"The Distance" is the eleventh episode of the fifth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the sixty-second episode of the series overall. It premiered on February 22, 2015. It was written by Seth Hoffman and directed by Larysa Kondracki.
The episode starts with Maggie and Sasha bringing Aaron to the barn where the rest of the group is resting. Rick and the others appear to be wary over Aaron's arrival. Maggie gives Rick Aaron's gun, which Rick keeps as he asks Aaron what his intentions are. Aaron informs the group that he had been watching them and that he was the one who supplied them with the bottles of water the previous day. Rick chooses not to believe him, and convinces the group that Aaron has another agenda. Aaron, knowing that he would believe so, asks Sasha to give Rick his backpack, directing him to a small set of photographs of his community which he had taken as evidence of its existence. As Aaron explains what his community is about and emphasizes on its security, Rick punches him in the face, knocking him out.
With Aaron unconscious, Rick sends the group out to watch the area. Michonne tries to convince Rick that Aaron is not a threat, but Rick insists that he is not to be trusted. Glenn informs Rick that there are a lot of places for the enemies to hide, causing more panic within the group. As Aaron regains consciousness, he maintains a positive attitude, jokingly complimenting Rick's strength. Rick shoots back saying that they cannot trust someone who is still laughing after being beaten.
Rick asks Aaron about the number of people waiting for his group, bearing his flare gun as evidence of company. Aaron responds saying how it does not matter whether he informed him of how many, as it would not affect whether or not he would trust him any more than he does. Rick insists he confesses anyway, and Aaron informs him that there is only one. Aaron also reveals that he and his accomplice have vehicles that they had attempted to bring closer to the barn, but had been blocked by the surrounding trees. Michonne tells Rick that she wants to know the truth by checking it out. Rick turns down the task saying that it is a bad idea, but after Maggie and Glenn speak up in favor, Rick decides to let everyone except him and baby Judith to go scout ahead, ordering Abraham and Rosita to go with Glenn, Maggie, and Michonne and the rest of the group to search the surrounding area. As the groups leave, Aaron tells Rick that he used to be pointed at with guns before the apocalypse, due to his job as a NGO worker, and that he believes he and his people are good. Rick instead warns Aaron that if his people do not return in one hour, he would kill him.
Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, Rosita and Abraham are still walking towards their destination. Glenn warns the others to shoot whoever comes out from the woods, should the time come. Michonne, horrified by Glenn's orders, voices her opinion. Glenn replies saying that people should not come to the people who have guns like them. Disagreeing, Michonne says that Aaron's community are not bad people, reminding him of how they rescued Gabriel, of how they saved Tara after her involvement with The Governor, and of how they saved a crazy woman with a sword, implying herself. Glenn reluctantly agrees. They reach the specified location, finding a car and an RV, and realize that Aaron was telling the truth. A pair of walkers come out from the woods, one almost biting Abraham before Rosita intervenes. Abraham thanks her but is ignored.
In the barn, baby Judith starts crying, while Rick crushes acorns for her to eat. Aaron, still tied to the barn's support, reminds Rick that her crying would attract many walkers to their location, and that if it were to happen, he would be the first to go due to his immobility. Aaron insists that Rick take the apple sauce instead to stop Judith from crying. Still cautious of Aaron's intentions, Rick extracts a spoonful of the apple sauce from the supplied jar and offers it to Aaron, telling him to eat it first as a precaution. Aaron, realizing what he is doing and taking offense from it, refuses, saying that poisoning his baby would be the last thing he would have ever done. Rick, however, insists, even after Aaron informs him that he dislikes apple sauce. Against his wishes, he consumes it. After realizing it is safe, Rick rushes back and shares the sauce with Judith. Rick reminds Aaron that he has 43 minutes left.
Abraham and Rosita are clearing the RV. Abraham finds a can of S'Getti Rings, saying that it had been a long time. He then speaks with Rosita about what happened with Eugene, asking whether or not she believes that he would hurt her. Rosita answers that she does not and that she believes it was not him.
The group assembles back in the barn with a pile of canned goods salvaged from the vehicles. Rick tells Aaron that the food is now in their possession whether or not they come to his camp, eventually deciding that they would stay. The group, who are by this time now hopeful of a new sanctuary, refuses to follow Rick's decision on not following Aaron to his community, causing Rick to change his mind. Rick asks Aaron where his community is located. After Aaron informs the group that he would usually be the one to take the survivors to the location, they deny him the privilege, still wary of his real intentions, and ask him again where his community is. Revealing the location, Aaron also gives Rick details on the best possible route to the community. However, Rick decides to take a different route. Aaron warns him that his chosen path would not be safe, as it had not been cleared out beforehand. Rick insists that they will travel his way, in order to avoid trouble. Soon afterwards, Rick and Michonne discuss the situation at hand outside the barn, with Rick voicing his doubts about Aaron's community and reminding Michonne of the deceit of Woodbury and Terminus, saying that both places were initially quiet about their true motives.
The group leaves for the community during the night. Michonne and Aaron converse along the way, during which Aaron mentions his home. Michonne, concerned, questions about it. Aaron gives her the photographs of his house, and when she realizes that there are no people visible in the pictures, she becomes alert, and asks Rick if he had asked Aaron the three questions. As Rick replies in the negative, Michonne takes the role, asking him the questions:
Q: "How many walkers have you killed?"
A: "I dont know... a lot."
Q: "How many people have you killed?"
A: "Because they tried to kill me."
The conversation is interrupted when Rick finds the radio which Aaron used to eavesdrop on the conversations held amongst the group, right before the car runs in the dark through a herd of walkers, the blood of the walkers turning the car and the lights red. The car continues to ram through the herd, before the group stops and exits to check if the others are still behind them. Glenn reports that they have made it out. Rick rushes back in and Glenn tries to restart the car, failing due to the overwhelming amount of gore caught in the engine. The group stops for a moment when a lit flare is seen from afar. Aaron starts to panic, concerned it might be one of his own. He frantically requests for his freedom, but after the group continues to press him for answers, he becomes violent, kicking the door open and knocking Michonne over. As he runs away, Rick assures that they do not have to chase after him. Michonne suggests that the rest of the group may have also seen the flare and thought it was Rick, and believes it will be an easier way to find them. Rick and Glenn follow Michonne into the woods, finding themselves trapped with walkers surrounding them. Glenn eventually becomes separated, causing panic amongst the remaining two members, who are forced to hold off the approaching walkers themselves. While Glenn tries to find a way back to the others, he finds Aaron cornered by a walker and unable to defend himself due to his bounds. Initially deciding to leave him, Glenn changes his mind, assisting him and cutting him loose.
Glenn and Aaron eventually reunite with Rick and Michonne, downing the remaining walkers. Aaron, fully aware of the group's opinion on him, drops his gun and offers to be rebound, with Glenn telling him that there is no need. The four then run towards where the flare is believed to have come from. As they reach the location, they find Daryl, who alerts the others upon their return. Aaron, however, is still panicked, and starts calling for a man named Eric Raleigh. Rushing into one of the nearby buildings, he finds Eric with his wounded leg in a splint. Eric tells Aaron that Maggie had helped him, and assures him that his injury was only minor. Overjoyed, Aaron kisses him. Recovering enough to move, Eric gives Aaron a license plate, noting that he had lost it, with Aaron jokingly informing him about the loss of the car. Their conversation is interrupted by Rick's arrival, with Eric and Rick sharing an introduction. Rick and Aaron then meet with the others, with Aaron thanking them for saving Eric and promising to pay everything back fully once they get to his community. After joking with Rick with regards to driving at night, Rick informs him that if they were to sleep under the same roof, Aaron should sleep away from them. Realizing that he would be away from Eric, Aaron refuses, telling Rick that the only thing that could prevent him from staying with him would be to shoot him. Glenn convinces Rick that everything would be fine and that Aaron could be trusted, as all of the evidence thus far had confirmed that he was telling the truth.
The next morning, the group continues their journey to the community. Noah gives Aaron pills and a bottle of water for Eric. Both make conversation, with Aaron asking Noah about his leg. Noah tells Aaron that it happened after a prior accident. Aaron, showing sympathy towards his condition, offers him help from Pete, a doctor in his community who "has done many incredible things".
On the road, Rosita points out the Washington Monument seen from afar. The city of Washington comes into view, fairly pristine and almost untouched by the apocalypse. Abraham smirks, telling Rosita that they were going to make it despite the low battery power in the RV and their being only halfway to the destination. Soon afterwards, the RV breaks down, much to Abraham's frustration. Glenn assists with fixing the problem by replacing the dead battery with a spare battery contained within the RV. Astonished, Abraham questions how he knew about it, to which Glenn just shoots back a knowing smile. Rick observes from afar, with Michonne sitting by his side. She tells him that he needs to let go of his worries, as their battles are over. Rick says that he still does not believe Aaron and Eric, before saying that whatever were to happen, he wants to make sure, because it is his family who is at stake. Before leaving, Rick stops at an old shack, grabs a blender cup and hides Aaron's confiscated gun inside of it, taking it with him as a safety measure.
The group reaches the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Rick awaits cautiously as he halts in front of the gate, but is relieved to hear the sound of children playing from behind the gates, assuring him that the area is safe. Turning to Rick, Michonne asks him if he is ready, to which he replies that he is. Everyone exits the vehicles, walking towards the closed gate. As Rick holds Judith close, the group awaits the opening of their new safe haven.
- First appearance of Eric Raleigh.
- First appearance of the Alexandria Safe-Zone.
- The title of the episode, "The Distance", refers to the distance from the barn to Alexandria.
- This episode marks Chandler Riggs' 50th appearance on the show.
- When Abraham asks Glenn how he knew about the RV's extra battery, this is a reference to Dale and his Winnebago as Dale was seen teaching Glenn about the vehicle in Seasons 1 and 2.
- It was revealed on the Talking Dead segment for this episode that Aaron most likely followed Rick and the group for two to three weeks prior to ultimately approaching them.
- Fox South Africa accidentally released a promo for episode 12, "Remember", instead of this episode's promo before its premiere, indirectly spoiling the end of this episode.
- On their way to Alexandria, Rosita and Abraham see Washington D.C. close by. Abraham is distracted by this, so Rosita tells, "Eyes on the road, Champ." Ironically, Negan says to Abraham, "Look at that. Taking it like a champ." as he's being bashed in with Lucille.
- Aaron introducing himself to Rick's group and inviting them to Alexandria is adapted from Issue 68.
- Rick punching Aaron and Michonne's response afterward is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 68, where Abraham responds to Rick instead.
- Rick questioning Aaron about his true intentions is adapted from Issue 68.
- Michonne convincing the rest of the group to trust Aaron is adapted from Issue 68.
- Aaron kissing an injured Eric is adapted from Issue 79.
- Glenn saving Aaron's life and giving him a gun to help fight the walker herd on the road is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 68, where the group is attacked on their camp instead.
- Eric sending a flare into the sky and his subsequent rescue is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 69, where Heath asks for the help instead.
- Rick's group arrival at Alexandria is adapted from Issue 69.
- Rick hearing kids laughing from inside Alexandria is adapted from Issue 69.
- While U.S. Route 23 does run through Virginia, it runs through the western portion of the state. It does not occur between Richmond and Washington DC, nor does it come within 60 miles of DC.
- U.S. Route 16 also occurs within the western portion of Virginia. It also does not occur between Richmond and Washington DC, nor does it come within 60 miles of DC.