As you can tell from my past reviews, season two of Telltale’s the Walking Dead has had some real high points. The opening episode was primarily involved in setting the ground work, but was notable for the technological improvements the series had made after its initial run. It looked nicer, the interface was cleaner and action sequences took a clear step up. After this things started to flourish, with episode two impressing and episode three blowing me away a little bit. However, when you begin to consider the run of episodes as a whole (if you want to consider them as separate parts, refer to my previous reviews, that is why they are there) the season starts to disappoint.
This disappointment is down to a lot of factors, among them a lack of direction. There just wasn’t much of a hook to season two, it didn’t have the overarching narrative that it needed and when it was time to finish it left with a whimper rather than a bang. That is where the season falls down, it just doesn’t hold together very well as a complete thing with a satisfying beginning, middle and end. In reality it peaked too soon, setting up a very compelling villain the first episode, to then write him out with two episodes still to go. After this point there was little to no driving force, as the season just meandered on with no clear purpose.
Another detraction was the cast, there were a handful of really cool characters, but the roster never matched up to the first season. In fact, the character that most impressed me throughout the season was a previous cast member who returned in the second episode. Unfortunately, though he was well written and put in great scenarios, his presence served to remind me that the new people weren’t at the same level. The mid season villain was very memorable, but only in so far as he was villainous. As far as well written and relatable characters go, things never hit the high point they did in the first season.
there was little to no driving force, as the season just meandered on with no clear purpose
The season did have some real positives though. The casting of Clementine turned out to be a good decision, as she made for an excellent protagonist. The improvements in production value also shouldn’t be understated. Season one had its rough edges (technically speaking), which this latest season sanded down nicely. There was a real sense of class to the presentation in season two that didn’t exist in season one, something that comes with improved technology and a greater confidence. Telltale knew what they were on to this time, it wasn’t a surprise hit, it was now an established and much loved franchise.
Season two of the Walking Dead definitely did have its great moments, though most of these only really applied in the moment. When looked at as a whole it just doesn’t have the impact that the last instalment did. A lot of it was really, really good when taken in separation, but that is all. As a season (five successive episodes) this follow up didn’t work as well as it could have done. With season one you remember the journey – the story you followed with Clementine. There was the underpinning of Lee’s shady past and the driving force of getting Clementine to safety, season two had none of this. The motivation was always just, keep on surviving and after a while survival for its own sake gets less and less compelling. The season even lacked really memorable decisions and shocking story revelations. Season two was by no means bad, its best episodes stand up as series highlights, but it is a disappointing follow up when taken as an entire product.