+1 to Lam Le for his answer, yet I will add a few remarks and see if I can get your head to spin around till you're dizzy, @Koss M. Dizzyness is the first stage of enlightenment.
Although it is difficult to identify the point at which a moving object becomes distant or close to some other reference point, the semantic states do indeed exist.
They can be states attained, or they can be states something is in irrespective of its having attained the state. In other words, we can make a statement about getting into the state or about being in the state.
Let's look at two sentences and substitute another state, warm.
The beer had become quite warm before he drank it.
The beer was quite warm before he drank it.
The second sentence only supplies the fact that the beer was warm prior to his drinking it. The first sentence refers to the fact that it had not always been at that temperature. It had become warm.
Thus, the sentence with had become distant supplies a different kind of information than walked quite close. We don't know that he had been less close to them beforehand, at least not from the grammar of the sentence using the simple past. We might infer it, but on what grounds?