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Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 11, ‘The Distance’: Hope Springs Eternal

Review: 'The Walking Dead' Season 5, Episode 11, 'The Distance': Hope Springs Eternal

READ MORE: Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 10, ‘Them’: Miracle Barn

Whose Episode Is It?

Everyone’s present and accounted for, and most of them even
get lines, but this episode centers around Rick and Michonne’s disagreement on
whether or not to trust Aaron, the mysterious guy from the end of last episode.

How Far is Too Far?

The good news, right off the bat, is that this is a much
stronger episode than the last two. After the hardships that the Ricketeers
have endured, it was probably inevitable that they would stumble upon a group
of people that had not forsaken their humanity. But before that can happen,
Rick has to thoroughly vet Aaron. Aaron seems to be on the level, but this episode
creates some excellent tension by having Rick act completely sensibly, yet in a
way that could lead to bloody violence at any moment. Michonne pushes for
believing Aaron, but there are enough Ricketeers that are justifiably skeptical
of anyone and everyone not in their group. Aaron could say or do one wrong
thing and Rick might just shoot him in the head and leave it at that. As Rick
admits to Aaron right away, “Just because we’re good people, doesn’t mean
we won’t kill you.”

The tension is also helped by Ross Marquand’s performance as
Aaron, which strikes a perfect balance between being helpful and being too good
to be true. When Aaron shows up at the Ricketeers’ barn, he’s giving a
performance, knowing that they probably won’t trust him but that he needs to
convince them anyway. At the same time, he knows that the more he pushes, the
more it seems like he’s leading them into a trap. It doesn’t help that he’s
taken the creepy but certainly necessary step of eavesdropping on the group’s
conversations. And Rick’s distrust is completely understandable, considering
the litany of horrors the group has already encountered. The question becomes,
if Aaron is telling the truth, can Rick be open enough to believing him — or
is he too far gone to trust anyone new again? It’s a good dynamic, and one the
show hasn’t really played with before, so it’s refreshing.

A Shred of Humanity

Fortunately, Michonne is around to balance out Rick’s
skepticism. When things threaten to get out of hand, she’s there to calm
everyone down. At one point Glenn advises his patrol to shoot anyone on sight,
and Michonne is able to walk him back from that command. Michonne’s authority
in the group is growing, and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of she and Rick
being on different sides of a philosophical divide.

Aaron certainly seems to be telling the truth, once it’s
revealed that his spying companion was his boyfriend Eric, and the two are so
cute together they melt the group’s collective heart (well, except Rick’s
although he does agree to letting them sleep together). It’s clear now that the
last two episodes were so grim to contrast this new hope for the Ricketeers. We
had to see them at their lowest so the show could properly explore if they’re
still capable of trust, or if they’ve been out there too long to function like
proper human beings. This doesn’t make the last two episodes better, but it
places them in a better context, and it’s nice to know it was all to a purpose.
The big concern going forward is that the show must go on, so even if
Alexandria is the stable community it’s made out to be, something terrible
inevitably has to happen to it. If the show was grim when the group was in the
wilderness, how dark will it be when they truly have something to lose?

Achievement in
Grossness

Glenn plows through a horde of zombies and a ridiculous
amount of gore coats the car. This bit lasts so long it becomes pretty funny,
like the cast was driving through a hailstorm of dead flesh. Later, Glenn has
to slop blood off the windshield with his hands.

And while it’s not nearly as gross, points are also awarded
to Rick shooting a flare into a zombie’s face and it lighting its skull up like
Ghost Rider.

Achievement in RV
Maintenance

Glenn knows where the extra batteries are stored in an RV.
Remember the RV, guys? And Lori and Shane and Andrea and T-Dog and Dale and
Sophia and – wow, this show has killed off a lot of people.

Grade: B+

READ MORE: ‘The Walking Dead’s’ ‘What Happened and What’s Going On’ Is the Show’s Most Pretentious Episode Ever

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