“The Walking Dead” recap (5.11): The Distance

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So, who’s Aaron? Is this alien intervention? Is he part of the government? Nope. He’s just a regular guy named Aaron, who offers auditions to become members of his community. Rick is the guy he wanted to speak with, right? So Sasha and Maggie lead him into the barn where our group is hiding out. Aaron says the community he’s from is safe; no one living or dead can get through their steel walls. Aaron has a speech—a speech this group has heard one too many times. He offers photos of the camp, but apologizes for the photo quality. Dude, if we were in a ‘90s movie, someone would surely stop you at this point and say they’re not up for having a “Kodak moment.” Instead, Rick just punches Aaron out. 

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The girls think Aaron’s good for his word. We can see it in their eyes. They want to go check out these cars he says he has parked up the road. Rick says if they aren’t back in an hour, he’ll put a knife in the base of Aaron’s skull. Ouch. But hey, we get it—this group has seen cannibals, the governor. They can’t take another chance when their morale has been so low. The phrase, “You can trust me” is about as null and void as someone saying their camera took a shit picture. Aaron, save your filtering problems for Instagram.

But I like what Michonne has to say. Don’t we always like what Michonne has to say? She’s co-commander when it comes to Rick Decisions. She is the voice of reason in a sometimes-cloud of judgment. She reminds Glenn that this group is also the kind of group that saved a priest, a girl who showed up at the prison with the governor (she’s referring to our girl, Tara), and herself, the crazy girl with the sword, who didn’t do much more than scowl the first few times we met her. Michonne was linked into the group through dearly departed Andrea way back when. I miss those golden locks.

Back at the barn, Aaron offers applesauce to a crying Baby Judith. After a little back and forth over whether it’s a trick, Aaron takes a spoonful himself, refusing at first—saying something about hating apple sauce, onions and salmon patties as a kid. The guy has quirk and charm, but haven’t they all? Rick asks him for directions to his camp, but he refuses. He says he’ll show them when they get up the road. Rick says they’ll leave at night, but Michonne is pissed with this plan. Daryl is down for anything, but mostly just wants to remind everyone that, “This barn smells like horse shit.” Going at night is dangerous, but this group is used to taking the dangerous route.

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Out by the car, Rick asks Michonne, “What did you hear outside of Woodbury?” He’s talking about the Governor’s camp in Georgia. “What did you hear outside of Terminus?”

“Nothing,” Michonne responds. Nothing. Rick doesn’t know if anything will convince him to go inside. Is this lucky third time a charm? Or do positive and negative forces come in threes? If so, then Aaron’s camp is not going to be a big ball of fun, and it probably won’t even be safe. In fact, it might be downright dangerous per usual. He’s not Aaron Carter, he didn’t sing that forgotten song in the ‘90s called “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” If he did, then Rick and everyone would surely come get it.

This night ride is probably not the best of ideas. The entire vibe screams: DANGER. In the car, Rick finds a stack of license plates, the stack a serial killer would have stashed in their car. Aaron laughs it off as his thing—he’s trying to collect all the U.S. states, to put up on a wall in his house. Michonne perks up. “You have your own house?” He tells her to look through the photos for herself. She sees grainy black and whites of buildings and of course, that steel wall he speaks so highly of. That’s when Rick pulls something else out. It’s a wire with a cone at the end we determine is some kind of listening device. He’s like, “Yeah, duh, I’ve been listening to you guys, I already said that.” He meant it.

Let’s do a recap and breakdown something here: This guy Aaron has a puny little pistol, but he has a working camera, he has materials to develop the photos, working cars, a flare gun Carl finds in his pack just before they leave on their mission, and a listening device. Why would he have all of this—just to audition new members for his community? Michonne’s wheels are turning now, too. She asks Rick if they’ve asked him The Questions.

The Questions are a set of questions Rick has made a habit out of asking newcomers to see if they’re good or not, to gauge how they feel about killing, to read them. How many walkers have you killed? Aaron’s not sure. A lot. How many people have you killed? Two, he says. The third and final question is always: Why? Aaron says, “Because they were trying to kill me.” Suddenly the car is bombarded with walkers. Glenn doesn’t see it coming—but they should have, considering Rick sent them down the road that hasn’t been cleared, so says Aaron.

Now there’s a sea of walkers in the dark. The car won’t start back up. They abandon ship and head through the woods when they see a flare gun go off in the distance. Stunned, Michonne asks Rick if he saw that. They don’t know what this means, but Aaron seems to. He says it’s over and asks to be let out. He runs with his hands still tied behind his back as the rest of the group runs after him to see where he goes. In the woods, Glenn saves Aaron from being attacked and unties him. Aaron tells him he heard what Glenn was saying about sticking together. “We can go together, but we can only go together,” he says. “I heard you say that.” Glenn appears highly shocked that Aaron recalls that anecdote Glenn said aloud to Maggie. It’s a strange betrayal—a stranger listening to your inner most thoughts, during arguably the worst time in your life, with your partner on the brink of giving up, in the middle of nowhere, in a post-apocalyptic zombie-filled world. Yes, even then, a stranger can be listening on. Big Brother is watching.

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After a few close encounters with the walkers, the group makes it back out on the other side of the woods, to the water tower. There’s an alley with a few buildings, one marked “Supply room” where Daryl is keeping watch. Inside, Aaron runs to Eric. He was run over by the tire of the other car and his foot is in bad condition but he’s happy to see Aaron. They tell each other they love each other and share a long kiss. Oh. So, Aaron is a sweet gay man and Eric is his lover. (Seems the show will follow suit with Aaron’s character from The Walking Dead comic.) Rick meets Eric and the rest of the group stands around waiting for the next decision. Aaron says they’ll have to shoot him if they keep him away from Eric for the night. Maybe it’s true—it was only ever Aaron and Eric out on the road checking up on Rick and their group. We still don’t know the real reason—are they just lonely? Do they need more company? The smiles across everyone’s faces say they’re fans of Aaron and believe him now. Rick stands back in the shadows. Glenn approaches Rick and tells him to basically ease up, and Rick says—okay! It’s so hard to take a breath in this show and let your guard down—but has that moment arrived?

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Morning is here again, and the group is chugging along in an RV—to Alexandria, the community where Aaron and Eric are from. Noah appears for a moment and Aaron tells him there’s a dude named Pete back in Alexandria who happens to be a great surgeon and can work on his leg. Up front, Eugene is playing cards while Rosita and Abraham sit captain and co-captain at the wheel. As they come around a bend, Rosita spots something from a distance. It’s D.C.! It’s D.C.! They share a moment—Abraham look proud for the first time in months, maybe it was that Spaghetti-O find, or maybe it’s just knowing that they’ve literally turned a corner.

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After the RV breaks down, it’s small apples compared to the big heaps this group’s had to overcome. Glenn knows right where another battery is for the RV. But of course we already know that, because it was back in Season One and Two when Glenn was the most important asset to Rick and co. He helped repair that RV and save Rick. Let’s all take a moment to honor our Glenn. You go, Glenn! Back on the road, the gang makes it to Alexandria and the camera zooms in deep on Rick’s face. We know what he’s doing. He’s listening. We can faintly hear children laughing and playing in the background. A smile emerges and Michonne grabs his hand on the steering wheel and smiles too. He picks up Baby Judith from the back seat and asks her, “Should we go?” as the sounds from behind the gates only continue to echo the idea, that Rick was wrong, but like Carol says to him, “They’re still right.”

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What do you think will happen now that the group is at Alexandria? Are you a fan of Aaron and Eric now? Is the group safe here? What secrets do Aaron and Eric have and what will we learn about their past? Who else is behind the gates? And will they take their chances on Washington, D.C. now that they’re soooo close?

Tune in next Sunday and tweet me your thoughts @the_hoff! ‘Til next time, gang.

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