With the season finale quickly approaching, I have thought it best to finally take the time to clear a few things up about Kenny and his character in season two. I honestly was interested enough in this topic that I wanted to write up an entire essay's worth of information, but I know that would turn off certain users that do not feel like taking the time to read that sort of thing. I would just ask that Kenny haters and apologists alike bear with me as I take a look at a few key issues surrounding Kenny in season two.
Issue One: Kenny doesn't belong in Season Two.
I am going to try and keep this brief because I do not really think there is much that needs to be said here, but I see this idea get floated around from time to time, and I would like to address it.
I see this idea mainly pushed around by people who have a personal dislike of Kenny. They argue that aside from the improbability of him surviving the events of season one, his presence in Season Two has taken away from the development of other characters. While this is true to an extent, it is really a silly thing to argue about as any character who takes up any amount of space in the game is going to take away potential development time from other characters. That being said, it is possible for certain characters to hog screentime. We do not see that from Kenny though. Despite what a few people have said around these parts, he has not gotten any more screentime than any of the other members of the group (who have survived up until at least Episode Three), with maybe the exception of Nick and Sarah. You have to remember that he did not even show up until halfway through Episode Two. Kenny is a character who is still developing, and has every reason to be a major figure in Season Two (among other characters..). Just because you happen to be sick of him or have a personal distaste for his character does not mean the guy does not have a reason to be around.
Issue Two: Kenny is reckless.
Lets start with the first incident that most people call into question in regards to Kenny’s recklessness, that being the shootout at the ski lodge back in Episode Two.
For some reason people love to throw Kenny under the bus for this one, and blame him for Walt’s death (and potentially Alvin’s). This just isn’t very fair at all. As is the case with most issues that people have with Kenny, these people fail to put themselves in his shoes, and fail to see things from his perspective instead of solely their own. We have to remember that Kenny knew absolutely nothing about Carver and his group, and he knew nothing of their intentions. Us as the player didn’t even know a lot at the time, but we at least had a general idea. In hindsight it is very easy for us to look back at Kenny’s actions and call them reckless, but we need to understand this is only because we know what the outcome of the situation is. Kenny had no idea what would happen in the case of him surrendering. Seriously, why would he just assume that Carver (someone he knows nothing about) would spare everyone’s life if he laid down his gun and gave himself up? As far as he knew, Carver could have just gunned down the entire group once he had them all at his mercy. After surrendering, there was nothing stopping Carver from killing everyone and walking away with Rebecca and the baby. Again, in hindsight we know Carver had his reasons for not wanting to do this, but in the moment we had no reason to think he would spare anyone. There is no logical reason to blame Kenny for this incident, and it does not even show a hint of recklessness on his part.
The second main issue that some people blame Kenny for is his gruesome killing of Carver. They argue that his methods took up too much time, and indirectly caused the deaths of Carlos, Sarita and potentially Nick and Sarah. He caused this because he wasted time in getting revenge instead of using that time to get a head start on escaping.
There are many arguments that disprove this one, but I’ll stick to just two for now. It’s pretty simple really. We have to remember that Kenny was the one who took action on Carver in the first place. Everyone else seemingly wanted to have a discussion about it, but Kenny took the matter into his own hands and dealt with it. How long would everyone else have bickered and argued about the morality of their decision making before they finally made a choice as a group? We obviously have no way of knowing for sure, but that is kind of the point. We don’t know how much extra time everyone else would have taken up before deciding what to do with Carver. Even after deciding what to do, they would then have had to execute that plan. Kenny didn’t wait around for this, and took matters into his own hands. Argue about his methods all you want, but he is the one who took action.
Another argument against his supposed recklessness here is the fact that his actual killing of Carver only took around 20 seconds of time. Obviously shooting Carver would have taken even less time, but we’re not talking about a major difference here. We’re talking an extra 20 seconds or so. The bulk of the scene was taken up by Carver talking (for dramatic purposes..). So would Kenny finishing Carver off with a simple shot to the head really have dramatically changed things? Most likely not. Again though, this really isn’t even all that worth seriously looking into considering Kenny was the one who expedited the process by taking action in the first place. Similar to the last issue we looked at, there really isn't any argument for calling Kenny reckless here. There is no ground for it to stand on at all.
Overall I do not think it is fair to call Kenny a reckless man, but he does have his moments. His little tussle with Mike in Episode Three led to walkers breaking into the compound and putting Clem and others in danger. The actual incident with Mike was never explained at all so we can’t really speculate if Kenny had a legitimate reason to be angry, but cooler heads should have probably prevailed. Earlier in the episode Kenny also had a fairly risky plan to escape the truck they were being transported in. The interesting part is the fact that the plan actually had a pretty good chance of working considering only three unassuming guards met them at their destination, but despite that fact, the plan was a little reckless in of itself.
Issue Three: Kenny’s Grief (aka how he mistreated Clementine)
This alone has stirred the pot with people’s viewpoints of Kenny probably more than anything else he has done this season. Truthfully, I am absolutely baffled by it. I understand this topic has been beaten to death, so I’ll try and keep it short and sweet.
First off, let me say that the way Kenny treated Clementine following Sarita’s death was absolutely wrong. But instead of us reaching for our torches and pitchforks, let us take a moment to at least try and understand what the man was going through. We’re potentially looking at a man who literally saw his lover get her arm cut off and then brutally ripped apart by walkers only a matter of hours prior to having his discussion with Clementine. It was clear that Kenny was in shock, and sick with grief. For a brief period of time, he had given up. That being said, is it really all that difficult to understand why he went off on the one person who was directly involved in Sarita’s fate? Is it really difficult to understand why he was so bitter? Obviously the situation changes a little in the instance that you didn't cut off Sarita’s arm, but the concept stays the same. Kenny was simply grieving. That doesn't make what he said alright, but we are in really no place to pass judgement. The man is only human. It would be one thing if he held onto his anger against Clementine, but he clearly does not, which further shows that his outburst was a by product of his intense grief and despair. It is really kind of unfortunate that people let this very natural incident take away from all the great things that Kenny did in the rest of Episode Four. Despite his grief, he was able to let go of his self pity and rushed to the aid of the group when no one else could. Whether people want to admit it or not, Kenny is/was a beacon of hope to the group, and they looked to him for leadership. He could have remained bitter and depressed until it sunk the rest of the group down with him, but he isn’t about that. Instead, he put his own needs aside and delivered a baby.
''You don’t just end it cause it’s hard. You stick it out, and you help the folks you care about.'' - Kenny
It is clear that Kenny cares about the group, and especially Clementine. I will admit that at first I was a little angry with Kenny for what he said to Clementine, but as I began to understand his situation from his own position, I was able to let go of that. If anything, I would say that I am a little sad that he said what he did… because it is clear that he cares about her a lot.
To conclude here, I would just like to say that I hope you consider these points when thinking about how you personally feel towards Kenny going forward. With the season finale approaching, we may not have much time left with his character. Lets try and end it on a good note.