Clementine (The Walking Dead)

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Clementine
The Walking Dead character
Clementine walking dead.png
Clementine, as depicted in The Walking Dead
First appearance "A New Day"
Created by Sean Vanaman
Voiced by Melissa Hutchison
Information
Occupation First-Grade student
Family Ed (father)
Diana (mother)
Lee Everett (adoptive father)
Alvin Jr. (adoptive brother)

Clementine is a character introduced as one of the main non-playable characters in Telltale Games' The Walking Dead episodic adventure video game, a spin-off of the Robert Kirkman comic of the same name. She is voiced by Melissa Hutchison and was written by several people, including Gary Whitta. The second season of the game features Clementine as the lead character, though given her extensive role in both games Clementine is the assumed main protagonist of the game series.

Clementine is a young 8-year-old girl living with her parents in an Atlanta suburb. While her parents were away, she was forced to join a group of survivors in an effort to find safety in midst of a zombie apocalypse. Through the plot, Clementine develops a strong bond with the player-protagonist Lee Everett, a former fugitive who becomes her new guardian. Being one of the first elements created for the game, Clementine was designed to act as a moral compass for the player in addition to an influence on the player's decisions, to which the player would have to reflect upon.

Clementine was considered an emotional centerpiece of the The Walking Dead game, and several journalists expressed caring for her fate in a way that few other games have been able to capture.

Concept and creation[edit]

Clementine appeared in the 2012 episode video game The Walking Dead as a main character. According to the game's creative lead Sean Vanaman, Clementine was "literally the first idea" for developing the game, with her emotional climax at the finale of the fifth episode being established before any of the game's other dialog was written.[1] The development team had considered the including of a child in a dark storyline was similar to previous story elements from Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic, but still had a difficult time of selling the concept originally.[1] They then set to use Clementine as the "moral compass" for the main player character, establishing her as a "smart, honest, and capable girl" that would reflect on choices made by the player.[1] Telltale had considered other backgrounds for Clementine, such as being from a single-parent family, or being the younger sister of the player character, but found that the pre-established emotional bond between the characters did not fit well, and instead opted to make Lee Everett her father-figure. This led to changing Clementine's race from white to African-American, as to give her the appearance of possibly being Lee's daughter to other characters.[1]

Clementine's design was based on art director Derek Sakai's own daughter. Sakai described her as having "a crazy sense of fashion", selecting beloved clothing items to wear regularly. As such, Clementine was given an iconic baseball hat that serves as her connection to her parents.[1] Sakai provided Vanaman with other advice from his fatherhood, offering that Clementine would appear smarter if she did not say as much, while still pointing out character flaws should one get out of line.[1] Much of the game focuses on changes to Clementine's appearances and personality as she comes to grips with the new reality of the zombie-infested world. At the start of the game, Clementine is wearing a clean white dress, but it becomes dirty and soiled throughout the game, "reflecting her loss of innocence", according to Sakai.[1]

Melissa Hutchison, a voice actress that had previously worked on other Telltale games, was selected to be the voice for Clementine.[1] Prior auditions were held, but Vanaman found that children could not grasp the emotion of the role while adults were not able to get the voice as they intended for the character; at one point, for lack of a suitable actress, Vanaman felt that "we were going to have to take Clementine out of the game".[1] Hutchison was able to relate to the character of Clementine, as her life mirrored that of the character, and easily fell into the role of the character during auditions, securing her as the voice for Clementine.[1]

The bond between Clementine and Lee was considered instrumental to the game by Telltale.[1] Gary Whitta described Lee's and Clementine's relationship as "emotionally authentic".[2] To build this relation, Clementine was introduced as early as possible within the first episode; the specific scene of Lee having to deal with Clementine's zombified babysitter was specifically to highlight Clementine's likability, resourcefulness, and vulnerability.[1] The writers carefully had to balance elements in this scene, as if, for example, Clementine appeared to be annoying to the player, the emotional bond would be absent and the player would likely make choices without caring about Clementine's fate.[1] Writer Jake Rodkin stated that the difficulties of writing a child character that the player wouldn't want to abandon led to serious discussion about dropping Clementine late in the development process, a week before voice recording was to start.[3] The game designer and writer Harrison G. Pink commented that the in-game decisions were not meant to be good because there couldn't be an optimal play-through. Clementine made those decisions even more difficult, since her presence forces the player to consider protecting her on another level. "It gets way more blurred when you involve Clementine," Pink said. "You have these decisions that are probably the right decisions for the group--she's watching, but then maybe she needs to understand this, but I might scare her because she'll think I'm a crazy person. There's no wrong choice, if you can justify it and it feels properly motivated to you, it's a valid choice."[4]

With the game's Season Two, Clementine becomes the main playable character, a choice that allowed them to continue the themes of the first season while introducing new characters and situations for the second. Telltale was first challenged to try to make Clementine feel like the character that the player, through making decisions as Lee, had groomed. One method this was resolved by was to create the first scenario of the game to put the player in control of Clementine's actions that have disastrous results (the death of one character and being separated from another) as to make the player felt as if they had made those choices and separating them from familiar characters. Further, they had to consider how to present Clementine as a character that could make substantial changes on the world and characters around her despite being a child.[5]

Appearances[edit]

The Walking Dead video game[edit]

Clementine is introduced in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies when the player-protagonist Lee Everett takes shelter in her suburban home in Georgia. She is revealed to be hiding from the zombies as her parents had left for Savannah some time before the spread of 'plague'. Recognizing that Clementine would remain in danger, Lee offers to take and protect her, hoping that they will be able to find her parents.

They eventually join a small group of survivors, which include Kenny, his wife Katjaa and his son Duck. After returning to Lee's hometown of Macon for supplies, they find shelter in a motel, where they spend several weeks until their supplies run low. During one outing, Lee and the other find an abandoned car loaded with fresh supplies which the group takes. They are forced out of the motel by a combined attack from scavengers and walkers, eventually coming to a working train that can take them to Savannah, both to look for Clementine's parents and to find a boat to leave the mainland. During these events, Lee helps to teach Clementine practical survival skills such as how to fire a handgun. They are also forced to deal with killing Duck after he had received a walker bite and Katjaa's suicide at losing her son, leaving Kenny traumatized.

Approaching Savannah, Clementine's walkie-talkie comes to life; believing it to be her parents she and Lee hear a strange man on the opposite end, who knows Clementine's and Lee's names and promises that she will be safe once he kills Lee. Lee takes additional precautions to watch over Clementine, particularly after meeting Vernon, the leader of a small group of hospital patients who does not believe Lee is fit to watch over her and offers to take her. One day, Lee finds that Clementine has been kidnapped, and in his haste to find her, is bitten by a walker. They learn that she was kidnapped by the man that had talked to her on the walkie-talkie earlier and has taken shelter in a hotel in the city. While still maintaining his senses, Lee organizes the remaining survivors, including Kenny, to rescue Clementine. Kenny appears to sacrifice himself for the group, while Lee is separated from the others, and asks them to wait at the edge of town for him and Clementine.

Lee arrives at the hotel which is surrounded by walkers. The stranger reveals that Clementine is safe, and then accuses Lee of stealing the supplies that he had for his family from the abandoned car; without these, he lost his own family to walkers. When Lee realizes the man has gone insane as he speaks to his dead wife's head in a bag, he and Clementine manage to overpower and kill him. Lee holds onto his consciousness long enough to help Clementine escape the hotel, where upon they see her parents, now walkers. Clementine drags Lee into a secured shop and Lee wakes up long enough to give her some last pieces of advice, to meet their friends at the edge of town, and then asks her to kill him before he turns. Clementine's choice is left up to the player. Later, Clementine is see outside of town, and spots two distance figures on the horizon; when they turn to look at her, she cautiously aims her gun at them.

The Walking Dead: Season Two[edit]

Prior to Season Two's formal announcement, Telltale affirmed that Clementine will "definitely be a part of" the second season of The Walking Dead.[6] The full announcement of the game revealed that Clementine will be the player-character in this series.[7]

In Season Two, Clementine has been able to regroup with Omid and Christa, who were the two figures in the background at the end of the last game. Between eight to nine months later an encounter with a scavenger named Michelle leaves Omid dead due to Clementine's carelessness, and Christa blames Clementine for his death. Sixteen months later, the two are attacked by more scavengers, and Clementine is separated from Christa. After traveling a distance, she comes upon a farmhouse occupied by a group of survivors, Luke, Pete Randall, Nick, Alvin, Rebecca, Carlos and his daughter Sarah who distrust her until she proves her survival skills to them. The group, particularly Alvin and Rebecca, fear a man named William Carver and soon move on after Pete is killed, heading towards a ski lodge. There, they find a second group consisting of Walter, Sarita and her boyfriend, a still-alive Kenny, who Clementine is overjoyed to learn narrowly escaped from Savannah. The two groups do not fully trust the other, keeping tensions tight, and Clementine notices that Kenny has become more unhinged and is still distraught over Duck and Katjaa's deaths. When a walker horde attacks the lodge, the group is saved by more survivors but discover that this group is led by Carver. After a bloody standoff, resulting in Walter's death and Alvin's (depending on player actions) Carver's group secures Clementine and the rest of the two groups (minus Luke who is lost in the confusion) and takes them to his camp, a well-fortified hardware store/strip mall.

Clementine's group is put to work to maintain the building's security. She befriends Bonnie who is unsure of Carver's motives, and learns that Carver believes that Rebecca's child is his. Luke, who managed to escape from the ski lodge attack, helps Clementine plan their escape before a larger walker horde arrives. Clementine and Sarah also witness Carver kill Reggie, a fellow member of his group who was friends with the group, and everyone becomes horrified. Kenny suggests using the herd to cause enough of a distraction to allow them to slip away while Luke keeps an eye on Carver's movements and keeps in touch via radio and though the group scoffs at the idea, fellow survivor Jane supports it and reveals they can slip through the herd itself by covering themselves in walker guts. The group is caught, and Carver beats up Kenny violently, including destroying one of his eyes, and is beats Alvin almost to death. He also forces Carlos to slap Sarah when she becomes frightened. The group, including Bonnie, Mike, and Jane, makes a second attempt at escape as the walker horde arrives, but Alvin (if still alive) is killed while buying the group time and keeping the P.A. box on to keep the herd coming. However the group is caught and Carve threatens to shoot them if they try to escape again but Clementine jumps him from above before Luke disarms but, but as the others debate what to do with him (minus Rebecca who wants Luke to shoot him) Kenny shoots both his kneecaps and prepares to kill him with a metal pipe. Though the others, minus Rebecca protest, Clementine can stay behind and watch also which horrifies most of the group and even Kenny tries to talk her into leaving. Regardless if Clementine stays or not Kenny brutally bashes Carver's face in long after he's dead and destroys his entire face as Rebecca watches with vigor. The attempt to sneak through the hoard goes sour fast, and Clementine is unable to save Carlos as he is shot and devoured, and is forced to kill Sarita to prevent her from turning. They regroup at a nearby fort, where Kenny blames Clementine for his loss. As they prepare a tourist center for Rebecca who is nearing birth, Clementine finds herself forced to abandon Sarah after she has gone catatonic from witnessing her father getting killed based on Jane's advice. When Clementine and Jane are searching an observation deck for supplies they encounter a Russian survivor named Arvo who has an entire bag of medical supplies, which Clementine can choose to either take or give back to him. Later Rebecca gives birth to a boy, which Kenny later names Alvin Jr. (AJ for short) in honor of Alvin.

The group leaves the fort the next day as winter sets in. They encounter Arvo's Russian group that threaten them with guns, and Clementine finds that Rebecca has lost too much blood from childbirth and has died and is turning into a walker. She rescues AJ from her, and the group deals with the Russians with Arvo as the lone survivor. Kenny, enraged at Arvo for attacking them and risking AJ, begins beating him down which Luke and Mike protest but Clementine wants Kenny to shoot him for attacking them. However Arvo convinces them to come with him to his hideout, a constructed house across a frozen lake, with supplies and as they cross, Clementine is unable to save Luke when he and walkers break through the ice. Kenny beats up Arvo and blames Luke's loss on him, as the ice wasn't as solid as he'd claimed. Jane secretly tells Clementine that she worries for Kenny and believes he will do something disastrous soon or become just like Carver. After finding a truck and bringing it to working order, the group prepares to leave the next day. Clementine wakes up to find Bonnie, Mike, and Arvo trying to take the truck, all of them fearful of what Kenny has become, and in the argument, Arvo shoots Clementine as Kenny in rage attacks Bonnie, Mike and Arvo proving he was right about Arvo. She blacks out and has a brief flashback to back when she was with Lee, Kenny and his family, Ben and Lilly (determined) after fleeing the motel. Clementine asks Lee why Lilly killed Carley/Doug but Lee simply doesn't have an answer nor is her sure that leaving her/bringing her was the right answer and reminds her that sometimes saving those you love means hurting someone else, before Clementine becomes fearful that Lee will leave her and he assures her that he never will as he hugs her.

When she comes to, she finds that she is with Kenny, Jane, and AJ as they head north in the truck, the others having fled on foot. When stopped near a rest stop due to cars blocking the road, Kenny gets out to look for gas, and Jane tries to convince Clementine they should abandon Kenny. A walker horde separates them, with Jane carrying AJ. Kenny and Clementine regroup at the rest stop, and Jane soon arrives without AJ. Kenny fights her with intent to kill, claiming she left AJ to die. The player is forced to have Clementine to shoot Kenny to save Jane or let Kenny kill her if unable to lose Kenny. In either case, Clementine finds AJ in a nearby car, safe and sound, all a ruse by Jane to show Clementine the dangers of keeping Kenny around. The player can have Clementine go with the survivor (if Kenny, to Wellington; if Jane, back to Carver's hardware store), or head out on her own with AJ.

Reception[edit]

Many journalists consider Clementine to be an emotional centerpoint of The Walking Dead game, an accomplishment that few other video game characters have made. Game Informer‍ '​s Kimberley Wallace describes the character of Clementine as having "broken through the barrier [of the television screen], securing a place in the hearts of many".[1] IGN's Colin Campbell said in his article that Clementine is designed to elicit "super-protective instincts" in the player. "Without Clementine, Lee is just some dude trying to stay alive, but she (a slightly over-cooked innocent) allows him to be sympathetic to us." commented Campbell.[8] N.D. Mackay, writing in The Herald, described the relationship with Clementine as "the heart-breaking bedrock of the game."[9] Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton writes that Clementine is a well-done, real-feeling character in the game. "...[she] is pretty great. She's cute and funny, smarter than she lets on, yet she still acts like a kid. She's one of the most realistically drawn kids I've encountered in a video game in some time." says Hamilton.[10] GamesRadar's Hollander Cooper and Sterling McGarvey wrote that the hopelessness of the world would be infectious if not for her constant optimism, giving you something to fight for. "She’s slow to adapt to the fact that good and evil are now meaningless, and her innocence keeps the concept of hope alive in the survivors..." they stated.[11] The Sunday Herald states that "Clementine is the real emotional heart of this game".[12]

During the game's episodic release, players frequently used the Twitter hashtag "#forclementine" to reflect how much the character had influenced them. Vanaman was surprised but pleased with this response, stating that "the fact that people care about Clementine is invaluable".[1]

Melissa Hutchinson as Clementine was nominated for and won the award for "Best Performance By a Human Female" at the 2012 Spike TV Video Game Awards.[13] Hutchinson's performance has also been nominated in the "Performance" category for the 2013 British Academy Video Games Awards.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Wallace, Kimberley (January 2013). "Creating Clementine". Game Informer. pp. 26–31. 
  2. ^ Danzis, Alan (2012-12-07). "Interview with 'The Walking Dead' video game writer Gary Whitta". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  3. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (2013-04-02). "Telltale nearly scrapped The Walking Dead's Clementine a week before recording". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2013-04-03. 
  4. ^ Watts, Steve (2012-09-05). "Interview: The Walking Dead writer on making a game with 'no good decisions'". Shack News. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  5. ^ McElroy, Griffon (2014-03-08). "Telltale describes the difficulty of starting over in The Walking Dead Season Two". Polygon. Retrieved 2014-03-08. 
  6. ^ Goldfarb, Andrew (2013-07-20). "Comic-Con: Clementine Will Be in Walking Dead Game Season 2". IGN. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  7. ^ Goldfarb, Andrew (2013-10-29). "Clementine Confirmed as Playable in The Walking Dead: Season 2". IGN. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  8. ^ Campbell, Colin (2012-05-08). "The Walking Dead: Why Lee Everett Really Matters". IGN. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  9. ^ N.D. Mackay (2 Dec 2012), "Brave new world", The Herald 
  10. ^ Hamilton, Kirk (2012-04-27). "5 Reasons The Walking Dead Game Is Better Than The TV Show". Kotaku. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  11. ^ Cooper, Hollander; McGarvey, Sterling (2012-08-31). "The Walking Dead game review". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  12. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-31350111.html The rebirth of gaming The Sunday Herald May 13, 2012
  13. ^ "2012 Spike TV Video Game Awards nominees announced". Warp Zoned. 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  14. ^ Stewart, Keith (2013-02-12). "Bafta Video Game Awards 2013 – nominees announced". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-02-12.