Halfway through this episode, seemingly stand-up good guy Luke asks Clementine what people value the most. My answer, without hesitation, was "Family." That's what Clementine lost in the first season of The Walking Dead, and it's the clear focus of this second episode of Season 2.
Episode 2, A House Divided, has Clementine finding her place in a new family. Following the events of Episode 1, most of the group has decided that she's not a pre-teen serial killer sent to destroy the life they've carved out for themselves. The reality is the opposite of that, as external forces aimed at the group may threaten Clem's survival.
Outside of a few action sequences, this is a slower burn than Episode 1. This episode more about setting up the conflicting relationships that will probably carry us through Episode 3. As with anything relating to The Walking Dead, Episode 2 asks us if humanity itself isn't worse than the mindless undead. Of the few deaths in this episode, only one was by undead teeth; the rest are the result of the actions of good old humans.
Clementine herself is pulled in two emotional directions over the course of this episode: Carlos's daughter Sarah acts as an anchor to a more innocent time and the appearance of a Christmas tree later on recalls what life was like for children before the zombie apocalypse. At the same time, Clem is also becoming a scout or lookout for the new group, with adult responsiblity and various secrets being thrust upon her young shoulders.
That tug-of-war continues in the latter part of Episode 2, when Clem's group meets a second team of survivors. The second group features the surprise return of a character from Season 1, looking a lot better than we last saw them. There's definite hints of this character not completely weathering the trauma of the first season, but I'm glad to see their return. The "house divided" in the episode's subtitle seems to be Clem herself prior to this episode's climax. Does she forge a new future with the group from Episode 1, or does she stay with an old friend?
The larger addition here is the return of a truly antagonistic force in Clementine's life, like the St. Johns or the Stranger. Carver and his crew, briefly mentioned in the first episode, play the overall bad guys here. They've been hunting the Carlos's group for reasons revealed in this chapter and one rather civil confrontation here really underscores the threat Carver presents, in a "stranger danger" kind of way. Episode 3 looks to bring Carver's crew in sharper focus, but the feeling is rather similar to the town of Crawford in Season 1; when people get desperate they get crazy, so what happens when a large and well-armed group get desperate?
Episode 2 is shorter than Season 2's opening chapter and I finished it in just under three hours. That's not a huge problem as it spends more time digging into the characters via conversation, highlighting how they feel about Clem and where they disagree with one another. In Episode 1 they felt like broad stereotypes, but this chapter takes some time to make them more human. Despite that, Episode 2 definitely gives Clementine enough to worry about in its relatively short running time. The choices you're given here feel deeper and more immediate than they were in the first chapter, especially in the episode's climax where the bodies pile up rather quickly. Luckily, Telltale's chapter select means its rather easy to head back into the game and see where your choices could've taken you.
All in all, A House Divided is a great second chapter in an enjoyable second season. Telltale Games has yet to falter in its episodic titles and this chapter doesn't change that. At this point, you're probably in for the long haul; you've played Lee's tale to completion and Clementine's story is the next step. Even if some of the creative leads behind the first season have moved on to a different family, this one is still in good hands.
Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 2 ratchets up the stakes and pulls Clementine into different directions emotionally and physically. Some tense action sequences, engrossing dialog, and the addition of a formidable threat to everyone makes "A House Divided" a solid chapter despite its short three-hour running time. When it comes to storytelling, Telltale is still one of the best in the business and this episode doesn't betray that reputation.