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64
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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

68
/100
Viewer
69
/100

Episode 11 - The Distance

23 February 2015

The core of this was very strong. When I criticise a show I'm often weighing up what it has earned with me as a viewer. What my expectations for the series as a whole are. Where I am emotionally on a journey with the characters. So when I say the core of this was strong I mean the meta core. The part that played with my expectations as a viewer. We are in Season 5 of The Walking Dead and the one consistent message which the show has offered is "our people are the only good ones." Trust no one else.

So at no point did I believe Aaron's story. Every time his story strayed from the plausible I felt tenser as I awaited the inevitable reveal. His aversion to apple sauce, his refusal to give up the location of his community and his strange photo collection were all solid details trying to push us into a state of permanent tension and it worked.

But then another part of me says "how bad a producer of TV do you have to be to produce another Woodberry or Terminus right now?" There's still another five episodes left in this half season. Maybe this really is a place full of decent people. Or perhaps Aaron is just crazy or delusional or a lone trickster?

I still don't trust him. The show has trained me not to. But he also suffers from Ben Linus syndrome. When Ben was down in the hatch being questioned by Sayid there was always an absence of details. Where was the talk about getting off the island? Where were the questions about what was happening back in the USA? Similarly if Alexandria has surgeons and wonderful people everywhere then where are the details? Where is the talk of how they operate? Who is their leader? How long have they been there? When did they first see Rick's group? Why do they send out only two people at a time?

I would have liked more debate within our group but I liked what we did get. I was particularly pleased with Glenn's comment that if Aaron's people were like them then they should be scared. He may have meant it in a "we're tough and ruthless" way. But I took it as a recognition that in this world people just can't get on anymore. There's too much to lose by trusting others and so two groups of good people would inevitably tear one another apart through paranoia.

But that's where the episode fell down. Rick's comment that nothing could convince him to go through the gates of an unknown community sounded EXACTLY what the bottom of line of his character is. But then by episodes end he was ready to walk through the gates without any real idea of what's behind them. Even though Aaron told him the truth about several details that doesn't prove that Aaron himself hasn't been coerced into leading our survivors into a trap.

I hope no one will take this as a crass example but in Ancient Thebes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Band_of_Thebes) homosexual couples were placed in battle lines together to increase their willingness to die for their comrades. Aaron and Eric's obviously genuine feelings are not convincing evidence of the truth of Alexandria's claims as a sanctuary. The glimpse from the van of a city prompted far more questions than it answered. I mean if it's that big and secure then why did Aaron need to keep its location a secret?

Rather than walk in en masse it seems like Michonne should have volunteered to go in with Aaron and see if it was a safe place. I know that would have been a huge personal risk but our group could have kept Aaron or Eric in exchange. I can see why that decision wasn't taken though. To play out this whole scenario in one episode did make the episode one of the best paced the show has ever produced. And presumably next week we discover that Alexandria really is a sactuary of sorts before it inevitably falls or our survivors leave.

I'm pleased that the show could really suck me in for an hour even if I wasn't pleased with Rick's final decision. He should have hidden more than one gun out there.

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  • Thanks Robin, I think this is the 3rd time we've given the same score to an episode of TWD.

    Fascinating point you made about Thebes, I don't think it would be a coincidence in this case.

    Posted by Ben F., 23/02/2015 9:59pm (5 years ago)

  • The surveillance equipment also for me was an indicator that these two guys were Scouts (also Eric's spying on Abraham and Glenn's group.) Aaron did indicate that people were a valuable commodity for his compound. This would make sense if they have a large enough compound. The more people you have; the more strength your community has to fight off walkers and possible rival human groups. (Possibly those Wolves that were hinted at back in Tyreese's episode.) His cautiousness about the location of the compound is a little bit suspicious but understandable. The fact that Aaron has been watching for three weeks must mean his compound really thoroughly makes sure any new comers are right to be asked to join. Perhaps there are other scouts who watch other groups that are out there as well? I am suspicious as everyone because most of these settlements have never worked out for Rick's group. It would be great to see other good people though who have survived in this apocalyptic setting of some size.

    Posted by Fluids, 23/02/2015 8:36pm (5 years ago)

  • Hey Ben, I like your score. But not as much as I like "Eat the half spoonful of applesauce, Aaron."

    Hey Fluids, you're right that it wasn't clear how Eric found our survivors or who set off the flare. Did he set it off so they'd find him? Was he listening in to them having the car crash and set it off to help save them?

    Posted by The TV Critic, 23/02/2015 8:09pm (5 years ago)

  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Thoughts:

    The title can't help me thinking of Cake's 'The Distance':
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Distance_%28song%29

    Rick's extended family: There seems to be cautious optimism about starting a new life at Aaron and Eric's compound.

    ~~~~~~
    *Michonne*: She's the most optimistic, however she does seem cautious when she doesn't see any pictures of the survivors in Aaron's compound. She even steps up to Rick and the group asserting there is possibly some stability in Aaron's compound.

    The other women in the group seem to pick up on this: Sasha, Maggie, Tara and Rosita. Carol is the last to be convinced.

    ~~~~~~
    *Rick*: is shell shocked (and rightfully so. He has the most to lose out of everyone in the group.) He appears to be the last person to give trust to Aaron.

    ~~~~~~
    *Glenn*: points out Eric's broken leg and how everything Aaron has said so far is true. I think the spare battery also eased his concerns.

    ~~~~~~
    Symbolism:

    *Collecting License Plates* - If someone can focus on a hobby in this apocalyptic setting they obviously have their living situation in order right?

    *Children playing voices* - I doubt that is a recording. We heard kids playing! I would say some type of civilization is through that gated fence.

    *Surveillance equipment* - To get a hold of this type of equipment takes time and it's not a high priority on the survival list. It appears Aaron is a part of a fairly large community.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Bad:

    *The apple sauce tasting was a bit strange. I suppose it was to show on the one hand Rick thought Aaron was suspicious since he wouldn't eat it and Aaron's point of view that he just hated Apple Sauce (however Rick doesn't know Aaron right?)

    *The part of the storyline where we lose the RV didn't sit right with me. It was very vaguely executed and I thought confusing. All of sudden the RV finds buildings and there is Eric with a broken ankle. There's a lot of stuff we missed here that would have been way more interesting I think than the close calls with Walkers and battling with flare guns in the woods with Rick, Glenn, Michonne and Aaron.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Good:

    Great interactions between Aaron and Eric. For me in this setting, in order for an emotional relationship to be able to have the time to flourish that would mean some type of very stable living situation somewhere.

    The
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Unknown:

    *I didn't quite get how part of the group ran into Eric and how he broke his ankle. How did that happen?

    *Is this place safe? As we have seen no place is truly safe from either walkers or humans. If this place is structurally safe from walkers then the threat has to be other humans right?

    *Who is Deanne?

    *Where are all the compound folks?
    (There wasn't even any guards. That's odd.)

    Viewer score: 69 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 23/02/2015 6:16pm (5 years ago)

  • After a long stretch of mediocrity, I was relieved that this episode came along. I felt the actions scenes had tension, I cared about what was happening, and no pretentious scenes that tried to be more than they needed to.

    Pros:
    -Glenn's near death (felt genuinely tense)
    -Aaron/Eric's kiss (not for that reason), but it was surprising and was logical given the context.
    -The gang's reactions to Aaron, felt earned after the build up in the last two episodes with Glenn and Michonne.
    -Rick's suspicions of Aaron, and how he tried to cover their tracks against any potential ambush
    -Abraham and Rosita's chat
    -Trailer managed to fool me in a good way.
    -Episode focussed on a few characters in a subtle way
    Cons:
    -Eat the half spoonful of applesauce, Aaron.
    -I was under the impression that Noah's leg was injured when he got shot escaping with Beth, I may be wrong but did his chat with Aaron imply something else?

    Unknown:
    -Please don't let Alexandria be a repeat of Woodbury or Terminus

    My favorite episode since "No Sanctuary", if The Walking Dead was more like this each week I'd be very happy. I haven't read the comics but I know Alexandria was taken from the comics, I really hope we get a unique story out of this place.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 23/02/2015 4:04am (5 years ago)

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