My thoughts on the ending of the final season
Here are my thoughts on the end of the final season and thus the game series as a whole.
When speculating on the ending, there are a number of things to consider:
- Telltale lead writer James Windeler said that they want the game to have a "satisfying", but also "emotional" and "gut-wrenching" ending.
- This game most likely won't (or at least not entirely) have the "Telltale curse": determinant characters always dying/getting written out of the story or your choices not mattering in general. This is because it's is the final season, so Telltale can make branching paths without having to tie them back together. That said though, I wouldn't expect anything big until the last episode.
- Overarching themes from previous games. As this is the end for the series, these will likely play some part in the story.
Death of the main characters
In order to have a satisfying ending, Clem's (and by extension Lee's) "legacy" (like survival techniques, morals and philosophy; the player's decisions for the most part) need to be carried on by someone. To put it in other words, if Clem dies without a "worthy successor", the entire series will feel wasted. Well, in my opinion at least. So with this in mind...
Clem and AJ
Highly unlikely. I just don't feel like there's anyone who could succeed Clem other than AJ, so at least one needs to survive.
Possible, but not very likely. Though Clem would still be alive, she would have failed her "objective" of keeping AJ safe at all costs. This would most likely change her for the worse and make everything from the end of Season 2 to the end of this season feel kind of wasted.
More likely than I'd like. AJ would need to be safe and Clem would need to pass on her legacy to him before she dies for this ending to "work". Made more likely by: possible book-end with Clem dying like Lee did, heavy foreshadowing and shock factor. Made less likely by: predictability, AJ still being too young and the emotinal bond that players (and even Telltale) have developed with Clementine.
Neither Clem, nor AJ
Pretty likely. Though it'd be harder for Telltale to make an emotional ending this way, this is the "safest play" for them.
One of the most prominent themes of the game series is the dilemma of always being on the move vs settling down (and by extension: going with groups vs staying relatively alone), so I wouldn't be surprised if the very last choice would be related to this.
I also think that it's very likely that we'll get multiple endings.
Lastly, I'd like to discuss some of the achievements for Episode 4. They don't reveal that much, but if you want to avoid even the smallest spoilers, then I don't recommend clicking the show button.
- "Goodbye" points towards somebody's death, though it could be anyone: Clem, AJ, somebody from Ericsson or someone we haven't met yet.
- "You and me" probably means that Clementine will do something that Lee did. This could mean good (protecting AJ) or bad (Clem getting bitten).
- "Promise" is pretty self-explanatory. Could be foreshadowing, however.
- "Lost and Found" is the "big one", the one everyone is speculating wildly about. As it has been noted before, it says "Clem's hat", not "your hat", which would imply that we'll be playing as someone other than Clem (AJ most likely). Remember that at the end of Season 1, when Lee found Clem's hat, Clem wasn't the one who got bit and that this doesn't necessarily mean she's dead (or anything for that matter). And since there could be multiple endings and this achievement is an optional one anyway, I wouldn't start panicking just yet.
Thanks for reading my post, I hope I didn't bore anyone to death with my wall of text.