The Walking Dead Season Two - Episode 5: No Going Back Review
In the two-or-so hours of The Walking Dead Season Two's finale, I felt closer to the characters in my group than in any of the previous episodes this season. No Going Back picks up directly after the bombshell of a cliffhanger in Episode 4, throwing you right into the middle of the shootout.
As you can probably guess, there are survivors from the shootout. Episode 5 does what it can to give you a satisfying ending, wrapping up all the loose ends with a neat little bow. As has been my problem throughout the entire second season, there's no clear cut motive or goal for Clementine or the group. So for the entire season I don't really know what Telltale is building up towards.
For me, I've felt little emotional attachment to any of the characters in Season Two. I simply don't care about any of them -- I'm just trying to survive. So Telltale's attempt at eliciting some sort of emotional response to the heartfelt one-on-ones you have with each character fell a little short with me. Kenny mourns his dead family; Jane recounts her youth and her dead sister; Clementine misses Lee. Aside, from Clementine, it all just rung a little hollow with me. It even felt forced at times.
I appreciate the attempt at forming some kind of emotional bond with the remaining survivors, I just wish they hadn't waited until the final episode. It felt rush at times, like Telltale felt the need to quickly manufacture sympathy to eventually break your heart at the end.
Again, my problem is I never really felt close to any of the characters, so when stuff starts to go south -- and the episode does so very quickly -- I don't mind losing people.
No Going Back does do a wonderful job of building up the excitement. Throughout the entire episode you can see the tension building before the final 15-or-so minutes of just pure chaos and adrenaline. But while the final moments of the finale were beautifully executed, they were also terribly predictable. I'm not talking about the ending scene, but the actions and decisions you must make to get there.
Still, it was great to see that my decisions actually mattered in No Going Back. Telltale has always advertised The Walking Dead as a game in which your choices matter. Well, up until Episode 5, I'd say that was debatable. Sure, how things played out may have been affected, but ultimately it was the same outcome. In No Going Back, your decisions and actions, albeit only the ones made towards the end of the episode, will directly affect the ending you get. And true to #MyClementine, my ending was certainly fitting.
Episode 5: No Going Back may not have had the emotional impact as last season's finale, but it certainly provided moments of heart-racing action and split-second decision making. I definitely think the lack of character development throughout the season hindered its attempt at eliciting emotion, but I do have to say I felt my ending was accurate to how I approached the entire season. I only really cared about protecting Clementine and that was reflected in the end.
Note: We are handling our reviews for Telltale games a little differently now, given their unique episodic approach. Rather than assigning a score to each individual episode, we will be reviewing and talking about them each in length at first and assigning an overall score for the entire season at the end.