ComicsVerse Presents: Walking Dead Review- Season Five, “The Distance”

Caution: Spoilers Ahead…

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The Episode 9, “What Happened and What’s Going On” Walking Dead Review can be found here!
Last week’s review is right here!

“The Rules Keep Changing”

Rick cold-cocked a friendly stranger mid-monologue last night.

That, right there, is the general sentiment throughout our cast of survivors. In the wake of Woodbury, the Termites, several major character deaths (two of which being VERY recent and VERY major), a long bought with starvation and life on the road – yeah, our heroes are a little worn around the edges. It’s totally understandable. Jesus, I can’t even imagine. If the C train is late – I show up to work looking like I’m ready to flame-thrower some walkers…

 “… alright, with a lot less beard. I can admit that.”

With last week’s introduction of Aaron, a friendly new face who claims he’s from the Alexandria safe-zone in order to ‘audition’ the group for a new community of survivors, even we as an audience cannot help be skeptical. It seems every time our heroes walk through a gate, they’re met with unbridled horror on the other side – be that terror in the form of an eye patch or highly organized cannibals.

The rules do indeed keep changing, and likewise so do our characters – which to me is one of the best aspects of this show. The group needs to know when to fight, when to trust and when to let go – which is becoming incredibly difficult to balance out in the zombie apocalypse.

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There was a scene in last night’s episode that I absolutely loved – it depicts a few members of Team Grimes following up on Aaron’s claim that he and an associate had parked their cars on a nearby road. Upon arrival they find that he has been telling the truth – when suddenly – CRACK! – a stick breaks in the woods. Guns drawn, everyone tenses up ready to fight – until a walker stumbles out of the tree-line and everyone RELAXES. See, walking corpses are a threat the crew knows how to handle. However, the human threat – like a random stranger appearing to say “Hey gang! I promise I won’t try to fucking eat you!” – is what presents the true challenge to their survival.

 “Quick. Check his teeth for man-flesh…” 

We spend a decent portion of The Distance, ironically, being a bit scared of Rick Grimes, our fearless-bearded leader. There was this sense of caution, of course, but as well a guarded enthusiasm that something potentially groundbreaking was just out of reach – and that at any moment Rick’s hardened decision making could have blown an integral opportunity. I certainly don’t mean to detract from Rick’s caution by any means, again – the entire crew has seen some serious shit, and he’s got that adorable, squishy baby to protect! (I get the feeling even Rick can’t wait for Little Ass Kicker to grow out of her crying stage, either).

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This is where Michonne steps in. Just have to comment here – Danai Gurira is absolutely crushing this role. Michonne’s character in the comics doesn’t show her hand quite as assertively, yet in the show she has obviously risen to the rank of co-leader of the group. She balances Rick out, with concrete evidence of that dynamic in The Distance. Where Rick is ebbing on what I can only call ‘brutal caution’, Michonne has been the pragmatic authority on hope recently, when most of our characters are choosing ignore that small sliver of ‘something better may be out there’. As well it’s fairly easy to side with Michonne on this one… the group NEEDS to find solid shelter and food. Furthermore it simply HAS to be impossible that every other group of survivors’s out there are as monstrous as the Termites or the Woodberry-ans…right?

So, after a long night of distrust, an EPIC zombie car-chase sequence in which Glenn basically mashes up like 180 zombies, some close calls in the woods, brains fried by a flare gun, and Aaron being reunited with his partner Eric – Michonne’s hope that Aaron is trustworthy is vindicated by a sound our group has not heard in nearly 2 years… the sound of children playing happily within the walls of the Alexandria safe zone.

“At last…”

That scene was beautifully handled in my opinion, as you could see the difficulty in Andrew Lincoln’s eyes… Rick veritably struggled with getting out the car to approach the gate. This is a dance they’ve done before with ghastly, ghastly results. He wants so badly to believe that they may have finally found a place to settle down. A place where the group can rest their weary eyes, and possibly a place for Judith to grow up with even with mere shreds of safety and civility.

From a watcher’s perspective – this episode provided a much needed break in all the brutality we’ve witnessed recently. It’s time for a breather, and some friendly faces. Maybe a few dozen cans of ‘Sgetti-Rings’.

This is the Walking Dead after all… so even if this is just the calm before yet another storm, it sure is one hell of a well-deserved calm.   

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Honorable Mentions:

– The moment where Glenn immediately knows how to fix Aaron’s Winnebago honestly choked me up a bit. Dale had taught Glenn how to maintain his RV back in Season 2, and reflections like this illustrate that though we may lose characters, each one we lose galvanizes our group for survival. Our heroes are never truly forgotten. It was a beautiful moment.

– Hats off to the production crew for the AWESOME midnight zombie car mashing sequence. The birds-eye shot in which we see their headlights coated in crimson made me gasp an audible “Oooooo!”, complete with Little Richard finger-flourishes.

– Alexandria, don’t quote me on this, is about 6 miles or so outside of D.C. , so I am curious to see what has actually been going down in the Nation’s Capital. I do hope we get a little taste of that.

– Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it felt as though the nod to Aaron’s homosexuality was a little ham-fisted. It felt as though it was supposed to be this big reveal / big deal on screen, and at this point in history it really shouldn’t be that way. Tara was introduced as a lesbian in a similar fashion, as you may remember…

Comment Below: Do you think Alexandria is really safe? Why? We want to hear your opinions! Now FIGHT.

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