If you haven’t watched the newest episode of The Walking Dead, then I would suggest not reading any further, because there will be spoilers. You have been warned.
Family Road Trip During the Zombie Apocalypse
“Knots Untie” centered on a very unusual thing for the zombie apocalypse: a road trip, and no road trip is complete without adventures. The episode began where “The Next World” left off, with Jesus inside the home of Rick and Michonne. He takes a moment to admire a painting before Carl points a gun at his head, to which Jesus states with simplicity that he is only waiting for Carl’s mom and dad (aka Rick and Michonne) to get dressed and come out of their room.
What does Jesus want? He has noticed how heavily armed the Alexandria Safe Zone is, and he has taken the privilege of going on a short tour of the community after “escaping” from his holding room. He knows that the community has a plentiful amount of ammunition and medication, something that his community is lacking. He wants his community and Rick’s community to work together for the betterment of their people; he wants to trade. And as he tells Rick and Co., their world is about to get a whole lot bigger. Apparently, there are numerous other communities out there.
Rick, Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, and Daryl all gather into the RV with Jesus to begin their journey. On their way, though, they encounter a crash scene. The car belongs to Jesus’s people, and the man insists that they find them. Rick and his group are hesitant, but they ultimately agree to help, handcuffing Jesus and leaving him with Maggie as they enter a building to find the crash victims. They end up finding all five people, one of which is injured. It turns out that they hit the jackpot with this group, too, because one of the residents of The Hilltop that they’ve just rescued is an obstetrician, something that Maggie desperately needs.
They continue on with their fun family adventure, and, as usual, encounter another problem. They get stuck in mud. Thankfully they have arrived just outside of their destination. The Hilltop.
The Hilltop Community
The Hilltop community; it is the place that many comic book readers have been waiting to see brought to life on TV, and in “Knots Untie,” fiction finally became a reality. The community is similar to the Alexandria Safe Zone. Walls made from logs, a means to keep walkers and intruders out, surround it. People stand guard; although they hold spears instead of guns, further reinforcing Jesus’s statement that the community lacks ammunition. And, after a brief moment of resistance from the guards and Jesus’s reassurance that Rick and his people are good, they finally enter the community. Inside the walls are gardens, livestock, and people. The community very much resembles what one might imagine an early settlement would be.
The group is escorted into the Barrignton house, the place where many residents of The Hilltop reside, including their leader, Gregory. First impressions are key, and Gregory doesn’t make a very good one. He insists that Rick and Co. wash up before he speaks to them, and after doing so, Maggie puts to use the information hat she had garnered from her time with Deana; she speaks to Gregory. She informs the leader that she wants their communities to trade. The Alexandria Safe Zone has ammunition and medicine while The Hilltop has food. Gregory isn’t fond of the idea and insists that Maggie’s people work for food. Maggie refuses to accept this deal.
He hasn’t even made an appearance yet, but he has already landed the spot as the number one villain this season and his presence was heavily felt during last night’s episode. While our motley crew is still at The Hilltop, three people arrive, and things aren’t good. One of their own, Craig, has been captured by Negan because he wasn’t happy with their load. Ethan tells Gregory that Negan has a message for him. What’s the message? A knife to the gut. Presumably death. Thankfully, Rick and the others immediately step in and bloody Rick returns when he kills Ethan by stabbing him in the neck (he looks awfully similar to neck-biting Rick of season four).
So, what’s the deal with this Negan guy? Why is he so bad and so feared? Jesus offers us some insight to this. It turns out that Negan is a bad man…a very bad man. He comes to communities and demands that they give them half of everything that they have. What do they get in return? To put it simply, Negan and his Saviors don’t kill them. I mean, that’s generous, I guess… What else? Negan kills people as a warning. In fact, during his first time at The Hilltop, the Saviors beat a 16-year-old boy to death in front of the rest of the residents. Sounds like an upstanding citizen, doesn’t he?
The sudden and real threat of Negan offers the group an almost ideal situation to compromise with Gregory, who has thankfully been saved by The Hilltop’s doctor. As Rick states, he and his group have never had a problem with confrontation, unlike Gregory. Rick, even Daryl, seems fairly confident that they will be able to take on and destroy Negan and the Saviors just as they have with the other groups that they have encountered. So Maggie goes to talk to Gregory again. She proposes her deal. They’ll take care of Negan and free The Hilltop from his rule in trade for food. Gregory agrees, applauding Maggie for stepping up and taking the reigns. Maggie pushes further, though, demanding that The Hilltop gives up half of their supplies to the Alexandria Safe Zone. Go, Maggie! You go, girl!
Romantic Relationships in the New World
One of the overriding themes in the episode was love in this new world that they are creating, and most of this theme centered around Abraham, allowing for an interesting contrast of his relationships with both Rosita and Sasha to the relationships of Glenn and Maggie and Rick and Michonne. It was hinted at earlier in the season that Abraham could possibly be developing feelings for Sasha, and in “Knots Untie,” it became apparent that those feelings are very real. The episode opened with Sasha and Abraham walking down the street after patrolling. They joke a bit, and Abraham talks about seeing her during their next shift. Only Sasha has changed positions, and Eugene will be taking on her role with Abraham. Abraham seems disappointed, almost sad.
Things only get more intense and confusing a few scenes later when Abraham is lying in bed with Rosita. He has just been intimate with the woman who had his heart in seasons four and five, and yet he is seeing flashes of Sasha. Rosita is clueless as to what is actually going on in Abraham’s mind and proceeds to kiss and talk flirtatiously with him, even giving him a necklace that she has made for him from a broken taillight. Abraham is conflicted with his feelings for Rosita and Sasha.
During the RV ride to The Hilltop, Abraham starts a very serious, but very humorous, conversation with Glenn. Talk of Bisquick and making pancakes, which obviously initially confuses Glenn, leads to Glenn stating that he and Maggie had discussed becoming pregnant and that it was something that they wanted. They are trying to build something in this world and live lives worth living.
Abraham’s struggles only continue to play out through the episode. He briefly speaks with Daryl about settling down, to which Daryl replies that there isn’t any settling down anymore. And by the end of the episode, it seems as if he has reached some sort of conclusion. The necklace that he had been wearing, the same one that Rosita had given him, has fallen off during the scuffle with The Hilltop resident. Does he pick it back up? No. He leaves it on the ground, possibly symbolizing that he is leaving behind his relationship with Rosita.
Seeing Abraham’s struggles with love in contrast to the other relationships on the show was extremely interesting, and offered something that the show doesn’t oftentimes explore. Maggie and Glenn appear to have an almost normal relationship despite the world that they live in. They love each other deeply and are prepared to bring a child into this world. Rick and Michonne, both of whom have previously lost lovers, have finally allowed themselves to experience that kind of connection with someone else. Their relationship has opened and they are romantic with each other, allowing their affections to be openly expressed in front of the others. And then there is Abraham, who is quickly becoming entangled in a love triangle.
“Knots Untie” was very much an episode that served to set up the course of the rest of the season. We have learned that the Alexandria Safe Zone isn’t the only community out there that is not only surviving but has the possibility of thriving. Along with The Hilltop, there are other communities; other people out there who have managed to survive in this world. This opens new doors for our motley crew and offers a promising future. But not everything is good news, and we were further introduced to the Big Bad this season, Negan and the Saviors. With Rick and Co. agreeing to a deal with Gregory to defeat the Saviors in return for food and supplies, we can only be left to assume that bad times are ahead. “Knots Untie” offered both hope and danger, hope for expanding the world and making it a place worth living, and danger that is still coming in the form of people rather than just walkers. So what’s going to happen next? Will Negan and the Saviors be defeated with as much ease and success as Rick and the others seem to think? Or will we end up losing a beloved character? And even if nobody dies, what will facing off with another group of people do to the group, what will they lose of themselves in the process?
- Carol is very well-known for her cookies. Everybody likes her cookies.
- Carl, my boy, you made me proud, you made us all proud. Choosing to stay back. Stark contrast to the Carl in season three who was angry when he wasn’t allowed to stay back at the prison.
- We need more scenes of Daryl and Denise. I currently love this budding friendship. It’s so awkward and amazing.
- I don’t think I’ll ever be able to think of pancakes the same again.
- Why do their cars always get stuck? This is becoming a repeated problem. Maybe they should take driving lessons again? Avoid muddy areas?
- Gregory, her name is MAGGIE, not Natalie!
- Gleggie baby! We got to see the Gelggie baby!
- So, Negan…yeah…I don’t like him already, and I do not want Team Family going off to fight him.
- Also, Rick and Co, um, I’m pretty sure that not every confrontation you’ve had has been successful. Let’s see…season 4 with the Governor. Pretty sure that ended with Hershel’s beheading and the fall of the prison. Season 5 Grady Memorial Hospital. Yeah, Beth died.
- Rick, you seem awfully comfortable with all of that blood on you.
- I love you, Jesus. I want more of you in these upcoming episodes. You are very quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.
Don’t miss an all-new episode of The Walking Dead Sunday at 9 EST on AMC.