The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2 isn’t only about surviving. A gay couple plays a vital role in the game’s second episode, and teaches young protagonist Clementine about the value of hope and forgiveness in a world that seems to be lacking in both.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead for Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 2 A House Divided
When I put down the first installment of The Walking Dead by Telltale Games back in 2012, I had myself a good cry. It was one of many I experienced while playing the thrilling and emotionally charged game. Watching Lee and Clementine forge a bond, as they fought day by day to survive, moved me in a way that was unexpected and ultimately satisfying. Season Two of the game debuted in December and brought with it a new protagonist. Well, not exactly new. You play as Clementine, now 11 years old and hardened by her experiences of being a tween in a post-Apocalypse world. Without Lee to guide her, young Clementine is adrift. Playing a character whose toughness is offset by her extreme vulnerability, both physically and emotionally, changes the game completely. When playing as Lee, you could rely on certain instincts and adult experiences to help you out of a jam. For Clementine the world is an infinitely scary place. She adapts however, and uses the skills she has acquired to become an asset to the people and groups she meets along the way. As a child, Clementine has much more to lose when it comes to trusting others.
In The Walking Dead Season Two, the people she meets are not nearly as lovable or trustworthy of a lot as those she knew in Season One. However, in episode two, (released on March 4th) there is one character that shows Clementine great kindness and tries to inspire hope in her hopeless world. His name is Walter. Walter’s group takes in Clementine and her people, and for a few blissful hours actually have a chance to breathe. Walter is a former teacher, the group’s cook, and overall foundation of the group. He also happens to be gay and in a long-term partnership with another character, Matthew.
Late in the episode, after a deadly truth is discovered and revealed by Clementine, Walter and Clementine’s group are forced to deal with the consequences. When a rival group tries to muscle in, Walter proves how much heart and mercy he truly has to offer. This is especially good, considering a good dose of heart is what Season Two is lacking.
Most of the people Clementine interacts with are frankly, pretty awful. Even the familiar and once trusted characters she deals with are unreliable at best. Clementine’s interactions with Matthew are limited, but he extends kindness to her and her group. Walter and Matthew have leaned on each other through this harrowing existence since the walkers took over. The love between the two men is evident in the way Walter gushes about Matthew. This makes their eventual tragedy even more poignant.
In a cast of fairly forgettable supporting characters, Walter stands out. The fact that he and Matthew are gay is not an issue in the least, especially not to Clementine. She’s simply grateful to find an adult she can trust. Walter even tells her has plans to teach her about the literary greats. It’s easy to forget that Clementine is a child because of the very grown up decisions that she is forced to make. Having Walter around adds a dimension to Clementine’s story that had been noticeably absent.
As a gaymer, I’m very pleased at this gentle progression into queer character acceptance. Recent hit games like Gone Home, The Last Of Us, Guild Wars 2 and now The Walking Dead 2 have included NP queer characters as vital parts of the narrative, giving queer characters a significant voice. Making the most relatable supporting character a gay man is very thoughtful decision by Telltale. It is a sign of how far gaming culture has progressed, as well as how far queer culture has become recognized by the game developers and players alike.