Rick's going to be a problem. But just how big of a problem remains to be seen.
"The Distance" was a distinct step up in pacing and drama from last week's languid episode of "The Walking Dead" and went a long way toward moving the series toward what could potentially be its new status quo.
After what been months of wandering around through the backwoods of the South, Rick and company finally arrived on the outskirts of Washington, bound for a settlement in Alexandria, Va.
The good news was the Washington Monument was still standing. The bad news was ... well, we're not quite sure what the bad news is in Washington, but this is "The Walking Dead," so the bad news will come sooner rather than later.
Our heroes were brought to the capital by Aaron, a mysterious new character who's been following the group through the woods, listening in on their conversations and even leaving some fresh water for them when times looked bad.
Is Aaron as well-meaning as he seems, or is he just another sociopath out to trick and destroy the Rick Squad, like so many others before him? Though we as viewers were supposed to be as unsure as Rick, the writers gave us a big push toward his side when they revealed he was half of the show's first gay couple. His boyfriend, Eric, was convalescing with a broken ankle, but the scene of their reunion was so tender even Rick had to lurk in the background and watch in stunned silence.
Though the rest of the group seemed quite ready to give Aaron a chance -- maybe because they're just too beat down from being on the road to gather up much suspicion -- Rick remained the lone voice of dissent. As he revealed to Michonne, there was no way he could make himself willingly go into the settlement with Aaron, no matter what he observed. He's still smarting from his near death at the hands of Gareth and the cannibals of Terminus and can't bear to put himself in that position of vulnerability again.
So should we side with Rick or side with the group? In this case, it appears that rather than being the only one to see the light, Rick's fear for his infant daughter and the rest of the group may be clouding his judgment. With his wild-man beard and even-wilder-man eyes, Rick has transformed from the tough-guy sheriff you want on your side to the loose cannon you need to keep one eye on at all times.
The episode ended in great "Walking Dead" cliffhanger fashion -- with the group standing at the gates of Alexandria, awaiting some sign of life from the other side.
We'll find out next week what's behind that gate. Though I wouldn't expect more cannibals. At least not at first.
Follow me on Twitter: @patrickkevinday