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The Walking Dead – The Distance Review

"A Total Filler Episode"

Well, at least “The Distance” wasn’t as bleak as the past several episodes of The Walking Dead. But it really didn’t do much to raise the overall energy level of the series or offer all that much in the way of plot movement. I think “The Distance” was meant to be more of a character piece, but even the elements of character development that were attempted within the episode more or less fell flat. Overall, it was a slow moving and uninspiring hour, essentially a set-up for the great arrival of the Alexandria Safe Zone that we will presumably get to next week.

“The Distance” offered several interesting beats to characters who don’t normally get them (or, in the case of Rosita, don’t normally get dialogue at all). Michonne was given the most to do, as she openly challenged the Ricktatorship by telling him she was going to investigate the suspicious claims of their new captive Aaron. I understand that the writers have decided Michonne is now all for the idea of finding a community to hunker down with, but I’m still waiting for the show to explain to us why its most ardent believer in the “Trust No One” mantra has now turned over a new leaf. Likewise, Maggie’s push to join the Alexandria group also needs an explanation. She’s been burned by the promise of safety and the existence of rogue communities as well (I can’t imagine she’s forgotten Terminus and the hospital gang that murdered Beth this quickly). We aren’t given a reason why she’s on board with Alexandria. I suppose Aaron is pretty convincing, but I can’t imagine that’s the only reason.

All we really need is for Michonne to offer a speech highlighting why continuing on their own isn’t worth it. Simply saying she’s tired and that they need safety isn’t enough. They’ve needed safety since day one. Michonne bucked against Woodbury because she didn’t trust the Governor and thought she and Andrea would be safer on their own. She went to Terminus, but was wary. She’s avoided settling since she first appeared on the show. Now, she’s suddenly all about finding a safe haven when every haven she’s ever been to has been anything but safe. Michonne should be the most suspicious of them all.

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It was nice, on the other hand, to see Rosita get something to do. Her brief exchange with Abraham told us a lot about her. The subtle pause in her response to Abe’s question about whether she was afraid of him when he completely went off the deep end at the fire truck was incredibly telling. Rosita has learned to play her cards very close to her vest in this new world, and she doesn’t trust Abraham as much as we were initially led to believe. And, frankly, after seeing how he is capable of horrifically violent acts, I’m not sure I blame her.

While the episode didn’t really work as a whole, the walker attack in the woods sequence really did. It was a beautifully shot sequence, with the low lighting really highlighting the tension of the moment. With each gun shot offering our only illumination, it truly captured the confusion and terror of the moment for the characters. I was actually disappointed when the moonlight offered additional illumination. The stakes were certainly raised in this sequence- unlike in the rest of the episode which was stunningly devoid of any stakes at all.

I assume that Alexandria will be a paradise as promised (after all, there’s only so much loss and suffering these characters can take before they, and we as the audience, earn a small bit of hope). But the real struggle for the Grimes Gang will come in the form of learning to stand down for the first time in years. In this instance, Rick and company will need to listen to Michonne’s call to have hope for the future. Although, I can’t imagine some of the group’s more nomadic members (Daryl and Carol, I’m looking at you) being able to assimilate into new community at this point in the story. But, it will be interesting to see them try.

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Final Thoughts

— Nice to see the relatively low-key introduction of Eric as Aaron’s partner. The series has done pretty well with gay characters so far, now having three in the cast (including Tara, who really has nothing to do these days), which is three more than the vast majority of shows on television.

— Rick was driving with Judith just laying in the back seat? Really? That’s so incredibly dangerous that I cannot believe he really did that.

— I can’t help but think the show opted to air one of its duller episodes against the Oscars, knowing that a chunk of the audience might be DVRing this one and watching it later.

— Rick was pretty stupid throughout the episode. I completely understand being wary of a new guy showing up and knowing everything about your group. But opting to take a different route? At night? That’s really risky. Even for Rick.

Rating
6.0
Pros
  • Really well done sequence in the woods
  • Some interesting character development
Cons
  • No real forward moving action
  • Filler episode
  • Michonne is still lacking true motivation

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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