The Walking Dead franchise is no stranger to brutish psychopaths. From Shane and Negan, to Lilly and Carver, every iteration of the franchise seems to thrive on interminable bloodlust, and a uniquely human desire to eliminate every existing life form, both the living and the undead.
TellTale's The Walking Dead: The Final Season is the latest entry to the game maker's series, but there's no bat-swinging Negan here. Episode 1 ("Done Running") features yet another maniac on the loose, but this time, it's a child. Clementine's protégé, Alvin Junior, is the newest working survivor to join the group, and he's unlike everyone else. This is a 6-year-old armed with a loaded revolver, a strong desire to kill, and an adrenalized inability to feel compassion.
Unlike Clementine, AJ grew up not knowing a life outside of the apocalypse. He was born in a vicious, unforgiving world where all he's ever known is violence, and you pay for every mistake made with your life. As a result, his basic instinct in every situation is simply to survive — whatever the cost, regardless of who pays the price and how.
"Done Running" already foreshadows a sinister turn for Alvin Junior, and the episode wasn't at all subtle about it. He could even be a future antagonist, or perhaps he already is.
"A Kill is A Kill"
For AJ, there is no difference between a living "monster" and the reanimated dead. As a result, he has no qualms about killing living creatures, whether animals or humans, not just the undead. In fact, he constantly advocated for this throughout "Done Running," throwing tantrums whenever he didn't get his way.
While hunting with Aasim and Louis, Clementine caught a rabbit by accident. The older kids agreed on letting the bunny go, so it could mature and hopefully come back fatter with kids, but Alvin Junior wanted it dead, right then and there. He didn't see the point in letting it go, knowing they all needed food. He also threatened Abel and Marlon at gunpoint, and although it was warranted (for Abel, especially), it's disturbing in how AJ did so without guilt or hesitation, as if for him there is no other option but to kill.
To be fair, Clementine does manage to keep Alvin Junior in check... for the most part. Every time the 6-year-old is overcome by bloodlust, she takes him to the side and explains why violence is not a clean-cut solution. She reminds AJ of the basics of survival and compassion, that brute force is only one of many options and isn't necessarily the correct answer. His response should always depend on the situation.
Unfortunately, despite the game constantly reminding players that their decisions matter, this mostly falls on deaf ears.
AJ does not know how to pick his battles, insisting on taking on Abel despite the risks, and biting Ruby when she tends to his wounds. Every time someone comes up behind him, his first instinct is to "hit back," regardless of that creature's -- or person's -- intentions. He has no sense of charity, as evidenced by his insisting on killing a zombie couple that posed no threat to anyone. Clementine explained that in life, the man and woman had decided to turn together, so they shackled themselves to a chair, and she encouraged AJ to honor their wishes. His response, "What's the difference?"
Alvin Junior is incapable of not only distinguishing right from wrong, but also one particular kill from another. For him, every situation is the same (a.k.a. dangerous) and merits the same response. And every risk is well-worth taking. Clementine is doing her best playing the maternal role, but either AJ's 6-year-old mind doesn't understand, or the violence is simply too far ingrained.