Rick’s leadership (otherwise known as The Ricktatorship) in The Walking Dead hasn’t been the most consistent element of the series. First he maintains an absolute rule, then concedes power, and then, when things go wrong again, the rest all turn to him, and the cycle continues.
At the moment it feels as if we’re coming towards one of those turning points. Over the course of season five, a surprising number of characters have stepped up and questioned Rick’s decisions. This week it was Michonne who was the voice of reason, as we encountered Aaron, the assumed vanguard party for a community, whose name will be instantly recognisable to those with some knowledge of the comics.
Given that Rick’s control appears to be loosening, and more importantly, given that this isn’t the sort of show for an abrupt happy ending, it’s a fair assumption that the Alexandria Safe Zone isn’t going to be the utopian, idyllic place it seems to be. The only real question of course is in which form the problem will emerge. I’ve always wanted to see a storyline where the community is actually as close to ‘normal’ life as you could get, yet world weary and paranoid from life on the road, the group simply can’t adjust. Will this scenario ever happen?
The two characters at the core of ‘The Distance’ – Rick and Aaron of Alexandria – both got some decent exposure here. Rick’s dallying with insanity is never far away, and here his paranoia appeared as he implied that Aaron might try to poison baby Judith. Aaron meanwhile, was also strongly portrayed to be a genuinely decent guy, which just made him all the more suspicious in such a compromised world.
In case anyone had forgotten, this is a show featuring zombies and the middle part felt like it was trying quite hard to act as a reminder of that fact. Firstly we had the sustained gore of seeing the car plough through the walker horde, slowly but surely filling the windscreen with guts. Secondly, there were a couple of shots that were heavily reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead, the godfather of zombies; the shot of the blurred, ambling zombie horde coming towards the camera stood out as one such homage. Had we seen this any sooner in the show’s run and it could’ve been called poaching, but as it is, it passes as a show of appreciation to those that came before.
‘The Distance’ was a decent episode, setting the scene for an iconic location while providing good viewing at the same time. Avid readers of the comics have reliably informed me that we’re going down a rather different route, so I’m looking forward to seeing just what Alexandria is like.