Tonight’s episode, “The Distance” began right after Maggie and Sasha met a clean shaven and surprisingly well dressed man named, Aaron (played by Ross Marquand). This man claims to burden Rick and his group with good news. However, the overly positive welcoming gives imminent suspicion and distrust. At this point in the apocalypse, is there anything that an outsider can do to build trust within another group? Unfortunately, no.
Maggie and Sasha bring Aaron inside the barn where Rick and the others are camped. Daryl immediately checks him after Maggie said they performed the whole identifying process. Aaron starts talking his head off, first saying he’s been watching them for a while, and then goes into detail about the safe community. This community of members only allows new people in after they have been assessed and recruited. He mentions that the community has walls made of steel and are fifteen feet high. He even had a few photographs of the place in his possession. He tells them they have resources and the community can really use them, because people are the best resources. On Aaron, Maggie and Sasha find that he is armed with an orange gun. When Rick asks him why, Aaron replies he uses the flare gun to signal his people. Before Aaron can get another word in, a stern looking Rick walks up to Aaron and punches him so hard in the face that he he falls to the ground losing consciousness.
Maggie tell Rick he didn’t have to do that. It seems like Aaron might be telling the truth, but Rick won’t take any chances. Not after Woodbury and especially not after Terminus. When Aaron wakes up they tie him to a wooden pole as Rick asks him direct questions. “How many of your people are out there!?” he screams with an authoritative voice.
Aaron claims that his people at the community have no intention of killing them and that if they did they would have already ambushed them inside the barn structure. If anything, “I’d be the first one to go,” Aaron states. Aaron then hesitantly replies, “only one other”. Aaron then explains that they have two vehicles parked about a few miles from them, that is where they will find the “other” person. Rick asks how are they going to fit all fifteen of them. Aaron says they drove separately and can fit everyone.
Before Rick makes a bold decision to not follow suit, Michonne chimes in the conversation and volunteers to go and find out. Michonne really insists and is persuasive. Rick deploys Glenn, Abraham, Maggie, and Rosita to go with Michonne. Rick tells the rest to stay on guard outside in the surrounding outskirts of the barn. Rick holds onto Judith as he keeps his eye on Aaron, still tied up to the stable. Before the five leave, Rick tells them that if they don’t come back in an hour, he will go out and find them since their walkie-talkies just died. Rick hands Glenn his piece.
After they leave, Rick threatens Aaron that if they don’t return in 60 minutes he is going to put his knife through the base of his skull. Aaron unveils a little about his past to Rick. Before the apocalypse, Aaron dealt with helping people in third world countries. There were several times that men pointed weapons at him, as he admits. Aaron explains that what he has noticed from the group is that they’re not bad people. Rick applies, “just because we’re not bad people, doesn’t mean we won’t kill you.”
Rick then attempts to feed a crying baby Judith by breaking apart a couple of peanuts. Aaron immediately gets Rick’s attention and tells him there is a jar of apple sauce the group picked from his pockets earlier that will calm the baby down. Aaron also states that in the community no one will hear his baby crying. He won’t have to worry about alerting nearby roaming walkers.
While holding Judith, Rick grabs a spoonful of apple sauce and goes to Aaron. Rick holds out the apple sauce for Aaron to eat it without saying a word. Aaron fires back and is shocked that Rick would think that he would poison his baby. Rick still feeling distrust explains that maybe whatever is in the apple sauce will get them sick. Rick begins shoving the spoon into Aaron’s mouth as he rejects it. “My mother used to force feed me that because she thought I would become more manly,” Aaron screams. Is Aaron afraid of apple sauce or is he lying.
“Like you said, you’d be the first one to go,” Rick says as he puts the spoon in Aaron’s mouth. Aaron tastes a scoop and swallows it as if its the worst form of torture. Rick then has some before feeding it to Judith.
A few miles away along a deserted path in the woods, Glenn, Michonne, Maggie, Rosita, and Abraham all walk together with their weapons raised. Off to the side, we see the silhouette of a man crouching behind a tractor. Glenn tells the others to be ready to shoot because whoever is said to meet them is not here to make friends. Michonne questions Glenn in asking him, “what if he was us?” She plays devil advocate and adds that their group saved a priest and a crazy woman wielding a sword (her). She is saying that they’re good people and should be more open to outsiders.
Not too long after does the group find two parked vehicles. One is an old sedan while the other is an RV, similar to Dale’s one from Seasons 1 and 2. This brings back some memories. At the edge of the trees, the group stands their ground as they hear rustling in the bushes. What we think is the visitor just turns out to be a few walkers. Abraham and Rosita quickly dispatch them. Abraham rips off one of the walkers arms until delivering a sharp killing move with the pointed end of his assault rifle. Rosita performs a similar crushing strike on her walker opponent with a tree branch. The duo then search the RV only to find its inhabitants empty. However, they come across plenty of canned food and especially one can of a special kind of spaghetti. Abraham reminisces with Rosita a time when he used to fight over that can with former survivor, Rex. Rex is dead at this point. They both reflect and share a comical moment. Abraham then confronts Rosita about the time he knocked out Eugene by the fire truck.
“We’re you scared of me after that?” Abraham asks since she has been acting distant toward him recently.
Rosita disagrees and tells Abraham that her actions were in response of something else. Michonne says to the others that Aaron was telling them the truth.
Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Rosita, and Abraham all come back together with the sedan and RV before the hour is up. Looks like Rick won’t have to kill Aaron after all, least for the time being.
Inside the barn, the group is huddled at one end with all of the supplies they looted from the vehicles. Rick ascends the notion of dominance through Aaron’s ears by stating that the supplies are there’s now, the vehicles are also there’s. Aaron nervously agrees.
There is one problem though, Aaron does not want to tell them where the community is located. Aaron tells Rick that its not too far if they follow Route 16 North from the map. Rick stubbornly disagrees and says they will go North on Route 23. Aaron warns them to not go that way because it isn’t safe. Rick still says they’re going to take Route 23. Aaron implores that he drive them to the community he calls Alexandria. Michonne shakes her head and alarms Aaron to let them drive him. All he has to do is give them the direction. Rick then orders that they go at night so if they have to make a quick decision of eliminating Aaron’s people. “Why would you want to put your people in harm’s way?” Aaron responds to Rick’s plan. Rick questions Aaron and asks, “why don’t you just tell us where it is?” Rick then replies, “looks like it’s going to be a long night.”
Rick almost makes the decision to not even go when Michonne challenges his ruling. Michonne explains that the group needs this. Because this could be one good opportunity that they’re passing up, due to fear and prior traumatic experiences. Michonne wants to keep hope alive in that not all communities are bad. It can’t all be like Woodbury or Terminus. Michonne’s urgent discrepancies quiets Rick as he steps outside.
By the car, Rick stands and thinks as Michonne comes out to talk. Michonne asks him if he was really considering of going and if he meant what he said. Rick replies that he did mean it. He then says that him, her, and Glenn will take Aaron in the car with them while the rest follow in the RV. Rick believes the only way they will tell that the community is actually “legit” is if he’s able to hear voices from over the walls. Terminus and Woodbury were dead silent and that was an inference that there were guards ready to pounce on intruders at any moment.
“We will see,” Rick tells Michonne. This is the first time we see the characters disagreeing on something. Could this abrupt discrepancy be an indication of an even stronger bond? Maybe. Anyone up for Richonne? Nah, all that fan fiction is so dumb.
That night the group does as Rick planned and drive the caravan North on Route 23 (the sedan leading as the RV is behind them in the distance). Inside the sedan, Glenn takes the wheel as Rick sits shotgun whilst Michonne begins talking to Aaron in the back seat. Rick searches around and finds separate license plates in the glove compartment. Aaron reveals that he’s been collecting them as he is attempting to get all 50 states. Aaron then tells Michonne she can look at the photographs of Alexandria. While looking through photos of farmland, and homes, Michonne notices no one in the pictures. When she asks why, Aaron says the people kept coming out of focus on the camera. Michonne immediately feels suspicious.
She asks Rick and Glenn if they asked Aaron the three questions. Michonne immediately asks Aaron: how many walkers have you killed? Aaron hesitates and finally answers very vaguely, saying a lot.
“How many people have you killed?” Michonne asks the second question.
“Two,” Aaron replies. “Why?” Michonne asks the final question. “Because they were trying to kill me,” he responds.
The next item Rick pulls out from the compartment is a sound dish device, to amplify noise. They immediately react frightfully as Aaron admits that he used that device to listen to their conversations. Rick blurts out “they heard our plan”, this was a bad idea and yearns to go back when suddenly Glenn runs over a group of walkers before trying to turn the car around. Blood begins spewing onto the windshield. There are so many walkers in the road that the car begins getting covered in their guts like thick paint over glass windows. Glenn struggles to steer as the crunching of piling dead overtake the exhaust of the vehicle. Glenn spins the car to a halt. Glenn begins turning the key back into the ignition. The car is dead and won’t turn back on. Tension rises as the herd of walkers begin closing in on the small group. They all start panicking, Aaron even yells. Michonne jumps out of the car to see why it won’t start. When she runs over to the hood she sees a group of walker arms jamming the engine. She starts pulling them out one by one. What a sick and gory scene that is. I don’t think Michonne would have ever thought she’d be trying to fix a car engine by pulling out limbs. Glenn is still unable to start the car.
All of them exit the vehicle as they witness behind them in the sky an orange flare shooting up beside a water tower. Aaron tells them that it must the rest of the group signaling from a flare. Glenn is reassured that the others in the RV alternated their path toward Route 16. Our four friends just need to make it there among the onslaught of the walker herd. Aaron runs off into the trees in pursuit of where the flare was shot. Rick, Michonne, and Glenn get cornered by the decaying corpses. Michonne cuts a few in half, Rick shoots several in the head with his Colt Python Magnum and Glenn takes out a couple with his Beretta handgun. Glenn eventually gets separated from Rick and Michonne as he runs into a cornfield. Rick and Michonne continue fighting while running towards the destination.
Amid the ensuing battle, Glenn ALMOST gets bit in the shoulder from a walker sneaking behind him. He’s able to wrestle it off him as he manages the slam its head into a nearby sharp rock on the grass. Blood spews like milked syrup. Glenn gets back on his feet as he runs further into the darkness of the cornfields.
Glenn suddenly hears a cry for help when he exits the cornfields and sees Aaron with his hands still tied behind his back as he’s pressed against the bark of tree while attempting to push a walker away from his torso. Glenn first witnesses and you are not sure if he is going to save him or not. After a long pause, Glenn steps in and delivers a killing blow to the walker’s temple. Glenn then cuts off the bound tape and frees Aaron. Aaron is appreciated and tells Glenn he heard what he said a few days ago, “we need to all make it together.” Glenn and Aaron head off in search of Rick and Michonne. I found out from Talking Dead that Aaron has been tracking Rick’s group for about three weeks. Damn! That’s like six months in zombie years.
Meanwhile, Rick and Michonne are at the edge of the same set of cornfields as they each struggle to fend themselves off the overwhelming wave of walkers. Rick goes down to his last ammo casing whilst Michonne continues decapitating heads with her katana. When his magnum goes clickety-click, he takes out the orange flare gun, aims it at the head of a nearby walker and fires. The flare flies into the walker’s eye as its head becomes a jack-o-lantern spectacle or as a pun, jack-o-walker. The orange flame burns the inside of the walkers face as it quickly falls to the ground and disintegrates the brain, sparks fly off. Before Rick or Michonne strain for another kill, Aaron and Glenn come to their aid and neutralize the remaining walkers in the area with an assault rifle and a revolver pistol. Rick and Michonne turn around to see them. Aaron puts his hands up and gives Rick back the revolver. “If you want to tie me up again.” “There’s no time,” Rick coldly replies.
Aaron shows them the way of where the flare traveled, past the tree along Route 16. The four see the water tower up ahead as they start sprinting.
Outside the entrance to the water tower we see Daryl guarding the door with a parked RV and sedan next to the building. Daryl walks in the area of the path and sees Rick approaching as he motions them with his hand. Rick, Michonne, Glenn, and Aaron make it all in one piece. Carl comes out and hugs his father, Rick shakes Daryl’s hand. Maggie and a few others come to greet them as they reunite with their family. Maggie tells Aaron that Eric is with them. Aaron immediately calls his name out and steps inside.
The interior of the water tower has a large room that is shaped like a small warehouse. In a separate room away from the survivors, Aaron finds a bedridden man with his back against a cushion. This man is Eric. It is quickly revealed he was the same person who was crouching behind the truck tire as it accidentally rolled onto his ankle. An extremely concerned Aaron goes to kiss Eric. This is the first homosexual couple we’ve seen on the show besides a brief stint with Tara and another woman of the Governor’s clan back in Season 4.
Eric who broke his ankle does not seem too worried. Instead he calmly gives his boyfriend the Indiana license plate. Aaron smiles as he reveals that the rest of his collection are inside the vehicle they were forced to leave behind. Their onscreen gay loving interaction is both uncomfortable and warm.
When Aaron returns to the others residing in the other room he thanks them. Rick however, orders Aaron to sleep in the corner of the room, away from them and Eric for the night. Aaron boldly states that nothing will keep him from being with Eric. He’s basically saying, “shoot me if you have to.” Rick can respond, Glenn walks over and talks to Rick on the side.
In a rational and reasonable way, Glenn convinces Rick to allow Aaron to spend the night with Eric in the back room. Glenn has become very diplomatic since his former duties of being a councilman during the days of the prison.
The next morning, Abraham and Rosita ride in the front of the RV with Carol, Daryl, Aaron, Sasha, Noah, Maggie, Glenn, Gabriel, Eugene, Tara, and Eric resting on the bed. Noah walks to the back of the RV and sees Aaron sitting by Eric on the bed. Noah is carrying some medicine. Aaron immediately says that Eric is resting up and does not need his medicine at the moment. Noah says the medicine is for him as he offers. Aaron kindly rejects.
Aaron then asks Noah how long he has had a bum leg. Since the apocalypse began, Noah got injured while trying to run away from walkers with his family at the time. Aaron tells him there is a talented surgeon doctor named Pete who can fix him up in Alexandria. Noah thanks him as he walks back to the front. Eugene is seen playing a card game with Tara, the others just relax in their seats.
At the front, Abraham smirks when he sees the glimmering white Washington Monument and the rest of its skyline. They are merely a few miles away from the big city. They are finally getting to the extraction point, even though Eugene was lying. Rosita and Abraham share a flirty moment, where Rosita tells Abraham to keep his eyes on the road. Abraham also notices a red button on the dashboard that flashes and reads “low voltage”. “Come on, just a little further,” he says to himself confidently.
The next scene cuts to the RV being stuck as Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Judith wait in the sedan behind them. Rick intensely gazes through the air as Michonne tells Rick he can let go. Michonne reminds Rick that she was there once; surviving with a hard exterior as she encased her emotions into a sheltered bubble. That goes for believing in hope. “It’s over,” she says to Rick.
Abraham strolls out of the RV pissed off when knowing that the battery is dead. However, Glenn has a quick resolution as he checks the front hood. Glenn then shows Abraham where the backup battery is, just beneath the stairs of the vehicle.
“How did you know it was there?” Abraham asks as Glenn smiles. We all know from previous seasons that Dale showed him how to fix the RV. This RV is no different. This brings homage to the lost character. I never missed Dale so much. Below are two photos of a before and after shot of Glenn featuring Dale and Abraham.
After getting the RV to restart, everyone cheers as they proceed to finish their long trip toward Alexandria. After a few hours, Rick stops the car in front of the gates to Alexandria. The RV parks behind them. The gates are high and beginning to rust. Rick stares blankly at the gate with piercing eyes. As if holding his breath, Rick suddenly begins hearing children playing over the fence. A slight welcoming grin forms on his face. Michonne holds his hand which is clinging to the steering wheel. Michonne smiles at Rick as if she’s about to cry. Did they just find salvation?
Rick tells Michonne he needs a minute as he steps out of the car. Michonne and Carl follow suit. The rest of the group from inside the RV step out as they gaze in awe at the towering gates. What lies ahead?
Rick steps a few hundred feet into the woods near a small house where he hides his pistol in a blender that is scattered among other house-ware supplies. Rick returns to the car and grabs his daughter whose resting on a sheet in the back seat. Rick holds her as he walks up to the gates. Carol walks beside Rick and tells him that although he was wrong, he was right. Meaning that even though Rick’s overly distrustful approach could have been the loss of this opportunity, it was right for him to be overly cautious and brutal. I think I would be reacting in a similar way, although, I would be siding with Michonne more. You always have to hold on to some hope. Rick is terrified after having enormous traumatic experiences. You can’t blame him, you can only have sympathy. Aaron is joined by Eric; the others stare at the entrance to the community with wonder.
What is on the other side of that fence? Is Aaron telling the truth? I really hope he does. I don’t want him or Eric to turn out to be another crazy group of cannibals or militants. This is a huge leap forward, let’s hope Rick and his family have stepped in the right direction. Find out next Sunday, 9/8 central only on AMC.