The story remains bland, but Michonne herself and a few reveals toward the end give the series promise.
Much like the first episode, the only thing that elevates The Walking Dead: Michonne – Episode 2 above its basic plot is Michonne herself. She’s a complex survivor with intense guilt, moral ambiguity, and an unpredictability that keeps her interesting when the story is not.
Throughout episode 2, Michonne is faced with difficult, often lose-lose decisions that kept the routine people-are-worse-than-walkers theme from getting overly stale. My first major decision involved either staying with her friend Pete and killing innocent people or letting him go and taking more of a pacifist approach, but it’s of course not that easy. After making what I thought would be the less painful choice, I was unhappy with the consequences and rewound to try the other one… only to find it was still seriously upsetting. For the first time in the series, I acutely felt the sting of the moral difficulty inherent to surviving in that world.
But everything is completely focused on Michonne. I only cared about the other characters when my decisions directly affected them, and that was mostly passing remorse. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to get to know any of them before something potentially devastating happened. The shocking death of someone I had just met was sad because I felt like I could have prevented it (or, at least, I wanted to), but other than that guilt, he really was just some random guy.
That’s partially important, since Michonne’s guilt over the fate of her daughters deeply affects her, and I wanted to relate to that. But even the characters I did know just don’t feel fleshed out — they’re either foils to Michonne or there to further her development. Pete in particular is an idealist to the extreme, which makes him entirely predictable and boring. His presence is at least helpful as a contrast to Michonne’s more muddied sense of right and wrong, but it would have been more effective for me had Pete been more of a three-dimensional character. Leaving him behind would have been an even more difficult choice if he had something to say that wasn’t stating the obvious.
Fight choreography and walker action — including an appearance by Michonne’s signature walker strategy — were once again strong in Episode 2, but the story driving that action is still tired. However, a small detail around the middle of the episode helps to unravel the basic good-versus-evil setup a bit, which is promising for the next episode. Suddenly, not everything falls so easily into easy good and bad categories, and there’s room for the story and characters to take a more interesting turn in the finale.