The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins

Posted by Jenny Rouse.
First posted on 01 August 2014. Last updated on 15 September 2014.
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The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins
Clementine and Rebecca try to sneak past a horde of walkers.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins
The group has never been more fractured.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins
As a survivor, Sarah is in stark contrast to Clementine.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins
Clementine and Jane find a new hiding place.
The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins
Clementine takes a moment to be alone.

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

Episode 4: Amid the Ruins picks up immediately after the events of the third episode of the second season of The Walking Dead, with Clementine and her group amidst a massive horde of walkers shambling toward Carver's stronghold. In the ensuing fallout, the group finds themselves outside of a ruined Civil War museum with Rebecca's baby on the way. While the impending birth obviously is a recipe for drama, this episode serves more as a breather for the season—a way perhaps for the player to unwind after the tense chaos of the previous episode. Sneaking around an armed compound and fighting walkers has been largely replaced with character interaction and exploration that bring more substance to a few of the game's supporting cast. Ultimately, however, this episode feels unbalanced, particularly when compared to the overall narrative told throughout previous episodes of the season.

This penultimate episode allows new group member Jane—introduced only in the third episode—to really shine. A lone wolf of a survivor, Jane effectively takes the place of the absent Lee (from the first season) in Clementine's life during this episode. Previous episodes of the second season have shown a generally self-sufficient Clementine who advises the group around her—whether by teaching another young girl how to shoot or being the critical decisive vote for the wellbeing of the group. Now, Clementine's role as a leader rather than a follower is reversed with Jane, who gives Clementine advice on how to survive the apocalypse alone and teaches Clementine both smart inventory management and quick and effective killing techniques against the walkers. The dynamic between Clementine and Jane allows the player to revisit other similar character dynamics explored in the first season and reminds the player that, however self-sufficient and (depending on the player's decisions) hardened Clementine has become, she is still only an 11-year-old girl—a fact that is also reiterated in the episode's paralleling of Clementine and the much sheltered and almost catatonic Sarah.

Traditionally, a penultimate episode is meant to put characters in position for the grand finale. While this episode accomplishes such a feat well enough—introducing a village to which the group begins making its way—the game's cliffhanger calls into question what is actually the true underlying plot of this second season. The season starts with Clementine searching for her lost companion Christa. During her search Clementine encounters a group of characters in the midst of their own plot—escaping from the psychotic Carver—and joins their ranks. As of the end of the previous episode, Carver and his gang are no longer a threat to Clementine and her newfound group. As well, Rebecca's child has been born by the end of the current episode, closing off the only other plotline spanning the entirety of the episodes so far in this season. In contrast, the first season tells an overarching story of Lee protecting Clementine while heading toward the coast in search of safety and her parents. It introduces subtle elements among all episodes in the season that tie together in the season's finale—heading toward the ocean, the car that the party raids, and even Clementine's walkie talkie—to give the episodes more of an encompassing story instead of being a series of disjointed scenarios in which the player learns about various characters and fights the walkers. The first season also has the benefit of acting as a prologue to the comic series, allowing part of the narrative to focus on a group of survivors learning exactly what they are facing in this new world—a luxury which this second season cannot afford.

For me, The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 4: Amid the Ruins is best described as a transitional episode for a season that seems to be lacking a solid overarching story (except perhaps for Christa who is still missing, though at this point I am not holding out much hope that her character will be addressed). It sets up the season's much anticipated finale, with Clementine and company heading for a town that has only just been introduced and being antagonized by a group of thugs they have only just met. While it is an admittedly worrisome way to set up the final episode, I am definitely still along for the ride to the end.

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