The phrase "the lady or the tiger" comes from a famous allegorical short story of the same name. Wikipedia has a short synopsis of it here
, which will make some of my points below clearer.
I think there are many the similarities between that story and TWD — particularly the ending. What does Clementine choose to do? Lee/the player have spent the entire game instructing her, either directly or by example, in how to behave in the harsh world she's now in.
Will she make the right choice? Is
there a right choice? At this point between seasons, there isn't. Just as in TLoTT, it's up to the audience to determine what happens next. The same goes for Kenny, but in a less layered fashion.
And I think that's how it should stay.
Ambiguity is pretty unpopular with American audiences. For a good example consider the backlash over the last scene of "The Sopranos."
Short version: (Tony was killed in front of his family and never saw it coming, just like the audience didn't.
) Even though clues as to what definitively happened are all over the place
, the fact that it wasn't explicitly stated and shown created a lot of confusion, anger and resentment amongst viewers immediately after it aired
. Luckily many people eventually got over it and now recognize it for the courageous artistic choice it was.
So I think if TTG continues Clementine's story in S2 it will undermine S1 as a single complete work. Like TLoTT, the theme of TWD is choice in the face of uncertainty. To know what the outcome is ruins the work's ability to evoke that feeling of teetering on the edge of a precipice. The game worked so hard to create that feeling and to use it to manipulate audience emotions that I think releasing the tension of not knowing would be doing the story a disservice. As the central emotion, I think that's the one we should be left with.
To know who those figures on the hill are would be like knowing why the Mona Lisa smiles, or how a magic trick works. The answer might be clever, interesting, or even impressive, but it will never be as compelling as not knowing. It's the mystery and feeling of uncertainty which makes the ending so powerful.
Besides, there are only three things that can happen anyway.
- She's rescued and survives. Not only is this counter to the property's standard of "no one is safe," it can't be conclusive because the story of that world doesn't skip ahead by decades.
- She dies. This one sucks for the obvious reason that it means that all the player's/Lee's effort was for nothing.
- The cycle starts all over again with another person guarding her. This sucks because: We've already played that story; It turns Lee into just her first surrogate parent; It basically turns Clem into a football that the player must carry to the end of the current narrative. As much as I loved that fictional little girl I want to play TWD, not "Babysitter vs. Zombies 2."
If I was forced by TTG to decide what happened to Clem, I'm not sure what I would pick. But whatever I decided could never be as emotionally powerful as the feeling of not knowing.
So I hope the developers consider this as a serious option.
But if they do go this route, I hope they let the players know up front that that's what they're doing and why. I think modern audiences can understand things like that. People are increasingly genre savvy and comfortable with analyzing works while still enjoying them. Once the realm of creators, critics, and obsessive fans, I think more people can now take things like authorial intent into account when reflecting on works of art.