Review – The Walking Dead: Michonne – A Telltale Miniseries – Episode 2
Telltale Games had a delightful concept with their “Walking Dead” game. It put players right in the middle of the zombie apocalypse where they had to interact with both likable and despicable characters while making hard decisions as the reluctant leader of a group of survivors, all building to an emotional climax.
In addition to the world building, the inclusion of established characters like Hershel and Glenn allowed the world to be enlarged without things seeming contrived or convoluted.
Given Telltale Games’ track record for compelling stories, the excitement was tangible when they announced that their latest title would focus on Michonne, one of the more complex characters in the series. However, it pains me to say that the second episode – “Give No Shelter” – is a sub par installment that fails to provide either direction or depth to the generic miniseries.
“Give No Shelter” picks up right where “In Too Deep” left off, with Zachary killing Sam’s brother Greg. In a fit of rage, Sam wants revenge but Michonne manages to calm her down by suggesting that Zachary could prove useful in helping them escape the floating colony of Monroe. Before they leave though, the pair go in search of Michonne’s Captain and friend Pete.
A daring escape gives the trio a chance to seek shelter at Sam’s place in the woods. With Norma and Randall tracking the group and with Michonne seeing the apparitions of her daughters more frequently, she might not be equipped to protect this group much less herself.
Although the second episode provides noticeably more action this time around, it fails to craft a story that propels anything forward. Instead, “Give No Shelter” builds tension between a few characters and ends on an altogether anticlimactic note.
This episode suffers from overstuffing the cast with characters that are insignificant to the story. These characters are so underdeveloped that they either come off as being there simply for the purpose of added drama (i.e. Sam’s younger brothers Alex and James) or cannon fodder (i.e. Sam’s father John and probably her friend Paige). I’m not bothered by the idea of having characters for the sake of killing them off, though in John’s case, he’s abruptly introduced through a line of dialogue and Michonne even acknowledges that he can help, but we are never provided with any information as to how John is an asset to the group. And by the time Randall blows a hole in his head, there is no reason to care except for the fact that he’s Sam’s father and now her younger brothers will grow up without either parent.
Another thing this game lacks in the choices presented to the player is the fluid morality. What made the first Telltale “Walking Dead” game so special was how the decisions weren’t always so clear cut. They had shades of grey. For example, one of the choices you could make was take supplies from a car that looked recently abandoned. Although you need them, someone points out that if we take the supplies and the owners of the car return, then we’re the monsters that came out of the woods dooming said group.
“Give No Shelter” tries to put the group between a rock and a hard place with Randall. After they secure him as a prisoner, he points out if you kill him then Norma will hunt the group till their dead. But if you let him live, he promises to do far more terrible things to the group once he’s free. Granted the story suggests he might be useful as a bargaining chip, I chose to kill him as he is clearly defined as the worse of the two evils.
It’s not all bad though. What this episode does well is tell the story of what happened to Michonne’s children. However, the way it’s incorporated into the overarching story comes off clunky. Although it is the strongest plot point in the episode, it’s also unfortunate because it’s a memory. So no matter how that story turns out, the impact is lessened by the immediate/current events taking place.
Sadly there isn’t much in the way of where the next chapter can go. I imagine the two younger brothers will be used as a parallel to explain what happened to Michonne’s daughters Collette and Elodie. And then there is the inevitable showdown with Norma. Unfortunately, without any real stakes, Telltale Games is going to have the impossible task of tying up loose ends and delivering a satisfying ending in just one episode.
Judging by the episodes so far, the Michonne miniseries will end the way it started – full of a sense of promise overshadowed by mediocre execution.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511
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