Every week, millions of people tune in to watch The Walking Dead and what horrors, zombie hoards or natural disasters await the determined survivors of the show. Full spoilers are ahead for last night’s episode.
In the episode that aired last night, “The Distance,” viewers revisited the group the morning after realizing they narrowly escaped the fury of Mother Nature. A man named Aaron had approached the group and was interested in speaking with them about going somewhere safe, where they didn’t have to worry about anything anymore. Now in this episode, it was up to the group and the viewer to determine whether this guy is the real deal, or if he is some psychopath like we saw in the Governor of Woodbury.
The disadvantage to having read the comics is that sometimes you can tell which comic story arc is coming next by the characters the show introduces. Luckily, The Walking Dead show keeps even comic book readers guessing with unexpected deaths and characters who have lived long past their life in the Walking Dead books.
Viewers have seen lead character Rick Grimes through The Walking Dead at his worst, and at his worst, it still feels like he could fall further. With a duty not only to keep his daughter Judith and son Carl safe from the dangers of the world but keep the rest of the group safe as well, it’s no surprise when he completely doubts this newcomer Aaron and his promise of a safe community, even after providing photos of the place.
Rick is paranoid and it shows throughout the Walking Dead episode as he sends half the group to protect the perimeter of the barn and the other half to check our Aaron’s claims of having two vehicles with room enough to travel back to the strangers proposed safe zone. After what the group has been through with the Governor and their subsequent run-in with the cannibals at Terminus, Rick is being cautious, but he’s being too cautious. The Walking Dead writers have always been able to cause tension for both the on screen group and those watching at home.
Luckily, Rick was outvoted by the rest of the group and like a good leader, he knows when it’s easier to side with everyone instead of trying to make everyone see it his way. Michonne has really come into herself as a lead character and has grown immensely since she first joined The Walking Dead, and it was good to see her stand up to Rick.
But does Rick’s paranoia mean he’s a bad leader, that he needs to be replaced or worse, that he is the ‘new villain‘?
Not necessarily. In a world where everything is out to get you and sometimes you don’t know where your next meal or sip of clean water will come from, it’s okay to be paranoid, and we’ve seen paranoid characters more than once in The Walking Dead. However, when Rick could pass up at least checking it out in favor of living in a barn, his leadership was put into question by the group and it very well should have been. Instead of hearing Aaron out completely, he punches him out, ties him up and demands answers. A little harsh, sure, but Aaron has the good nature to put up with it. He sees the good inside of Rick, despite the defensive walls he’s put up.
Is anyone else in the group more qualified to lead them?
Probably not. Despite the dangers that Rick put the group in by taking a different route to the safe zone Aaron proposed and driving through a hoard of ‘roamers’ as Aaron calls them, they still arrived safely at the gates of the Alexandria safe zone the following morning and sat for a moment as Rick listened. In past Walking Dead episodes, the group has come up to ‘safe zones’ and heard nothing but silence; however this time they are greeted with the sounds of laughter and children playing.
It may not have been the most eventful Walking Dead episode but it proved that Rick, like a true leader, concedes to listen to his group instead of the Ricktatorship we’ve seen in previous episodes.
[Images via AMC]