The Walking Dead: The Distance Review

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.


“Just because we’re good people, doesn’t mean we won’t kill you.”

Aaron’s arrival at the makeshift headquarters is met with the expected level of suspicion on the part of the survivors. Watching the group rally around him, cautious of any move he makes speaks to their new approach in the world—one where they have zero trust in anyone. It’s easy to see how their mistrust in Aaron might not be misplaced, as there have been very few opportunities for them where things seemed too good to be true. Thanks to how much the world has jaded him to this point, Rick’s greeting was especially harsh. You could argue that Rick punching him was over the top, but Rick is tired of being taken advantage of when he’s entrusted himself with the role of leader.

That role as leader was challenged by Michonne and Maggie though. Michonne has shown an increasing ambivalence towards life on the run, desperately seeking a chance to stop running and relax for a bit. Maggie wants something similar—a new life with Glenn where the two of them can possibly raise a family together. It’s their desire for the calmer life that prompts an exploration of Aaron’s scenario. It’s also probably one of the few times where Rick is challenged so readily, as he was content to kill Aaron and just keep moving, whereas Michonne and Maggie want to check out if the cars are real. There’s some real dissension in the ranks brewing too, beyond just Michonne and Maggie, but fortunately Rick sees it and doesn’t attempt to stop the flow any further.

There was a particularly poignant exchange between Rick and Michonne when Rick still had his doubts. The exchange revolved around the concept of what the survivors heard outside the walls of Woodbury and Terminus. Rick’s point was they heard silence, which was a very telling indicator of the situation inside the walls. That exchange made the fact that the survivors heard children laughing and playing at the settlement very honest and relevant, as it proved there was hope. Even Carol’s offering to Rick that even though he was right he was wrong reiterated the fact that all his decisions are made out of loyalty and self-preservation of the group.

Rick’s “largesse” in the moment only went so far though, as he still felt compelled to be as cautious as possible, prompting them to take the more dangerous route to the rally point. The ensuing chaos did provide for some really awesome lighting and cinematography. There was one scene in particular where Glenn was shooting at zombies and the flash from the gun’s muzzle offered brief illuminations. In between the flashes was a zombie creeping up behind him, getting closer and closer until he was right up on him. It was a really cool way to shoot the scene and added an extra layer of drama to the proceedings.

One of the bigger reveals of the episode had to do with Aaron and his friend Eric. The reveal that the two of them are in love is interesting from a character perspective, even if the reveal was a little clumsily forced. The show to this point hasn’t really explored the wider range of relationships prevalent in humanity and it’s great that they’re showing it as being persistent even in an inconsistent world. The Walking Dead has always been something of a bellwether when it comes to diversity, offering a wide range of characteristics; everything from race to sex and now to relationship choices. Aaron and Eric’s relationship also served a pretty good story purpose as well.

Rick’s desire to prevent Aaron from spending the night with Eric might have been the final turning point for him to be convinced that maybe the settlement outside Alexandria could be real. Glenn approached Rick and solicited his trust as it pertains to the Aaron and his offer. The only person Rick never consulted with was Daryl who—other than sharing a few acknowledging glances with one another—didn’t really talk at all about where they were going. Maybe it was because Rick knows Daryl will back him regardless, but the magnitude of the decision was great and one of the “founders” of the group wasn’t consulted.

Considering the generally pessimistic nature of the show, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the group encountered a minor breakdown on the way. Fortunately for the survivors (and what is likely a bit of irony for comedic relief), the situation was quickly remedied. It was a minor speed-bump prior to the group’s arrival at the settlement and presumed direction of the remainder of the season. The first half of the season dealt with the group coping with extreme paranoia about trusting those outside the group. The second half looks to address them working to ingratiate themselves in with another group of survivors. There’s going to be some inherent tension in watching them mix in, but it’s hoped that they’ll get a chance to kick back in their choice of house before the next big bad rolls around.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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