Review – The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 5: From The Gallows
Coming off this season’s (and arguably the franchise’s) weakest episode, Episode 5: From the Gallows had both a low bar of success and a high set of expectations to wrap up this season on a positive note. While it stumbles in a couple of areas and feels rushed by skipping over an important plot point to essentially set up a season 4, Telltale mostly delivers a cohesive and satisfying ending to their 3rd season.
As tradition, Telltale starts us off with another flashback moment to flesh out some characters and set up a decision in the future. This flashback features Javi, David, and their father playing a game of dominoes at the dinner table. This scene is an impactful one that explores the nature of the brothers’ relationship with their father and offers the player a few decisions that can really add to Javi and David’s relationship. However the beginning of this flashback really kept pushing Javi and Davids characteristics so often it was as if Telltale thought the player wouldn’t have grasped onto that already and then even has their father outright say it. While this isn’t a huge issue I do feel like Telltale was treating me like I’ve never met these characters before and haven’t played and grown with these characters yet, even after 4 episodes.
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that this episode is going to be an action packed romp through the Walker filled city considering how Episode 4 left off. Luckily, Telltale finds a way to slow things down and get back to some intimate character interactions. With this being the finale I’ll try and keep story details to a minimum, but I will say that Telltale manages to keep the spotlight on Javi, Clem and the Garcia’s bringing all the family tension to a head when they could have just rushed through with an action packed episode to get to the end. Unlike Episode 4, the decision to slow things down in the first couple chapters largely pays off and feels important as it revisits some conversations and tensions that were previously put on hold. While Telltale wants to focus on wrapping up some story elements, they’re smart enough to not overload us with dialogue, mixing in some Walker bashing to keep things exciting.
While the writing is mostly on par with the the first 3 episodes, there are yet again some really puzzling personality changes to Gabe and David. Just when Telltale gets you on the precipice of liking these characters they throw in another curve ball. David’s felt like just another reason to push the story forward and stir up some drama, while Gabe keeps playing with our emotions with thinking he has come around to being a likable “son” to Javi. He then yet again has an outburst and proceeded cementing his place as the most annoying character this season. These random mood swings makes it really hard to care about making decisions that effect these characters.
In traditional Telltale fashion you can expect a few heart wrenching unfair decisions that will have you waiting until the last second to select your choice. Some are easier than others depending on your actions and the feelings you have towards certain characters -and CERTAIN characters previous actions- but they all still feel weighty and have you take the full allotted time to make. While even the side characters get some decent screen time and a final resolution with Javi, there are some story elements that I wish got developed more or had a more satisfying finish. This is likely due to Telltale wanting to focus on wrapping up the Garcia’s family issues and tension since that seems to be the actual plot of Season 3. But some unresolved plot points seem to have been purposely pushed aside to save for Season 4.
While the season finale proves that the focal shift from Clem to Javi and the Garcia’s was a good decision, it’s not without a few stumbles, but those few stumbles are largely overshadowed by continuing the ideas of allegiance, love, and family that Season 3 has successfully imparted. From the Gallows successfully caps A New Frontier in a mostly successful finale both by wrapping up Javi’s story and setting up a potentially intriguing Season 4.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PS4, PC, iOS, Android
Be sure to check out the entire Season 3 wrap up and review, coming soon!