A House Divided is exactly how the second season of The Walking Dead should have started. After a slow first episode with not a lot going on, the second episode finally kickstarts the season and delivers a couple of hours filled with action, intrigue and fateful choices you’ll probably live to regret – the full Walking Dead experience.

If you remember the events of the last episode, Clementine has joined in with a new group of survivors, which we didn’t get quite enough time to get to know. After a menacing visit from a mysterious man, the group decides to pack up and head north for safety. During the journey you’ll get to know them enough to start picking your favorites – a very dangerous habit in a post-apocalyptic world. Luke and Clementine seem to hit it off quite well, and they spend most of the episode together, scouting, killing zombies and exchanging witty banter. Before long the group reaches new places and meets new people, and that’s when the story really starts going.

Things do take a little while to pick up, but once they do – there’s never a dull moment. There are much more action segments peppered throughout this episode, all feel in place and fit perfectly with what’s going on around you. Even the quieter parts can be full of tension (especially that aforementioned surprise visit). Nothing ever feels forced or out of place, and the chapters just keep flowing into one another almost seamlessly. One moment you could be sitting down for a quiet dinner with friends, and the next you’ll be fighting a horde of zombies. A House Divided doesn’t skimp on the zombies, but also includes some very tense moments with the other omnipresent threat in the world of The Walking Dead – humans.

One such human is Carver, who seems to be the season’s resident villain. Carver’s quiet calculated voice, courtesy of actor Michael Madsen, is a bit disturbing and even terrifying, but it’s nothing compared to what he can do when you get him mad. Craver is the man Clem’s new friends are fleeing from, and by the end of the episode you’ll know exactly why. He’s also the most interesting new character by far, and hopefully we’ll get to see a lot of him in future episodes – even though that may spell doom and gloom for Clementine and her pals.

Clementine herself becomes a much more interesting and rounded character during A House Divided. It seems she has finally found her voice, and now takes an active role at how events unfold. Her decisions have a bigger impact this time around, so much so that you can miss entire dialogues and change characters’ fate (in a much more meaningful way than simply choosing one character over another). Friendships are formed and lives are ruined in the space of a few hours, all because something Clem said or did (or didn’t). By the end of the episode, both your and Clem’s nerves will be frayed as you face the bleak future brought about by your choices.

There are a few moments when it gets a little ridiculous. No matter how much she protests, Clem is just a little girl and it seems a bit silly that everything rests on her shoulders. The game bends over backwards to put her smack in the middle of things. She’s surrounded by responsible adults that, with the exception of Luke, never actually do anything and rely solely on Clementine. Yes, she is the protagonist after all, and it is nice to finally see her taking charge, but that doesn’t mean she has to do everything by herself.

The Walking Dead 2: A House Divided starts off a little too slow, but half way through it picks up speed and keeps going strong until the terrifying finale. If it’s any indication of how the season will continue from now on, we’re headed for some very grim territory, but also a very interesting one. The new characters are coming into their own, and Clementine is finally starting to make the transition from the plot device she was in Season One to the capable protagonist she needs to be. There’s still some balancing and polishing to be done, but A House Divided does deserve your undivided attention.

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