The Walking Dead: "Distance" (Season 5, Episode 11)

Flabbergasted

"Just because we're good people doesn't mean we won't kill you." That line gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "it's the thought that counts," now doesn't it?

This episode was a definite step up from last week's pratfall. It gets kind of confused and rushed for time in the last half hour, but still holds together decent enough. On the other hand, this half season overall does feel rushed. After our sometimes glacial meanderings through Georgia, we made it to Richmond off screen before the first episode even started. Now we're already in Alexandria. Hopefully the next five episodes have something worthwhile to do there.   

Rick is having a "Heart of Darkness" moment tonight. A nice-looking and polite guy named Aaron showed up last week promising safe haven in Alexandria. After the Governor and Terminus, Rick is having none of it. All of Aaron's respectful entreaties and pictures of a walled, safe compound earn him a cold cock punch from the Rickster. I'm sure Aaron would have preferred simple scorn.

Michonne has come a long way from her days of bitter wandering. She becomes the voice of reason. She faces Rick down, gets an assent from everyone else, and then takes four others with her to look for a car that will corroborate Aaron's story. After they leave,  Rick delivers the line atop this review. He follows it up with one even uglier: "If they're not back in an hour, I'll slip a knife into the base of your skull." Rick even argues combatively with Aaron about applesauce when the captive offers some from his backpack to quiet the crying baby Judith. "You've got forty-three minutes left."

Rick is really trying to screw this up for everyone. I imagine Aaron is having some serious second thoughts about Alexandria's recruiting process.

Michonne returns with proof that Aaron is telling the truth. Rick agrees to go to Alexandria, but not to take the route Aaron recommends. They'll take an uncleared  rural road. At night. Aaron is, for lack of a better word, flabbergasted: "I know you're trying to protect these people, but you're putting them in danger."

Yes. Yes, he is.

The night run is a genuine nightmare. The back road Rick picked is swarming with a Walker herd. And man do they splat on cars. You'd think enough of them would eventually break the windshield, but since that would be fatal, they don't. Nonetheless, the car Rick, Michonne, Glen and Aaron are driving gets separated from the RV everyone else is in. It also dies. A subsequent flight through the woods should be thrilling, except the sequence of events is visually muddled. There is one great, gross visual. Rick fires a flare gun into the face of a Walker who proceeds to stagger about as the most horrific Jack-o'-Lantern ever.

The most disappointing aspect of this episode is a rescue we don't see. Aaron's boyfriend, Eric, who was waiting to lead them back to Alexandria, apparently broke his ankle off screen. After desperate flight he was cornered by Walkers, again off screen. Fortunately, our friends in the RV somehow showed up in time to save him, yet again off screen.

Oh well. At least they told us about it. That's thoughtful, don't you think?  

The episode does close out with two nice bits. The first is Rosita pointing out the Washington Monument in the distance to Abraham Ford as he drives down the road in that RV. It feels like two real people having a real moment. The second is Rick and Michonne after they pull up to the promised haven to hear laughter float on the wind from behind those walls. Michonne puts her hand on Rick's where he grips the wheel. She simply asks "Ready?"

Ready to calm down?

Ready to stop being a dick?

Ready to give this a chance?

All without saying any of that, making it clear how much she cares about him. Nicely done. This show is worth watching precisely for moments like that.          

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