By Marty Mulrooney
From The Gallows is the fifth and final episode of A New Frontier, the third season of Telltale Games’ critically acclaimed episodic adventure game The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series. With Richmond under attack and zombies roaming the streets, Javier must face the walking dead – and his brother – head on.
Episode 5 begins directly where Episode 4 left off, with Kate in serious trouble and Richmond’s outer wall compromised. Although zombies still pose a threat in this universe (at least when moving in herds), it’s Javier’s brother David (Alex Hernandez) that has worried players the most throughout Season 3. Hernandez does a great job in From The Gallows peeling back the layers of his character to reveal a man who is fully aware of his faults and wants to change… but can’t.
David is a volatile man who puts being a solider above being a father, husband or brother. The episode’s key flashback scene shows the brothers with their father and adds an extra sense of gravitas to their inevitable confrontation in the present. Javier’s father asks him to promise something important (while David is out of earshot fetching beers) and each player’s decision during this moment will have serious emotional repercussions throughout the final episode.
Another aspect of Episode 5 that works really well is the idea of responsibility. It’s easy to be swept along by the main characters and see everyone else as background noise. Yet the terrible battle at the end of Episode 4 has left Richmond in dire straits and put many innocent lives in danger. What responsibility does Javier have to look after this settlement and make things right?
It’s impossible to discuss the remaining story beats without giving too much away, but it does feel like Telltale has tried to make decisions from previous episodes really matter. This reviewer declared his love for Kate in the last episode, but still tried to make things right with his brother during the finale. Of course, nothing ever goes to plan and the decisions in From The Gallows are even more stark and agonising than usual.
Clementine is back in full force for the final episode and it’s great fun seeing her in action. Her relationship with Javier has developed naturally throughout the course of the season and it always feels believable that she would have his back and put her own neck on the line for him. The best parts of this episode – like all episodes of the third season – are when Javier (Jeff Schine) and Clementine (Melissa Hutchison) stop for a moment to simply talk.
If there is one complaint to be made about Episode 5 (besides its length being a tad on the short side), it’s that everything seems destined to wrap up fairly neatly. Javier is a wonderful protagonist and it’s easy to see why Clementine has grown to truly care about him. It would be a real shame if Javier became a one-season wonder who never returned in the future. It certainly seems like Telltale will let players take control of Clementine again in the next season. However, those looking for closure when it comes to A.J. will have a long wait ahead of them.
From The Gallows is a great finale that caps off an enjoyable third season of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the previous two seasons, but Javier’s personal journey has been well worth taking. Not all players will experience it, but there is one moment in the final episode where violence can be shunned to instead merely say the words “I love you”. It’s moments like this that enable The Walking Dead to become more than its pulpy inspirations. Season 4 will be greatly anticipated as always. Let’s just hope Javier – the real triumph of Season 3 – returns alongside Clementine, baseball bat in hand.
8 OUT OF 10