The Walking Dead: The Distance

Michonne: “People like us saved a priest, saved a girl who rolled up to the prison with the Governor, saved a crazy lady with a sword.”

Our group is lucky that they manage to fall into despair in shifts.
There always seems to be at least one person who continues to hope and hang on to their humanity. Right now that person is Michonne. Who would have expected that the crazy lady with the sword would be the one who was strong enough to believe that something better was possible? Not only that, she was willing to take on Rick and stare him down to do what she knew was essential to the group's survival. Michonne has moved through anger and fear to a place where she understands that simple survival is not enough and she is smart enough to know that this is true for everyone.

In the opening scene, everyone looks worn out and dejected, more hopeless than I can remember ever seeing them. They have survived the storm and individually they are preparing themselves for the day but there is no joy in it, no camaraderie. The arrival of Aaron shows how much has changed, particularly for Rick, Glenn and Daryl. They are up in a flash with no trust for this newcomer. They expect the worst and refuse to consider any evidence to the contrary. There is an interesting gender dynamic at work as Maggie, Sasha and Michonne decide that Aaron is all right while Rick, Glenn and Daryl are suspicious. These women are not push-overs, so it seems as if the men can't get out of fight mode even to consider the possibility of a safe community.

One of the main themes of this show is how trauma and adversity can affect people. It seems at times in this episode that some people like Rick and Glenn no longer believe in their own 'goodness' let alone that of others. As Glenn says, if they run into people like them they should be afraid. Michonne understands that Rick and Glenn, along with many others in the group, are in danger of falling into the nightmare she was living when the group found her. She knows that they need a rest, some hope, a chance to regain their humanity if they are going to avoid losing themselves.

Aaron is a perfect foil to illustrate how dark our group has become. He prattles on about his community, trying to joke as they stare stone-faced at him. I think at some level, Rick punched him just to shut him up. The fact that Aaron refused the applesauce means that he hasn't known hunger lately. They're not quite sure what to say when he talks about his license plate collection. Aaron is terrified of the walkers while our group takes them in stride. He is also able to laugh and be loving with Eric when he finds him. He is more like our group used to be a long time ago. It is interesting that this made me think of him as soft.

The sound of children playing as they drove up to Alexandria was beautiful. I almost cried when Rick went to take Judith out of the car and they interacted like any loving father and child. It will be wonderful if the group finds some respite in Alexandria but since it would make for very boring television, I don't hold out hope for it to last too long.

Bits and Pieces

Carol continues to live in the dark place that Michonne describes. She is not willing to give up the fight.

Aaron’s previous life was interesting preparation for the new world and it is another harken back to the world as it is now. He is tougher than he looks as evidenced by his kicking the door off the car.

It looks like Rick is trying to feed Judith acorns which people cannot eat unless they have been boiled for a while to remove the tannic acid. It's interesting that if he fed those to Judith he would have been the one who poisoned her.

Did they have to take 23 to be safe or to provide the required gore for the episode, not to mention providing an opportunity to shoot a flare into a walker?

Abraham and Rosita have not been okay since the Eugene incident but she says it is her, not him. I'm not sure what that meant but they seem to be okay now.

We now have several names for walkers - rotters, roamers. Should we have a contest and come up with some more?

Quotes

Aaron: “I wish there was another word. 'Audition' makes it sound like we’re some kind of a dance troupe. That’s only on Friday nights.”

Daryl: “Nobody gives a shit.”

Aaron: “In fact there’s only one resource more critical to our community’s survival: the people.”

Michonne: “So we’re clear, that look wasn’t a 'let’s attack that man' look. It was a 'he seems like an okay guy to me' look."

Rick: “It’s hard to trust anyone who smiles after getting punched in the face.” (I think Aaron was just happy to be alive.)

Michonne: “You know what you know and you’re sure of it but I’m not.”

Glenn: “We’re five people with guns. No one is coming up to say hello.”

Eugene: “Serious as two copulating dogs.”

Abraham: “Might as well paint it red and put a ladder on it.” (Abraham is still pissed at that firetruck.)

Glenn: “I can’t give up everything else. I know what I said, but it does matter.”

16 comments:

Raya said...

I really like Aaron. I loved when he said that the only way Rick could keep him from staying with Eric was to shoot him. A man who is so genuinely in love can't be bad, right? I hope he doesn't die too soon.

Did they have to take 23 to be safe or to provide the required gore for the episode, not to mention providing an opportunity to shoot a flare into a walker?
My vote goes for the second option.
It might have been their only chance to shoot a flare in a walker's head, so they had to take it. It was a bit silly but still kinda cool.

Just like you, I'm hoping for a little rest for the characters, but I don't expect it to last. Let's hope they do find some peace and some hope, though, because they really need it.
And so do I. I had almost as much trouble trusting Aaron as Rick...

Thanks for the great review, by the way!

Jess Lynde said...

Much better than last week for me. I actually burst out in crazed laughter right before Rick punched Aaron, because as he was blathering about needing people and people making their community stronger, all I could think was that the last clean-looking guy to say that to our group proceeded to lock them in cattle cars and tried to eat them. Is it any wonder Rick has such a hard time opening up to the possibility of hope? Not the best opening gambit.

The Rick-Michonne “conflict” was the highlight of the episode for me. The way they were in completely different places but kept working together on the issue was great. She wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass them by, but she understood where Rick was coming from, and was doing her best to help him make peace with the necessity of trying. And he trusts her enough to try to follow her lead as much as he can. I, too, really liked the scene outside the gate when Rick heard the sound of children. He was obviously relieved, and yet it was still hard for him to let go of the wheel and move forward. A very powerful ending sequence.

Maybe the respite in Alexandria will last a little while at least. I’m sure they can get good dramatic mileage out of Rick’s, Carol’s, and the others inability to completely let down their guard and adjust to something resembling normalcy (assuming that’s what truly awaits them).

Perhaps Rosita meant that in that moment by the fire truck when Abraham was threatening Eugene, she was afraid she was going to hurt him. She put her hand on her gun and stood up to him, and maybe it unsettled her that she was truly willing to use it in that moment.

I really loved the nod to Dale. It was a fine example of not overselling the moment with clunky dialogue. This time out, the writers just trusted the audience to know exactly why Glenn knew where to find a spare battery. Poignant. And such a perfect moment to call back to one of the earliest of the fallen hopeful.

drnanamom said...

Jesse thanks for the comments about Rosita. I forgot about that. I bet he doesn't even remember or didn't even notice her threat to him. I loved the nod to Dale as well. Daryl standing guard on the top of the RV was a total flashback for me. I agree that they can totally get drama from our group settling in but they will have to work hard to get the requisite gore.

topher darling said...

"There is an interesting gender dynamic at work" Yeah, it was a little rough for me to endure because, as a comic book reader, I knew Aaron was gay (plus, the PTB put it out there that, even though Daryl wasn't gay, the show would be adding some gay characters). Knowing that he was gay really skewed my outlook on how he was treated. As a gay man, I would be drawn to interact with Michonne, Maggie, and Sasha whereas the bro-hood of Rick, Glenn, Daryl, and Abraham would make me nervous.

So here comes this clean-cut, witty young man. All of the women think he's nice, all of the men have to reassert their masculinity. It's my high school all over again.

The guys really only eased up on Aaron when he reunited with Eric. That could be an argument against the boys' internalized homophobia or it could just be them realizing why they all had the initial bad reaction to Aaron and then feeling bad about said reaction.

Whatever happens, I'm just hoping that someone at Alexandria is kind enough to lend Rick some shaving cream and a razor cuz, damn, that beast on his face needs to be tamed.

Jess Lynde said...

Based on Andrew Lincoln’s appearance during the publicity run in the lead up to the S5 premiere back in October (which was still during the filming of the back eight), I suspect you are going to have your “beard” wish granted, topher. :) Plus, Rick giving up the look would make for a great visual representation of him making a shift to whatever Community life is like.

In general, I’ve been a big fan of Rick’s bearded look during the S3 through S4 run, and was initially kind of disappointed when I realized a shave was probably in the offing sometime this season. But the current beard is way out of control! He’s gone from handsomely bearded to psychotically bearded. I now think it’s going to be a huge relief when he finally shaves that beastly thing! Of course, then he needs to grow back a more respectable scruff. He looks scruffy in the Talking Dead interview bits, so I’ve got hope. :)

Billie Doux said...

topher darling, I don't think it was homophobia (or I *hope* it wasn't). I think it was that Aaron and Eric made the guys see how different they were from the Terminites.

I loved how Michonne took the lead from Rick and pushed the decision the other way. I think Rick and Michonne should get married. :) They balance each other out somehow.

Jess wrote, "He’s gone from handsomely bearded to psychotically bearded." LOL. I totally get how it's hard to stay well groomed during a zombie apocalypse, but if Alexandria turns out as advertised, it would be fun to see the cast cleaned up for a change. That beard has to go. And Daryl in particular is in desperate need of a haircut. We can't even see his face any more.

Marianna said...

Speaking of Rick's beard, how have the other men in the group been shaving? Seeing as there aren't a lot of resources to go around I don't see how they all have the razors and shaving cream to shave regularly. The same thing bothered me in Lost.

Jess Lynde said...

These are the things we’re not supposed to think about, Marianna. Like the lawns, Carl’s age, and the time-of-year inconsistencies. We just have to pretend the others aren’t capable of growing facial hair the way Rick is. Abraham probably has to make a little effort with the grooming to keep things under control --- and he was looking a good bit less groomed this week --- but the scruff that Daryl, Glenn, Eugene, and Father Gabriel are sporting is all they can grow. :)

Other things we aren’t supposed to think about: US 16 and US 23 are not roads you would find in the DC vicinity, and I don’t believe you would actually get that view of the nation’s capital approaching Alexandria from the south (it’s south of Arlington and the district). Assuming show Alexandria corresponds to actual Alexandria, of course.

Jess Lynde said...

Oops! I meant VA State Route 16. That was a state route marker. Still not anywhere near DC. I wonder if they went to Western VA to film, or if they just had some VA state route signs sent in to pop in place along the road. Because if it was the latter, why not pick a route that actually exists near DC? I get the US 23 thing; that route actually goes through Georgia and was probably easy enough to film near. Maybe the county route signs in Georgia just happen look like Virginia state route shields and they could film in a location near one?

Okay, okay. This is hardcore nerding out, even for me. No else cares about the accuracy of the routes or their markers, Jess. Let it go. :)

Billie Doux said...

I'm pretty sure they film in Georgia and wouldn't go to Virginia to film just for something like routes to DC. Remember snow in Hawaii on Lost? (Speaking of good grooming on Lost?)

Jess Lynde said...

Well, that just reinforces my point about the sign, if it was a prop. If you are having a sign made up, why not choose a geographically accurate route number? I know it doesn't really matter, and it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the show, of course, I just wonder about these nitpicky things sometimes. :)

I do not remember snow on Lost. When was that? The guys at the listening station?

Billie Doux said...

It was the Rose/Bernard episode "S.O.S.", with the flashback scenes in the snow. It was actually filmed in Hawaii because that's where the crew was.

http://www.douxreviews.com/2002/05/lost-sos.html

drnanamom said...

I think that it's pretty hilarious that most of the comments about this episode are about facial hair :). @topherdarling, nice point about the homophobia which may not be overt but for many hetero men is covert whether they are aware of it or not. @Raya, the flare was pretty cool.

Heather said...

*Dying* over the comments. I don't have much to add but I did want to pop in and say thank you because I am laughing so hard.

As ever, Doc, wonderful review.

Elfie said...

I heard that the kiss in this episode between the two dudes was controversial which is so hilarious considering what we've seen on this show: child deaths, attempted rape, intense amounts of gore -- and the instant there's a gay couple, oh no, things are getting 'controversial'. It's so stupid. Anyway, I loved this episode. I like Aaron, for now. Even though I had trouble trusting him, too. We can't blame Rick for being extra cautious, considering the kind of people he's met along his journey. (The Governer, the Termites etc).

Am I the only one who ships Michonne and Rick? LIKE GET TOGETHER ALREADY Y'ALL ARE A MARRIED COUPLE. I mean honestly, they balance each other really well and I think Michonne understands Rick in a way not everyone else does. They have more chemistry than Lori and Rick ever did I'll say that for sure. Also, I am loving Michonne, she might just be my favourite character. She's grown so much! Speaking of growing so much, Carl does not look like a child anymore, that's probably because the actor portraying him is like 15 or something, but it really stretches reality considering the timeline on this show is all messed up. I try not to think about the timeline to avoid migraines, but it does bother me sometimes. How long ago was everything with the Termites? How long has it been since Beth and Tyreese died? Just miffed about that.

I'm so glad I'm catching up to this show! Can't wait to watch the next one. I hope our group finally finds some peace, at least momentarily. They deserve it at this point. P.S I also think it's time Rick and Daryl clean up a little bit. Rick looks like he has a furry animal stuck to his face and Daryl is my vote to star in the next Rapunzul movie.

Jess Lynde said...

Yeah, I always love when something ridiculous becomes controversial given the extreme things they do on this show. I thought it was hilarious when they couldn't just let Rick say "they're fucking with the wrong people" with the audio dropped on the curse word (a la Breaking Bad) back in the S4 season finale, when in that very episode they had him ripping a man's throat out with his teeth. Give me a break.

You are definitely not alone in your 'ship. There are many, many people out there who would very much like to see Rick and Michonne get together. I can remember people shipping them almost as soon as she showed up back in Season 3!

Re: the timeline --- by the time they arrive at Alexandria at the end of this episode, it has been roughly a month since Terminus and Beth's death at the hospital (which was only a few days after everyone escaped Terminus). It has been about two weeks since Tyreese's death.