The Walking Dead Season Two - Episode 5: No Going Back Review
Growing up, certain rites of passage help define who we are - moments we won't forget because they change us. For the entirety of season two, Telltale has been building up Clementine's coming-of-age in a zombie apocalypse. The battles and decisions she faces aren't your typical adolescent trials, which is part of what makes Clementine's journey so interesting. Telltale brings it all to a head in the season two finale, letting you decide how Clementine has grown. The decisions aren't easy, and they affect where she ends up; in a way, these choices say just as much about you as they do Clementine.
The previous episode set up many of the choices Clementine would encounter in these last hours. Her group is falling apart due to infighting and deteriorating mental states. Throw in the life of a newborn baby, and this is the worst time for everyone to be at odds. Episode 5 begins with another group threatening their lives and trying to rob them. It erupts into gunfire on both sides, leading to new problems for Clementine and company as they try to find safety in this dangerous world.
The first part of this season was adrenaline-filled, but the previous episode slowed things down. Episode 5 retains this pace, giving you more bonding moments with characters, such as changing bandages and celebrating birthdays. In these little chats, they reveal more about their pasts and their deepest fears. I do wish I cared about these cast members more. Deaths just haven't hit me that hard and maybe it's because these allies aren't really all that interesting. Even finding out more on their backstories didn't leave me feeling any more connected.
Throughout the episode, the danger continues to escalate. Zombies come at the worst times, forcing Clem to decide when to use her gun. She has to walk across a dangerous, icy pond to get to the next safehouse. The action sequences are short in this episode, never overstaying their welcome. Telltale is also constantly pitting you against certain characters and the smaller alliances that have formed. You need to decide who Clementine aligns with - old friends or new. This means hurting people and acknowledging that good people do bad things. The choices are at their most captivating in these moments; Clementine is growing up and learning that the world has shades of gray.
I won't spoil much, but Telltale's biggest achievement in this episode is how it handles the ending. It finally includes multiple endings depending on your choices. This is something I've desired for a long time - to actually see the ripple effect of my decisions, and Telltale doesn't disappoint. I watched five endings, and I was amazed at how distinct they all were, putting Clementine in different places with different people. They also raise questions and make statements about Clementine. For instance, is she better off with or without certain people? Does she have to sacrifice happiness for safety?
I think about that little girl I found at the treehouse back in season one. She wanted to believe people were inherently good and that her parents were still alive. She didn't even know how to hold a gun. Now I look at Clementine as someone who can fend for herself. She knows the horrors of the world, but she also knows the beauty. I hope the latter keeps her fighting, and that my decisions set her in the best place possible for season three. Telltale has once again left me thinking and longing, and I hope they make these endings mean even more in the future.
Note: This review is based on the PC version. The Walking Dead is also available on PS3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, and iOS.