There is no end in sight to The Walking Dead. Gale Anne Hurd has talked about this thing running for years – and if you've seen the viewing figures, it's obvious why. Still, if they were to wrap things up, an episode like 'The Distance' wouldn't be a bad way to go.
The sense of catharsis, of having weathered a (literal) storm at the end of last week's instalment, continues into this one. It's far from a comedy episode, but there's a lightness of touch and some genuinely snappy, funny dialogue.
It cuts straight to the chase. The group have captured Aaron and interrogate him about his plans. The interesting thing here is how the tension comes not from the new guy, but from Rick. His paranoia is understandable, but all consuming. He's ready to give up the chance of a new life for his friends and family because he doesn't want to risk being disappointed again.
That Michonne is the voice of reason here is a brilliant development (and, side note, the filthy look she gives Glenn when he comes on all soldier boy is hysterical). She's rational and intuitive and makes much better choices than Rick. I know who I'd be listening to in this situation.
That said, Aaron doesn't really help himself. Ross Marquand does a fine job of selling the character's trustworthiness, but the apple sauce scene is ludicrous. Judith is hungry and crying. Aaron suggests that Rick feeds her some of the said comestible, but then refuses to taste it himself (thus proving that it's not poisoned). Why? Er, because he doesn't like the taste. Seriously, when dealing with someone as trigger-happy as Rick, that's a really dumb decision. It feels like an artificial attempt to add tension to a scene that was already plenty dramatic.
With the decision to visit Aaron's base made, the gang hit the road again – cue a terrific set piece as they drive through a swarm of zombies. The show gets to flex its rarely-used horror muscles here. It's a safe assumption that everyone is going to make it out OK, as they've just offed two regulars, but Larysa Kondracki's direction makes for a genuinely tense, scary scene.
Thankfully, everyone did make it through OK and we met Eric – Aaron's partner in both love and hunting new recruits. It's a touching reunion and the moment that we know for sure that Aaron is on the up and up. As Rick sits, waiting and listening, he hears the sound of happy children. They've found a peaceful community where he can start a new life with his family. We know it won't last – everything eventually crumbles to shit in this show – but for now, life is good.
That's good. It feels like the show has been on the road for a very long time now, so a new regular location brings with it the promise of new types of story. What sort of people are already living there? How will Killer Rick cope in a peaceful environment (if that's what it turns out to be)? Will he finally tame that beast of a beard? I guess we'll find out next week in what looks like The Adventures Of Rick Grimes In Stepford...
Hot Shots Part Trois?
As soon as that flare gun appeared, you just knew it would be put to inventive zombie-killing use...
"You Lost The Plates?"
Aaron collecting licence plates for each of the states is a lovely detail. Completely pointless in regards to the rest of the show, but very believable.
Even at the end, Rick still can't quite trust Aaron – the detail of him hiding a gun outside of the base is a smart touch. I wonder when we'll next see that?
The Walking Dead airs on AMC in the US on Sundays and Fox in the UK on Mondays.
For more on top sci-fi TV shows like The Walking Dead, subscribe to SFX
|The one where||We get to know Aaron and Rick acts like a massive arse.|