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Why The Walking Dead: Season 3 should continue with Clementine’s story

With the end of the second season of the Telltale Games imagined Walking Dead adventure game coming to an end, the future of the protagonist, Clementine, is in doubt. I have written a compiled a 6-point list as to why the game should opt to continue with her.

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In 2012 Telltale Games released their imagination of the well-known comic book series The Walking Dead in the form of a point and click adventure game, which has since gone onto become their most acclaimed and popular work to date. The first season saw the player take the role of Lee Everett and entrusted them with not only the safety but role model duty of an 8-year-old girl, Clementine, through a number of moral conundrums and dangerous situations. Players quickly came to adore both characters for their personalities and the close relationship that they formed, Clementine in particular due to her quick wit, innocence and sweet nature – a complete juxtaposition to the setting of the apocalyptic world that the game is set in.

Season 2 saw the game continue with a slightly older Clementine as the main protagonist, while still managing to retain the feeling of vulnerability as a little girl lost in a flesh-eating zombie wasteland. Despite this players were able to thrive as Clementine facing the harshness of the world, making difficult decisions and toughing it out as a survivor with new companions or against enemies taking advantage of the new lawless world.

The end of season 2 saw Clementine faced with a tough but unavoidable choice; shoot Kenny or save Jane, an option which has resulted in contentious discussions between fans about the "right" decision. In the build-up to this final episode Telltale Games promoted the slogan "Who Will You Become?" and a #MyClementine hashtag, indicating the weight of this choice and possibly even an end to the story of Clementine. Personally I think it would be a mistake not to carry on as Clementine as the main protagonist at least one more time considering that there is so much more of her story to be told, so I have made this list of reasons to argue this case.

6. It makes sense

Both series of The Walking Dead have been based around Clementine, in the first series she was the most cherished member of the group by Lee in particular who went above and beyond to ensure her safety and in the second series she is the clear centrepiece. It would only make sense for the third series to continue with her journey and would feel slightly alien for the story to focus on anyone other than her. Although we are given fairly open interpretations as to Clementine's future with all of the possible series 2 endings, her story is by no means complete and the fate of the baby is something that definitely feels like it needs a resolution to it.

In the case of loose-ends it would only make sense to play as Clementine; what if Lilly, Christa, Bonnie, Mike or Arvo were to return? As a player we would hold strong opinions about all of these characters due to past incidents, but it would only make sense for the protagonist to hold these views if they were Clementine as she would be the only one other than Jane and Kenny to have had these experiences. It would be a wasted opportunity should these characters not appear again and meeting them as a new protagonist would ruin the immersion for the player, who would "know" these characters but be restricted by the new set of parameters.

5. Popularity

This one is a fairly straight-forward point; probably tied with Lee, Clementine is the most popular character in the game. It’s not just the blend of her visuals and voice acting making her as cute as button; her humour, intelligence and toughness have all made her the lovable character she has become in the minds of the players.

This adoration would surely help Telltale Games in the hype of series 3, the announcement that they would continue with her story (even if this was to be the final one involving her) would generate substantially more buzz and anticipation for the release than anything else they could do in regards to a new series.

4. It could work

Many have speculated that the manner in which series 2 ended means a continuation would be too difficult to do – even impossible. While there is an element of this which makes sense, it is also possible that they can continue on from where they left-off regardless of what happened. Granted that with Kenny you end-up in Wellington, Howe’s with Jane or an undetermined location if alone or if you refuse Wellington, but there would be nothing preventing you from beginning the game with your respective corresponding character and becoming separated resulting in a “reset”.

Aside from the inevitable inclusion of new characters and companions there is enough baggage and unresolved issues from the previous series to be explored in a new set of episodes; what does Clementine think of her choice in the finale? Will she find Bonnie, Mike or Arvo? Does she want revenge on them? Will she be reconciled with Kenny/Jane? What will become of AJ? What is Wellington like? These questions just scratch the surface of what could be done in a third series.

3. Poetic meaning

Virtually everyone from the first and second series is dead or gone and Clementine is the only survivor, a powerful message that all the good is not completely gone from the world, she acts as a symbol that all the death and suffering incurred by everyone else was not completely in vain. Her continued survival is Lee’s wish actualised, one which he literally sacrificed his life for. Not to mention the fact that having grown-up dealing with walkers she and others like her will be key in the survival and perseverance of the human race.

Clementine can be to AJ what Lee was to her, or even emulate her father with the Wellington ending and pass down Kenny’s cap. The example set by Lee is something that does continue through to Clementine taking care of AJ – in a world where humans are being transformed into such monsters “families” are the people you are loyal to, care for and trust regardless of bloodline.

2. A fitting finale

Given the success of the first series it’s no surprise that the second series was always going to struggle and despite the dramatic, heart-wrenching ending it did fail live up to the quality of the first – which isn’t necessarily as much of a gibe at the second series as it is a compliment to the first. A vocal proportion of the players seemed to believe that many of the characters in the second series were lacklustre or even dislikeable. Another complaint would be the endings themselves – Jane’s in particular where Clementine and AJ return with her to Howe’s which ended-up being rather dull and anti-climactic (regardless of whether you thought you chose the right person), especially when compared to the ending with Kenny at Wellington. But even these endings involving Clementine entering Wellington or leaving with Kenny are rather open ended and don’t seem to inspire confidence or provide the player with closure – leaving with Kenny seems foolhardy and Wellington is a complete unknown, particularly considering the “haven” Carver’s camp was represented as in 400 Days.

As mentioned in the introduction to this piece the “Who Will You Become?” theme that Telltale Games used in promotion for the final episode of series 2 wasn’t fully represented. The end choice itself – while being a moral problem – wasn’t substantial to judge who Clementine may or may not have become and this is a topic that could be fully delved into given another season. One final adventure with Clementine followed by a fitting farewell to the character would be a great remedy for some of the unsatisfying endings featured at the end of series 2, and would give us a chance to close the chapter on Clementine’s story on a high if it was really the direction they wanted to take from there.

1. Clementine is the ultimate antithesis of a “hero”

The role of females in games is a hot topic and a microcosm of a far larger debate, in an industry that is still wrestling with the issue of equal representation and considering that such a large proportion of past video game protagonists have been white, male adults. The character of Clementine contradicts these features in every aspect; not only is she a non-white, young female character but one where the issue of eye-candy is obviously completely irrelevant – the latter point being very significant in making her one of the more unique and converse protagonists in gaming.

Venturing somewhat beyond the confines of video gaming Clementine challenges the idea of what a “little girl” can be, especially in the context of the phrase being used as a common insult or term of belittlement. In spite of breaking the stereotypes of a conventional lead protagonist, Clementine has managed to become an immensely popular character, one which it would be so unfortunate not to take advantage of. She may be little, but as a great man once said “You're strong, Clem. You can do anything”.

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