Goon Review: The Walking Dead – A New Frontier Episode 5 – From the Gallows

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

Well, it’s been a long journey, but it’s finally come to end. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier wraps up in its final episode, From The Gallows, and along the way we’ve gotten to know the new protagonist, Javi, quite well. We’ve watched his relationships take shape with all the characters and if you’re like me, I chose for Javi to be caring and thoughtful towards others, especially those in his group. He’s been guiding Gabe on the right path as a father figure, even though for the most part, Gabe has been the prototypical angsty, brooding teenager with daddy issues. By this point, Gabe has actually matured past the point of annoying and is making some wise decisions and most importantly, sticking up for himself against David. I gotta hand it to my parenting skills.

From The Gallows is probably the most emotional and strongest episode of the game or at the very least on par with the first episode, including a moment that could be more emotional than Mariana’s death back in the first episode. Being the conclusion to A New Frontier, while not having the strongest plot in the series, does wrap things up in a more positive light (at least in my playthrough). Yes, no matter how bad things seemed to get in the faces of his adversaries, I never allowed Javi to walk down a dark path or allowed him to take revenge or act out of violence or become selfish no matter how hard he was pushed. In the event of an apocalypse, there needs to be some kind of hope, regardless of how far fetched or negative the situation may be and it was actually heart warming to see everything come together in a positive way. Usually, The Walking Dead games end on grim, depressing notes, but with A New Frontier there was a lot of hope and happiness. This episode isn’t without its choices, those moments you know aren’t going to end well or even having to make a decision between one thing or another, but for the most part, you’ll get the ending you that you set out to get.

For me, I just wanted to stop seeing cartoonishly portrayed power struggles, people versus people in a zombie apocalypse. It’s like all of a sudden during a catastrophe, people degrade to being brainless cavemen and begin hitting each other over the head with clubs for ownership of food and women. I dunno, maybe that’s accurate once they don’t have access to their Twitter accounts. Anyway, shit had really hit the fan in the previous episode if you recall. Tripp (or Ava depending on your decision) just got executed, Kate ran the truck into the wall which then caused Richmond to become overrun with zombies and Joan’s crew were in a firefight with Javi and his people. This makes an excellent way to open the episode, right in the middle of the action. Unfortunately, it’s about the only action in From The Gallows, but it’s memorable and manages to still be intense. Hell, it even manages to do an ol’ swaperoo. Remember how Kate ran that truck into the wall, as I just mentioned? Well, David and Javi spot a walker in the same clothes and are in total disbelief when all of a sudden, Kate comes out of nowhere and kills it. Gotcha! I was actually glad to see Kate alive, because even though they had finally admitted their feelings for each other and to tell David, they hadn’t yet and so I didn’t feel like that situation was yet a closed book.

The opportunity to tell David comes later, but for now our characters have to deal with Richmond being completely overrun with zombies. Sadly, that’s also the weakest part of this episode; whether or not to save Richmond or to bail. That’s primarily the focus here and the reason it doesn’t really work on an emotional level is because we don’t give a rat’s fuzzy ass (that’s something I heard my dad say when I was a kid when he was yelling at me and I started laughing) about anyone from Richmond. Everyone who we’ve encountered from there has been a total dickhead or a murderous sumbitch, so the actually feeling of wanting to save those people just isn’t there, but you know Javi. He’s the beacon of light in this mess or whatever, so of course my purpose is going to help these people. David, however, feels that they should all leave and I actually agreed with his reasoning. He has his family back, he’s now amended things with Clem, so why keep everyone at risk and just move on?

This also comes after Ava (if she’s still alive in your game) supposedly meets her end. They brush past it likes it’s nothing that I thought I should bring it up, because I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel or what the game wanted me to take from it. After trying to cross a chasm and helping Javi, she’s pulled down by a zombie, but we never see her fall all the way or hit bottom. Everyone just goes, “aw, man… oh, well,” and moves on. She was such a cool character and for her to exit in such an underwhelming way, I realized she was really a missed opportunity. Something could’ve really been developed with her character, but I’ll never know.

 

This is where the game’s only real, but big choice comes in. This is where the big divide in your ending will be and we see who you’ve really become. You can flee with David or stay with Kate. Kate believes they should stay and help everyone, help clear out the zombies and seeing that I’ve been shaping Javi to be a decent person and to guide others to do the same, I agreed with her and the time finally came; the time to tell David about their feelings.Seeing as how he’s a brash and angry man, he didn’t take the news to well and begins to beat the shit out of Javi, but I, as Javi, made a promise that I would be the best man and take care of people. This is arguably the most emotional scene ever since we saw Mariana get shot in the head as you can continuously tell David that you love him no matter what as he continues to pummel you. Or you can fight back. Your choice. At the end, he takes off with Gabe and Clementine agrees to chase after them while you head back with Kate to save Richmond. That involves a bulldozer and pressing a random button to shoot zombies. It’s not very exciting.

And then literally like a knight in shining armor on a horse, Jesus reappears with his crew, cutting off the heads of zombies and helping the people of Richmond. A guy with long hair and a beard that sounds like Christian Slater doing an impression of Jack Nicholson coming back to save the people… seems like a pretty thin allegory. Not much really happens after that. Not that the episode wanders off or dwindles away, but at this point I guess everything that needed to said has been said. Final respects are paid, we catch up with the survivors in your group (including Conrad, who regardless of being shot in the head during the second episode seems to have made peace with the loss of his loved one). For me, it was nice to see Kate and Javi as a family with Gabe and plans to have another. They are finally feeling at home for the first time in a long time and are able to move on, because of your guidance. While not the strongest episode, it has very strong moments and seeing everything pay off was totally worth it. I thought the second season of The Walking Dead was alright, but I felt it fell into the the trap of pandering to the audience, aping the TV show and giving its audience exactly what they want and Michonne was just pointless and boring, so to have A New Frontier be entertaining, pretty emotional and have characters you cared about for the first time since the first season makes the game totally worth playing.

With Clem riding off into the sunset on her own mission, I can only hope she finds what she’s been looking for, but more importantly is able to finally able to settle down someplace and feel at home. I think we’ve seen the last of Javi, I feel like his story has already been told and things wrapped up rather nicely for him (well, as nice as they can in this situation). Another season (and I believe final) has been announced and I really, really hope that everything works out for poor Clementine. But I guess that’s up to me.