Thoughts on Second Season TWD...
I was playing over episode 5 again and thinking of how it ended, of how i had thought at first that my actions would 'really' change the story, and then discovering that my changes were rather limited, and then seeing Lee not make it out of episode 5 at all.
That was the stunner for me of course, probably for a lot of us. I mean, there are story conventions, right? I mean, you couldn't kill Gilligan and have the Skipper and everyone go on, just like normal, could you?
At first i thought not.
And then it struck me.
This idea of who 'we' are in the game.
I mean TWD is a 'story' game, right?
Same as the show, same as the comics, same as the first season.
Which made me realize that we are the catalyst character.
We aren't Rick, Rick is cannon and like we know he has a history, and a mission. He goes through hell and at the end of the seasons he still is there, going on... he is the hero, he is not the catalyst character. We follow him around and we get to see some bad stuff, maybe even some calm and a bit of happiness here and there, not much, but a little.
But to be honest, this is the way stories have been told for a very long time. We as an audience identifying with the hero, who's journey we follow. As if it were us. For the guys, it's like, that's me, even if he's a middle aged african american history teacher, at least the gender is the same, right? Ok, so the girls playing the game don't get to be BettyLou, or pick our age, or anything else, so they have to 'really' stretch the suspension of disbelief thing. Not only are we not from Chicago, or middle aged, but we are also not male!
Ok, so games where you make your character solve alot of this, right? But if TWD was 'that' kind of game, then we'd have problems, because the guys would be raging survivalists with guns and smarts and charms and 18 gazillion health packs. :)
TWD forces us to play their storyline, because there is an emotional payoff, that i don't get when i'm playing bad*** dude with the gun and health packs.
The writers saddle me with Clementine, which appeals to my sense of 'paternalism' and so i spend the game episode after episode protecting her and worrying that the writers are going to smack me with something i really don't want to deal with, but i take heart in the history of regular episodic fiction that says "Hey, i'm the main character! I'm cool!" Thinking very smugly the farther into the season i get, that they 'can't do anything to Clem, or me, because we are like 'it', you know? :) Well, if the writers actually did something to Clem, well... they would have killed off the franchise. But they didn't. They killed 'me', the catalyst character, the one, that has all these emotions and decisions and feelings and worries and everything. And we all cried our eyes out because of it.
In a way, because we were leaving 'Clementine out there in that horrible world on her own..."
Season two is coming, the writers are probably taking a break, or in their respective writers rooms scribbling away at the next batch of episodes to tear our heart out.
Catalyst characters may be a new thing, we aren't the hero, we aren't the villan, but we get to play a little bit of both those parts. We have responsibilities that start out feeling, 'oh my god i don't want to take care of this little girl, all i wanna do is shoot something!' But the taking care of thing sorta grows on us, and pretty soon we are arguing with Larry or Kenny about what to do, because we are worried about what it means for Clementine.
So, regarding season two... if we're going to be the catalyst character, then we're not going to be clementine, which for me is a good thing. Because i rather like clem, and i want her to go on, and since TWD is all about story, then the best thing that can happen, at least story-wise, is to get immersed into these characters, one at a time over each season and get to feel their situation, their pain, their difficulty in trying to do the right thing, or the temptation to do the wrong thing... etc...
So season two i'm gonna be Archie, i'm gonna be some twenty-something kid that was in an auto accident and had my legs busted up and i'm on crutches, or maybe a wheel chair, and i lost my girlfriend and my parents, I got out of Savannah barely. Clem won't be my responsibility this time, someone, maybe a girl this time, will take her in and take care of her, and my responsibility will be, 'do i do the right thing, or the wrong thing this time?' because you see, i didn't just lose my girlfriend and my parents, when all heck hit the fan, i bailed out the window, with them screaming for help behind me, asking me to help them, but you see... i was scared, and i was maybe a little bit selfish and now i got a big dose of feeling the guilts because of it.
So i watch as Tina takes care of Clem, and maybe George helps me through the alley ways when we're running, because after all, i'm on crutches and i get saved a couple of times, and it makes me think that some of these people here are way better than me. They came back for me, they helped me out, they saved my life. I'd be just so much dead walking meat if they hadn't helped me. And that weighs on me episode to episode...
Maybe at the end of season two, i get to make a decision, you know, an unselfish one, maybe i get to save Tina and Clem, or Reggie that save my life half a dozen times as we went along. Maybe i get to help them out this time and make the sacrifice, and go out as a hero, at least for once in my short fictional and catalytic character life.
In season three, maybe me the player is brought back as a middle aged woman, or maybe a thirty-something woman, who had a hard life to begin with, who had to... well... shall we say fend for herself, that i walked the streets and smiled and did what i had to do to keep the lights on and milk in the refrigerator. And i had feelings, real feelings. and I'm not the one taking care of Clementine, maybe Tina is still there and doing fine... but maybe there is some underlying inner strength that i get to pass along before the end of the season?
So you see, being the hero, isn't always what its cracked up to be. I mean, sure i get to kick *** and carry a gun and be a bad*** dude, but that kind of character in that kind of story really doesn't reach into your guts and yank you around, you know? If you want some emotional depth, some worry and angst and genuine, really, really thoughts, saying... "what the heck is gonna happen here?" then you gotta go with the catalyst character. You get to crawl into their skin and feel their feelings and deals with their pluses and minuses and even get to not make it, sometimes. Because those kinds of things teach us something, and make us feel things, that the gun toting hero's usually don't get to tell.
It's actually kind of cool i think. And i'm looking forward to seeing who I'll be come the new season, and what kinds of things the writers have up their sleeves. As long as I still get to make some decisions, still get to play some of the hard parts and difficult choices, to be a little bit good sometimes and maybe a little bad here and there. And just you know... experience the whole thing.
That is what it's all about anyway, right? The story.