Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's The Walking Dead Season 6 episode, "Knots Untie."
Surprise! In this episode we find out the post-apocalyptic world outside of the Alexandria Safe-Zone is also trying to find some semblance of order when Jesus reveals to Rick that he comes from a community called the Hilltop Colony. Turns out, Jesus is pretty much a field trade ambassador looking for supplies, or others who are interested in exchanging dwindling resources. It's a setup that certainly fulfills an aspect of the "new world" Rick is desperate for his kids to have, so we follow him and his travel crew for a RV adventure with Jesus to his promised land.
Contributing Editor Tara Bennett gives her reactions to the episode, written by Matthew Negrete and Channing Powell and directed by series DP Michael E. Satrazemis.
World expansion is good, and it's time to start creating a plausible reality where survivors aren't just trying to wipe each other out. By this time, those competent survivors would hunker down for what the new normal is going to be, and I can't believe all of it would be Lord of the Flies-style anarchy. So I'm happy the Hilltop community reflects other people who just want to live with as much humanity as they can. Gregory's group certainly aren't as sheltered as the Alexandrians were, so their co-existing with Rick and company will be an interesting evolution to witness. Jesus representing the moral compass for these people (so far) is also fascinating to watch. He knows Gregory is a tool and knows what they lack and need to survive. He's a peacemaker trying to bring all sides together to at least talk, and that's a fairly fresh person to place into the fray right now.
Using Barrington House, an old living history plantation, as a visual setpiece is genius. It's the physical embodiment of the old world preserved inside a walled bubble that's keeping out the new world. And Gregory keeping his beloved painting and rest of the decorations in place, clean and undisturbed, is a great metaphor for so much of what our society is dealing with today in our fraught political climate. Hopefully, they run with that narrative and dig into some interesting ideas. Certainly, watching Maggie deal with smarmy Gregory and capitalize on the shifting leverage was a beauty to behold. She's been groomed by Deanna and seeing that play out is appreciated. Maggie is coming into her own leadership and I hope she will be one of those rare good person forging a better future.
There were some interesting Abraham beats this week. Clearly, his PTSD is still rumbling under the surface and it's causing him to have real issues with believing a peaceful future is attainable. That gave us the scene in which Abraham uses a Bisquick and pancakes metaphor to ask a confused Glenn if he and Maggie were planning to have a child. That whole exchange between them was pure gold, and why I love the actors in this show. Post-fight, Abraham was quick to forget Rosita's necklace on the field and that's certainly an indicator of where his mind is regarding her these days. Is Sasha his more peaceful future? Or does Alexandria need an Abraham who is on edge, always looking at the horizon instead of potential domesticity? All interesting things to muse about his character.
Why does everyone attempting to form a safe enclave for society have to be such a jerk? Was Deanna the only good person with leadership skills? Everyone else has to be a nasty creep (Rick notwithstanding) bent on smashing all that is just into oblivion. Negan is obviously a horrible nemesis waiting in the wings, and now Gregory (played with the right mix of hubris and lechery by Xander Berkeley) runs Hilltop like some kind of weird, Civil War era throwback. Yes, we absolutely need conflict. Rebuilding society is hard work. But can't we have someone start out strong and then crack under the strains? Rick represents that for sure, but can't we watch that happen to someone else too? The out of the gates a-hole is a bit tired and illustrates the strains of long-term storytelling in this kind of world.
"Oh S--t!" Moment
When the Hilltop boys return from Negan's compound and poke a hole in Gregory to get their hostage family member back, that was a chilling moment for Team Grimes' killing efficiency. Rick, Michonne, Daryl and Abraham made short work of the Hilltop threat and again we get a blood-drenched Rick to visually convey how terrifying they've also become as a unit. His "What?" response is right from the comics, and Andrew played it with the perfect note of incredulity mixed with defensiveness. Winning a massive walker invasion after a string of increasingly nasty trials (the Governor, Terminus, etc...) has created a worrying air of invincibility around Team Rick that's not exactly wise as they endeavor to bring Negan's head to Gregory. However, it was nice to see Michonne having Rick's back without missing a beat despite their new dynamic.
"Knots Untie" sets up the necessary future. It added more Boogeyman mystique around Negan with stories of him murdering teens and what he makes desperate people do because of his bidding. It's smart creating the groundwork for his evil over time so we can assume plenty before we get Jeffrey Dean Morgan's smirk right in our faces.
What did you think of “Knots Untied"? Is going after Negan in exchange for supplies a very bad move? Let us know in the comments!