Kenny from the Walking Dead game is a Mistake I’d Like to Fix. Well not all of him… Frankly in the first season I thought he was alright, not one of my favorite characters but he wasn’t bad either. But then…. I’m getting ahead of myself though, so let’s just do this the standard way.
To put it bluntly, I think Kenny’s inclusion in season 2 of the Walking Dead was a mistake. I don’t think it added much and really only tarnished him as a character. In season 1 Kenny started off as a run of the mill guy, one fairly lucky to still be alive and with his wife and son. Obviously luck may be a stretch considering the situation, but compared to what most others had, he was riding high. Of course it wouldn’t stay that way for Kenny. His son would turn after a walker bite, and his wife would kill herself shortly thereafter. But he continued on, granted he was mostly a husk, but he kept going. Some time passed and Ben confessed to Kenny that he was the reason that their motel was overrun by bandits and the walkers who eventually bit Duck were let in. Obviously Kenny takes this poorly and Ben becomes the new outlet for his anger at the death of his wife and son.
One of my favorite parts of the first season is the relationship between Ben and Kenny. Kenny had it all and lost it while Ben doesn’t have anything, not even the sense of closure that Kenny has. Their argument comes to a head at that point, as a matter of fact.
While waiting to get moving on the train, if Lee talks to Ben we find out his biggest fear is turning and he’d rather end it all than go through that. This is important, at least to me, because if Ben is saved in chapter 4 then while crossing a gap in chapter 5, the railing he is jumping from falls and he is impaled with walkers closing in. This is the final chapter of Ben and Kenny’s story, and it brings it to a wonderful closing (in my opinion). Kenny runs to Ben, shoots him with the final bullet as the walkers are closing in. It is the last time we see either of them in the game. Their story is over, both of them have passed (we’re lead to believe); Kenny is now with his wife and child and Ben was spared the horror of turning. Also after failing to have saved Duck or Fivel, Kenny is finally able to do right by a young child. A great ending.
Or it would have been if he wasn’t brought back for season 2…
Season 2 of the Walking Dead sees us controlling Clementine after the end of the first season. She has been traveling with Christa and Omid, but after Omid is killed and an accident separates her and Christa she is on her own. She eventually runs into a group of survivors and joins up with them. After the cabin is overrun they make their way to a ski lodge, where a small group of survivors is, including Kenny. It just felt out of place, and I feel it diminished his sacrifice. Not only that but if you were to talk to Kenny about how he escaped he drops the line “For some reason I tried to save that fucking shitbird Ben”. That really upset me. As I mentioned one of my favorite parts of season 1 is Kenny and Ben’s stories and how it ended and that one comment made it all feel undone.
I suppose the fix could be any number of things. I personally would have left both Kenny and Ben dead and have a new character fill the same role that Kenny filled. I really don’t think Kenny and Clem’s prior relationship added much to season 2 except for a few references here or there. If we’re intent on keeping Kenny in at least lose that line, it undoes so much of his growth in the first game and just felt like a slap in the face.