Warning: contains spoilers for previous episodes of the Walking Dead Season Two.
Well, kiddies, after the shocking conclusion of episode three, I was kind of apprehensive about loading up the fourth part of season two, grimly dubbed ‘Amid The Ruins’. That third installment was brilliantly tense and a welcome change of pace for the series, but now it seems like the group is back out in the wild. Would episode four just be another slog of zombie-dodging and Quicktime events?
Well, yes and no. You do spend an awful lot of the episode fighting, running away from and distracting the shuffling undead, but this time the stakes have been raised with an impending childbirth. And as if that wasn’t enough high drama, there’s also the small factor of our hapless band of survivors rapidly falling apart.
Walking Dead has always been about human relationships, and how ordinary people cope when thrust into an extraordinary situation, and never has that theme been more apparent than in Amid The Ruins. These characters have been through a lot in the short time we’ve known them, losing loved ones and dealing with some serious personal issues, and things come to a serious boil in this penultimate instalment.
Newcomer Jane is the mirror shining on Clem’s new ‘family’, and as a loner who’s got her own tragic explanatory backstory, she’s perfectly placed to notice the cracks shearing through the already-fractured group. Meanwhile, Kenny has truly flipped his lid and appears to be on the verge of a Bobby DeNiro sized meltdown. And of course, it’s down to the steely-nerved Clem to try and talk him back to reality.
Without spoiling the events of The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Amid the Ruins, there’s plenty of action scenes and a couple of moral dilemmas to battle through, which seem to have pretty enormous consequences. But as with the rest of the Walking Dead season, it soon becomes all too apparent that your choices don’t actually have much effect on the eventual outcome. This is the one true weakness of the series, which promises an open experience filled with all kinds of tough choices, but in the end simply doesn’t deliver.
That said, this is another nail-biting instalment that kept us hooked for its 90-minute play time (we completed it in one go, as with the other episodes in Walking Dead Season Two). We found our allegiances changing throughout, which kept us constantly on our toes, and the cliffhanger ending promises a bloody climax come part five.