Clementine’s fascinating character arc continues down a dark hole, but this episode truly belongs to actor Michael Madsen and his character Carver, a villain with a quiet, terrifying menace. Like Negan and The Governor in The Walking Dead comics, he will have major, memorable ramifications on Clementine and her crew. Madsen is an actor who’s been known to chew through scenery, but in “A House Divided” his subdued performance as Carver is superb. He’s calm, calculated, and equally terrifying whether he’s talking to a little girl or torturing a man. Control is his endgame, not just power, and he sets the stage for a bleak future for Clementine and her group – one that should prove to be full of violent revenge and no-win decisions in the coming episodes.
Better than ever before, developer Telltale’s writing humanizes characters new and old, which makes interacting with them (and potentially hurting them) all the more heartwrenching.
“A House Divided” may be the biggest episode of The Walking Dead yet, both in terms of the ground covered and the variables you’ll encounter along the way. Conversations make up the majority of the interactive story, and they splinter off in wildly different directions depending on who’s alive to have them and how you treat others. You may not see certain settings, have entire conversations, or interact with certain people depending on where you take Clementine by the end of the episode’s five-day stretch.
On her journey north to find safety and a missing friend, Clementine also ends up in frantic fights that are among the best action sequences Telltale has ever created. I felt my heart furiously punching against my chest after searching for a weapon, killing a zombie, and trying to save someone from falling off a bridge. Tension during button-mashy fight scenes is rare, and nobody’s better at it than this team.
It’s great to see immediate, important shifts like this instead of wondering when that one specific dialogue choice will come back to help or hurt me. For the first time playing The Walking Dead, I absolutely had to rewind and see how else a scene played out. I did this four times, and each time I came out the other side hurting from the hard-hitting results of my actions. Amid the significant, scarring events, the writing here is exceptionally human. A chilling and introspective speech about regret, family, and letting go stands out as one of the franchise’s strongest character moments.
“A House Divided” also achieves a great deal in what it doesn’t say. It implies and hints at many things that pay off in surprising ways. Some moments made me smile, others broke my heart. It also touches on religion, homosexuality, and tolerance with grace, once more lending credible weight to The Walking Dead’s growing cast of complex, endearing characters.
- +Tense action scenes
- +Heavy choices
- +Superb script
- +Terrifying villain
- +Worth replaying