The Walking Dead: 5.11 The Distance

Well there was a lot of talking this week in The Walking Dead punctured only by a great scene of carnage when the gang ploughed into a road full of walkers, and the subsequent escape through the woods; it was one of the most intense walker scenes for a while.

Mainly though The Distance is about accepting the possibility of normality. And trust. Newcomer Aaron is the kind of smooth talking, too good to be true character the gang, and the viewer, have seen before in the world of the walking dead. His amenable nature and photos of a well-protected nirvana draw in most of the gang, but Rick is ever wary, quicker to use the fist than intuition.

There are interesting group dynamics coming into play; Michonne is more confident and a stronger part of the team now, challenging Rick and leading the others; Daryl and Abraham have taken a back seat after their recent trauma’s; Glenn is more vocal and opinionated than recent seasons have found him. It’s different to the last time Rick took charge and made decisions for the gang.

This made this week’s episode all the more interesting as Aaron’s words and actions were visibly dividing the group. It’s easy to understand Rick’s position, how many times have they seen potential saviours turn into The Governor or Gareth? Too many. The writers take everything the show has thrown at these people over the last couple of years and makes hope a dangerous thing. For the characters and the viewer. You feel Rick’s pain, you want Alexandria to be true; you can’t trust that it is.

A word for the actors, Andrew Lincoln has been imperious as Rick Grimes this season, on any other show he’d be nominated for awards for portraying a man permanently on the edge of sanity. There’s ever better support from Norman Reedus and Steven Yeun, Danai Guirira and Michael Cudlitz, this really is a show that’s the sum of its parts.

Now in Scott Gimple’s second season as showrunner the show is reaping the rewards of that stability and clarity of thought. The themes and events are being used as drivers for character decisions and discussions in a way not seen since the Frank Darabont days; it feels more joined up and that there’s focus, something that was sorely missing in the prison and The Governor storylines. Can you tell we’re impressed?

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