The Walking Dead: S5x11 A Rant about The Distance

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
I love The Walking Dead. It is, perhaps, my favorite show of all time. But, it's not perfect. No television show, movie, or book is. Storylines, character development, etc. can sometimes really frustrate us at first - until we analyze the material enough to see a bigger picture we hadn't considered before, or it just continues to aggravate us until the end of time. I don't excuse a lot of this show's problems (except for Season 3), but most of the time I like to say that I fall into the former category of being able to see something all the way through; even if a character's death is unexpected or feels uncalled for.

Now this post does not pertain to a character's death, but the direction of its most recent episode The Distance. Our group is acquainted with a suspicious character Aaron trying to recruit them to Alexandria, supposedly a community that is safe from walkers. Actions and decisions made by the characters in the episode irked me greatly, even if this next Woodbury/Terminus/Hospital Place/ETC. turns out to be another torture zone. (Note, that I haven't read the comic books so I don't know all of what is in store for us. I'm sure it will be brutal.)

This post is titled: Walking Rants. Hopefully it'll be a one time thing. If you have not seen The Distance, or any episodes from any seasons leading up to this one, do not read further.

So, here are my honest-to-goodness frank feelings about this episode: It veered on Season 3 Epic Sized Bullshit.

After being left out on their own since the fall of the prison, and what they almost suffered at Terminus, Beth and Tyrese's death, I can understand the characters wanting a safe place to be. What they don't realize, however, is that the haven they are seeking has been the ones they build themselves. The one that is not controlled by outside groups.

Each character continues to say, think, and base their decisions on who they have saved; what they have done to remain good people, despite having to kill walkers (which at one point was mourned like a normal person's death), and even people, to survive. Sometimes I want to shout at them and acknowledge: YES, YOU SAVED THEM. Not the Governor Woodbury, who was a crock and mercilessly killed people on the side to build and mask his fortress of normalcy. Not Terminus, which forced people into cannibalism. Not the hospital, which wasted its resources to target innocent civilians and force them into a life of servitude.

You guys made the prison a home, a community, a place for leadership, growth, and trust. In Season 1, the original group of main characters went to the CDC and discovered what one desperate man is capable of: removing a group’s free will to survive by forcing them to commit suicide. They come up against this villain again and again in new forms but with the same old trick up their sleeve: survive how he or she sees fit, which usually means to get killed or sacrificing yourself for their well-being by any means necessary.

I know this series has to get to Alexandria for comic book storyline purposes, but Terminus was what - one or two months ago? No offense to Michonne, Maggie, and everyone, but they were not like Rick, Daryl, and Glenn watching innocent people getting hit over the head with a bat and sliced open like a Thanksgiving turkey. How could they all forget that the only evening they had feeling safe from other people was alone inside a church, inside the prison, inside the farm, on the road together?

When characters so easily forget about what occurred in the past, in "real time", the fourth wall can so easily crumble. It's the same feeling I had when Maggie wasn't showcased worrying or wondering at all about Beths' disappearance; she was only hunting down Glenn's whereabouts. And, this was her flesh and blood, the most vulnerable person she had left of her family after Herschel was slaughtered, and she was like, "Oh she's gone. Time to go to Washington and get away from all of this." Yes, time passes from one arduous obstacle to another. In this world, moreso than any other contemporary show I believe, where it is so broken and resilience is so fragile, it's not really excusable when the big events like almost becoming BBQ or a recent character's death is forgotten.

The "There is no room in this world for mourning/questioning/worrying about others" is growing impatiently old - which is why Season Three fails so much. Andrea's development regresses so terribly to the point of being physically maddening to watch or think about. From the second season where she was willing to fight, defend the camp and her choices, she is made to so naively believe in the Governor after all the atrocities she suspects and sees him commit. The group, because of everything they've gone through with Lori that had nothing to with Andrea whatsoever, just throws her aside and treats her as if she is worse than the Governor. And, they accept Michonne in her place licketysplit. Andrea ended up dying, and it brought a community together in the prison, but the filler episodes leading up to it, where peoples' actions negated each other, almost entirely wastes away the meaning of her death.

The first big mistake of this season was Dawn; wasting resources to go out of their way to target innocent people and in-debt them into servitude to keep a hospital going that was wasting resources trying to keep sick people healthy (who they eventually killed because they couldn't pull their weight) and to run dvd players and exercise machines. I understood this was her tactic for trying to maintain her fate and believing someone was coming to save them, but the logistics were nonsensical - at best. Beth's death was the complete opposite of Andrea's in that none of the hospital wards left with the group because they are living abused but comfortable and not on the streets. The trip to Alexandria is perhaps their way of trying to cope with their losses.

And, yet the second mistake of this season,
is for the group to so easily believe and be convinced that a guy from two states away/has been stalking them for miles is trustworthy. Why? Because he uses Community instead of Sanctuary in his selling pitch? (In fact, it's his subtle reference to Terminus, that is what gets him punched out by Rick.)

Killing off characters used to have symbolism which served some higher purpose to the season's arc. Now, it's just turning into storyline flubs that "resolve" itself in one episode with a character's shocking dismissal (Tyrese, Beth, Andrea, Herschel). When Glenn (because guess who's been getting more screen time now), or whoever else, gets killed next, honestly it's going to be on Michonne's hands.

No offense to her fans, but she is not at all one of my favorite characters. Again, I understand the groups' desperate need to find a community. However, just because she is afraid of being in the woods for too long and turning the discontented soul she was before Team Prison saved her ass, does not make for a spur-of-the-moment flee to a promising paradise justifiable. She even went as far as to criticize Rick for not wanting a stable environment for Judith in order to convince him this was a good idea. What have we learned on this show so far? Don't take strangers at their word.

This is perhaps what is infuriating me underneath: another major character is going to be killed, and the actions leading up to this death is not going to be justified. Even as big of a fan I was of Andrea, Beth, and Tyrese, the way their send offs were written could be explained and provided some layers of emotional satisfaction. Things added up. This direction of heading to Alexandra doesn't. I'm fine with getting there, even if we have a filler episode (which The Distance essentially was) to cover the realistic geographic distance to Wherever Woods  to Alexandria. But let's make doubly sure some of the logistics of the plan and character's motivations stronger, and that the audience aren't the only people who remember how far they've all come and suffered. Let's not make this another A to B,to Shit Is Going To Down and You Just Have to Accept It ploy.

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