So here we are – the end. After kicking off back in the mists of 2012 when the PS3 was entering its twilight years and now concluding in 2019 when the PS4 is starting to do the same, Clementine’s odyssey is one that has spanned a console generation. So it is then that fourth and concluding episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season has a lot of work to do in tying up loose ends and providing a broadly satisfying end to things. Does it succeed though? Yes. Mostly.
SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD: THE FINAL SEASON FOLLOW
The Walking Dead ends with a soaring, albeit relatively safe finale
As expected, this final episode subtitled ‘Still Not Bitten’ begins in immediately chaotic fashion, taking place right away after the events chronicled in the episodic series penultimate installment. With the sabotaged prison boat slowly exploding its way into a million pieces, Clementine’s iconic cap is soon lost in the chaos – swept away down the river in what would seem to be a portent on how nothing lasts forever.
As has been the cornerstone theme of this whole season, Still Not Bitten exercises a laser-like focus on the relationship between Clementine and AJ; in particular, the lessons he has learned from her, and how these have matured and shaped him as an individual. Indeed, AJ acts as a prism of sorts for Clementine; reflecting her decisions back to her in a kaleidoscope of dramatic actions and often unexpected consequences.
In this sense AJ completes his journey as a coldly, logical character. Like the adolescent Clementine of old, he has replaced that wide-eyed horror and innocence with something more detached, more efficient as he becomes a fully-functional surviving member of the zombie apocalypse, with a clear sense of purpose and moral code to abide by.
Wonderfully this affected me to such an extent that I attempted to preserve what little innocence remains in AJs character as much as I could – encouraging laughs, smiles and playful banter whenever the opportunity arose. In this sense, I felt like I was saving AJ from himself and it’s in moments like these that The Walking Dead’s finale really resonates.
Completing the transformation of AJ into something more than a scared child is how at one point, he reminds us that despite the hard life she’s lived and all the growing up she has had to do, Clementine is still essentially a kid herself. That’s something that as players, we’ve kinda forgotten too – given that we’ve spent so long as Clem, stabbing and shooting Walkers while feeling her pain and heartbreak every time a loved one dies, it can be easy to overlook just how thoroughly her own childhood has been erased.
In terms of the other characters in the episode, Still Not Bitten keeps the focus fairly tight; a fact that makes sense given that it is shortest of the four episodes in the final season and also because more than the rest of the cast, this spotlight should remain on Clementine and AJ. It’s a decision which works too as the episode feels like a briskly paced affair for the most part, that is, until we reach the epilogue.
Taking up the last act of the episode, the length of Still Not Bitten’s epilogue is such that you would assume that many of the loose ends would be tied up – something which is sadly not the case. Rather than providing a definitive end to things, a number of strands are left dangling depending on who you spared in addition to other situations with various characters not being fully resolved.
Normally this would be a cause for celebration because of course just about everyone would like to see more adventures set in Telltale’s The Walking Dead – however, with Telltale Games now no more, dangling such threads which may never be resolved leaves a sour and bitter taste in the mouth instead. Another issue with this final episode is in how it plays fast and loose with the lore, resulting in two rather poorly written scenes that both have you screaming in disbelief at the screen and which, annoyingly, serve to make the ending feel a little cheaper than it otherwise should.
Still Not Bitten provides the ending that Clementine and players deserve
Telltale’s The Walking Dead always seemed like it was destined to end in a particular way, but all the same I would have liked for the final episode to flip convention the bird and allow players more freedom as to how its ultimate gambit plays out. As it is, for an episodic series about flesh-chomping nasties, this finale boasts remarkably little teeth.
All the same,Telltale Games and by proxy new IP custodians Skybound have done a fine job in closing out gaming’s first real, highly successful episodic adventure. Riddled with emotional moments, grisly encounters and pulse-pounding action, Still Not Bitten is a worthy closer to the series at large and provides an entertaining, if conservative ending to Clementine’s journey.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season is out now on PS4.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.