The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 3: In Harm's Way
First posted on 01 June 2014. Last updated on 15 September 2014.
|Carver is a vicious antagonist.|
|Clementine does not like her new jacket.|
|Some familiar characters may make a return cameo.|
|Carver confronts Clementine.|
The Walking Dead: Season 2
The season is comprised of 5 episodes:
- Episode 1: All That Remains
- Episode 2: A House Divided
- Episode 3: In Harm's Way
- Episode 4: Amid the Ruins
- Episode 5: No Going Back
At the end of the second episode of the second season of The Walking Dead, Clementine and her fellow survivors are seen engaging in a gunfight with Carver and his motley crew—and coming out on the losing side. The group is quickly rounded up and taken to a survivor camp (or rather internment camp) that is ruled by Carver with an iron fist. Escape for the group means not only dealing with the gun toting guards inside the camp but also the large horde of walkers heading their way.
Episode 3: In Harm's Way is an interesting installment to this season. For all that it is the same gameplay expected from the now familiar episodic model, this episode is also the longest episode so far in the series (even when including both the first and second seasons). Generally speaking, each of the previous installments can be completed in around 2 hours; by comparison, this installment clocks in around 3-4 hours, depending on how the player chooses to play—effectively lengthening the game by elongating dialog trees. There is also far less action than is expected—given the general backdrop of the episode—amounting to a handful of very short Quick Time Event (QTE) action play. Although there is an (inaccessible) inventory, at no point is it utilized to solve puzzles in this episode.
Instead, both action and puzzle plays are sacrificed for a tight, tense narrative—in which Telltale Games excels—that perhaps for the first time in the series really is largely determined by choices made in previous episodes outside of a few subtle dialog or character changes. For example, failing to save a member of Clementine's group during the gunfight (as in my case) in the previous episode will lead to that character's absence in the current episode. As a direct result, a character from Carver's group may remain alive at the end of this episode because the character which the player fails to save is not present to kill the individual. While the overall linear nature of these episodes dictates that at some point most (if not all) of the player's choices will self correct in narrative by the final episode, it really is encouraging to see the developer experiment more with the consequences of choices in the series outside of minor cosmetic effects.
Additionally, this episode shows the effects of choices made in the bridging DLC episode, 400 Days, from the first season. The previous episode has already introduced Bonnie back into the fray, who is very present in this episode (no matter what choices the player makes in 400 Days, Bonnie will always join the group of survivors, and her presence in the current episode is not determinant). This episode also confirms that Carver's group is in fact the survivor camp previously introduced in the epilogue for 400 Days. Depending on the outcome—namely which characters decide to go with Tavia, Carver's recruiter—these same characters will show up at some point during this episode with a bit of throwaway dialog. For example, Vince may warn Tavia not to smoke inside the compound, and later Wyatt may speak to Clementine in passing.
The Walking Dead series has always pitted horrible choice against horrible choice, forcing the player to select between morally difficult decisions in increasingly no-win situations. It has also generally presented Clementine as a sort of beacon of goodness and light in a world where every character wrestles with duality and moral decisions. I mention this because in a particularly pivotal scene during this episode the game presents a very interesting conversation between antagonist Carver and protagonist Clementine, wherein Carver tells Clementine that she and he are in effect cut from the same cloth. While the dialog smacks a bit of hokey clichéd villainous speak—Carver stating that he makes monstrous decisions for the greater good, even if an individual suffers, because he genuinely believes he is doing it for the greater good—the scene breaks through the fourth wall, implying that the player, through Clementine, really is no different. Suddenly, this monster of a man is not only humanized but accuses the player of performing these same atrocious deeds—of perhaps making decisions without considering an individual's humanity. The series has never been more prescient.
For me, The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 3: In Harm's Way is the best episode of this season of The Walking Dead to date. I understand that some fans may be disappointed with the current installment for its lack of action or for extending dialog in a way that may seem like padding. However, I sincerely hope to see more of the same in the remaining episodes of this season as well as any subsequent continuations for the series.