The Walking Dead takes another positive turn this week in “The Distance”. We learn more about the shady newcomer Aaron, and we also discover a little bit about what lies in store for Rick and co. in the future. (spoilers ahead!)
Last week, we were introduced to Aaron, who claimed that he’s from a safe haven and only wants to help the group. Rick doesn’t hesitate to knock him out, strip him of his gear, and then tie him up. If this was a few seasons ago, I’d probably tell Rick to relax and that it was unnecessary to punch Aaron. But after what happened with Terminus, I don’t blame him for being wary about strangers. In fact, I wouldn’t have blamed Maggie and Sasha if they just shot Aaron the moment he staggered into their convo last episode. Then again, Rick and co. obviously can’t kill anybody they encounter. In the world of the walking dead, you need all the manpower you can get.
That’s actually the same argument that Aaron uses when pleading his case. He desperately tries to convince Rick that he means no harm and that he wants the group to follow him back to his community, because the more people the better. Out of the entire group, it seems that Michonne is the only person who trusts him. I felt a little bad for Aaron (actor Ross Marquand really sells the character well). For all we know, he’s trying to do a good thing and the only thanks he gets is a concussion courtesy of Rick. The group gave Father Gabriel a chance; why not do the same for Aaron?
There were several things that frustrated me about Aaron in this episode as well. The rest of the group goes out to find Aaron’s vehicles while Rick stays behind to watch over Judith and the prisoner. Judith begins crying and Aaron advises Rick to feed Judith some of the applesauce that’s in his backpack. Naturally, Rick is cautious and assumes it’s poison. His suspicions only grow stronger when Aaron adamantly refuses to taste-test the applesauce first. This bugged me so much when it really shouldn’t. How are you going to carry around a jar of food that you don’t eat? Aaron’s claim was that he uses the applesauce to show to fellow survivors that there is an apple tree in the community. Really? Is that the best you can do? That was a weak explanation that could have ended the guy’s life. In the end, it turns out Aaron just really, really hates applesauce but bites the bullet and samples it, showing Rick that it’s safe. Was this necessary at all?
Another frustrating moment occurs later on in the episode after the group discovers that Aaron was telling the truth about his vehicles. In one car, we have Rick, Michonne, Glenn, and Aaron, and in the RV behind them, we have the rest. During the car ride, Michonne looks through pictures of the community and wonders why there are no other people around. She then asks Aaron whether he’s killed other people and walkers. In the moment of distraction, Glenn crashes into a bunch of walkers, causing the car to momentarily break down. A flare goes off in the distance, which makes Aaron freak out, so he kicks open the car door and runs for it. Not only is the RV gone, but now Glenn is separated from Michonne and Rick. I thought we were going to have another scenario like in the last season where everyone split up and had to be reunited down the road. It’s okay to follow this story once, but we didn’t need it to be re-hashed.
Fortunately, the separation only lasts for a few minutes. Glenn saves Aaron, then immediately reunites with Rick and Michonne. Rick is way too calm when he sees Aaron again. The man just nearly cost them their lives and he’s going to let him get away with it? He even refuses to tie Aaron back up! What the hell? You punch him the first time you meet him, but when he actually deserves a good right hook, you say “nah, bro; we’re good.” Completely backwards.
Turns out that Aaron freaked out about the flare because it was a call for help from his boyfriend, Eric. The rest of Rick’s group (the RV team) encountered Eric and treated his injuries. Aaron and Eric share a tender moment as Rick and his gang agree to wait until morning to continue forward. This is also the moment Aaron reveals the name of the community: Alexandria.
I’m tempted to go on and on about Alexandria, but I’d hate to spoil much. All I’ll say is that it is a component of a MAJOR storyline within The Walking Dead-verse. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for viewers over the next several weeks, and I can’t wait to experience it.
Remember earlier how I said I don’t like storylines being rehashed? I’m a little worried that Alexandria MIGHT be Terminus 2.0 (albeit a little longer). I couldn’t help but think this as we watched Rick hiding a gun outside of the community before the group enters the gates. It’s like when he left the bag of guns in the woods prior to entering Terminus.
After the last two somewhat lackluster episodes, I think “The Distance” hit a sweet spot with me and the rest of the audience. It was slow at times, but it didn’t slosh along like last week. Let’s keep that momentum going!
Final Grade: B +
+ Newcomer Ross Marquand did an awesome job as Aaron.
+ Hearing “Alexandria” put a big grin on my face since it indicated which way the show is going in the future.
+ I have to give credit for the inclusion of two additional gay characters, Aaron and Eric; in basic cable programming, the LGBT community is often a minority, so it was refreshing to see them getting a little more representation.
– A few things Aaron did frustrated me, and it could’ve been solved with better explanations (namely the applesauce incident).
– I’m slightly worried that Alexandria might end up being too similar to Terminus (not that Terminus was a bad arc; I just hate repetition).
– Did Aaron, Eric, or the other citizens of Alexandria have anything to do with Noah’s torched neighborhood from a few episodes ago?
Did you enjoy tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead? What are your predictions for Alexandria? Should Aaron and Eric be trusted? Send us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!