Putting aside zombie fiction in general, there’s a truly impressive amount of The Walking Dead out there all on its own. On top of the comic now being in its 13th year, there are also two ongoing television shows and multiple games, a couple of which Telltale themselves developed. Right off the bat, The Walking Dead: Michonne faces the uphill task of finding a new avenue to take, some new part of the world and its characters to explore. And in most ways it manages to succeed.
In the case of just about anyone that has read or watched The Walking Dead, saying Michonne is a fan favorite just doesn’t quite sum it up. She’s mysterious, strong, uses a katana of all things, and just about reeks of awesome. Put simply, it’s not hard to see why Telltale would be on board for devoting an entire 3-episode miniseries to her. And it’s in her personal psychology that the first episode, “In Too Deep,” finds its most interesting beats.
Drawing exclusively from the comics, a fact that might leave fans of the show scratching their heads for a minute, The Walking Dead: Michonne is set in between issues 126 and 139, during a time that Michonne leaves Rick and the other survivors and joins a sailing crew. While knowing exactly when the series takes place isn’t important for the story on hand, the setting alone is more than interesting enough to provide an additional hook for fans of the comic.
For everyone else however, the only important information is presented right up front: Michonne is alone in the zombie apocalypse, and as would be the case for just about anyone, she’s not doing well. After an exceptionally well done opening sequence, any player, whether knowing the character before hand or not, is caught up to the pain and isolation that makes Michonne so interesting.
Overall, Telltale’s narrative adventure formula is unchanged, complete with dialogue choices, QTEs, tough decisions, and gaining and losing the trust of a cast of characters around you. It’s all pretty straight forward. Taking roughly an hour and a half, “In Too Deep” sees Michonne join the crew of the sailboat. While looking for another group the crew has traded with in the past, their ship is damaged and they have to scrounge nearby wrecks for parts. From there, they run into the true horrors of The Walking Dead: other people.
The story itself does its job of setting up an interesting situation and introducing potentially intriguing characters, but there’s nothing in particular that sets it apart from what fans would expect, at least not yet. Honestly, the story doesn’t spend enough time with anyone other than the most central of characters to let you get to know or really connect with them. How these side characters are handled in the remaining two episodes will be the deciding factor in whether their introductions were glossed over or not. But, as of now, it doesn’t detract from the narrative too much.
As I said before, the real draw of The Walking Dead: Michonne is the look at the dark psychology of one of the series’ most interesting characters. While more could have been done to really dive into the complex mix of strength and vulnerability, brutality and compassion, that Michonne is loved for, “In Too Deep” does enough to keep me interested in where the next horrifying turn will come from next.
In many ways, the first episode set things up and ended before anything more could come of it. As a premiere, it did its job, and did it well. But the truth is, the miniseries as a whole could still easily stagnate if it doesn’t push further than the boundaries introduced in its first episode.
This untapped potential, especially when combined with what’s now Telltale’s signature clunky engine and load screens, keeps The Walking Dead: Michonne from nailing the ecstatic highs the likes of those seen in Tales from the Borderlands. That said, with strong initial character work, an interesting setting unlike what we’ve seen before, and plenty of conflicts set up for the next episode, “In Too Deep” is worth picking up. It’s a solid opening to what has the potential to be a refreshingly unique miniseries.