Though “The Distance” might be another episode where some might declare that really nothing happens, this isn’t quite the case, as much occurs within the time span of the episode. Not only does it bring the notice of the village of Alexandria, it also introduces Aaron from the comic books. It’s nice to see the show veering ever closer to the source material once more, along with widening the span of the characters.
There are so many gorgeous moments of the episode that it’s tough to pick out just one. Whether it’s the wide shot of the car mowing down all of the walkers, to the callback to Dale Horvath on the way to Alexandria (the group has maintained their humanity—well done, good sir), or the amazing moment when Rick hears kids laughing at the gates of Alexandria, “The Distance” just has it in spades.
The action sequences are also worth noting, as they’re draped in darkness and hues of red, with the plan to get to Alexandria taking a bit of a pit stop, prompting Glenn, Rick, and Michonne to fight their lives against an impossible horde. The flare gun death for the walker is especially a nice touch, and it’s wonderful to see KNB on their A Game.
“The Distance” is really about letting go of the past and learning to heal your wounds from bad experiences. This particularly applies for Rick, who doesn’t trust Aaron, so much so that he knocks out Aaron on the suspicion that he’s brought an army to bring down Rick’s people. Ross Marquand’s performance is absolutely top notch in this episode, and he approaches the group like he would mercenaries: with immense patience and understanding. He did leave the water for them on the road that they refused to drink, and he’s intent on bringing them back. Why he wants them so much has yet to be seen.
Seriously, what does it take for the group to align with Rick? One moment they’re with him, the next they’re against him. Rick is now feeding his daughter ground up acorns and the group is in the process of gathering themselves after their losses, and here comes Aaron. Aaron is a wonderful character so far, and one that really could lend some complexity to an already stellar season.
One can tell Rick really has decided that the world has nothing to offer him, and the group are at odds with what Aaron is offering them. The pictures aren’t proof enough for Rick, but they’re enough for everyone else that wants something to believe in and something to really hope for. Rick just can’t let it go. He’s angry about Terminus, he’s angry about Woodbury, but is he wrong about Alexandria? Or is the group setting themselves up for the delusions of two really desperate men?
While Rick’s attitude is questionable, the lack of loyalty the group shows towards him is also unwarranted. Rick is outnumbered in his feelings about Aaron, and his feelings put him at odds with the rest of his people, who are anxious for something other than running around in a barn, looking for twigs and berries to feast on. The weight of murdering the wild dogs definitely weighs heavily on their heads.
There’s still a long way for the group to go, and there’s going to be a lot that puts them at odds. Michonne has at least learned her lesson about trust, thanks to Andrea, and Rick is still sore about the Governor and Terminus. Alliances seem to be forming, especially with Carol telling Rick “Even though you were wrong, you’re still right.” Alexandria could be new stepping point for the show, as it’s been so amazing in season five. Fans of the comics already know what lies ahead, but the writers always have something else in mind, as viewers know.