The Walking Dead EP23: Amazing Fitness

By Shamus Posted Friday Jan 25, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 136 comments

Link (YouTube)

Like I asked in the episode: Does the game ever make it clear what the plan was? Were they really coming into Crawford to murder human beings for fuel and batteries? And if so, how does that not make them worse than Crawford?

I kind of overstated my point about stories “saying something”. Trek is not always saying something. Sometimes the show is nothing more than “bad aliens show up and we defeat them with our superior tactics / courage / virtue / techno-babble”. And even among the shows that do say something, they don’t always work. And sometimes they fail in really terrible or offensive ways.

The point I ways sloppily making is that I like sci-fi stories that use the fictional realities to explore ideas and problems we have here in this reality. Yes, when they mess up it comes off as stupid, offensive, or sanctimonious. (The vapid “Oh no! Allowing Hitler to be killed by his victims will make us morally equal to Hitler! Lock phasers and save Hitler!” playschool morality the show trots out every once in a while is really grating.) But when it works it really works, and even when it fails it can still lead to the exploration of ideas that’s smarter than the show itself. Message and theme are story amplifiers: If it’s good, the theme can give it potency, and if it’s bad a theme (or pretense of one) can highlight those flaws and make them stand out even more.

And yeah, that grab at the end where Molly prevents the fall of a full-sized man and pulls him up? One handed? I doubt even Larry had the strength and mass to pull that off. I suppose we could assume the grab took place at the apex of the jump, before Lee had any downward momentum. Then Molly’s just lifting him instead of halting a free-fall. I’m not going to claim she broke the laws of physics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if physics sent her a sternly-worded letter afterwards. Physics cannot abide shenanigans.


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136 thoughts on “The Walking Dead EP23: Amazing Fitness

  1. Roland Jones says:

    Well, Crawford would have deliberately left Clem to die if she showed up on their doorstep and, if I’m not mistaken, outright tried to kill the cancer survivors for the gall of having had cancer, among other things. That code that shows up on all those doors is actually Crawford’s, it’s how they mark places they’ve been to and includes such lovely information as the number of “unfit” survivors they left to die or killed themselves when looking there. That’s pretty dang bad.

    Basically they’re a big community of Larrys, except they would have killed Larry on account of his having a heart condition.

    1. j0rdm31s73r says:

      The game/writers even kind of call the Crawfordians nazi’s, when Lee’s looking at the pamphlet on the table he calls it “Crawfords Final Solution.”
      And we all know some other guys Final Solution.

  2. Ithilanor says:

    Since you linked the RLM review of Insurrection, I’m going to also link the SFDebris review of the same movie. He’s covered a lot of other instances where Trek went wrong while trying to make a point as well as the times when it worked.

    1. I-Spy says:

      Thank you, I was thinking of doing the same thing. RLM reviews irk me something awful because of some of the stuff that they do in them. I think Star Wars Episode II was the offender that made me stop watching them

      1. You can’t take away what I think is Plinkett’s greatest Star Trek criticism moment, which I think trumps even the “why are there no seat belts on the bridge” trope. It was in his review of “First Contact,” and has to do with the plan to puncture one of the plasma conduits in engineering.

        Whoever the contractor was that designed the core must’ve really been one heck of a sales-being.

        1. qwksndmonster says:

          Must’ve been the same guy that designed the Reaper/Terminator supports in the end of Mass Effect 2.

    2. Shamus says:

      Yes! I should have linked to the SF Debris one instead, since it’s a much better deconstruction of the offensive morality-bending we see when juxtapose Insurrection with the TNG episode that had the same theme. RLM spends a lot of time griping about terrible acting, cheap effects, and so on. Valid, but not as damning as the thematic bungling on display.

      In fact… I’ll just edit the OP. Thanks.

      1. Nick Pitino says:

        I actually just sat and watched that review again from the link.

        Grah, I forgot just how odiously offensive that movie is when you get down into the core of it…

      2. Ithilanor says:

        You’re quite welcome!
        Other episodes he’s reviewed and taken to task for their moral problems:
        -Tattoo (mangling of Native American culture)
        -Profit and Lace, Let He Who Is Without Sin… (gender stereotypes and sexual politics)
        -The Outcast (gay rights)
        -And of course, his talk on the Prime Directive.
        (Yes, I like SFDebris. :P)

        1. GragSmash says:

          SFDebris is awesome, no doubt.

          Watch his clip show if you don’t believe me!

          1. Bryan says:

            “That’s two votes for mind bomb!”

            Insane Janeway is so much better than the real one. :-P

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            SFDebris got me to watch farscape.And Im eternally grateful for that.

            Also,how long before someone makes a pun about his real name?Episode 4 is a perfect episode for it after all.

            1. Nidokoenig says:

              I’m sure we’ll find somewhere we can chuck one in.

  3. IronCastKnight says:

    Considering that Molly can teleport, defeat a large, zombie-battle hardened Lee in single combat, super-footsweep a flanking opponent, and free run like Altair with a car battery in her backpack, I doubt pulling up a guy with one hand is really all that unlikely for her.

  4. Thomas says:

    I never tied together the Ben arc and Crawford. I feel silly now, that was a clever thing to do. I’m glad they started the incompetence in the earlier episode (heck the first encounter with Ben is him freaking out and being unable to deal with the situation he’s in), if it were a one episode arc it would have felt like [more] (depending on how you view the hatchett thing) character assassination

    1. SougoXIII says:

      You see, I don’t really buy the comparison between Ben and Crawford. Sure Ben is a liability but there’s a difference between ‘culling the weak’ and not risking your life to save Ben from another one of his screw ups.

      1. Thomas says:

        I think you can still draw comparisons if it’s not direct and there’s a magnitude difference. Choosing not to save someone who you were probably able to save, because he kept doing things that harmed the group is definitely in the same vein, it’s just a difference of intensity.

        There’s a little bit of a fictional aspect to it because ‘person who screws up’ isn’t really a real life characteristic and you’d really be able to just instruct him to do nothing and the chances are things wouldn’t go that wrong. It’d just be bad luck.

        What I really don’t like about how Ben is handled is they don’t reinforce or react to the decision in an interesting way. I think whichever you choose the game should actually disagree with you but instead it just reinforces whatever you believed when you made the decision

        1. Zukhramm says:

          But in the moment, you’re not aware you can save him without someone else dying. The game has been throwing so many “pick one of the other” choices that it really seemed improbable to me to be able to save him without Kenny dying.

          1. Thomas says:

            Oh thats interesting. It never even crossed my mind. I assumed at worst that he’d probably die when I tried to save him (was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t)

            I’ll watch out for the incident when it comes up on Spoiler Warning again with that in mind

          2. Isy says:

            I never once considered anyone else was in danger that scene. The game has always been pretty clear whenever choices like that come up. Everyone else was outside and safe – the only person who might have been in danger was Lee.

            The main trouble with Ben is everyone else is as stupid as him, but only his screw ups cause catastrophes. I mean, look at Lee and the car battery right in this episode. Kenny especially can just be eaten. Ben was incompetent, Kenny was incompetent and malicious.

            1. Zukhramm says:

              If no one else was in danger, the choice would be pointless. The fact that I was given a choice to me implied that there is reason to not pull him up. As there is no reason to leave him, it’s really a non-choice, just one I was not aware of at the time.

              1. anaphysik says:

                Look… every WD choice is ‘pointless.’ The choices are almost *entirely* about ‘what would you *try* to do (and how will people react to that),’ while the railroad keeps on rolling. This is one of the more highly divergent choices in that /Ben can actually die or not/. (E5) And like the Doug/Carley choice, Ben living or dying will soon no longer be a divergence <_<

                1. Zukhramm says:

                  How much things diverge is irrelevant. Most choices are between two things, the is a choice between one thing and nothing. No other choice was the pointless to me.

                  1. Thomas says:

                    So you ended up killing Ben because you believed that killing Ben was such a stupid thing to do that they must do something even worse if you save him? =D

                    (this does mean that you were way kinder to Ben then the large number of people who killed him because they figured Ben was useless^^ )

                    1. anaphysik says:

                      Indeed, as the great Lorik Qui’in would say, “What kind of insane breed of logic is that?!”

                    2. Zukhramm says:

                      It’s “it’s a game” logic. The choices I had been presented with so far had seemed to have at least some rough equivalence between them. Who you give food to in episode 2 might not affect the story, but someone still gets the food, it’s not a choice between giving Clementine food or throwing it away.

              2. Isy says:

                I only got the impression that the choice to drop him was because he was a screw up and you wanted to kill him, and because Kenny would throw a fit if you didn’t murder a kid. I never felt anyone could be in danger but Lee – I’m curious, now, did anyone else feel there was a danger if you saved Ben?

                1. kanodin says:

                  Going back to save Ben is pretty dangerous for Lee, but obviously he’s not gonna die if he saves Ben here. Beyond that nobody seems in danger.

                2. Jamfalcon says:

                  *Raises hand*

                  I don’t remember exactly what went through my mind in the moment. I liked Ben, too. But I let him drop because he was telling me that I had to let him go and get everyone else away, and in the moment, I believed it. From a meta perspective, yeah, that’s not really likely. But the way that I made that decision is, in my mind, a sign of just how immersive the game is (when you don’t have four people talking over it, anyway.)

                  1. Nick says:

                    Exactly. In a non-zombie apocalypse life, of course you save him and get him to some kind of counselling later to try and fix his insecurities, but in the game this is hardly the first time Ben has screwed up, or the first time he’s gotten someone killed – Chuck, Katya, Duck and to some extent Lilly leaving the group are all down to Ben. Hell, Doug/Carley die trying to save him.

                    So yeah, I wish that the world wasn’t so gone to shit that his existence was endangering the entire group, but it had and he was. But even then I would have saved him… if he hadn’t begged me not to. Ironically, I think that was the first time Ben’s made a truely adult decision.

                    1. Isy says:

                      Alright, I have a confession to make. I’ve been sitting on it for various reasons, but…

                      The implication that people dropped Ben because Ben asked them to really bothers me more than the people who just wanted the kid to die and murdered him. If we’re talking about assuming that dropping Ben had a purpose in getting the group to safety, then that’s fair enough – I can see how people would think that, and okay, you can call that heroic. If that’s the case, just disregard. But if we’re talking in a nebulous context of “well, you screw up a lot, so you’re going to do it again”, then I really have to object about calling that an “adult” decision. It’s straight-up suicide from a kid who thinks it’s his only option, because he’s convinced everyone hates him and wants him to die.

                      Obviously, you’re never going to get a direct one-to-one ratio on a literary comparison, because being set in a zombie apocalypse kind of changes… everything. But since we accept stories as a metaphor for real life issues (else we’d have to seriously question the point of a zombie apocalypse story), I don’t really like what was done here. Ben’s death accomplishes nothing – the only reason to even think it does is because he’s acting like it does. Lee is already in danger and hanging onto him when you get the option to make the choice, so it’s not helping Lee. Everyone else is safely outside. Objectively, it’s no better than Katja blowing her brains out, but where that was treated as a total douche move, Ben’s winds up treated like some kind of heroic thing, an act of redemption. Why? Because the game is telling us we don’t like Ben, and it’d be super convenient for us if he just died here and we didn’t have to deal with him.

                      Not blaming anyone, not judging anyone, not saying anyone is wrong, but it has been bothering me, and I wish the writers had used just a little more care.

                    2. Viktor says:

                      Kayjaa blowing her brains out wasn’t treated as a douche move. The main objection was that she didn’t kill Duck first, but people understood.

                    3. Isy says:

                      Well, the SW cast mostly said it made them hate her, and then dropped that topic like a hot lead potato. Can’t blame em, really.

                    4. Thomas says:

                      I figured you were circling around that idea. In many ways I agree, this wasn’t a moment where Ben had clear thought and he really did just need to help him up and let him see things straight again. After he’s pulled up and people give him time, he does gets things sorted and he passes through that temporary thought. His wish to die wasn’t rational and it’s a duty to help people through that time of mind.

                      But I also believe as horrible as it is, that people do have a right to die and normally I think it’s the greatest tragedy when people do take that step even though their situations are horrible, but in the Walking Dead universe it seems more justified. It’s hard Ben would never have committed suicide but not necessarily because he didn’t want to

                    5. Isy says:

                      But that’s what bothers me. Certainly, I think people have the right to end it in a world like the Walking Dead – I gave the woman in Episode 1 the gun, with little hesitation. And while I was shocked and saddened by what Katjaa did, I understood it. What bothers me is the number of people sharing the sentiment of “Well I didn’t want to drop Ben, but he asked me to, so…”

                      The reason it bothers me is the number of heart-breaking accounts I’ve read of bridge jumpers who survived, and who instantly regretted it after jumping. Which underscores the general point that suicidal people don’t really want to die – that’s why guard rails work, why talking them down works. When you understand that Ben didn’t really want to die, that he just wanted redemption, then the notion that dropping him was somehow doing right by him becomes horrific – and the notion that this was somehow a “heroic sacrifice” becomes even more so. That’s why I’d really rather people just say “I killed him because he’s a screw up who deserved it.”

                      It bothers me because it’s kind of a nasty trope, as well as some nasty sentiments I have seen (“Just let depressed people die, they’re going to do it anyway” or “They wouldn’t have died from that suicide attempt, so they’re just faking it for attention”). I feel like this sort of thing really muddies the waters about something that is already misunderstood.

                    6. Thomas says:

                      I think I can understand that.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      Honestly, I didn’t even link it myself until the developer interviews. As the cast said, the two plot threads really weren’t quite matching up. It’s too subtle.

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Ben’s problem also isn’t that he’s weak -it’s that he’s young. And the writers hate him.

      It made me willing to cut him quite a bit of slack.

      Mind, I’d still not leave him on guard alone.

      1. anaphysik says:

        The writers /reallly/ hate Ben. It’s extremely rare to find any dialogue options with him which /aren’t/ ‘hate on Ben.’ Heck, even sometimes when you *do* find such an option, the game railroads Lee into hating Ben anyway. (Frex, when you’re looking for Clem in the house (as in last SW episode), regardless of you telling Ben ‘it’s ok, I’m not mad, just tell me where Clem is’ Lee still flips his shit moments later. )

  5. Dave B. says:

    At first I thought they wanted to sneak into Crawford, grab the stuff, and leave without running into anyone. When they actually got there I saw the truth was much worse. They either had no plan at all, or were planning to kill anyone who got in their way. One makes them stupid, and the other makes them act completely out of character.

    1. ? says:

      No, no, no, no. They planned to wound that guy, so he will be unfit to live in Crawford and join them. If you want to defeat those hyper-survivalists you have to act like a zombie… infect them.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I figured, in true movie logic style, he was planning to neck-pinch the guy. I mean, hatchetting the guy to death would surely be as noisy as shooting him.

        1. Hitchmeister says:

          The movie trope (I’ll spare you the TVTropes link) of the blunt blow to the head that renders the victim silently unconscious for exactly long enough to get whatever you need done (or to come to at the most dramatic moment) with absolutely no after-effect at all.

          (Concussions only exist in sports movies, where everyone has a strict allotment and one more will always cripple the star player for life even though he’s performing at the peak of his game at the moment.)

          Back to The Walking Dead, they were going to sneak in a steal a few supplies which would be no hardship at all because the people of Crawford were greedy bastards hoarding far more than they needed and anything Lee’s group took would not really be missed. Because Lee has the moral high ground and never does anything really bad (intentionally). Murder before the game starts notwithstanding.

  6. Paul Spooner says:

    (Grrr… Shiver… Twitch)
    ‘…techno-babble.” And…’
    Whew! I feel better.

    It’s “mastectomy”, pronounced like the “mast” of a ship. A “massectomy” would, presumably, be the removal of mass? So, technically, it’s that too?

    Also, Happy anniversary you super genius you!

    1. What about a Masseffectomy?

  7. Wraith says:

    I think a salt and battery nun-chuck would be a great weapon Rutskarn

    1. Tzeneth says:

      When he said it, it took me a minute to figure out the pun and then I facepalmed at not getting it originally. I give extra points for that extra pun.

      1. Nytzschy says:

        I’ll have none of these Chuck puns. One more ninja pun, and I’m going to heave on Rutskarn.

        Up-chuck, if you will.

    2. GragSmash says:

      My god, I didn’t see that.

  8. newdarkcloud says:

    What was that laughing slightly passed 8:05?

    I think the word you are looking for at around 11:25 is “contrivance.” As much as I love this game, they do have quite a few of those. Like you said, ninja zombies/Clementine are one such example.

    At 12:45, I may be wrong, but I thought that was Molly running across the screen, not a zombie.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      It was Rutskarn. Turning into a Jockey.

    2. anaphysik says:

      Probably one of Shamus’ kids. He /was/ on mic at the time.

  9. newdarkcloud says:

    You talking about stories that “say something”, especially in sci-fi, reminds me of a certain ending we finally fully grieved over at the end of last season.

    This brings back painful memories.

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Sam Goldwyn put it best: if you want to send a message, use Western Union. But I imagine, over 139 produced films, he said quite a bit by not stopping to say it.

      Unlike, oh, a certain demonic hologram that shall remain otherwise nameless.

      1. Or as Stephen King basically said in his excellent book, “On Writing,” symbolism and themes are all fine and dandy, but they’re often not very well executed if the theme/symbolism are planned from the start at the expense of the story. They’re often best when they emerge without the writer even knowing it was happening, or so it seems. He also says those things aren’t even needed, that often a tale that’s nothing but story (the example he gives is Harry Potter) can be the best kind of read.

        In a similar vein, John Cleese often said about his side job of doing corporate training/instruction films, if you forget to entertain first, your audience isn’t going to listen to your message.

    2. Chauzuvoy says:

      To be fair, I think the problem there wasn’t the fact that the story was trying to be about something. The mass effect series as a whole had several different themes running through it, and some of them were (at least occasionally) interesting and thoughtfully handled. The trouble was that they were juggling them poorly.

      A story that does this right is like watching someone juggling pins or beanbags, or something else that actually gets… y’know, juggled. It’s carefully controlled, and gets developed intentionally. When the time comes to end the routine, the writer can throw out their big flourish, catch everything, and have a really good finish.

      ME was like watching someone trying to keep a bunch of balloons in the air. Rather than carefully tossing their themes up, and being ready to catch them when they come back, Bioware was running around frantically trying to make sure they were where they needed to be to stop it from hitting the ground. This really shows at the ending, where they grabbed one seemingly at random and said “ta-da.”

      It also didn’t help that their “man v machine” theme that they ended on had been resolved – satisfyingly, at that – by the end of the Quarian/Geth storyline. There could have been a very strong ending based around Cycles, or humanity finding its place in the galaxy, or the “making the hard decisions” theme that they (allegedly) based their morality system around. But it’s really obvious that they hadn’t thought that far ahead when they were plotting it out.

  10. kanodin says:

    I chose to let Ben go, but only after he told me to. I was severely disappointed in him but I wasn’t going to just abandon him. However I consider his telling me to let go a heroic action on his part, he knew it was dangerous to save him and that he was a burden and chose to help in the only way he could, and I respected it. I also just don’t agree with Kenny’s insistence that suicide is never ever an option, and so if Ben didn’t want to go on then that’s his choice.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      That’s ultimately why I choose to let Ben drop. I would’ve pulled him up if he didn’t say that he wanted you to drop him and go.

      1. Isy says:

        What Ben wanted was redemption. Death was just the only way he saw to get it. I feel like dropping him just proved what he already believed – that everyone hated him and wanted him to die.

        Sorry, I just really hate the idea he wanted it. Not the player’s fault, the fault of the media. Suicide is glorified when it’s convenient, and vilified when inconvenient.

    2. Isy says:

      I’ve felt like Ben before – no, I’ve never accidentally caused the deaths of three people due to psychic teleporting bandits and an insane petty dictator – but I’ve felt like such an utter screw up that I just wanted to die, because it would be better than inflicting one more minute of me on the rest of the world.

      That’s why I pulled him up.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Ayup, same reasoning I used (except without personal experience).

      2. Zombie says:

        I pulled him up because I felt there was only one thing worse then death: becoming a Walker. I mean, we really have no idea what happens to you when you become a walker. Do you die, and some virus takes you over, do you wake up with an insatiable hunger for human flesh, or does something else happen. And I sorta liked Ben, plus I didn’t want Clem to get mad at me because she voted to keep Ben alive.

        1. anaphysik says:

          The situational irony is thick in this one (*Zombie*: “I mean, we really have no idea what happens to you when you become a walker.”)

          1. Thomas says:

            Fact: Zombie bites/dying infected instantly opens up your mind to the sheer intense beauty of the universe and the sense of overwhelming bliss and harmony overrides your vocal cords and can leave you doing nothing but shamble around in amazement and wonder.

            The desire to bite people comes from the complete feeling of love you acquire for each and every fellow person and wanting to share the incredible rapturous enlightenment

  11. Even says:

    The scene with Ben was one of the harder choices for me in the whole game and the only one I went back to do differently. Seeing him there, basically begging to die I let him drop more out of pity rather than any feeling of malice or hardcore survivalism. Dealing with depression and living through some dark times of my own in the past, it was just kinda hardhitting moment, when you know you’ve been in the same situation. If not exactly dangling from somebody’s arm, but being mentally in a same kind of place.

    It’s easy to judge him based on his mistakes, but knowing something of living with guilt and other emotional baggage you don’t know how to deal with, I find him hard to blame for fumbling. It can be a really fucked up state of mind. It’s especially something that can cloud your judgment at the worst of times. It doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be held responsible, but it’s something that one might want to take into consideration. While it might be just me drawing parallels, his mental state does get more focus in the next episode 5 if you let him live, which at least partly proves that he hasn’t exactly been in the healthiest state of mind for a while.

    The way it felt to me, this was exactly the point of Ben’s character. The signs are there starting from Episode 3, even if they don’t shove it at your face. It would have been better if they let you deal with his problems somehow though.. as he is, he’s just another lost cause like Lilly which the game lets you do nothing about even if you wanted. Still, it fits the game thematically in the sense that here you have people who live in an zombie apocalypse and try to deal with it in their own way (and you may or may not be able to help them in a meaningful manner and your choice probably gets nullified later anyway). Crawford was to me just another facet of the apocalypse, i.e nasty shit that barely makes sense, not really the conveyor of a moral dilemma.

  12. Katesickle says:

    I told my friend Rutskarn’s joke about a flail with a battery at one end and a salt block on the other. This friend (who is in the SCA) began trying to work out how you would make an effective weapon that way. He puzzled over it for about five solid minutes without realizing it was a pun :D

    Also, happy anniversary, Shamus!

    1. anaphysik says:

      I’m still trying to imagine it as a weapon, despite seeing the pun immediately. (It sounds like the kind of thing a group of tabletop players would come up with.) Currently my best thought is that it could be reconfigured to be some sort of heavy-duty bola for taking down giants.

      1. Katesickle says:

        It definitely wouldn’t work as a flail. You could make a mace with one of those on the end, but it seems like the balance would be off. I’m not sure what you’d call it if you had items on both ends (might still be a mace, I’m not sure).

        Heavy-duty bolas might work, but again, I think the balance would be weird. And how would you throw the thing? That said, if you did the salt block might break open the battery and get acid on the giant, so there’s some additional damage.

        Someone needs to make a sketch of this :D

        1. anaphysik says:

          No, I wasn’t imagining it like a flail or mace at all. More like a bola (as I said) or a kusari-fundo / meteor hammer

          And how would launch such a bola? With a bola launcher, of course!!

        2. Alex says:

          It’s a dire flail, the stupidest weapon in Dungeons and Dragons.

          1. Katesickle says:

            *does google search for ‘dire flail’*

            What the…how is THAT supposed to work? Are you supposed to trick your enemy into thinking it’s a superior weapon so THEY try to fight with it? Is it meant for a gladiatorial version of tug-o-war?

            1. anaphysik says:

              Like so, /apparently/:
              or so:

              Really, I’m pretty sure it’s just meant to be a stupidly-adorned & improperly-proportioned meteor hammer :/

              1. Octapode says:

                That is the different but also stupid spiked chain, not a dire flail. A dire flail is even more idiotic:

              2. Thomas says:

                That first picture makes it look like he’s just about to take out his own legs and I’m worried about where it looks like that top part is on trajectory for

          2. Ofermod says:

            The dire flail is certainly the stupidest core D&D weapon, but I’m not sure it’s worse than the moose-stick if you’re including supplements. By which I mean the Sugliin, from Frostburn. Which is… a giant stick with moose antlers strapped to it. It’s ridiculous (and I love it).


            1. Katesickle says:

              Many moose were harmed in the making of this weapon. :D

            2. Alex says:

              Nah, the Sugliin is fine. It’s a primitive, unwieldy weapon, but at least it’s not actively dangerous to the user.

              1. Katesickle says:

                It’s not dangerous to the user in the same way that the dire flail or spiked chain are, but in combat that thing is going to help you get killed real fast. It’s unwieldy, which means a loss of maneuverability. The antler-end looks ridiculously heavy, and with the long pole that’s going to translate to balance issues. Combined those two problems mean you’re going to be getting hit a LOT. And then the antlers themselves are perfectly designed for getting caught on things and disarmed.

            3. Is this where we mention the (warning: TV Tropes link) amazingly ridiculous BFS and its ilk?

        3. anaphysik says:

          (Great, my comment is /still/ stuck in moderation -_-. Was kinda hoping Shamus would be up by now. I guess he’s sick with something nasty :/ )

      2. Bryan says:


        1. drkeiscool says:


          1. I like the ol’ chainsword, m’self.

  13. MrGuy says:

    Regarding sci-fi using the freedom of an unreal setting to explore real issues…

    IMO nobody did it better than The Twilight Zone (the original Rod Serling version) (By the way, this is from someone too young to have seen the original when it was actually on the air originally.) (No seriously – if you haven’t seen The Obsolete Man or The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, you really should.) (Help! I’m trapped in a parenthesis factory!).

    Every week was a different interesting reality. Every episode explored an interesting real facet of the human condition. And then the classic one-liner wrap up in….the twilight zone.

    I’m wondering why no one’s really been able to pull this off since. Sure, there’s tons of Sci-Fi shows that have explored interesting “modern” issues (Star Trek, Firefly, Stargate, etc.) But they’ve all done it while restricted to a fixed set of characters in the context of a large-scale narrative, which means their freedom to explore specific characters is limited.

    Whither short-form sci-fi?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I think the problem is that its hard to get such a show rolling.There sure were attempts of making collage show before and after the twilight zone,but they just werent as successful.

  14. TMTVL says:

    “Physics cannot abide shenanigans,” you say, clearly you’ve never watched trained martial artists at work.

    1. AyeGill says:

      Physics cannot abide shenanigans, but it also doesn’t give a shit what your idea of impossible is.

      1. Nytzschy says:

        Physics is the Honey Badger of reality. That doesn’t even make sense, but physics does not care.

  15. The general trope for why Crawford would have fallen is that a close relative / spouse / friend of the leader was dying, and the leader refused to acknowledge it until… ZOMGies! Which instantly wipe out everyone else.

    (Note: I have no idea what did happen to Crawford.)

    1. MrGuy says:

      I like to think it happened on a scavenging party. There was a fight, and someone was glancingly bit, like Duck. They were terrified of being thrown out of Crawford. They tried to talk themself into “maybe it wasn’t a bite! Maybe I just scratched it on a nail or something!” “Sure, i have a fever, but maybe its just an infection!”.

      They new the truth deep down but were afraid to face it.

      Overnight, they died and zombified. And with everyone asleep, they’d turned half a dozen more before anyone knew there was an issue. The rest is history.

      Incidentally, this would have been an epic journal/diary entry if handled right…

      I mostly like this for the parallel of Lee having the option to conceal the fact that he’s bitten at end of Ep 4.

      1. Spencer Petersen says:

        The reason why Crawford fell is detailed in the videotape that they use to discover the combo to the medicine safe.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Yes but’s also stupid, and MrGuy’s thought is much better.

          1. anaphysik says:

            Stupid lack of a ‘request deletion’ button. AND lack of an ‘edit post’ button. Where’d they go?

        2. anaphysik says:

          Yes but it’s also stupid, and MrGuy’s thought is much better.

        3. newdarkcloud says:

          Yeah. That’s also pretty dumb. I find it hard to believe that one PREGNANT woman was able to gun down enough “hardcore Crawford survivalists” to become a large enough zombie force to bring the whole colony to its knees.

          1. Alex says:

            Obviously they’re not the hardcore Crawford survivalists, just the losers who tried to join the hardcore Crawford survivalists and got ditched when the hardcore Crawford survivalists moved on to greener pastures.

            1. anaphysik says:

              That would actually be pretty funny.

  16. McNutcase says:

    I’d like to congratulate Lee on successfully a) rendering the battery useless, and b) pouring lots of sulphuric acid all down his own shirt front, before allowing the dregs to drip down Molly’s back. Both are now suffering from severe chemical burns.

    And what car manufacturer keeps the terminal clamps on with wingnuts? Seriously? You CANNOT get a wingnut tight enough for that job – and if you could, no normal human could undo said wingnut barehanded.

    Regarding battery compatability – car battery for a boat, it’ll work but it won’t last as well as a marine battery would. For escaping a zombie apocalypse? Just fine. The deep-cycle marine batteries are only really needed if you’re not using the boat that much. The truck almost certainly uses the same kind of battery as a car – just larger, with more energy storage capacity. However, it’s likely that it uses two of them, since I believe most semis run on a somewhat more efficient 24V electrical system rather than the standard 12V that cars run on. Side note, anything installed in a car has to be OK with the input voltage being anywhere from about 9V (where it dips during cranking) to almost 15V (when the alternator’s going, it’s regulated to a nominal 14.4V)

    And Molly shouldn’t have been able to make that jump with a car battery in her pack. That battery looked about the size of the one in my car – and last time I changed that, I could barely lift the thing using the handle built into it. It weighs, no kidding, something around 25lb. From her physique, Molly’s maybe 140 – if she’s all muscle. Realistically, more like 120. A mass like that would throw her centre of gravity way off; she wouldn’t fly how she expects to, and jumps would be a problem.

    Oh, and the fluid should have been leaving the hydrualic system like a lance. Lee now has, in addition to his chemical burns from dumping the acid out of the battery, nasty injuries resulting from jet-injection of hydraulic fluid. And de-pressurising hydraulic systems should work even without power…

    1. Kavonde says:

      “And what car manufacturer keeps the terminal clamps on with wingnuts? Seriously? You CANNOT get a wingnut tight enough for that job ““ and if you could, no normal human could undo said wingnut barehanded.”

      Every car I’ve ever owned had wingnuts on the terminal clips, man. They’re not super tight, but they’ve never just slipped off.

      1. McNutcase says:

        All the ones I’ve known have used actual nuts. I wouldn’t trust wingnuts to keep the terminals making good contact.

      2. Khizan says:

        I’ve never seen wingnuts. I know I wouldn’t trust a wingnut to keep good contact, especially after I’ve gooped everything up with the anti-corrosion slime.

    2. Tom says:

      Eh, the acid we can hand-wave – there are such things as sealed lead-acid batteries. But you’re spot on with the real issue – it’s right there in the name – that woman may be highly practiced at parkour, but her normal moves should have seriously been hampered unless she’s actually used to doing it with a GIANT LEAD BRICK on her back.

  17. Kavonde says:

    I was so, so glad to get the opportunity to drop Ben by the end of this episode. I don’t think I had a particularly “hardcore survivalist” mindset during my first playthrough, but I couldn’t help doing the math. Ben’s contributions to the group consisted of having eyeballs, being another target for the zombies to go after, and being a potential source of protein if food got too scarce. On the flip side, he demonstrated consistently poor judgement and strength of character that directly or indirectly contributed to the deaths of Carley, Duck, Katya, and Chuck, and Brie. He couldn’t even handle the most basic tasks–keeping an eye on Clementine, not confessing to Kenny at the worst possible moment, not removing the hatchet that was obviously holding the door shot–and acted childishly upset when confronted about these failings. Plus, as you guys mentioned back at the start of this episode, he totally bailed on Clem and left her to the zombie horde.

    Having the choice to drop Ben was one of the most rewarding moments in the game for me. And when I learned that keeping him around doesn’t result in any real character growth for him, and even in death he still manages to get someone else killed, I just laughed.

    Yeah, things might have been different if Lee’d ever gotten the chance to help him. Maybe. But some people just aren’t mentally or emotionally equipped to handle a disaster scenario, and even worse are the ones who endanger others with their incompetence. Since there was no way to rehabilitate Ben, the only reasonable option was to cut him loose before he brought the rest of us down with him.

    1. Isy says:

      Claiming he’s responsible for Kenny’s death when a gun is a ranged weapon and Kenny could have easily joined Lee behind the fence is kind of a stretch.

      1. Kavonde says:

        Oh, sure, I’m not really laying the blame on Ben’s shoulders. I just find it funny that he managed to drag Kenny down with him, however inadvertently.

        1. Isy says:

          I honestly considered that a point in his favor, really.

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        I know that scene. That scene really pissed me off! It felt like it only existed in order to make sure that Christa and Omid were the only characters at the end.

        I don’t see why they had to do that. Why couldn’t they just let those choices stand at the end of the game? It’s not like your group composition matters all that much since Lee gets separated from C&O at the end anyway!

        Dear god that felt like cheater to the highest degree!

        Hey, Josh. Could you please save Ben so that I can bitch at that scene!?

        1. Thomas says:

          I want to see the other scene, it sounds like it’s even more pointless and contrived =D

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            The scene where Oh my god someone (Was it Christa or Kenny?) bumps into Lee and knocks his walkie-talkie into a hole. YES THAT WAS STUPID.

            And really, why did they decide to kill Kenny at the end of Season 1? It doesn’t make sense and both scenes feel very contrived.

            Ugh. We need to hurry up and make it to Episode 5. I NEED to talk about this.

    2. anaphysik says:

      The writers clearly wrote Ben as someone they want you to hate. For that reason, I actually cut him a lot of slack. The writers lay the hate on so thick that it’s actually quite disgusting, and I want to see Ben survive /despite/ their hate.

      By comparison, the writers laid the lurv on heavily with Miranda in ME2, which only strengthened my resolve to MURDER her during the final mission.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I didnt hate ben.He was terminally stupid,but I still felt sorry for him.I let him go,but still wasnt glad about it.He asked me to let him go,and I did,but it still was hard for me.

      2. lurkey says:

        Hah. That was exactly the same reason why I’ve always been nice to Ben save for the case of leaving Clem surrounded and never even thought about leaving him to die.

        And mostly the same with Miranda, although she would’ve been abhorrent even without being a writers’ pet.

        *tentatively raises hand for a hi-five*

        1. anaphysik says:


          >lurkey thinks you are incredibly awesome

      3. Isy says:

        Yeah, pretty much. Lee drops a honking car horn on his head and summons every zombie for a mile, but nothing bad happens because Molly can lift a 160 lb man with one hand. But the minute Ben does anything dumb, literally two seconds later the villains show up to kill everybody.

  18. Spencer Petersen says:

    And by the way, you can run up to the guard and tell him to drop his guns instead of sneaking with the hatchet. I think you have to click on the guard before you move and select the gun.

  19. Chamomile says:

    I think at the stage where you’re murdering cancer patients to stop them from scavenging food in the same city as you, you kind of stop being just a human settlement and start being an insane bloodthirsty dictatorship, at which stage armed guards aren’t other survivors, they’re enemy soldiers. Killing them for vital resources is totally on the table for basically any country in the history of forever, and the only reason it ever gets taken off the table is if it wouldn’t be worth the risk or cost.

    1. Thomas says:

      Thats an incredibly clever and insane plan. Resources can’t really be generated after the apocalypse so the trick is to have as few people as possible to stretch it out, but thats dangerous and if you just go it alone all the other people going it alone will consume everything just as quickly.

      So you establish a dictatorship as a ‘new society’ and lure people in with soap and roses and sweetness. Then you say that you’ve got to kill of the weak and the strong elitests go along with you. And then you slowly transform into an insane dictatorship, killing the lower guards for every reason possible and the others don’t rebel because they’re glad it’s not them. You gather like minded people around you and an opposing rebellious faction begins to form. You continue killing more and more until full scale civil war breaks out between the two sides and then -disappear.

      No-one left to eat your food anymore

      1. Chamomile says:

        If this was Crawford’s aim, it didn’t really work. The leader hung himself and the only winner was the walkers. For that matter, planning on conserving resources by intentionally starting a war to kill off as many hungry mouths as possible is also dicey. Wars consume a lot of resources, and are only profitable if you can expect to loot more resources than you’ll lose in the winning.

        1. Thomas says:

          You think Crawford’s leader hung himself, but he was smart enough to be the guy who did the real planning but wasn’t ‘our glorious leader’ so everyone would attack the decoy =D

          Also, a war would expend bullets and medical supplies but it wouldn’t really expend food or even that much petrol in this scenario =D

  20. psivamp says:

    I just finished reading Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (on the topic of science fiction exploring topics and theories). Amazing book. ‘Anarcho-communist utopia,’ she obviously never calls it that, but – yeah – that’s what it is and it’s well-thought out and provides an interesting device and a good foil to the culture she was in/contemporary culture.

  21. Steve C says:

    Why did Lee have to drop the car? That’s crazy dangerous compared to pushing some toolboxes up and climbing onto them. He climbed onto the truck roof just fine. Sigh.

    BTW trucks take 12V batteries the same as one in your car. They just take more of them. Which may not be the same type as what the boat uses. But good enough in a pinch.

    1. SKD says:

      Actually, semi-truck batteries are almost half again to twice the size of a typical car battery. But it would have been a better alternative if the truck had a battery in it, I checked on my playthrough since it would have been easier to reach without making noise and the car has an alarm. Unfortunately, the truck has no battery but it would have been perfectly adequate if there were one there (I probably shouldn’t mention that semis tend to have their batteries mounted in a box slung below the cab and behind the cab door. Apparently though, the player character is not smart enough to construct a platform or lift Molly up to disconnect the battery and avoid setting off the alarm when the lift is lowered. I doubt Lee could have safely lifted Molly high enough to get the battery out or built a sturdy enough platform that was high enough to allow him to lift the battery out. Remember, excluding standing too close to a hydraulic lift with its feed line cut, they need to avoid risks like breaking their necks falling from a height whenever possible.

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    I just have to say that the designers pulled off a truly amazing trick here. The twist is: zombies. In a game full of zombies, they managed to convince us there was going to be not-zombies. But no: zombies!

    That’s pretty ballsy.

  23. DanMan says:

    “She won’t get a scratch.” “I have your promise, not a scratch” – Hah! STAR WARS reference

  24. Simplex says:

    I noticed a glaring “stupidity” regarding Ben and the hatchet that was blocking the door in the infirmary.


    So, the pack of zombies was at the glass TRANSPARENT door, and Lee blocked the handles with the hatchet, and the zombies were loudly banging at the door and were perfectly visible and audible.
    Later Lee returns to the rest of the group, notices the hatchet in the hands of Ben, realizes what this means and then, perfectly on cue, the zombies start pouring out of the unblocked door.

    What boggles me is how could have Ben not noticed the zombies behind the door when he was removing the hatchet?

    Even assuming the zombies got bored and walked far away from the door, and assuming Ben would be dumb enough to think “well, this hatched it blocking the door, so I will remove it, what could possibly go wrong?” – it still does not explain why the zombies decided to rush through that door EXACTLY the moment Lee realized that the door are no longer blocked.

    For me that was one of the weakest moments in the game, when my suspension of disbelief was really stretched to the max. I didn’t even wince at Molly jumping about with the car battery in her backpack, but this hatchet thing really stood out for me.

    1. SKD says:

      What annoys me is the fact that that was the door they had used to enter the building in the first place. It hadn’t even been 15 minutes and he didn’t have the ability to recognize the doors they had come in had since been secured, most likely by one of the party, or think that it might be a bad idea to unblock any door without a good idea what was on the other side.

      I still saved the him when we were escaping the building though.

      On the other hand, the zombies should have either been in the hall or crashed through while Lee and molly were passing by.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      That was so incredibly stupid. I want to say that they were going for an almost “Scooby Doo”-esque gag, but really that was pushing the limits.

      Again, this brings up the question of whether or not we would accept this kind of thinking in a TV show or Saturday morning kids-cartoon over a video game. In TV, this kind of thing would’ve been glossed over, but in a game we feel like this is cheating.

      1. Thomas says:

        This bit is bad enough that we would have recognised it even in a TV show =D It would look like an inappropriate comedy beat. Maybe if it immediately moved on and never mentioned it, it could be more forgettable but if they did in Ben because of his mistake I can’t imagine people letting it slide

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I’m not too sure about that. TV shows tend to thrive on that kind of “If we didn’t see it, we don’t have to justify it” thing. It’s similar to how, in Episode 3, Omid says “There’s NO WAY I’m doing that!” and then cut to him being proven wrong. Both those kinds of things feel completely in place for a TV show trying to find a moment of humor in a scenario that is otherwise bleak and depressing.

          1. Isy says:

            I agree with Thomas, they could get away with it in a TV show if there weren’t consequences to it – which is why no one cares about dangling Omid off a bridge with a blowtorch, or anything that happens in a Saturday morning cartoon. When a comedy beat results in two people dying, people will complain, its just a question whether they blame the character or the writers.

            If you don’t believe me, check out any discussion on Heroes. Hoo boy.

  25. Irregular says:

    Huh, maybe that utterly inhuman fitness was why Molly was allowed to join the Crawford community in the first place.

    If you want the strongest survivors, look for superhumans to fill your ranks.

  26. Octapode says:

    So when Molly says “I’ll try to hold them off” what she really means is “I’ll do nothing about the walkers coming under the door despite them being in an ideal chokepoint and instead kick the jack a bit”, apparently. That’s a bit of a change from her ninja skills previously. If she’d just nailed a couple of the walkers while they were coming under the door they would have pretty much blocked up the gap, instead of a dozen of them crawling through.

    Those batteries are about 25 kg (55 lb), and rather pointy, which would defintely impact her running (plus her pack’s only slung across one shoulder, and I can say from experience that shoulder is not going to like that).

    So uhh I guess in conclusion this game isn’t very realistic. Who would have guessed?

    1. Deadpool says:

      What bothers me most is that we KNOW there are Zombies outside BEFORE the alarm goes off. Yeah, the plan was to get out through the door, by why not CLOSE THE DAMNED DOOR FIRST, look for the battery, then see if the Zombies got bored afterwards?

      Why was the door open at all?

      Also, anyone ever lift a car with a jack before? That shit is NOT secure. Super Molly can’t knock it down?

      1. Octapode says:

        I assumed the door itself had jammed, so the jack was wedged in there and would need to be wound down a bit to get it out. As for why the door was open, clearly they’d realised that the zombies can teleport when no one was watching them and left the door open so Molly could keep track of the walkers and prevent them teleporting in to the garage.

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