(Submitted by our Ho-rror Ho-mie, Mr. Andrew “Goon” Peters…Thanks, my freaky friend! 🙂 xoxo)
As I read the title for Episode 3 of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, Above the Law, I shouted “LEEEWWWW-AHHHH,” like Armand Asante as Judge Rico from the Judge Dredd movie. Anyone else? No, just me? Anyway, we last left Javi and his group at the mercy of The New Frontier so that Kate, who was just shot in the belly, could get some medical attention and who should come storming out of the gate to meet them? Javi’s brother, David, who they thought to have been dead this whole time and I’m sure he’s thought the same of them. Welp, get ready for an awkward family reunion.
Javi and David are clearly shocked to see each other alive and although David barely notices Gabe, he’s still happy to give him a hug nonetheless and is able to immediately get Kate some medical attention while Javi and the rest of the group get tossed in a cell. Looks like a happy family reunion is gonna have to wait so that the crew can basically recap the story up until this point. I found it odd that this time was just spent rehashing everything we just saw instead of moving it forward, but eventually David shows up to take Javi to meet with the other council members that will determine whether or not Javi’s group can stay and become part of The New Frontier. Hmm, a council of elder like folks that determine the greater good of the people? That never ends with deception and betrayal. I don’t foresee one of them screwing everyone over for personal gain in their own agenda…
But first, it’s time to visit Kate and it plays out about as awkward as you would think. Kate fakes pain to have a moment alone with Javi and of course David walks in at an almost opportune time. I don’t understand why they just don’t talk about it already. Kate’s feelings for Javi and her disdain for David becomes evident when she asks you to bail on this place with her and Gabe. No goodbyes, no explaining anything to David, just up and run. Your response to Kate feels like the first time in this episode that something may shape what happens later. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode feels void of this feeling.
Now that you are finally in front of the council, it’s time to see if you will fit in, but first the leaders; There’s a drug addicted doctor named Paul Lingard who is seemingly spineless, Clint the farmer who also seems spineless, then you have David (who we know) and that leaves us with Joan who is like if Roseanne Barr wanted hair like Rogue from X-Men. She’s a total ball buster and seems to have a power over the others. This becomes more predictable as this scene plays out and identifying the puppet master becomes quite easy, but Max appears to throw a monkey wrench in the situation and your rivalry comes forward. It doesn’t seem like no matter what answers you choose, the outcome is going to be the same; you aren’t allowed to stay… except for Kate and Gabe who are more than welcome, so David sends you packing and the dude doesn’t even seem to care. It was at this point I was starting to notice that there wasn’t any dire choices this episode, the choices I made don’t seem to have any weight, but we’re only about halfway through the episode, so there’s plenty of time for things to completely flip around. David isn’t completely without feeling and sends Ava out to give you a care package complete with a baseball bat and a map that has a location marked on it, so the group agrees to head there.
Along the way you run into someone who’s been missing throughout half the episode, Clementine. En route to this mystery location, Clementine explains to Javi why she hates David so much, via flashback in which you learn the fate of baby AJ as well as a council members drug abuse. Although I can see from Clementine’s point of view and understand why she hates David, you can also see that why David made the decision he made and was only looking for what was in the best interest of the group. This is something I picked up at this point is that David may not be the awful person Clementine has led us to believe. He genuinely seems to care about the people in his group and although his anger leads him to make brash decisions, he doesn’t seem deceitful. This episode rightfully focuses on David’s character and exploring it and even though at times you aren’t sure of ‘did he’ or ‘didn’t he,’ you get the feeling there is a greater evil out there, which we are about to find out.
Seeing as this episode has lacked an action sequence, one get tossed at you that is primarily just button mashing while trying to get a shudder door open. There is a bit of puzzle solving, but I wouldn’t even call it a challenge, but instead a race against a time. It’s supposed to get your heart rate moving, but by this point it’s kind of stale. Once inside the shelter after that close call, David arrives and you have a choice to open the door or not. Regardless of what you choose, it will open and once again, doesn’t seem to have any real effect. Javi and the group notice that the supplies in the shelter are from the Prescott Airfield, where you were previously attacked by The New Frontier, along with other places. David is pressed about the matter, but swears he has no knowledge of this and that’s confirmed once Max, Badger and some other thug arrive and exposition dump the hell out the plot, revealing the true culprit. Wanting some revenge for Mariana’s death, the group attacks. This is another Quick Time Event that requires a quick response seeing that even a split second too late results in your death. But if you die, no big deal, you just start right back where you left off.
The finale of the confrontation leaves you with a wounded Badger who you have the option to kill, let Conrad kill (if you didn’t kill Conrad in the previous chapter) or left him turn. I chose the latter, because fuck that scumbag. I get a feeling this may come back to bite me in the ass later, but I feel at this point, Javi really needs to be showing Gabe that murder isn’t necessary… even though we just shot that guy in the gut in self defense. Again, even though I still felt like this decision may come back around to me, at the moment it feels like it bears no weight and that’s something this episode truly lacks; the intense split decision making and the consequences. Even though the QTE’s were somewhat panic inducing, there was never a feeling if I did something incorrectly or my timing was off, it would affect the outcome of the game. In fact, it just resulted in my death in which case I was allowed to try again.
With this new information, the group forms a plan and splits up while Jesus leaves the group in what is the saddest moment thus far. He was such an interesting character and a lot about who he is or what he knows, what a damaged soul he is, is merely hinted at, but my guess is Telltale wanted to save him for a spinoff on a rainy day. Javi and David eventually confront Joan who in classic vaudeville villain style pours herself a drink and sips from it as she reveals herself to be the mastermind and her plan! I know it was supposed to be a shocking moment, but with how predictable it was mixed with how classically evil the display was, I couldn’t help but laugh.
Above the Law is so far the weakest of the episodes with no feeling of dire consequences and boring, button mashing QTE action sequences that are few and far in between. It does however pull a few punches with David’s character, making him somewhat of a believable good guy who is trying to do the right thing. This does make siding with Clementine against David this episode a little difficult, but ultimately the looming baddie Joan is about as a subtle as a Disney villain and regardless of your choices, you know you’re going to end up in the same position. That position, however, looks like it’s going to be leading to some really difficult choices. Consider this the calm before the storm.