“The Distance” managed to salvage the inescapable tone of dread from last week and manufacture some well warranted tension thanks to the new arrival to the group: Aaron.
This episode can easily be summed up with what Carol says to Rick during the final minutes “even though you were wrong, you were right.” This episode belongs to Rick thanks to some well warranted trust issues. Aaron arrives to the camp, and within moments is taken prisoner against his will.
Luckily he was incredibly forthcoming with everything that he could safely offer the group. Despite this, Rick has been put on edge. His marching across the barn to punch Aaron in the face shows his inability to trust, and no he’s not wrong. People are natural storytellers, Rick knows this, and they’ve been tricked many times before. What may have felt forced in the past, felt perfectly in place here because Aaron is a little too easy going.
With Michonne taking point in the quest to find Aaron’s cars and hopefully his partner, we get to see a different perspective of the ordeal. Michonne’s is one of more hope, she’s driven by the same ideals but makes a valid point, these dudes trusted her – a woman with a samurai sword, and would you? She’s comforted by this, and isn’t that exactly what they want you to think?
Despite several signs that Rick is talking to a genuinely good person, he can’t let up. When he’s struggling to make some real shit food for Judith, Aaron offers him solace in some applesauce. Although he initially slaps his hand, Rick does come around and taste the dish, with fantastic Rick Grimes’ smiley results.
Of course the others succeed in finding the cars and the food within. Rick takes it upon himself to create another route toward the camp than the one offered by Aaron. Again, his aversion to trust is well warranted, but as they solider along the highway we see just why Rick was told to go a certain way.
We get walker chaos for a while, and the perfectly dark and confusing night scene capped off with Aaron helping the group when by all means he should have just hightailed it into the darkness. Leading to the most heartfelt scene of the night: Aaron’s relationship to Eric. And, bravo to AMC for flat out showing their embrace and treating it as if it’s nothing, Aaron and Eric have an incredibly strong relationship thanks to that one scene.
So we arrive at the mysterious “Alexandria” by the morning, and it seems that Rick was indeed wrong. Suffice to say, that still remains to be scene, but the sounds of laughing children don’t seem that ominous. The group has been on the run for a whole season and subsequently without hope, so the return of home-base, a safety net of sorts, could really be something special.
The Walking Dead has never been a story about hopelessness, because at its core there is a tone of hope. To restart what we lost, but better this time. Alexandria effectively offers some glimmer of that, but where there are people there are politics, and sometimes they can be more damaging than the walkers outside the walls.