In "The Distance," newcomer Aaron offers Team Rick hope in the form of a steel-walled safe zone

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated February 22, 2015 10:05 PM
Gene Page/AMC

Given how many times our heroes on The Walking Dead have been offered salvation only to encounter monsters worse than the ones from which they needed salvation in the first place, it’s no surprise that they were suspicious of Aaron (Ross Marquand) and his offer of a new home for Team Rick.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was most distrustful, even as Michonne (Danai Gurira) urged him to reconsider, stop fighting and let it go.

In the end, Rick and the survivors made it to Alexandria – but not before Rick’s overly cautious nature backfired and landed them in yet another life-threatening situation.

Aaron Talked a Lot, Which Did Not Endear Him to Rick

“The Distance” opened where “Them” left off. Having just met Aaron, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) stripped him of his possessions and dragged him into the barn Team Rick had made their temporary residence.

Aaron was far more talkative than Rick could handle, explaining that he thought the survivors would make “valuable additions” to his community. “But it’s not my call,” said Aaron. “My job is to convince you all to follow me back home.”

He brought pictures of his home is surrounded by solid steel panels 15 feet high and 12 feet wide. More than security, he said, “There’s only one resource more critical to our community’s survival: The people. Together, we’re strong. You can make us even stronger.”

That comment earned Aaron a punch in the face from Rick.

Rick was convinced Aaron’s community was coming for them at that moment, but he wasn’t being completely paranoid: When Aaron regained consciousness (“You’re being cautious. I completely understand that”), he admitted that his people had been watching them for a little while. Unsure of how to get Team Rick to trust him, he offered to drive them to his community, though his hands were bound.

“You can trust me,” Aaron implored, after listing all the ways they could have already ambushed the survivors if they had really wanted to.

In Which the B Team Found Nothing but Walkers and S’getti Rings

Michonne, tired of fighting, wanted to trust Aaron. If not for her convincing, Rick may not have relented. So, he decided to send out Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Glenn ( Steven Yeun), Maggie and Michonne to scope out the area for any of Aaron’s people, despite his insistence that there was only one out there.

They didn’t find anyone – just some walkers and the RV Aaron’s comrade arrived in. Abraham cleared out all of the food found within – including some cans of “S’getti Rings” – and headed back to the barn.

At Michonne’s urging once again, Rick finally decided to let the group visit Aaron’s community. Aaron, however, was not exactly willing to give them the address, and Rick was not going to let him drive. Therefore, Aaron told them the first step – go north on road 16. Rick of course decided to take road 23 against Aaron’s pleas that 23 wasn’t safe where 16 had been cleared.

Outside, Michonne made Rick promise that they were really going to Aaron’s community. He reaffirmed that they were going, but he couldn’t guarantee they would go inside. “When you first came up on the walls outside Woodbury, what did you hear?” asked Rick. “Nothing,” she replied. “Terminus?” “Nothing.” Meaning: Silence coming from within the walls of their next destination would be reason enough for them to turn back.

Road 23

Surprise! Road 23 was overrun with walkers. Glenn crashed through a countless number of them – so many that the moonlight hitting Aaron, Michonne, Glenn and Rick was tinged with red thanks to the blood-and-guts splatter on the windows.

The RV containing the rest of the group had managed to make it back the other way, and Aaron totally panicked. When he saw a flare go up – likely from his traveling companion – he totally lost it, telling them that “this is over” and running into the walker-filled woods with his wrists still bound behind his back.

Glenn saved him from a walker attack, and Aaron offered him salvation once again: “We can make it together, but we can only make it together,” Aaron reminded Glenn. “You said that. I was listening.”

Aaron Reunites with His Boyfriend, Eric

Rick and Michonne escaped a close call with a bunch of walkers as Aaron and Glenn – who removed Aaron’s bindings – blew some heads off.

With that, they met up with Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson), Aaron’s traveling – and romantic – partner. Eric had broken his ankle in the walker-filled melee, but he was otherwise fine. Aaron thanked Team Rick for saving Eric and told them that the debt would be paid once they made it to his community – in Alexandria, he finally revealed.

Rick wanted to keep them apart for the night, but Aaron told him that “the only way you’ll stop me from being with him right now is by shooting me.”

Glenn convinced Rick to let Aaron and Eric stay together, and the next morning they were finally off to Alexandria.

Once they arrived, it looked every inch the steel-walled fortress Aaron had promised. From the outside, Rick could hear the laughter of children. They were home.

So, how horrible will this new place eventually turn out to be? Place your bets below, but no comic-book spoilers – that is a very, very boring thing to do.

Also Worth Nothing

• Before Aaron offered up the applesauce from his backpack, baby Judith’s food consisted of acorns that Rick had tried to mash up using the butt of his gun. Grim.

• Aaron: “My mom used to make me eat foods I didn’t like to make me more manly.”

Chekhov’s Gun: Not far outside Alexandria, Rick stashed a gun inside a blender lying atop a pile of trash near a white house – think that’ll come in handy at some point?

The Walking Dead airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on AMC.