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by Thom Yee

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The Walking Dead images courtesy of AMC

6×11: “Knots Untie”

Whaaat happened to all my favourite characters?

Why did we spend so much time with Morgan early in the season for him to just disappear now?

What is Carol doing? She’s the first one you send out if people might need to be killed!

Does Aaron even have a job in Alexandria anymore?

Well, at least I haven’t seen Tara in a while.

“Knots Untie” gave me a lot of bad feelings, and if you’ve been paying any attention at all during the course of this series, or really any serialized dramatic fiction, you should have some pretty bad feelings too.

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Look, I’m a reasonable man, and as a reasonable man I insist that you wash up before speaking to me!  Wash up!  Wash up!  Wash up!

As the second part of our ‘Meeting Jesus’ duology (as I’m calling it), we arrive at a fairly paint-by-numbers fruition of what the character’s are there for, to open the world up wide enough for a potential war. In travelling to the Hilltop, our heroes, through sheer coincidence (?), wind up saving some stragglers from the Hilltop (and, in so doing, find an obstetrician for Maggie) before arriving at the fabled town itself, a land of 1800s-era agrarian culture that, frankly, looked more depressing than the old prison. Finding the Hilltop with an abundance of food that they’re in dire need of (especially when their leaders are screwing around driving supply trucks into rivers) but also an abundance of a**hole leadership, our heroes begin to wonder if they can make anything work with this new town. Luckily, when Gregory, the a**hole leader, finds his life threatened by the Saviors, a rival group extorting the Hilltop’s resources, our heroes swoop in with the only real leverage they have: kicking Savior ass. I had concerns about the “co.” of “Rick and co.” this episode, primarily that it looked suspiciously like the group he took out to lead the walkers away from Alexandria, an act that left the town vulnerable to attack earlier this season, but whatevs, I guess that’s not a story beat this time around.

“Knots Untie” deals primarily with relationships, in particular between those we know, Glenn & Maggie and Abraham & Rosita, those we wonder about, Abraham & Sasha and Daryl & Dr. Denise, forming new bonds, good & bad, between Alexandria and the Hilltop, and shattering established ones when it becomes clear that the deal between the Hilltop and Negan’s Saviors is unsustainable and a growing threat. For those we know, Glenn & Maggie especially, it’s a much needed regrouping in regards to where these two are now after spending so much crucial time apart in the early parts of season six, and for Abraham & Rosita, it’s a reminder that, “oh yeah, those two bone” (and also kind of “oh yeah, those two are still around”), but also Abraham’s trying to get a little on the side with Sasha. I’m telling you right now, I don’t like either development because both Glenn and Abraham have such huge targets on their backs with the coming of Negan. You don’t spend time with characters like Abraham or learn about Glenn’s growing family on The Walking Dead without knowing that something bad is probably going to happen to them.

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Boobies!

With the foreknowledge of where Maggie and Gregory’s story winds up in the comicbooks, it’s interesting to see these characters forming their relationship here at the outset of these trade negotiations. It’s hard not to look at Gregory with a huge eye role because of just how much further Rick and co. are in their development in this post-walker world, and to be fair, that’s somewhat of a testament to the actor, Xander Berkeley, who you probably know from some show or movie from some time or other because he’s been in everything. From the outset and his immediate dismissal of our heroes’ unkempt aesthetics, it’s clear that he’s maybe more hindrance than harm as leader the Hilltop’s leader, and through the episode he steadily works his way toward top candidate for the new #PorchDick (i.e., somebody’s gonna need to kill that guy).

We end with the certain, ominous knowledge that Negan and his Saviors are a clear and impending danger to our group in Alexandria, and that our heroes’ attempt at a first strike will most certainly cost them something dear. There’s a part of me that’s dreading the rest of season six because I know what Negan and how perfect the actor they’ve chosen to play him is for the role, but it’s the right kind of dread, the genuine kind of dread that shows like The Walking Dead need to thrive. All of this despite the fact that “Knots Untie” itself wasn’t a great or fun episode.  It’s simply what was needed to move the needle forward, so I can’t knock it down that much.

The Walking Dead — “Knots Untie” final score

3.5


Items of Note

  • That necklace was pretty nice, sentimentally and in terms of something interesting to look at. Also, SHOWER SEX!
  • Sorghum! Again!
  • Look, I don’t personally know what it’s like to be two to three months pregnant, but does it make that much sense to send two-to-three-months-pregnant women out on missions fraught with unknowable dangers?
  • See George Lucas?  Trade negotiations don’t have to grind your story to an absolute halt.

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