Series Issues: The Walking Dead 5×11 – The Distance

(Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

(Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

Spoiler warning.

I will give you the alternate title once we’re past the first paragraph… This appears on a couple of sites so I don’t want the first lines to include a spoiler. Safe to say, we start where we left off. Aaron is a prisoner and everyone’s trying to determine if they’re in for another Woodbury or another Terminus. Is Aaron another smooth talking Gareth? We want to believe him. You can tell that Michonne and Maggie are willing to believe him. Rick is definitely the skeptic here. Which camp are we pulling for as the audience?

It’s really easy to just go Rick’s way and as he says, we don’t really need to find out. He wants to walk away. It’s not that he’s had it any rougher than anybody in the group, but he’s got the weight of leadership bearing down on him. You don’t want the responsibility to decide for the entire group.

Alternate Title: The Road To Alexandria

But the moment shifts. Michonne is not the first to believe Aaron, but the first to voice her opinion to Rick. There’s a short powerplay with looks and then Rick is willing to give this a go carefully. Michonne, Maggie, Glenn are willing and Rick ask Abraham and Rosita to go as well. They’ll check the vehicle that supposedly can take all of them. When they find it, it’s a camper… Was anybody reminded of Dale’s camper from so many seasons ago? If you didn’t, wait for it. There’s going to be a subtle Dale moment soon.

Now that we know that there’s some sort of place to actually go and Aaron’s story is starting to check out, most of the group is on board. At Michonne’s insistence, Rick is willing to see what lies beyond the fences of the community, but he’s not himself sure of what will it take for him to believe. We’re not sure either.

Rick chooses to take a different road to the one suggested by Aaron, one that is not clear of walkers. Using the lead car, which already should have clued everyone that this is a minimum two-man operation, they travel up the road in the middle of the night. That is actual suicide. When Glenn starts hitting walkers, he does something that looks suicidal but it looked like a good idea at the time. He plows straight ahead without stopping until he doesn’t hit any more bodies.

That at least grants them some time while they get their bearings. The problem is the camper will not be able to pull that move. The good news is the camper seems to have gotten away. The bad news is that the rest of the walkers are now en route to the lead car, which won’t start up anymore. A flare goes up and Aaron panics. He proclaims the whole operation lost, manages to kick his way out and runs into the woods in the direction of the flare with his hands still tied behind his back.

With a good as a direction to go as any, Rick, Glenn and Michonne follow him. Glenn gets lost but finds, saves and unties Aaron. Enough is enough, he knows all hands are needed. They rejoin Rick and Michonne and manage to escape… barely.

The rest of the group had better luck as they find themselves in a warehouse (a supply room) when they’re finally joined by the stragglers on foot. The group has saved Aaron’s partner, Eric, who we can guess sent the flare up and then somehow got hurt. There’s another possible tense moment as Aaron does not want to leave Eric’s side, despite what Rick says. It’s up to Glenn to convince Rick. At this point, there’s nothing more than to ride up to Alexandria’s doors.

Is there, though? Michonne is taking this a lot better than Rick is, and she can tell. The camper’s battery dies just as Abraham was sure they’d make it. Here’s where the little nod to Dale happens as Glenn shows him there’s a spare they can use inside the camper. The group claps as the camper starts up. Rick asks for a moment to his own thoughts. A moment where he walks off the road and hides a gun. Can’t be too careful.

Then it’s finally there. The barred doors of a compound. Alexandria beckons. Rick needs Michonne’s help to let go of the wheel. Behind the gates you can hear the almost alien sound of children playing. And as Rick grabs Judith and joins the rest of the group to wait for the gate to open, we fade to black.

This episode has tons of little tidbits but it’s overall a great episode to watch as our hopes and guesses go back and forth between trust and mistrust. Obviously, we don’t get the answer until the next one.

Highs:

  • Great episode, a prelude for sure, but after Woodbury and Terminus, we as the audience are being kept guessing. Do we hope? Do we have the luxury to ignore the possibility of a safe haven?
  • Early on, the apple formula from Aaron’s backpack almost gets him killed as he doesn’t want to try it before Rick can feed it to Judith. The reason is kinda stupid: Aaron hates it. However, in this little moment is where the show is teasing the audience. Do we trust him or not?
  • When they’re riding up in the lead car at night, Aaron invites Michonne to look at the pictures again. It’s then than Michonne realizes that none of the pictures include people. It’s a moment in which Michonne suddenly mistrusts him again and she starts asking him the Questions Three.
  • Glenn’s suicidal run into the zombie crowd was a bit of a Han Solo move that could have ended with them running into a tree. It doesn’t really save them but at least it doesn’t leave them smack into a horde of walkers. Then again, what do you? Stop and hope you can fend off all the walkers or risk running into another vehicle up ahead? Perhaps not such a good idea after all, huh.
  • Aaron and Eric are indeed a couple. Aaron collects license plates that he kept in the glove compartment. Eric gets him one of the plates he’s missing… right after he lost all of them.
  • Abraham and Rosita have a moment where they can see Washington DC in the distance.
  • The Dale nostalgia moment with the camper’s battery dying. When Glenn points out the additional battery, Abraham asks him how did he know that it was there. Glenn’s smile is him remembering Dale again.
  • The camera points at Rick’s eyes as he hears the kids behind the fence. You can see the tension slowly dissolving as he dares to hope. When he turns around, Michonne is smiling at him and puts her hand on the wheel to let him know it’s time to turn off the car… and face the music.
  • Carol didn’t have much lines in this episode but her line about Rick being right even when he was wrong was a nice way to summarize an episode where the long hard road was taken instead of the easy one.

Lows:

  • They say hindsight’s 20-20 so it’s easy to blame Rick for that idea of using the alternate route at night. The thing is, it was also pretty clear that was going to end up in running into something. So, caution against a trap, yes. Caution against running into walkers, no. The trap was not a sure thing but running into walkers is always a sure thing. Go with the supposedly clear road next time.

That will do for now.

(Source: AMC)

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