Warning: Spoilers for “Thicker Than Water” and previous episodes of Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” follow.
Up until this episode, season three of Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” has not felt like it has been quite on the same level as its predecessors. The first three episodes were all fine, but “Thicker Than Water” brings the tough decisions and heavy repercussions of prior choices that the earlier two seasons both had. The episode starts off with a flashback to Javier and his brother David at batting cages years before the outbreak, as we see David’s anger build and his longing for the military once more. It does a good job at showing the tight bond the two brothers share despite their quarrels, more specifically Javier depending on how you choose the scene to play out.
Back in real-time, Javier finds himself escaping the custody of The New Frontier with the help of Gabe right after David is taken in for ‘questioning’ by Joan. The rest of the episode is spent in preparation for the group to save David from his execution, though things go awry within the group itself right before the plan takes place. One of my favorite moments from the episode is Dr. Lingard’s death, who wants to be put to sleep by either Javier or Clementine in exchange for the location of AJ. Yuri Lowenthal has done a great job at portraying the sleazy yet pitiful Dr. Lingard, and his final scene was one of the most powerful moments this season. Javier and Kate’s relationship was also taken many steps forward depending on your choice, only to have her fate left unknown after all of the chaos at the end of the episode.
Gabe has certainly not been at the top of my list for favorite characters this season, and his outburst to the group in revealing that I chose to kill Conrad did not help his situation either. From what I’ve seen online, Conrad could have lived to this current episode as a key player and though I don’t regret my decision, it’s nice to see Telltale do this as they usually just find another way to kill of the character soon after. This knowledge being revealed to Tripp also made the final choice to kill either him or Ava all the more heavier, especially since Joan does the opposite of your choosing, mine being Ava. Now that Tripp knows Javier killed his friend, chose to have him executed and gave him some faulty relationship advice with Eleanor, it will be interesting to see how the two’s relationship will play out in the finale.
This episode also might have been the funniest of the season, my favorite moment being Javier awkwardly explaining to Clementine what her bleeding means and how it signifies her growing up. I also want to commend who ever wrote the dialogue options for this episode, more specifically the ones pointed towards at Gabe and his cocky attitude this episode. Humor has usually been scarce all three seasons but when its there, it really works well; example being Kenny hinting at Lee being able to pick a lock because he’s ‘urban’ back in season one.
While this has been my favorite episode of the season thus far, I noticed a plot hole that didn’t detract from my love of the episode significantly but still was stuck in my mind afterwards. Eleanor betrays the group by alerting Joan to their plan in exchange for sanctuary, yet she still acts surprised when I choose for Tripp to die, even though it was her fault he was there in the first place. Maybe she didn’t know what Joan had planned, but if you care about him you certainly don’t rat him out to the lady you know is crazy.
Overall the few powerful moments and exciting climax are what really push this episode to the top. “Thicker Than Water” also expands on Javier’s close relationships with Kate and his brother David, making the choice to move ahead in Javier’s relationship with Kate all the more difficult. The episode definitely keeps up the trend of cliffhangers, leaving Kate’s fate up in the air and the horde breaking into the settlement will make the wait for the season finale all the more difficult.