I ignored the title of The Walking Dead: Season Two Episode 5 – No Going Back, and went back after finishing it to try some things differently. This isn’t the first time I re-played an episode just to see if I can go down a different path, or to try and save a certain character, but it is the first time I felt my choices can lead to drastically different results. No matter what I chose, No Going Back delivered an emotional experience beyond anything I’ve seen the entire season. There was action, drama, horror and character development – all the things that make up a good story. Unfortunately, this is all true regarding the last half-hour of the episode only. The couple of hours leading up to the season’s final scenes are, to put it mildly, mind-numbingly boring.
When last we saw Clem and her posse, they were exchanging lead with a group of Russian survivors. As with any gunfight, the situation is tense and potentially deadly, even more so when there’s a baby involved. However, once the bullets stop flying and everybody counts their limbs and new holes, No Going Back slows down significantly. It’s obvious this is done as a last minute attempt to give the player a chance to connect with the remaining supporting cast, but by this point you already know who your favorites are. Clem gets to share a moment with every one of them privately, to really see how far they have come since the first time you met. Some made a greater transition than others, but not one of them is completely unaffected by the events of the last couple of episodes. It’s nice to see that every last survivor was given enough screen-time and a chance to flesh out their personality and story.
The character getting the most attention is Kenny, and it is no wonder. Kenny was already a fan-favorite in season one, and considering everything he went through this season it’s hard not to at least sympathize with the man. Every conversation with him, even while doing some mundane task like changing his bandages, shows just how much he’d changed since he reappeared in episode 2. His history with Clementine also comes into play many times during the final episode. This makes him the most interesting element in No Going Back, since he is the only character that has any kind of impact on Clementine and her actions.
But Kenny can’t carry an entire episode all by himself, and while the other characters are far from boring, their interaction with Clem is. Actually, pretty much everything the group does in this episode is walk in the snow and occasionally stop for idle conversation. It is clear Telltale Games really wants us to connect with the characters around Clem, but apart from Luke and Kenny we only know these people for an episode or two – not nearly enough time to form a strong bond. It is hard to care about the moments you spend with them, and they are hardly even worth talking about.
Naturally, the episode isn’t so dull if you manage to immerse yourself in its events. Sadly, unlike with previous episodes, I failed to do so completely. Due to its slow nature and focus on mostly pointless conversation, No Going Back feels drawn out and tedious. I was never invested in what was going on. Even when the episode tries to rattle things up a bit around the half-way mark, it just ends up feeling like it is shaking the player awake with a few quick-time events that quickly slow down for more exchanging of words.
Fortunately, the episode picks up speed eventually, and then it quickly becomes an intense rollercoaster of emotions and fateful choices. Without spoiling anything, when characters start acting on their own, instead of relying on Clementine to do everything, is when the story finally picks up. This has been an issue with the entire season: nothing happens without a direct intervention from Clementine, so nothing is ever surprising or shocking. It is in those rare moments, when things get out of Clem’s hands, in which everything suddenly gets unpredictable and interesting. The major decisions are still left to the player, as they should; the fact that you can’t tell what is going to happen next helps reinforce the notion that each choice towards the end creates a completely new path.
The Walking Dead: Season Two Episode 5 – No Going Back hardly ever moves forward. You spend the majority of the episode talking with your fallow survivors in a final attempt to connect with them. However, at this point in the story you already know who you’ll be siding with when things get rough, so that time could have been used to create a more memorable finale. It isn’t until the very last few scenes that the episode finally picks up and delivers an amazing, heart-breaking ending that will almost make you forget the bad stuff. No Going Back had so much potential to be an excellent ultimate episode, but it botched it from the very beginning. And as the title reads – there’s no going back now.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.