A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 5, Episode 11: “The Distance”

If Aaron takes this kind of abuse on a regular basis, he really should consider a different job other than Alexandria’s recruiter.

The Distance- Sasha and Maggie bring Aaron to the group

The episode begins with Maggie and Sasha bringing Aaron into the barn.  They’ve already taken his gear and searched him for weapons.  Protocol, you know.  Aaron has come to have the group audition for membership in his community, which he feels is much safer than a camp.  He says they would be valuable additions.

His job is to convince people to follow him.  As proof, Aaron asks Sasha to give Rick his pack, which has an envelope of photos from the community.  It’s safe, has secure walls, and it is critical to have good people there in order to survive.  Rick takes this into careful consideration and…

…punches the guy’s lights out.  Rick tells the others to tie him up.  Also protocol, I guess.

Now, Michonne thinks that Rick is being a bit aggressive and that Aaron is a good person.  Rick, however, goes into leader mode and tells everyone to keep alert for anyone else that this stranger may have brought with them.

The Distance- Aaron is set up and questioned by Rick

When Aaron awakens, he completely understands the group being extra cautious.  Rick inquires about Aaron’s flare gun and then asks how many people Aaron has with him.  Aaron, however, doesn’t see the point in giving a number.  He knows that no matter what he says, he won’t be trusted.

To be fair, Aaron’s pretty much right.  Besides, it’s hard to trust someone who leaves you bottles of water.  Aaron has seen how this dealt with and ignored packs of roamers.  He knows that they’re survivors and good people, which would be important resources.

Once again, Rick asks for a number, and Aaron finally gives it: one.  He asks what it would take to prove he’s being honest, like driving to the community.  He and his companion drove separately and would have come sooner if not for the storm.  He couldn’t get any closer, but he could have ambushed them earlier at any moment.  The two vehicles aren’t too far out.

Again, suspicion clear in his face and voice, Rick doesn’t believe there are any cars, but Michonne needs to know for sure.  As does Maggie.  They’re soon joined by Glenn, Abraham, and Rosita.  If they don’t return in 60 minutes, the others will follow.  Aaron attempts to converse with Rick, telling him that before the outbreak, he used to deliver medicine for an NGO, so he’s used to having guns pointed in his face.

Even still, he doesn’t believe that Rick and company are bad people.  Rick retorts that just because they’re good doesn’t mean they won’t kill him.  If the others aren’t back, Rick promises to put a knife in the base of Aaron’s skull.  This is how Rick makes friends.

The Distance- On the road with Abraham, Maggie, Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita

On the road, Glenn tells the rest of the group to be on their guard.  After all, they could run into someone that’s like them, so they should be afraid.  Plus, why would Aaron want a group of strangers to join him.  Michonne is still optimistic.  After all, the group could accept the likes of herself, Tara, and even Gabriel, so it’s not a stretch for someone else to take in people they would otherwise be cautious of.  Little does the group know that they’re being watched…

The Distance- Rick makes Aaron taste the apple sauce

Judith is still crying.  Aaron suggests Rick feed her with Aaron’s apple sauce.  Fine, but Aaron has to try it first.  He does, even though he doesn’t like apple sauce and he’s aghast that Rick would think he’d want to poison his daughter.

The Distance- Group of five finds the two vehicles

Soon enough, the others do indeed find two vehicles.  They hear a noise, but it’s just walkers.  Abraham and Rosita dispatch of them before checking the RV and finding food inside.  While checking around, Abraham asks Rosita whether she thought he would have hurt her back at the fire truck after Eugene’s confession.  She says no.  It wasn’t Abraham.

The Distance- Rick claims the food

Meanwhile, back in the barn, Rick claims ownership of the food, regardless of whether they agree to go with Aaron.  Oh, smooth move, Rick, you didn’t even find the food.  Plus, like Joe said, don’t have you have to see it first in order to claim it for yourself?

Anyway, this doesn’t gel with the rest of the group, and Michonne believes Aaron is telling the truth.  If he were lying or wanted to hurt them, they’d have a reason to distrust him, but Aaron hasn’t given them a reason.  They need this.  Anyone who feels different should speak up.  Daryl does, but it’s just to say that the barn smells like horse shit.  Thanks for that, Daryl.  Eventually, Rick says that they’ll go.

Now Aaron has never been the one to drive to the camp, so he would have to give the group directions as they went along.  He instructs them to go north on Route 16 since that area has been cleared.  Rick opts for Route 33 and going under the cover of night so they can still slip out if they’re spotted.  In the meantime, get some rest.

The Distance- Rick tells Michonne that they're going with Aaron

Outside, as Rick checks one of the vehicles, Michonne asks if Rick really meant it when he said they would go or was he just trying to get Aaron to talk.  Rick, however, says that they will go.  He still has a reason to be careful, after what happened at Woodbury and Terminus.  He needs to decide if he’s taking his family in, but at this point, he can’t be sure if anything would convince him that this is real.

The Distance- Driving with Glenn, Rick, Aaron, and Michonne

So that night, Aaron is saddled along with Rick, Glenn, and Michonne.  The RV isn’t too far behind.  Rick goes through the glove compartment and finds some license plates that Aaron is collecting in his hunt for all 50.  Michonne looks through some of Aaron’s photos and calls attention to the fact that the pictures don’t have people in them.  Aaron did take one of the entire group, but bad exposure ruined that picture.

Michonne then asks Aaron the questions that Rick apparently forgot to ask: how many walkers has he killed?  A lot, is his response.  As for how many people, two.  Why?  They tried to kill him.  Rick then finds a listening device that Aaron has apparently been using.  Now they believe they’re being followed.

The Distance- Glenn drives through walkers

Glenn plows through an oncoming crowd of walkers and eventually comes to a stop.  Rick plans for them to circle back, but the car won’t start.  It’s clogged with walker guts.  Well, that’s what happens when you drive through walkers, Glenn.

The Distance- A flare goes up in the sky

Then a flare goes into the sky.  Aaron now needs to leave at this very moment and rushes out.  He ends up almost being bitten by a walker.  Glenn considers leaving him, but eventually does kill the walker.  Aaron again insists that Glenn and the others follow him.  Like Glenn said, they can only make it together.  He also fesses up to listening to them.

The Distance- Rick fires the flare gun at a walker

Rick and Michonne, meanwhile, hold off as many walkers as they can before they’re saved by Aaron and Glenn.  Time to move on.  By the way, this may have been one of the cooler scenes in the episode due to Rick firing the flare gun at one of the walkers, causing its head to light up like a Jack-O-Lantern.  If only this episode had been shown in October

The Distance- Aaron reunites with Eric, played by Jordan Woods-Robinson

Soon, they meet up with the others.  Aaron heads inside and we’re introduced to his partner, Eric, played by Jordan Woods-Robinson, who went and got himself a broken ankle.  But Eric did manage to get Aaron a new license plate.  Good, since Aaron lost the car.

The Distance- Aaron thanks the group for their help

Eric owes the group a great debt that he hopes to repay at Alexandria.  Rick is fine with everyone staying the night and heading out in the morning.  Rick wants Aaron to stay on the other side, but Aaron says that the only way Rick will keep him away from Eric is by shooting him.  Strong words, Aaron.

Glenn tries to get Rick to ease off a bit.  After all, both Eric and Aaron are unarmed and Eric has a broken ankle.  Plus, Aaron told the truth when he said he only had one person with him.

The Distance- Noah offers painkillers and water to Aaron

The next morning, Noah offers Aaron some painkillers and water for his wrists.  Aaron asks about Noah’s ankle, which we learn he injured in an accident before the outbreak.  Aaron tells Noah of a surgeon in Alexandria named Pete that may be able to help.

As the group drives along, Abraham and Rosita spot the Washington Monument in the distance.  They’re low on fuel, but they should be able to make it.

The Distance- Car trouble

Never mind, they come to a stop, but luckily Glenn knows about the spare battery.  Thanks for that one, Dale.

The Distance- Michonne tells Rick to let it go

Michonne advises Rick to just let it all go.  It’s kept him alive and warm at night, but the fight eventually turns on you.  It’s time to forget about it.  Rick thinks back to Bob saying something similar to him back at the church.  At what point is it good to let someone in when the rules of survival keep on changing?

The Distance- Rick hides a gun

Before the group continues, we get a brief scene of Rick placing a gun near an abandoned home.

The Distance- Arriving at the Alexandria Safe Zone

Everyone finally arrives outside the gates of Alexandria.  Rick hears the sounds of children and has a bit of optimism on his face.  Carol tells him that even when Rick is wrong, he’s still right.  As Rick takes Judith out, everyone leaves the vehicles and heads for the gates.

So we’ve finally arrived at the Alexandria Safe Zone.  It took some time to get there and we technically aren’t inside yet, so it’s not yet time to drop your guard.

The Distance- Rick and Michonne talk about the rules changing

Rick mentioned to Michonne that the rules keep changing, which is true.  Everyone is taking a great leap of faith by trusting Aaron, a man they’ve never met and know little about, in leading them to this community.  They don’t know what they’re heading into and know that Aaron isn’t telling them every single detail, so while they’re optimistic, they’re still cautious.

Us- Mary welcomes group to Terminus

And they’ve been fooled before.  Terminus, Woodbury, and even the prison looked like strongholds safe from walker madness or anything sinister, but eventually, something went wrong.  Now does this mean that Aaron is going to turn out to be another Gareth or Governor?  No.  Is it right to be suspicious of him?  Sure.  After all, the others don’t know Aaron and, given his calm demeanor after being decked by Rick, one would wonder if he has something to hide.

The Distance- Carol tells Rick that even though he was wrong, he's still right

Time and time again, The Walking Dead, both in the television show and comic, has shown us the dangers of getting too close with strangers that have seemingly innocent intentions.  Hell, we’re seeing Carl go through this in the comic right now.  Rick has a lot to lose not just with Carl and Judith, but the group as a whole since everyone looks to him as the leader.

What Carol said to Rick made a lot of sense: he may have been wrong, but he was still right.  Even if it’s something as small as tasting apple sauce, Rick will take any and every precaution to protect his family.  And yet, it’s Rick taking control of the situation that nearly got them killed when they decided to take 23 North and run into walkers.

Dick move to treat Aaron the way he did, but he wouldn’t do it if he didn’t want to protect everyone close to him.  Now, as we’ve seen with the recent deaths of Beth and Tyreese, we know that what Rick can’t do is save everyone.  He can be trusting and protective, but his group will kill if necessary to protect themselves, as we see when Rick tells Aaron that just because they’re good people doesn’t mean they won’t kill him.  The truth is these people will never know when it’s safe to let someone into their inner circle.

The Distance- Michonne believes Aaron

I like that Michonne is the one to call the group out on them being extra cautious when Aaron hasn’t given them a reason to distrust him.  She’s been down this road before.  After all, they took her in and she damn near ditched Rick, Glenn, Daryl, and Merle when they fled Woodbury.  She had little to say and gave no one except maybe Andrea a reason to trust her.

They also took in Tara, who was in cahoots with the Governor and took part in the assault that led to Hershel’s death.  Sure, she didn’t do the decapitating and didn’t know what the Governor would do, but she still could have been considered a threat.

And what about Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita?  They easily could pose a threat, especially Abraham with his physicality, and yet they joined forces with Rick and company anyway.  Michonne’s point is clear: if they can accept strangers and newcomers, it’s not too far of a stretch to believe that someone else could.  At the same time, though, they’re still careful and quick to notice anything off, such as no people showing up in Aaron’s photos.

The Distance- Glenn reasons with Rick

Plus, I also liked that not everyone blindly agreed with Rick’s suspicion of Aaron, even though Rick has been the one mostly calling the shots.  Glenn even had a slight change of heart when Aaron refused to let anything or anyone stand between him and Eric.

The Distance- Aaron knows the others don't trust him

As far as Aaron goes, it may have been in his benefit to admit everything he knew to Sasha and Maggie first instead of waiting to tell everyone, but he had his reasons.  As much as Aaron wants everyone to believe him, even he’s not stupid enough to think they won’t be cautious.

The Distance- Aaron refuses to let anything stand between him and Eric

Like Aaron told Rick when it came to his numbers, he could say anything and still be looked upon as distrustful, so why even bother?  Aaron must have one of the worst jobs if he has to endure so much abuse when doing these auditions, but he has a spine.  He may be willing to take a punch from Rick and allowing Rick to claim the food from the RV, but he’ll be damned if Rick is going to keep him away from Eric.

That was a great moment.  I don’t think we’ve had someone directly challenge Rick like that since Abraham.

The Distance- Rosita and Abraham have a moment

Though this episode was mostly focused on Rick, Glenn, Michonne, and Aaron, it had its moments with other characters.  Abraham and Rosita had a bit of time to reconcile and we got a nice callback to Dale when Glenn knew about the extra battery.

And like the bag of guns, Rick keeping that other gun hidden is smart for a backup plan.

The Distance- Aaron refers to walkers as roamers

Oh, and as a fan of the original source material, I had a big grin on my face when Aaron referred to the walkers as roamers, as they’re referred to in the comic book.

Going forward, Alexandria looks like it’s too good to be true, and it just may be- seems fine to me, but again, that’s coming from the perspective of a comic reader.  There’s a real sense of optimism as our ragtag group of walker killers try their shot at dropping their guards.  Will they drop them altogether?  Of course not.

These may be good and trusting people, but they can sense foul play from a mile away.  Salvation may be behind these gates, or it could be a trap.  Who knows?  We’ll see when we rejoin the group next week.

2 thoughts on “A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 5, Episode 11: “The Distance”

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