Game Review | The Walking Dead | Season 1, Episode 2 | "Starved for Help"
Episode Summary: After having secured a motel, Lee saves a young man named Ben Paul, and the other survivors run low on food, and decide to take an offer made by the St. Johns, a family who own a nearby dairy farm. They come to learn the St. Johns may not be what they seem. (Wikipedia)
Going through this season again, I left it quite a while between this episode and the first, so I completely forgot what was going to happen in “Hungry for Help”, although quickly reminded once Danny and Andy St John, two of the three main antagonists of the episode, show up offering to trade food for and gas Lee and the others have stored at the Motor Inn.
I think the reason that I like this episode so much is that the antagonists are so unquestionably evil, that it makes the resolution of the plot that much more cathartic compared to the general threat of the Walkers or the constant in-fighting in the group – especially between Lilly and Kenny.
It’s not as if the story is told especially brilliantly, as it’s pretty obvious from near the beginning that St Johns are hiding something unsavoury and whatever their secret is will provide the main thrust of the episode. Even so, it’s still plenty of fun to see events unfold even if the characters are sometimes frustratingly slow on the uptake.
One thing that really helps is the depiction of some truly horrific scenes. Again, the Walkers seem like a generic background threat intrinsic to the setting. However, when you discover the blood-soaked room and all the cutting tools within, or when you find Mark (a new character who is introduced this episode solely to be killed off) after his legs have been removed by the St Johns to feed to the Motor Inn group, it actually feels like something terrible and horrific has happened.
This is probably due to the fact that the horrors being committed are human-on-human, which lends some realism to events that reanimated corpses will never be able to achieve. Funny how it’s always the worst of humanity who survive apocalypses in fiction, isn’t it?
Speaking of the worst people, the Motor Inn group have their very own representatives in Kenny, Lilly and Larry. It does get repetitive just how often arguments between Lilly and Kenny come up, and you really do just get sick of it. Both of them are selfish pricks who believe that their way is the only way to things, but they just end up sounding like children stamping their feet and yelling at each other.
All of which makes it funny that Clementine is still one of the best characters and also one of the most mature, despite only being eight years old. It’s also worth noting that there are a couple of looks from Duck that make it clear he’s picking up more than he’s letting on too, but is simply less willing than Clem to play an active part while he’s got his parents around to do it for him.
The difference in character between Clem and the far more childish and immature 'adults' does lead to some cognitive dissonance though, like feeling more upset that a little girl lost her hat than a when group character loses their life after Kenny kills a dying Larry. "Clem’s lost her hat? Damn it, I hope I can find it soon to make her feel better." "Oh no, Larry’s dead? Good, he was an annoying pain the neck. To hell with him."
That might sound harsh, but you’re never given any reason to like Larry at all. You can’t even say that his protectiveness of his daughter is a plus, but she’s nearly as big an aggravation as he is! Way to go raising that barely-human, self-centred, power-hungry nutjob, psycho dad!
Ahem. Anyway, the St John farm does make a nice change of scenery with a lot of open spaces and bright colours that are a pretty significant change for the series, even if shit does go sideways in the most colossal fashion later on. Unfortunately, we’re headed back to drearyland next time…
"Starved for Help" is a great episode with some great villains, while still taking advantage of the setting to remind you what's really at stake. It's certainly one of the best second episodes from Telltale, actually following through on the set-up from "A New Day" and adding to it.