alternative plan will need to be formulated.
Ellen : I’m pretty sure there is just the one way to do this. I remembered what Molly had been doing and decided to find away to the nearby bell-tower. There was a ladder on the roof, so I extended it across the gap. It started to break and I had to perform a daring jump to safety as the ladder smushed a couple of zombies below. After ringing the bell, I had to leap back across to the hospital roof, with only a zombie infested safety net below. I survived the jump and fled the scene down the now-clear fire escape. For some reason, Lee decided to return to the house as a starting point.
Khin : Once again, point-and-click logic made an appearance here. I had to look at the bell tower to be able to go fetch the ladder, despite the fact I had looked at the ladder and discussed the bell tower with the others in the group. Before setting up the ladder I spoke with the group one-to-one. Kenny speaks of his losses and his grief, but is ready to help. Omid and Christa support your actions and try to keep positive. Ben is interesting to talk to. He starts to open up slightly about what happened in the attic. He has come to realise that what you said was right; Clem is his only fan and the best thing he can do is help not get others killed; he’s maturing. Otherwise the bell tower sequence is the same as Ellen’s.
You return to the house.
Ellen : I approached the house from the back alley and could hear banging from the garage. As I got closer, I could hear Kenny shouting. I opened up the garage and, lo ‘n’ behold, the entire gang were there [minus Clem]. It turned out that Vernon returned to the house and stole the boat and the weapons, locking the party in the garage.
They were all happy to see me and shocked at the missing part of my arm.
I explained that I removed it and when they asked why I chopped it off, they discovered I had been bitten. Of course, everyone flew off the handle and screamed at me for lying to them, regardless of the fact I never planned to see them again…
You know, this entire chain of events REALLY annoyed me. After the game made such a big deal about me leaving alone, I kinda expected to spend this episode, alone. Not one scene and then back to these losers… Many have criticised Telltale for their lack of commitment to an idea and I never really understood the angle. Now, I get it. Here, they clearly presented the illusion of choice, but there was never really any… Grrrr….
Everyone decides to move into the house as zombies start to swarm into the alley, probably drawn in by the commotion from Kenny’s protesting…
Khin : The group return to the house to find the boat missing and a note from Vernon saying that yes, he took the boat but no, he didn’t take Clem. As Kenny starts to swear profusely, Christa suggests we all move to the back yard out of the zombies’ path.
Ellen, although the specific scenario isn’t the same, I get where you’re coming from with regard to Telltale’s lack of commitment. For me, the best example of this is the constant plan through the game that we’re heading to Savannah to find Clem’s parents. As soon as Savannah is in sight, plot gets in the way and we never find them. It’s an illusion of forming your own path through the game, but you really aren’t.
As everyone moves into the garden, Kenny makes some derisive remarks about Ben, which pushes him over the edge. Ben screams at Kenny about how he didn’t get to know what happened to his family. He apologises for everything he did to Kenny’s family but enforces the fact that at least Kenny knew what happened and got to say goodbye.
Ellen : It was about time Ben said something. Kenny has been a real ass, the whole time…
Khin : I’m glad Ben starts to stick up for himself, here, and that everyone allows it to happen. The Ben/Kenny issue was getting in the way of Kenny making clear and sensible decisions and it finally cleared the air. It was good to see Ben just shut Kenny down when he tried to interrupt.
Moving into the house, you all realise the house is being swarmed from all angles and it is time to make a stand. You allocate each party member a task and everyone does their thing as zombies spill in through doors and windows. The group decide to move upstairs and take their last stand on the landing. Everyone has limited ammunition and there is a brief shooting section. This time, it is over-the-shoulder aiming.
As everyone runs out of bullets, someone suddenly remembers the attic, and everyone flees up the ladder at the last possible moment, safely retreating to a new dead end.
Ellen : For me, an argument ensued with Kenny as he blamed Lee for leading the zombies to the house, as well as betraying everyone by lying about my bite. Christa adds in her two cents and the argument ended with me throwing a bust at Kenny and smashing through the wall. Omid examined it and the group concluded we could break through into the adjoining house.
Khin : There didn’t seem to be any real blaming of people here – we were backed into a corner. I still end up throwing the bust but this happens when Kenny starts making massive leaps in logic again. He starts to worry about what will happen if Lee dies and turns while they’re all trapped in the attic. He seems incapable of having a sensible discussion and seems happy to brain Lee. Of course, Lee doesn’t take too kindly to this suggestion and brings up the Larry issue, ultimately challenging Kenny to kill him there and then. Since he can’t, Lee throws the bust at the wall.
While “taking shifts” at breaking through the wall, you sit after a wave of zombie nausea hits you.
Ellen : Christa decided to be all confrontational with Lee about his arm and betraying them. I wasn’t presented with any dialogue for “I didn’t plan on seeing you all again” so I remained quiet for most of the conversation. She asked about looking after Clem and I told her and Omid to find Clem a proper family. When they said they would be her family, I sat in silence. The looks they exchanged were priceless.
Kenny quickly decides his shift is over and swaps with Omid. Again, he is rude and judgemental towards Lee, so I called him out on his behaviour towards Ben. He almost seemed to have a tinge of remorse to his voice; how refreshing…
Khin : Since I had been upfront about being bitten, everyone is a little bit less angry with me than with you, Ellen. Lee and Christa have a semi-rational conversation about what happens if Lee doesn’t make it, though Christa is reluctant to think about it. I ask Christa and Omid to look after Clem if the worst happens, since I can’t depend on Kenny making rational choices. Speaking of which, he joins the conversation and swaps with Omid. Alcohol magically appears and is offered around, though Christa is reluctant to partake.
A few not so subtle glances and Kenny twigs that Christa is pregnant. Lee reveals to Kenny that Ben was ready to die in Crawford, which Kenny is shocked to hear. Good, it should.
Ellen : I forgot about the alcohol. Christa looked at Lee’s severed arm and glugged a good portion of the bottle. I didn’t get any implications of pregnancy.
Omid breaks through and everyone spills into the next house. You enter a bedroom with a dead couple lying on their bed; bullets through their foreheads. For no real reason, the group taks you with finding a way out, while they stand around doing nothing.
Ellen : This was a classic example of filler. All you have to do is walk to the balcony, at the end of the room, and the game continues, but they want you to wander about. I didn’t talk to anyone, but did try the main door. There were zombies behind it…
You head out onto the ridiculously small balcony and decide the best course of action would be to jump onto the nearest roof and move along the city’s rooftops. Omid jumps first, with Ben jumping last. As he jumps off the balcony, it breaks away from the wall and Ben falls to the alley below.
Ellen : If people wanted to jump in order of weight, surely Ben would have jumped before Kenny. There is no way that Kenny was lighter than Ben; NO WAY! I think Kenny or Lee should have been last… Anyway, it was Kenny’s weight which pulled the balcony away from the wall, and Ben had the misfortune of being the stick that broke the horse’s back.
On another note, who would want a tiny balcony which looks out onto another building and an alley full of rubbish?
Khin : In my game, Lee jumped first (he had the least to lose if it all went wrong). The balcony didn’t serve a purpose other than as an oversized window. Plot devices ahoy! And then Ben fell down.
The group look down as Kenny rushes off down the nearest ladder to help Ben. You follow him and see the state of Ben; he has fallen onto one of the broken mounting bars of the balcony and has been skewered. Ben doesn’t seem to realise the extent of his injury as he asks you to help, despite zombies starting to notice him.
Ellen : I stayed quiet for most of this, hoping to keep the zombies unaware. Kenny attempted to pull Ben up and he screamed, bringing zombies to attention. Kenny told Lee to get back on the roof and as Lee moved across the threshold, Kenny slammed the gate shut and went to protect Ben. Lee ascended the ladder as the last bullet in Kenny’s gun rang out and zombies piled up.
I felt this change of heart was a bit abrupt, for my Kenny. In essence, Ben had shouted at Kenny in the garden, Kenny had it reinforced in the attic by the group and then Kenny sacrifices himself for Ben. The timeframe is probably about three hours; I don’t buy it…
Khin: Lee seems to be the only one here with any common sense. Ben, I can understand him not grasping what is happening, but Kenny is determined that Ben would be able to get off that pole. Kenny tells me to go and defends Ben/shoots him before he gets torn apart. Now that Ben has established his place in Kenny’s mind – earned his stripes if you will – Kenny was more willing to help. If Ben hadn’t had that shouting match then I’m sure Kenny would have left him there.
You return to Omid and Christa to tell them what happened. There is a brief discussion of what to do and you head towards the hotel, where Clementine’s parents were staying.
You proceed across the rooftops, seeing the hordes below, and come to a narrow, makeshift bridge. You decide to proceed one by one, to ensure the best chance of safe crossings.
Ellen : This was kind of tense. The camera pans over Lee as you cross, enhancing the verticality of the scene and showing all the undead writhing below. I was actually quite surprised nothing happens. You cross safely and everyone carries on walking, with nothing else said. It was somewhat underwhelming, considering the possibilities with that setup.
Continuing your rooftop adventure, you find yourselves on top of a building, just down from the hotel, on the opposite side. It appears that hundreds of undead have been attracted to this location, and the only way to cross the gap is along a thin, metal sign.
Ellen : Before deciding how to traverse the sign, Omid and Christa wanted to recap on how they could look after Clementine. I asked them to just find her a good family and remained quiet when they said they were a good family. Every time! Don’t they get the idea that I don’t trust them at all?!
I advised Omid and Christa to cross before me, seeing as I was a potential liability; plus, they could help lift me up onto the roof on the other side. As Christa was crossing, the sign began to break and she just made it to Omid, who had already crossed, as the sign collapsed to the street below. Regardless, Lee decided it would be best to just use the sign as a ladder and go to the hotel, on foot, through the swarm.
Khin : I asked Omid and Christa to stay back; after all, if the sign falls they’re still able to find a way down and go for Clem. Lee gets almost to the end when the sign breaks. I tell the others to try to meet me later or get out of the city if not, and make my way down to street level.
You reach street level and put on your “nothing to lose” face, striding into the swarm with your cleaver drawn. This takes the form of a long Quick Time Event in which you choose the zombie you wish to kill and get a montage of Lee committing a zombie massacre.
Ellen : This was quite a satisfying little sequence, though I did feel it got a bit boring, pretty quickly since you are doing very little within the context of the scene.
Khin : I like this sequence in the way it builds up Lee’s determination. It also seems to reflects the delicate balance of life and death which he is currently going through. Although the QTEs left a lot to be desired, I understood what Telltale were trying to do.
You survive the crowd and notice a familiar-looking car, before entering the hotel. The next scene starts with you moving down a corridor towards a particular door.
Ellen : Hmmmm, where have I seen that car before? Now, unless I missed something, I can only assume Lee-Bot was utilising his Clem-Beacon to decide this single room was the one to go to. Seriously, how the hell did Lee know which room in the entire hotel was where Clementine was located?
Khin : I wondered that too. There wasn’t even an attempt to try any other doors. And not a single sound. It was quite creepy.
You enter the room to find it empty. A rope is tying the bedroom door to a nearby cupboard, creating a lock between them. As you approach it, a voice speaks up, behind you. You turn to find a complete stranger, whose voice you recognise as the man on the radio. He monitions you to put your weapons down on the dresser and sit with him.
Ellen : I did as he asked, hoping that doing as he says would maximise Clementine’s chances of survival. I put down my cleaver and smiled at the option to keep the radio, despite the fact that it is clearly attached to your belt and the stranger would see it.
Khin : I was debating whether to keep something hidden, but chose in the end to dump everything. There was no suggestion that the stranger was going to kill me suddenly so I obliged.
You sit with the stranger and he asks if you know who he is. He reveals that he has been talking with Clementine for weeks, finding out about all of the events the party have endured; he took a particular focus on your actions. He calls you out on the choices you made and how you would never be a good parent.
He also reveals that he was the owner of the car which your group stole all of the supplies from in Episode 02. After taking his supplies, his wife deemed him incapable of looking after his family and she left him. He vowed to find the people who stole the supplies and found your party. He was going to seek revenge, but then took a shine to Clementine. He used his radio to communicate with her and guide her to this place.
Ellen : I listened to him and appeased him. He confronted me on stealing his supplies and I denied any involvement. He then brought up the time I skewered one of the cannibal brothers on the pitchfork. I was remorseful as I hadn’t meant to do such a thing; I was caught in the moment. His last point was that I brought Clementine to “this dangerous place.”
You know, he actually had some involvement in that, himself. I never really wanted to go to Savannah, as that was mainly Kenny’s desire, but Clementine was safe before she was taken to the zombie-infested city centre.
Khin : When he brought up the group stealing from the car, I argued back that I wasn’t involved as it was wrong. He seemed open to the idea, and was only going to go after the others until he started talking to Clem. Otherwise I stayed quiet and neutral in my responses. This guy had a bone to pick with someone, anyone, and arguing back wasn’t only going to snap what little grasp on reality he had.
As you talk with the stranger, Clementine manages to silently open the door and appears behind the stranger. You direct her towards a means of rescue and watch events unfold as the stranger seems to be talking to himself/a bag.
Ellen : I looked towards the large, glass bottle on the dresser. I felt it best that Clementine resolve the situation as quickly as possible and I didn’t want her to be wielding something like a cleaver.
Clementine slammed the butt of the bottle into the strangers head. As he recoiled, I leapt across the room at him, sending his pistol flying and initiating a lengthy Quick Time Event. The battle ended when Clementine put a bullet in the stranger’s head, as he choked the life out of Lee.
Khin : I can’t remember what I indicated to her. Oh, the hatchet/cleaver thing. She stuck it into his shoulder-neck which made him MAD. oops. Lee jumps after him and the two wrestle around for a while. Clem shoots him.
Ellen : Clementine seemed pretty calm, considering what she had just done. Understandably, she was quite shocked by the lack of an arm I possessed. I took a moment to take a peek in the bag the stranger had bought along with him and wasn’t entirely surprised to see his wife’s zombified head in there; poor guy.
Clementine was eager to leave, so we went to the door.
Khin : Clem was both proud of her ability to stay calm and stop the threat but also was a little scared. I comforted her and praised her skill. I showed her my bite, and told her we were going to find somewhere safe. I didn’t even touch the bag – I knew what was in there and didn’t need to know any more.
Opening the door, you are greeted by a zombie standing right against the door. It stares directly at you and teeters on it’s heels as it catches a glimpse of Clementine behind you. As it starts to move towards her, you throw it to the ground and shoot it in the head. Clementine is pretty quick to realise that it didn’t take any interest in you and pieces together that maybe it is due to all the blood and viscera you are covered in.
With that in mind, you slice open the zombie corpse and smear Clementine in gore, much to her dismay.
Khin : I love Clem’s reactions at this part – “it’s cold and smells bad.”
Ellen : I like her little grimaces and “Ewww”s.
You hope this plan will work out and leave the hotel. You hold Clementine close and slowly move through the swarm. Around midway, you stumble and notice Clementine has been distracted by a pair of zombies which have a striking resemblance to Clementine’s parents. You black out in the middle of the horde.
Ellen : This section is “played,” but you just push forward on the d-pad. Some of these bits really feel unnecessary, but I understand the idea of giving the player an extra piece of agency and investment.
Khin : The two zombies she gets distracted by are her parents, aren’t they?
Ellen : Yes, they are. I was just being a bit ominous and letting the audience decide for themselves. To be honest, I felt it was a bit vague since you only see a picture of them i the first episode, before actually meeting Clementine. If you had to wait X amount of months for all the episodes to come out, I’m sure you would have forgotten their appearances by the time this scene came up. The only clue to their identity is really just Clementine’s reaction…
You wake up in an abandoned jewellery store, discovering that Clementine pulled you to safety and secured the store. You are looking considerably paler and are much more feeble, struggling to support your own weight. Clementine seems to have figured that there is a rear access door, behind the security desk and you can both escape through there, you just need to get there.
You collapse by a radiator and encourage Clementine to find a way into the security office and you can get up once the way is clear. You look around the area and direct her towards points of interest, to solve the puzzles.
Ellen : I started by breaking the glass in the door with a baseball bat. It took me far too long to find the actual bat as it was tucked away under the counter at the furthest point to the left. After breaking the glass, I asked Clementine to open the door and saw a pair of handcuffs on the floor. I asked her to cuff me to the radiator, which she was reluctant to do, I thought that if I was in this state, I was likely going to be turning soon, so I wanted to make sure I couldn’t catch Clem easily.
With the zombified security guard trapped in his chair, you advise Clementine on what to do next.
Ellen : I said she should go for the guard’s weapon first. That way, she could shoot the zombie if something went wrong and then get the keys, whatever happens. Of course, as she goes for the weapon, the zombie guard breaks free and falls forward. As Clementine backed away, the zombie grabbed her leg and she fell over. I told her to knock over the display stand next to her as it would pin the zombie in place. The stand falls and the vase whacked Lee in the head, subduing him for a moment.
Khin : I advised her to get both, since the zombie is slower and stupider than she is, and she was more than capable enough. This seemed to strengthen her resolve and she did great.
Ellen : As Lee regained his wits, the zombie was stuck, but still had a hold of Clementine. I reached for the baseball bat which Clementine had used earlier, but I couldn’t reach as I was handcuffed to the radiator. I had to kick the bat to Clementine for her to put the zombie down, once and for all.
After helping Clementine through the zombie attack, you decide it is time to say farewell and part ways.
Ellen : This scene gets me, every time. Clementine clearly doesn’t want to leave you. Maybe she doesn’t appreciate the gravity of your situation, or maybe she just doesn’t want to lose her friend. Regardless, she doesn’t really get a choice, under the current circumstances.
I reinforced her independence, telling her how well she managed the situation, how well she has looked after herself over their time together and how she has been such a useful member of the group. I asked her to shoot me as I didn’t want her to see me zombified and I didn’t want to be in that state. She obliged; I cried… Lots…
This scene was really amplified by the voice acting and the dialogue. There isn’t any melodrama or over-dramamtic dialogue; it is all so sombre and human. With my last words, Lee just reminded Clementine of the important survival tips and finished with “I will miss you.” And it was delivered with such sincerity; a beautiful ending…
Khin : Clem and Lee have been through so much together and this is one of the hardest scenes in any game to play through. Clem is understandably scared of the future without Lee’s support and guidance, and tries desperately to get Lee out of the store. When she started to understand that he wasn’t going anywhere, I spent the precious few moments we had encouraging her to stay strong and not be scared, that she was useful and good at things, and that she was more than capable of staying safe. I couldn’t ask her to kill me. That bullet could make the difference between her getting out to Omid and Christa or joining her parents. She had enough time to leave the store before Lee turned and I explained to her that zombie Lee wouldn’t be human Lee.
I have to say I didn’t cry when I played. That’s not because I’m heartless. I cried the first time I saw the scene play out, the second time I knew what to expect. Still, if a video game could win an Oscar, this scene should win everything. Fantastic voice work, the animations match the speech and emotions – it all comes together to make the scene incredibly human,.
The screen sits black for a short while before revealing the title and showing you the choices you made and a wrap-up of the main characters and their progression through the story.]
Ellen : I was kind of surprised that all of my choices were in the vein of the majority. I didn’t think removing the arm would be a popular choice and I didn’t even realise their was a choice in killing the stranger. I wonder how the ending would play out is Clementine didn’t shoot Lee… Do you get to see Zombie Lee?
Khin : I don’t know what I expected to be honest. I think killing the stranger, Ellen, comes when you fight him and you can mash Q to strangle him. That seems to have been the only chance. Other than that, it’s interesting to see how people thought in this one – it looks like a lot of people thought removing the arm would offer more time.
Ellen : I mashed Q as much as possible and won all of the QTEs which it seemed I was allowed to… I have no idea how one goes about killing him. Maybe you hide the cleaver?
Afterwards, the credits roll.
Ellen : I really liked the music playing with the credits, but I had to rush to the toilet. When I returned, my game had crashed and reset. I don’t know why rolling credits was too much for my computer to manage, but it meant that I didn’t get to see the post-credits scene.
If I remember rightly, Clementine is sat on a hill, way out of Savannah, crying. She then sees some figures silhouetted on the horizon, who stop and look towards her. Then it cuts to black…?
Khin : Yeah you didn’t miss a whole lot. Clem is walking through a field with the gun in one hand, and sits when she comes to a log or something. The look on her face is one of shock – should she hide, run or is it someone she knows?
So now that we’ve survived the apocalypse, what now for our intrepid adventurers? And what did we think of The Walking Dead?
Ellen : Y’know, Lee didn’t really survive, but sure! Having played the game once, I did have some idea of how things would progress, but over time my memories faded and I really only remembered key scenes, and not necessarily the events which led up to them.
At the start of this episode I highlighted my frustration with the actual impact of some of the choices, versus the outcomes. This was really only apparent on a second play through and I don’t think it would get to people playing their first time through; it didn’t for me, anyway.
Khin : Having previously only watched someone else play the series it was about time I sat down and raised Clem for myself. What a journey it was. I went from prisoner to leader in the space of 5 episodes. I watched a little girl go from hiding in a treehouse to putting down grown men, and I watched society destroy itself one person at a time. The episodes themselves went from incredibly strong, well paced and powerful to short, choppy and pointless. By the final few moments though, the few issues I had paled into insignificance when faced with Clem on her own in a field. The issue I found with this series overall was how draining it became to play. Not physically but mentally exhausting. It wasn’t emotionally tiring but the ups and downs of the episodes; the length of some of them versus their content, the huge leaps in logic sometimes; it got to the point where I just wanted to be done.
I say all that, but Telltale have done a pretty good job overall. The high points are too numerous for the negatives to detract anything from the game.
Ellen : I have to agree with you on the lengths and impacts. Some of the scenes felt totally redundant and I think if I had been waiting weeks or months for an episode to come out, I would be very disappointed with some of the pieces. This last episode felt very tired, for me, and actually benefited from being so incredibly short, by comparison to the others.
That being said, this isn’t to say it is a bad game. It was, and still is, critically acclaimed and I do think that is deserving. It is flawed, but the flaws aren’t enough to take away from the fantastic story, unique mechanics and the emotional journey you are taken on.
The UC Gaming Club screenshot their own photos, depicting property owned and published by Telltale Games, Skybound and Image Comics. It looks really cool. =D
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