Warning: This is s freaking long essay. Get some popcorn and soda folks.
So, I’ve seen an unusually high amount of people talking about what a horrible person Luke is. I want to fix that mindset. All I ask of you is that you start this essay with an open mind.
If you are just looking for a defense for Luke’s actions in Amid the Ruins, that will be towards the bottom of the essay.
This is going to be a retelling of all of Luke’s actions towards Clementine and the group, along with explaining his actions, both good and bad.
All That Remains.
Our first interaction with Luke involves him saving Clementine’s life, along with Pete’s help. Maybe I just have low standards, but honestly, that’s enough for me to really like both of them. It’s certainly the reason I saved Pete over Nick at the river.
The only way to negatively spin this against Luke is to say that if Luke was on his own, he would have left Clem to die. I have an argument against that opinion, but I’ll get to that later.
Then, comes his greatest sin of episode one: he drops Clementine on the ground when he sees her bite and freaks out. He doesn’t say anything about putting her out of her misery on the spot, unlike some other group members cough Rebecca cough. Pete, who is a hunter and more likely to know about dog bites than Luke, tells him it might be a dog. They both agree to take him to Carlos. Luke says he won’t carry clementine anymore, but then runs over to Clem to catch her as she falls over from exhaustion.
When you wake up, Nick is pointing a gun in your face, and Rebecca is saying you should have been killed on the spot. Once Nick fires his gun, Luke bursts outside and chews everyone out. As he should. They are being completely unreasonable.
Carlos decides to put her in the shed. Luke is one of the two people who say she should get something for her arm. While you’re stealing supplies from the group, Luke is still arguing in favor of getting something for her arm if you listen in to the conversation they are having in the cabin.
After he finds you in the shed, he’s the only one who even bothers to ask if Clem wants any food. After getting chewed out by Carlos because you manipulated Sarah, Luke brings you some food, even though Clem gives him the cold shoulder (not that I blame her for that). He talks to you. He tries to get you on good terms with his closest friend (who, lets not forget, almost shot Clementine in the face. Most of the people I see who can’t stand Luke now have completely forgiven Nick and are really upset about his death.) Luke then goes on to offer Clementine a place in the group, at least until she heals up. Oh yeah. After that, Rebecca comes in and basically says you need to get the fuck out. Real nice of you there.
So to recap: Rebecca, Carlos, and Nick all act like dicks to Clementine in all that remains. We get an apology from Nick. Depending on what you say, Carlos might forgive you, or get even angrier. And can you all just take a moment to remember how many of us thought Rebecca was a massive piece of shit after the first episode? (Hint: The answer is almost every single person in the fandom).
On to A House Divided:
Before I go any further, I need to focus on some of Nick’s dialogue. Either when he is in the booze shed or after shooting Mathew (depending on who you save in episode one.)
Nick describes Luke as being able to move on quickly from traumatic events. He doesn’t start getting violent (like Kenny), or slowly break down (like Nick). If Clementine said that her parents died while talking to Luke, he’ll say the same thing happened to him. They probably died within the first two days, like nearly everyone else. I’m getting off topic now, but remember that Luke (seemingly) gets past grief fairly quickly.
Now back to Luke’s actions.
Once you return to the cabin, Rebecca tells you that Luke and Alvin went out looking for the three of you (Pete, Nick, and Clem). We’ll just chalk that up as a minimum group members should do for each other, and say it doesn’t reflect on Luke’s character at all.
However, when he gets back, he immediately goes to Clem and says they need to find Nick or Pete, depending on who you saved. He doesn’t ask for rest, he wants to go find his group members straight away. At the very least, you have to admit he is usually diligent, if nothing else.
Fast forward to the five day jump. He offers to scout ahead on the bridge with Clementine. I was in favor of this, because he realizes that a child who is capable of stitching up their own arm is capable of doing a little bit of recon work. Besides, everyone else in the group is either not in the best shape, or watching somebody else. They’re the best candidates for the job at the moment.
On the bridge, he manages to fall through the bridge, and is saved by Clementine. Can’t really fault him for that.
When Mathew approaches them, he says that it would be best for Clem to do the talking. Fine. We’ll count that as a moment where Luke screwed up. Don’t you think shielding Clementine with his own body right before Nick fires makes up for that? He literally puts himself in the way of a bullet to try to save Clementine.
Fast forward to the ski lodge. We find out that Nick killed Walter’s friend. Oddly enough, I haven’t seen too many posts criticizing Luke for this. Keep in mind, the only reason he wanted to lie was to keep his best friend alive.
During the whole turbine part, he offers to go with Kenny to the transformer when it breaks down. He doesn’t change his mind when Kenny tells Sarita it’s too dangerous.
That’s about it for Luke this episode. On to In Harm’s Way.
First, take a look at this map:
This is a rough guess of how much the group has traveled Over the course of the entire game.
The green X is where the cabin is. I say it’s in North Carolina due to the North Carolina license plate after the 16 month time skip.
The blue X is the ski lift. It’s in Virginia because Luke mentions the group is heading north, and is holding a map of Virginia when he says it.
The Red X is Howe’s. Carver’s camp. The reason I think its in Tennessee is because its only a few hours away Parker’s Run. In real life, there is a civil war battlefield called Parker’s Crossroads. Furthermore, it takes about a day to drive there (according to Google maps route select anyways). Just like in the game.
Luke traveled from the Blue X, to the Red X, without any sleep, and probably no food or water. Did he travel on foot? Fuck no. He probably found a car or something. But driving for 24 hours non stop is exhausting.
He does it because he cares about his group. He’s the one who convinced them to leave Carver’s in the first place. He feels responsible for them. If he wanted to ditch the group, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE TIME TO DO IT. Any group looking for new members would probably bend over backwards to get him to join. He is an able bodied man in his prime.
Now, to the episode itself.
Luke manages to sneak into Carver’s camp. He doesn’t know how Carver would react to him being at the camp. However, if there was anyone Carver would have executed on the spot, it would be him. He was the ringleader of the escape.
He sneaks in anyways, and tries to help the group escape. The only reason his plan fails is because he made a mistake trying to get food. You know, the thing that keeps everyone alive. He even blames himself for the plan failing at the fireside with the rest of the group after Kenny gets beaten.
Now, to one of the issues he was criticized most for that episode: suggesting that they leave Kenny behind.
At first, Luke recommends that they wait a few days before leaving Carver’s camp. He’s beat to shit and starving, Clem has (probably) been pummeled by Troy, Rebecca is pregnant, Sarita is in a wreck over Kenny, and Kenny himself isn’t even awake. He recommends that everyone rest up so they can wait for an opening to escape. Everyone else but Nick (and possibly Clem) insists on leaving on that specific night.
Then Carlos comes back with the news that Kenny might have suffered brain damage of some sort. Only then, after mentioning that if everyone is adamant about leaving that night, does he mention that Kenny would need to be left behind. He doesn’t want to leave him behind, he is bringing up the fact that there is no way in hell they would be able to carry an unconscious man through a herd of lurkers.
The last major action Luke takes in this episode is saying Carver shouldn’t have been killed, especially not like that. Honestly, this is really something that is a grey area. My interpretation of this is that Luke still sees some part of Carver that wasn’t completely evil, even if he says “There ain’t one part of that son of a bitch I don’t hate, but that does not make this right.” And honestly, I agree with him. Did Carver deserve to die? Yeah, I would say so. To die like that….. what Kenny did to him was savage. Even if you support it, you have to realize the brutality of it.
On to the episode everyone has decided to hate Luke for: Amid the Ruins
Luke’s first action in Amid the Ruins is to yell out to Clementine that he’s going to go after Sarah. He runs through an entire herd of walkers on his own (or with Nick) to try to save someone who was a liability before she saw her father get ripped to shreds. In my humble opinion, if he was willing to race through a herd to save Sarah, he would have been more than willing to take on fewer then ten walkers to save Clementine in the forest. To me, that rules out the “Pete made Luke save her.” argument all the way back in All That Remains.
The next time we hear Luke is him yelling at Sarah. I’ve seen lots of comments calling Luke a horrible person for doing this. The term abelist has been thrown around alot. Nobody seems to remember that:
- If Luke hadn’t started yelling, Clem and Jane might have never found them. So, in a roundabout way, it worked.
- Most importantly, he had been with her for hours. We don’t know what else he did to try to get her to move. If he had done nothing but yell, we would have heard him much earlier.
- He’s not yelling at her to be a dick. He is trying to save her from a horrible, painful death. He forced himself to chase after her after he was beat up at Carver’s, and spends hours with her trying to get her to come with him.
The only thing you can fault Luke for in regards to his treatment of Sarah is ignorance. He wants to save Sarah’s life.
After finding zombie Nick (goodnight, sweet prince) and solving a small puzzle, you manage to kick down the door and find Luke inside the trailer. To all the people saying Luke doesn’t care about Nick: after saying “Oh thank God you guys are okay”, he immediately asks about Nick.
I have seen LOTS of people saying that Luke didn’t have enough of a reaction to the death of his closest friend.
Nobody seems to remember a damn thing Nick has said about Luke or any of Luke’s actions in this game. Luke is a pretty selfless individual - oftentimes recklessly so. This can be shown by him racing across an entire state, running through an entire herd to save someone who is a liability to the rest of the group, and shielding Clementine from a bullet with his own body.
Secondly, Luke is described by Nick as someone who moves on easily. That’s what I thought at first, but that isn’t exactly true. Luke doesn’t get over the pain, and the only way he really copes with it is by distracting himself.
Kenny enters into a rage, followed by self pity when he looses someone. Nick slowly breaks down, but is able to build himself back up. Sarah completely breaks down. Luke shoves the emotional pain down and forces himself to focus on other things, but that doesn’t mean it goes away. I have more proof of this that will come up later. But in short, this gives the impression that he isn’t very effected by the loss of people he cares about.
Now combine those two things: his fairly altruistic nature, in addition to his tendency to push pain down. He is put into this scenario: He is told that the closest friend he ever had is dead, but there is a scared, helpless girl in the room behind him who just saw her father get torn apart. What do you think he’s going to do.
He doesn’t have a large reaction to Nick’s death because he simply doesn’t have the luxury of having an emotional reaction. Sarah needs his help, and he doesn’t feel like he can afford to feel sorry for himself.
And yes, I can hear all of you saying “But he decided to have sex with Jane while Rebecca was in labor! How do you explain that?” Be patient. I’m gonna get to that soon enough. Don’t worry.
Now, what Luke says in the next part depends on if you manage to get Sarah out of the trailer or not.
Starting with if you save her:
Luke makes a comment showing guilt that he even thought about leaving Sarah behind. That when Jane said go, he was the first person on the roof. Jane says that Luke shouldn’t let his guilt eat away at him. Luke’s response: "Well I can’t forget it."
Nothing else much happens if you save her, other than if you say “I hope I did the right thing” Luke will smile and say that he think you did.
Now, to the much more interesting (in my opinion) scene where you leave Sarah behind:
Lets make something perfectly clear right now: Luke blames himself for her death if you leave her in the trailer. He tries to justify it, saying things like “I guess… there was just nothing we could do.” But if you listen to his tone, you can tell he doesn’t believe it.
This is the most telling quote from the whole scene from Luke: “We were there for hours, y’know? I should’ve gotten through to her. I should have done… something. But all I did was leave her behind.” He clearly believes he failed.
Jane says the same thing about guilt. His response is the same: "Well I can’t forget it."
This line is one of the two that convinced me that he really is just bottling up all of his emotions, not just letting go of them.
Okay, now, back to the meeting place at Parker’s Run. Rebecca asks about Nick and/or Sarah. Regardless of who dies Luke acts as emotional support for Rebecca. He realizes that she needs more help than he does. And to be fair, he probably grieves for their loss too at that point. We don’t get to see it though.
Now, on to the scene everyone is hating on Luke for.
Before I go and explain Luke’s actions (I’m not defending what he did here. Like he admits himself: LUKE FUCKED UP.), there is something else I need to address. I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for this, but it has to be said.
First of all, you need to ask yourself: why are you mad at Luke for having sex with Jane? Are you upset with Luke for screwing around when he should have been on the lookout for Lurkers, or are you upset with Luke for busting your OTP?
To all the people who ship Luke and Nick (or Luke and anyone else for that matter), honestly ask yourself this: If it had been Luke and Nick (or anyone you shipped Luke with) up in that gift shop, how many of you would be cheering about your OTP, saying that Luke and Nick were clearly the best characters in the game, and that neither of them did anything wrong?
I’ll admit: as someone who shipped Luke and Bonnie before a house divided, I was kinda pissed about this scene. But I actually find myself liking Luke more after this episode because he has realistic, human flaws.
If you don’t fall into this category, ignore that part. Back to the reason why Luke’s actions, while not justified, are more than understandable. I was going to write a piece on this myself, but user doctorethereal put it much better than I did:I’m really not understanding why people are so pissed at Luke, and it’s weird that I haven’t heard a single bad thing (relating to the sex) about Jane. I mean… First off, why be pissed at Luke? For giving in to urges when he was at his most emotionally raw? If anything, Jane took advantage of him. You should be pissed at her, not so much at him. He had a reason to not be using his wits. His best friend just died (likely following the orders Luke gave him), and he just left a teenage girl to die in one of the most brutal ways possible. I’d doubt he’d be thinking too straight.And, on that whole fiasco of him showing more emotion over Jane leaving than Nick dying? Well… Let’s say that your dog dies. You’re sad. You can’t cry because you have to be tough for your little sister. You are gifted a kitten, and you think, “Oh, this will fill the hole in my heart, great! See how it loves me already?” Then the kitten runs away the next day. This thing that has shown you love after a loss just showed you that it didn’t really love you, that it was really just using you to fulfill a need (in the kitten’s case, food/shelter, in Jane’s case, sex). You’d feel devastated, you’d feel used. Now imagine that, but you’ve also got repressed emotions from your dog dying, and you get an explosion. It makes sense, and was one of the better moments of writing up until now. I was siding with Kenny up until his big outburst, then I saw everything from Luke’s eyes.Not to mention, Jane initiated it. Luke said she “made him an offer”, and honestly? After having been through the wringer for the umpteenth time, wouldn’t you want to feel something besides pain?You know what? This was originally a post about defending Luke, but fuck it, let’s talk about Jane for a little. Fuck Jane. Not because she’s pragmatic (I actually admire her for this). Not because she’s a woman (a legitimate complaint I’ve heard because who knows???). Not because she’s hot (though she is, it’s just the wrong meaning of fuck). No, fuck Jane because she took advantage of an emotionally raw man who had just lost his best friend (and arguably only friend) in the world and then had the gall to leave without so much as a goodbye. And people still love her, while criticising Luke for being taken advantaged of.
This was a great piece, but if anything, it understates things. We play these episodes about once every two months. It’s easy to forget that the events of season two have taken over the course of about two days. As I mentioned before, Luke bottles up pain, and isn’t very good at letting it go.
Before Luke has sex with Jane, these are all the people who die in the group that he feels personally responsible.
- Pete: Sorta like a replacement dad. Not quite, but Luke clearly respected him.
- Nick: His closest friend for twenty years, and his only real friend left. No matter what way he dies, Luke never gets a chance to say goodbye to him.
- Sarah: If she dies before Rebecca starts giving birth, Luke views himself as a complete failure, and blames himself for his death.
All of these deaths took place over less than ten days. How would your decision making skills be after loosing that many people in such a short amount of time?
To be honest, Luke’s rant at Kenny was the biggest keys for me that Luke doesn’t just get over things easily. “so forgive me for wanting to enjoy ONE MOMENT of something else!” That’s not coming from a guy who just moves on. He was desperate for anything to get his mind off all the deaths of people he cared about. That’s his method of coping with their loss. He wasn’t just being some horny asshole.
And like what I quoted said above, not only was he reacting to Nick’s death, he felt betrayed and used by Jane, in the worst possible way.
Again, I’m not saying that Luke didn’t fuck up. He admits to being in the wrong himself. He volunteered for a job, and his messing up did put the group at risk. But for Pete’s sake, cut the man some fucking slack. As I showed you before, he’s got a near golden track record that nobody seems to remember, and almost no other living character can match.
- Mike…. yeah I’ll give you that one. Other than being a bit of an asshole when he’s tired (which everyone is to some extent), he’s golden.
- Bonnie led Carver right to the group, and thus helped cause the death of Walter (and possibly Alvin). She is a fan favorite now.
- Nick killed Mathew and almost killed Clementine. He’s a fan favorite.
- Rebecca didn’t even want Clementine to have been brought back to the cabin at all. She’s a fan favorite now.
- Kenny can be a real piece of shit to Clem in this episode. Hell, if you mention that you had to shoot Lee and tell him he’s not the only person who’s lost people, he tells Clem “can’t even bare to look at her.”
- Jane…. do I honestly have to go through the list? Read the thing I quoted back on the top. She’s still a fan favorite to a lot of people.
Luke on the other hand:
- Will always save Clementine in episode one, fight for her behalf in front of the group, offer her food, shelter, and at least a temporary spot in the group.
- Luke never treats Clementine like she’s just some stupid kid who needs to be sheltered, treats her with respect and shields her with his own body from bullets.
- Luke drives 3/4ths of the way across a state without food, water, or sleep, and sneaks into a camp with armed guards who might very well have “kill Luke on sight” instructions, just to save his group.
- Runs through a herd and chases after Sarah in spite of being beaten up. He then spends hours trying to save her life.
And then more than 4/5ths of the fandom is sick of him when he royally fucks up once. Am I the only one who thinks that is a bit unfair?
Okay, that’s it. I’m done. Rant over.
If anyone wants to point out any flaws I have in my arguments, please by all means let me know. I don’t want to like a character based on inaccurate information.
I’d love reading other essays on characters. Just send me an ask if you want me to read one.
Okay quick twdg rant:
Everyone keeps saying ‘oh that character had so much potential and all they did was kill them off.’ ‘That character was so amazing and didn’t deserve such a gruesome death/to be written off.’ The whole purpose of the walking dead franchise is to show the raw humanity and despair, and how cruel and sudden life is. It’s supposed to show how people would react in a world completely gone to shit, with the added bonus of cool zombies. ‘They had potential’ or ‘they were amazing’ doesn’t matter. Death is unrelenting and comes early before people get a chance to develop as a person, and bad things happen to great people. It’s supposed to be realistic and painful, not fair. (spoilers ahead)
trying to prove a point to my friend that I’m not the only one