[Note – Though there wont be any spoilers for the current episode in the review, I will probably completely ruin the last one. Maybe. Well, in any case…you have been waaarrnnnned!]
For me, the best moments of In Too Deep were the scenes in which it delved into Michonne’s psyche and motivations. The ones where it alluded to her past trauma in brief and poignant moments without overdoing it. It revealed a great deal about her as a person and a character very quickly, and with a great deal of finesse.
However, Give No Shelter seems to mostly content itself with Michonne simply reacting to what’s happening. There’s a brief respite in the middle where you get to learn more about Sam (and possibly bond with the game’s tertiary characters a bit), but it was all too brief and ultimately felt like a less-engaging reread of similar scenes with Lee and Clem.
To be honest, I’m having a hard time actually giving a toss about anyone other than Michonne here. No one seems to hang around long enough to have any real impact. By the end of the episode, I felt a little sorry for Sam, but that was mostly down to her being the latest victim of Telltale’s obsession with DIY surgery which, let’s not forget, was already done to death in Season 2.
Perhaps it’s the sheer hopelessness of the setting. The grim nature of The Walking Dead universe, and the fact that any character can assuredly die at any moment (except for Michonne in this case, otherwise how would she end up back with Rick in the comics?) can wear you down after a while to the point where nothing really surprises you anymore, and characters are just so much walking, talking meat. Maybe I’m suffering from Walking Dead fatigue, but it’s starting to feel a little too formulaic for me. It would actually be shocking if something positive just happened without something awful to balance it out.
We’re presented here with a series of horror tropes, and some of the dialogue is well-written, but, with only the lead character being even vaguely compelling, Give No Shelter cements one fact in place: this is Michonne’s story -sadly, to the detriment of every other character. Thankfully, Samira Wiley’s flawless performance once again helps to carry the episode despite the story not going anywhere particularly interesting.
Once again, Shelter’s best moments are flashbacks, which mostly confirm a lot of what we guessed had happened in In Too Deep. And they still leave you with enough questions about what actually happened to Michonne when the whole nightmare kicked off that you want to know more. There’s rarely a dull moment in the episode, no matter how you feel about the characters, and it is well-paced. There were a couple of genuinely tense scenes, one that made me feel more than a little squeamish.
In a bog-standard Telltale series comprising five or more episodes, there’s room for slower episodes to flesh out the cast a bit more, and in that framework, Give No Shelter would work just fine. However, in the confines of a three-episode miniseries in which there is just one episode left, it really should have covered more ground. And if there is room for a whole episode of filler, it begs the question of why they’d bother in the first place. The wider cast feels under-nourished with the antagonists in particular just a tad too cartoonishly evil and obvious.
Despite this, I still believe the building blocks have been put in place for suitably explosive finale.