Shocks just keep coming in the second episode of Season Three of The Walking Dead. Telltale continues with the brutal moments and surprise tragedies that kicked off this season, showing that nobody’s safe in the New Frontier. This fast-paced conclusion to The Ties That Bind two-parter sees the new group of main protagonists fronted by the remains of the Garcia family and Clementine facing internal revolt, external challenges, and the looming question of who you can trust in this brutal new world--even if they’re family.
Episode Two picks up immediately where Episode One left off. It begins in sort of a slo-mo style that really sinks the knife in when we witness grief-ridden scenes play out before our eyes. Although the victim and source of everyone's sadness was only around for one episode, they already felt endearing, thanks to a handful of small but meaningful moments. As a result, Episode Two gets off to a touching and somber start.
This sad interlude is soon replaced by a plot that hastily moves to tear down some of what was established in Episode One and build up what’s likely going to carry the protagonists right through to the season finale. One thing that you can bet on in any Walking Dead story--whether its told in a game, comic, or TV show--is that safe spots tend to get overrun by walkers or bad guys in short order. So, before you can even settle down in Prescott, with its windmill and corrugated dive bar (the place looks like something out of Fallout), it's not a total surprise when you find yourself on the road again.
Most of this episode takes place on the run. The gang is trying to get to Richmond, both to escape an incoming threat, and to seek help for a wounded character. So while there are a number of big decisions to make--including a horrible life-or-death choice--there’s a ton of action here courtesy of the usual QTE zombie combat. You’re called upon to shoot, bash, and knife a lot of walkers in pretty graphic ways.
All this killing happens mainly during the episode’s big set-piece moment, which takes place alongside a gas station where the road has been intentionally barricaded by cars strewn across the mouth of a tunnel. As with the action scenes in the first episode, these moments seem a little more challenging to get through than any from the first two seasons. Hesitate even for a second, and you may end up hurt--or worse, bitten. Still, don’t expect to die very often; this is still a game geared for a casual audience.
Even though Season Three of The Walking Dead has just started, you can already notice a number of key themes emerging. The notion of family is paramount, and its likely Javy will have to second guess the trust he's placed in his family...or if he ever should have relied on them in the first place.
This chapter--The Ties That Bind--comes to an end in the second episode. It moves quickly--and in some pretty familiar directions, given how we’ve seen events like the attack on Prescott and the desperate search for a new refuge many times before. But not everything is as expected here, and the dramatic weight tied to unpredictable moments--as well as the amount of action--provides more of the franchise alluring edge-of-your-seat storytelling.