Season 5, Episode 11 “The Distance”
Plot: The gang has emerged from last week’s sojourn through the Old Testament and come out religious-symbolism-free on the other side. Well, at least for the week. Maggie and Sasha bring the mysterious Aaron back to the barn and introduce him to the group. He says “Hey, we’ve got this cool place that’s safe and awesome and I want you to join.” The group responds by hassling him, taking his things, and then knocking him out. Let’s see, from there, basically, the group spends most of the rest of the episode trying to decide whether to trust Aaron or just steal all his stuff and leave him for dead. Eventually they tentatively go with Plan A. On their way to Aaron’s pad, Glenn crashes their ride through all of the walkers in Virginia, the group gets split in half and wood-based walker hijinks ensue. Killing off three characters in three weeks would be overkill and so everyone makes it back to the same place and they meet Aaron’s boyfriend Eric (Glad we got that biblical stuff out of the way when we did). The episode ends as the gang arrives at Aaron and Eric’s compound. Tune in next week when we find out whether this was all a giant mistake or if it’s the best thing ever until some one-eyed jerk comes around and ruins everything.
- Bad: It doesn’t pay to be nice (in theory). I get being weary of Greeks bearing gifts, or in this case, dorky white guys, but c’mon. Do we need to punch out the guy, hog tie him and steal all of his supplies? Sure, he could be a murderous cannibal tax cheat. He could also just be a nice guy. Rick and crew’s actions seem to go beyond maintaining a healthy suspicion of strangers and plow headfirst into “Yup, we’re dicks now.” Fun game idea: Show this episode to someone who’s never watch a second of “The Walking Dead” and then try to convince him or her that Rick's crew are the good guys. Do a shot every time you say “No, seriously. They really are.”
- Bad: The only thing that carried me through those long, slow moments of tediously weighing pros and cons was the idea that Rick would say “We’re not going” and the episode would end with Aaron walking sadly back into his settlement to reveal a entire town full of curly mullets, children in sheriff hats, oddly clean and healthy-looking babies --- in short: Grimes Family heaven. Then we’d smash cut back to Rick who’s using a whip and chair to fend off just a sea of walkers while he yells “I regret nothing!” at the top of his lungs.
- Good: I will accept your attempts to break the ice with awful humor, Aaron, but only because everyone else on this show is so super serious all the time.
- Bad: Rick really is a chore in this episode. We get it, decisions are hard. If you don’t want to make them, drift into the background and let someone else take over for a while. Or multiple someone else’s. Where does it say you must always be the literal or symbolic head of that group?
- Good: Aaron’s story about his mom making him eat applesauce to toughen him up is simultaneously the greatest, dumbest and saddest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s sad because it’s no doubt rooted in truth, but it’s great and dumb because it’s applesauce. Looking forward to next week when we hear all about his time spent at lumberjack camp and how his mom used to push him into bear pits every time they took a trip to a zoo. That’d toughen a kid up.
- Bad: Nonsense conflict. So Rick wants Aaron to tell him where the settlement is located. Aaron doesn’t want to do that because he’s scared it might lead to something bad happening to his friends. I don’t understand what he’s talking about. How is telling them where your camp is located any more dangerous than actually leading them there? Couldn’t they just as easily let you lead the way and then just open fire the second the gates are open? Actually, couldn’t they do that more easily since if you go with them, you’ll be there to get the gates open in the first place? What are we fighting about?!?!?
- Good: What’s up with Aaron and that listening device? Spying on them and whatnot? Wonder if he heard Abe workshopping one-liners while taking his morning constitution in the woods.
- Bad: So much for Glenn getting promoted from waterboy/shoulder to cry on to group driver. How does he not see that giant swarm of walkers? Why is it that every time a character takes his or her eyes off the road for even a second in this show, something is able to teleport directly in front of them?
- Good: Walkers in the woods. This whole sequence was awesome. Being lost in the woods? Scary. Being lost in the woods at night. Scarier? Being lost in the woods at night while something is chasing you? Super scary.
- Good: That awesome effect where Glenn is shooting walkers and you can see a walker getting gradually closer and closer in the muzzle flashes.
- Good/Bad: So Aaron is gay. That’s cool, however, the show may have gone overboard with the “Look how cute he and his boyfriend are” stuff. I mean, they are cute, but hell, this is zombie apocalypse world. People ain't got time to be that doe-eyed and lovable.
- Good: Finally some character development for the baby. Remember, she cries when Aaron shows up, so I’m going to reverse engineer that to mean the baby is a homophobe. Friggin’ babies, man. They can’t just live and let live.
- Bad: Papa Rick doesn’t want Aaron and Eric sleeping together, presumably because he doesn’t see any wedding rings and this is the south. Just because it’s a zombie apocalypse doesn’t mean the neighbors won’t talk. Or maybe he’s afraid of scheming. I don’t know. Rick was a wishy-washy pain so I just started inventing motivations for him that I found more interesting than “They could be good, but they could be bad (*furrow brow*).”
- Good: Pulling the rug out from under Abe. He’s so sure they’re going to make it and then BAM! Dead RV.
- Good: Glenn, knower of RV maintenance. Remember all that time they spent living in an RV like three seasons ago? Paid off. Suck it people who thought they were at Herschel’s farm for too long!
- Good: Cliffhanger! Are Aaron’s people cool? Are they baddies? Now that Rick is there and his whole lion tamer thing is out of the picture, I kind of hope the gates open to reveal absolutely nothing. The place is 100% deserted. Aaron looks down at a map and is all “My bad guys, wrong one. We’re actually in the next walled settlement over. Sorry.” And then we do the whole dance again next week.