The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 4 “Take Us Back” Review
There’s a lot of weight resting on the virtual shoulders of The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 4 “Take Us Back”. This is, after all, not just any episode — it’s the last episode of the entire series as well as that of the season. The pressure to do justice to such a vaunted gaming franchise must have been intense for Skybound, and to their great credit they deliver with a closing installment that undoubtedly left me satisfied, albeit emotionally drained.
Sometimes I’ve criticized Telltale games for being too narrative-heavy at the expense of action. “Take Us Back” suffers from no such problems, with a structure that feels like one white-knuckle action sequence after another. While certainly still not close to a typical action game in its level of interactivity, there’s still lots of fun zombie – and people – killing via bows, axes and other weapons that will keep you on your toes in a way that previous episodes in this franchise have not approached. Maybe it’s the inevitable outcome of a long narrative arc such as this — to paraphrase Churchill, after a long series of choices we are now in the stage of consequences.
Choose Your Own Adventure
I actually could have done with a little bit more narrative depth in this episode, to be honest. A good example is the subplot of James, the brooding idealist with the audacious optimism to believe that the zombies still possess some humanity. There was an intriguing, almost philosophical element to his narrative thread that seemed to hint at a new and interesting direction for the series beyond mindless walker-slaying. But in “Take Us Back,” all of that is essentially thrown away with what feels like a rushed final encounter. It was as if the writers were saying “well, this was a neat idea but we just didn’t have the time to properly develop it. Sorry folks.” If nothing else, here’s hoping that James or his ilk can be properly explored in a future WD series of some kind.
Speaking of consequences, that diminutive personification of Clem’s choices this season, AJ, moves to the fore and all of the personality-molding Clem has been doing finally bears fruit. You’ll have to make what is probably the biggest choice of the season, to let AJ decide his actions for himself or not. All of Clem’s implicit and explicit parenting is now put to the test as we find out what AJ has learned from her examples – has Clem created a little sociopath, dead inside to all the relentless killing he’s seen and done? Or will he be mature enough to have learned the right lessons? It’s a satisfying end to what was an ambitious long-term project by the series’ writers this season. We’re also given the first chance to directly control AJ in one sequence, which also feels like a significant passing-the-torch milestone.
I’m not crying. You’re crying.
But oh, the feels. “Take Us Back,” especially at the end, hit me with an emotional gut-punch I haven’t felt since the end of Season 1, and if you’ve been playing along up till now, I think you can guess why. It’s not schmaltzy, and the writers actually show a lot of restraint in their presentation – maybe too much restraint, as the final impact is blunted by a quick cut to a rather anticlimactic closing scene. But it felt like Clementine, the true hero of the entire series, was given her proper due. And while officially this is it for the series, it does smartly leave at least the possibility of some form of continuation if the writers ever wish to resurrect it.
Reviewing The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 4 “Take Us Back” is about more than one episode – this review is really about the entire season (even the entire series) and how well Skybound Entertainment has finished it off. In that respect, it’s a success. Clem’s arc is completed with dignity, and in a way that fits nicely with the entire story right back to Season 1. If you’ve been playing the series all along up until now, it goes without saying that you should play it to the end, and the good news is that when you do you won’t be disappointed. And of course, unless you’re a brain-dead zombie you know what’s coming and you know that you better be prepared for feels by the bucketload.
** A Nintendo Switch game code was provided by the publisher **
- Emotionally powerful
- Lots of action
- Satisfying ending to the series
- Could have more story