Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 Review. Editor’s note: Prior to the launch of Episode 2 – Suffer the Children, developer Telltale Games was hit with extensive layoffs and as of this writing is no longer continuing its existing projects. As The Walking Dead: The Final Season had four scheduled episodes, this review is reflective of those outside circumstances and evaluates Suffer the Children both as an individual episode and the potential end to Telltale’s Walking Dead series. This review also contains spoilers for Episode 1 – Done Running.
There’s a moment maybe two-thirds through Suffer the Children where the kids of Ericson Academy are sitting around playing a game, a sort of hybrid between the card game War and Truth or Dare. The youngest of the kids, Tennessee, is asked about a thought he has or a belief he holds that he doesn’t tell anyone else. Tenn’s answer is simple. History moves through ages: The Stone Age, the Ice Age, and so on. It stands to reason that the age of walkers would, eventually, come to an end just as simply as those ages transitioned into each other.
Nobody would’ve figured Tenn had been speaking so literally. Suffer The Children ends with the near-requisite cliffhanger, oblivious to the fact that Telltale may never get to finish what it started. Had Suffer the Children ended just 10 short minutes earlier, it would almost–almost–work as a best-case scenario ending for the whole series.
Episode 2 of The Walking Dead’s final season begins the process of wrapping things up, making the potential endgame much clearer. It’s a dire beginning, though, with Clem and A.J. dealing with the fallout from an out-of-nowhere bullet: A.J. doing exactly as Clementine taught him and aiming for the head. In this case, it’s the head of Ericson’s de facto leader, Marlon, even though Clementine had him subdued. Everything about the situation is a mess, and Clementine is left wracked with guilt and the horrific realization that, despite her best efforts, she may have raised a murderer.
It’s a delicately handled sequence, making good on the Final Season’s promise that A.J. is learning from Clementine, but perhaps too well. It’s also a good representation of the beautiful inversion of the Final Season’s moral outlook. So much of The Walking Dead’s prior seasons had been spent trying to keep Clementine away from the abyss; this is the first time we’re dealing with people who have known literally nothing else, something A.J. mentions after Tenn’s musing during the card game. What is that world going to look like with blood on his hands at such a young age? What will it look like for Clementine, who has a lot more on hers?
That question gets an answer not long after, when Clementine and A.J. find themselves back on the road and running into a familiar and unwelcome face: Season 1’s Lilly. Perhaps the first and most devastating case of the damage this world can do, Lilly has become a full-on survivalist. She’s a member of a nearby community of raiders that has been secretly abducting kids from Ericson–with the deceased Marlon’s help–to fight in an ongoing war with another community. The encounter is brutal, but it’s the kind of wake-up call that both Clem and A.J. needed. Once they see what’s on the other side of the abyss, the tone of the episode changes.