The illusion of choice that so many people complained about last season was removed at the end of The Walking Dead Season 2, replaced with real, meaningful choices that are determined by you. Sure, everyone ended up at the same point right near the end, but then they were allowed to choose for themselves an ending that was tailor-made for their character and their story. As our review stated “The Walking Dead has been known for its weighty decisions that play a major part in future installments, but this is a whole new ballgame.”
The beauty of the ending scenario of The Walking Dead Season 2 is apparent in the number of online discussions and full-blown arguments that have centered around it. Many feel that their ending was the best, or that they missed out on a better ending. I feel that simply by discussing them we prove that all of the endings are fantastic, and show the diversity in both Telltale’s audience and the stories that we have all created in the games.
Obviously, any ending discussion will be rife with spoilers, so if you haven’t finished The Walking Dead Season 2 you might want to turn back now. Conversely, if you have finished, but haven’t seen the other ending possibilities you can see them all here. So, after all that let’s get to the real reason why I’m here. To explain why I made the choices that I did in The Walking Dead Season 2 and why I feel the ending worked, even if you think the other one was better.
I, along with 37% of players, chose to shoot Kenny and leave with Jane for Howe’s where I let the family join my newly formed group. According to the current stats this is by far the most popular ending, yet from anecdotal evidence it is the ending most looked down on. People seem to feel that “Jane was a psychopath” and that killing Kenny wasn’t right. Many viewed the ending where Kenny and Clem make it to Wellington and felt that it was better, thus damaging the Howe’s ending in their eyes. I disagree with almost all of this and feel that this ending is either just as good or better than the other because of one simple thing, it forced you to make the really tough choice.
Killing Kenny was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do in a video game
Killing Kenny was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do in a video game. I literally wept as soon as I clicked the option and had to take a minute to compose myself. Kenny had been my friend for the last two seasons and killing him had almost never crossed my mind right up until the end. And yet, when the time came it was the obvious choice, it had to be done, and despite my emotional distress I clicked “Shoot Kenny” without any hesitation.
Somehow Telltale had taken a character whose semi-resurrection in Episode 2 brought joy and made it so that I was totally willing to kill him. Looking back I realize that I had resigned myself to this fate long before it actually happened due to Kenny’s actions and their effect on the group. Kenny had shown signs of instability since meeting back up with him, but after Sarita’s death the psychosis seemed to set in.
By The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 5 he was full of so much rage that he beat and berated Arvo to the point that it forced Bonnie and Mark to try to flee. This doesn’t wash away the actions of those three, who I would probably shoot even faster if given the chance, but it shows how Kenny had become a cancer in the group, eventually leading to its death at my own hands.
On the other side there was Jane, who’s triumphant return in Episode 5 had caused me to pump my fist in the air with excitement. I had grown to admire and respect her character in Episode 4, despite a couple of mistakes on her part, and was sad to see her go. Her coming back was excellent by itself, but to have it happen at such a crucial time, saving Kenny and possibly others, made it one of the highlights of the series.
Adding onto that was the knowledge that she returned for Clem. Jane was a lone wolf throughout the entire time Clem had known her and her leaving was logical given what we knew of her character. Her return was solely because she had come to care about Clementine and wanted to make sure that she was OK. As soon as I saw her re-join the group I knew that I would choose her over the others whenever possible.
This was of course tested in those final moments, and many disagree with me that Jane was the obvious choice. Let’s get one thing out of the way. Jane lied about AJ. This seems to be a sticking point for many, especially if they didn’t figure it out before the full reveal. For me though it was obvious from the moment she told Clem to “stay out of it”. Once she said that I knew what she was doing and it might have helped me to forgive her for everything that followed. Others who were duped might have felt more betrayed causing the backlash that I spoke of earlier.
What would Kenny do if Clem had accidentally gotten AJ hurt or killed?
Once Jane showed up at that Rest Stop without AJ it was clear what was going to happen. These two had been going at each other for hours, and this was the tipping point. The only decision left was which side Clem would be on. For me, it was Jane from the moment she put her knife away. While she was provoking the confrontation through her actions, she was showing that Kenny was the aggressor here.
While she may have went too far in pushing the situation to this point by hiding AJ, she was right in her assertion that Kenny was so unstable that he would kill over “an accident”. This is an important thing for Clementine to see as she had placed a lot of trust in Kenny and would continue to do so if it weren’t for Jane. What would Kenny do if Clem had accidentally gotten AJ hurt or killed? What would he do if we were with another group and something happened to Clem or AJ? There is no way to know because he had become completely unstable to the point of murder over what appeared to be an accident.
The fact that it wasn’t actually an accident doesn’t make his actions any less insane and damning. The fact that if you stick with Kenny you end up in Wellington doesn’t change that he had become a dangerous element whose mere presence could destroy long-standing groups. And the fact that he admits all of this only cements my confidence that I made the right choice.
Whether you shoot Kenny or stick with him until Wellington it becomes clear that even he knew that he’d become too dangerous. If you kill him he tells you that you did the right thing, and if you make it to Wellington he admits that you and AJ are no longer safe around him. Looking back over the history of the character seems to cement this.
Even during the relative calm of The Walking Dead Season 1 Kenny showed signs of instability. His many confrontations with Larry and Lilly almost split the original group. His attitude toward Ben was another instance where many might feel he was justified in the end, but there is little argument that he didn’t push things too far and ultimately exacerbated an already bad situation. On my playthrough he even killed Larry while Lee was trying to save him, showing early signs of the damaged and dangerous person he would become by the end of The Walking Dead Season 2.
Those are just some of my reasons why I ended up with Jane back at Howe’s, and why I was totally happy with that. My Clementine knew that Jane was lying about AJ and was pushing Kenny to see how far he would go. And she also knew that Jane was completely right that he would take things way too far. In the end I was with my friend, who I felt I could trust as much as anyone can be trusted in a situation like The Walking Dead. And I also started on the road to leading my own group by letting in the wayward family.
What about all of you? What ending did you get and did you like it? Do you feel like the other endings are better and do they retroactively make yours worse? Let me know in the comments.