The Walking Dead Season Two: Episode 4 – Amid the Ruins – Review
One of the hardest things in the world is to say goodbye.
With this in mind, embrace yourself for one hell of a penultimate episode in this season of The Walking Dead. After the cliffhanger Telltale left us last time, no way were we going to get some peace and quiet. The tension from Carver’s reign of Darwinism may have left its physical – and emotional – scars, but the action and drama don’t stop there.
Thrown back into the walker pit and the decision you made concerning Sarita (chopping off her arm or her assailant’s head), Clementine has to keep a level head no matter. The thought of being covered in dead guts isn’t exactly cosy, but at least we’re not screaming all the way to the woods like Sarah. However, then again you can’t blame her – her dad did just get fed to the lions.
Despite everything, survival – as always – is the primary objective.
With several things happening at once in this non-stop hellish episode, it’s not long until you reunite with Rebecca and Jane – who plays a major, welcome role – to figure out the next move. Whereas the previous episode was often slow-moving, this one moves at a much faster pace. As the scene soon shifts to the meeting place, the problem of Rebecca’s baby arises again and you don’t even need to look around for an answer: it’s coming, whether you like it or not.
Life is THE theme here. It’s precious and the third, better option after death or turning into a walker. But the consequence of deciding the lives of everyone rests on poor Clem’s shoulders again. The body count here is higher than ever. Any action can inadvertently cause their demise and never mind Rebecca’s baby, the stakes are higher even without it. The group’s morale is at an all-time low and there’s not an awful lot of time to pick up the pieces. Every second counts.
So what unlikely voice of reason has something to say?
Jane, that’s who.
Although we didn’t get to know her that much during the last episode, the brilliant writing and direction of Amid Ruins gives her the spotlight into her complicated character. There are glimpses of humanity when she tells us about her sister Jaime, comparing her to the state we find Sarah in. Jane allows us as the audience in here and there, but it’s not long until she’s putting back that wall that protects her from getting too close to anyone in the group. As expected, Clementine is the one exception. In similar fashion to Clem and Carver, Jane notes how smart the young girl is – but openly worries about her staying with the group.
Her words ring true. With the losses starting to increase tenfold, the episode’s all-too familiar tone of depression sinks in. As the misery continues, Jane ventures off with Clementine to teach her skills that will stay with her even when she’s alone. She was always a tricky character from the go, but the episode does a great job in showing how human she is. Her deep conversations with the young girl put an emphasis on the episode’s title, never mind the fact the meeting place is crumbling.
It was a smart move to draw comparisons of Sarah and Jaime, even though we don’t – and probably won’t – meet the latter. Not only do we get shocks, twists and turns, but now there are more questions than ever. Forget the Clementine and Carver being alike thing: is Clementine really safe with the group? Luke is a mess, Rebecca’s about to give birth, Sarita’s gone, Kenny’s an emotional wreck. Mike and Bonnie are practically the only ones fit for duty.
Losing Nick early on in the episode was quite a surprise, but one that didn’t bother me as much as the likes of Sarita. Personally, I couldn’t see much more for Nick after shooting Matthew in episode two. It’s easy to have felt sorry for him all the way through, but there’s only so much Telltale could do with scraping sympathy for his character.
Another highlight of the episode was Sarah. Everyone knows Carlos perished at the end of the previous episode and the poor girl went running into the wood, closely chased by Luke. It’s awfully easy to sympathise with her state of mind, but when she’s refusing to move and a herd of walkers are right around the corner, it’s too tempting to leave her behind. But since Clem’s been friends with her since the beginning, I just couldn’t turn my back on her this time. A cold warning from Jane does leave us wondering whether it was the right decision to save her or not. After all, Sarah is now a liability to the group and perhaps even more so than Rebecca.
Speaking of the mother-to-be, she inevitably goes into labour with her much-anticipated child. The moments between her and Clementine are short, but bittersweet. There’s an honourable mention of Alvin, which will tug at your heartstrings. Even though we may never know the true extent of the whole Alvin/Rebecca/Carver thing, it’s hard not to feel sorry when she gives birth in one of the most dramatic scenes of the season yet.
Kenny goes from strength to strength, eventually pulling himself together and helping Rebecca through labour. He might have been a jerk at the beginning – I have to admit I wanted to slap him in the face like I did with Rebecca – but as we all know, grief does different things to different people. His behaviour is almost acceptable, as we grimly think of Duck and Katjaa.
Whilst the poor woman’s in labour, it’s up to Clementine and Jane to find a safe place for her to give birth. Meanwhile, Mike and Bonnie are scouting the civil war museum and Luke is scouring the perimeter for walkers. There’s even more deep discussion between Clem and Jane, but it’s ultimately cut short by a stranger stumbling upon them. A Russian boy named Arvo stumbles across them and there’s more than one way this can pan out. You can either take the bag of meds he has, or not. Whatever the choice, you just know it’ll come biting you in the backside at some point. Remember the car after the farm in season one, anyone?
The scars from the first season are faint, but they’re still there.
But new scars are about to be formed, since drastic action must be taken against the walkers that threaten Rebecca’s special moment.
And one of the newest scars to be added is the loss of Sarah. No matter which way you play it, she dies and that’s one of the most horrific deaths so far. It doesn’t matter if you get Jane to try and save her, there’s just no way that Sarah can be saved. Her dying screams as she’s being devoured by the herd of advancing walkers are haunting. Before Jane, it’s easy to say Clementine may have been even more traumatised. While she’s upset, Clem knows she has to move on and be ready for what comes next. Jane really rubs off her, doesn’t she?
A special mention goes to the whole “life and death” thing with Sarah and Rebecca’s baby. Sarah’s death and the birth was played well.
Speaking of which, Jane’s not all that plain when we discover she slept with Luke while we were all in trouble with the walkers back at the meeting place. Very nice, isn’t it? Kenny obviously resents Luke for this; Jane doesn’t care.
You wouldn’t be forgiven if you thought you could save everyone by now. You just simply CAN’T. That’s the essential message Jane tries to get through to Clementine – and us as the audience. Her swift departure is predictable, yet poignant in the fact that she knows she will never belong with the group. Her parting words leave a lasting effect on Clementine and they couldn’t ring truer during the final scene.
It doesn’t matter whether you go the next morning or a few days later, Rebecca is doomed in her condition. After a run-in with our favourite Russian Arvo, it’s a nasty shock to be ambushed by his buddies. With all the Russian being spoken and the group readying themselves to protect themselves, it’s only Clementine who witnesses Rebecca’s tragic end. At this point, she’s only an admirable character that carried on for the sake of her baby. All of this changes in just one instant when her transition from new mother to walk inevitably begins.
The moment is all, but tragic. It’s a grim reminder that no matter what happens, Telltale will continue to play at your heartstrings and kill off these new characters when you least expect it. And despite that, you’ll come back for more. In similar fashion to the previous episode, a decision is made – whether to shoot Rebecca yourself or call for help – and everything fades to black.
It’s an extremely cruel way to end things, but it sets everything up for what will be an unforgettable season finale.