* Major spoilers ahead
Rick’s world gets bigger and bloodier
This episode was pretty much exactly what it needed to be, ultimately not much happened in ‘Knots Untie’, but at the same time not much needed to. The Walking dead is in it’s slow shambling (I’m not even sorry i used that word) transgression into a slightly different format. Rick and the gang finally get to see a small part of a world that has been thriving and growing right under there nose. But is this new world already starting to look worse the the old one?
1. The road trip detour that did not overstay it’s welcome
This episode fortunately doesn’t waste too much before were on the road to Jesus’s community. It turns out Alexandria is dangerously low on food Jesus’s group are low on supplies of there own, so both sides are looking to trade. Predictably there is a mall hiccup during the journey; a distraction of sorts that acts as one last attempt to make the audience question Jesus peaceful intentions. The attempt falls pretty flat in that regard, as nothing in this scene really feels sinister; the group comes across a grisly car crash, Jesus identifies it as one from his community, they go searching for survivors and then they find them. Honestly that’s just about all that happens in this scene, I guess we get an early preview of some of Jesus people out of it.
The writers could of easily have had this whole side mission stretched into a full episode, it’s happened plenty of times in the Walking Dead before. However, fortunately this scene ends up being nothing more than a fun distraction, that allows for a little bit more action to be injected into the episode (because god forbid we don’t satiate out collective blood lusts).
2. Hilltop Hoods: Meet the Colony
Yep well there it is, the Hilltop Community, a very important settlement in the Walking Dead universe. Being an old museum perched on a Hilltop, The colony feels almost like a step back in time; complete with medieval esque blacksmithing, baking , a lack of fire-arms (or ammo), a surplus of pointy spears and uhhhh…ummm solar panels…yeah (you know, ancient solar panels).Aesthetically they got the look of the Hilltop Community pretty damn close to the original. Though there isn’t really much they could get wrong unless the iconic mansion was missing.
It’s strange to see how far the Walking Dead has come and it only leaves me even more excited about where the show will go next. So get used to seeing the the Hilltop Colony, it’s a set piece that is going to play huge parts, in later things to come and then some.
3. New world, old assholes
Gregory probably didn’t strike viewers a s a typical post-apocalyptic leader, however that is basically what makes his charter of great interest to me. Gregory is a man of the old world, one who’s some how wormed his way through the apocalypse and come out a leader on top of it boot to boot. If anything, Gregory comes across as more of your average politician in comparison to the Ricks and Governors of The Walking Dead, who get there hands grubby daily.
This version of Gregory played by Xander Berkeley, is so far very similar to his easy to hate comic counterpart. However, there is something about Berkeley’s performance that brings a delightful dickish charm to it all (something I can only describe as watching a ravenous fire burn down your house, but then it spreads to you asshole neighbors house as well). Gregory is a complete asshole through and through and that only makes any and all the times that he gets whats coming to him, all the more rewarding to watch.
4. Neegan’s message & Rick just can’t help himself
Things quickly fall apart after team Rick shows up (as they typically do, wherever team shows up); Some more Hilltop citizens (Hilltoppers? Hilltoplians?) led by Ethan come back home and reveal that there meeting with Neegan and the Saviors went south; Neegan, un-happy with the amount of cookies he got (or something like that), killed two of Ethan’s team and is holding a third hostage. On top of that Ethan is ordered to deliver a sharp point message Gregory, somewhere around the vicinity of his pancreas. Rick intervenes and saves Gregory before Ethan can finish the job, brutally killing him in the process. He then turns to a group of horrified Hilltoplian on-lookers, while caked in Ethan’s blood and casually asks “what?” to the bewildered crowd (nothing like a joke right after a murder, to remind us that Rick is actually still fucking insane).
Before things escalate further, Jesus uses his power of forgiveness to calm the situation down (don’t question it). This scene like many are taken straight from the comic books, although I have to say I enjoyed this version a lot more; Ricks almost nonchalant attitude to the whole situation, made it very clear who the big dogs here are.
5. Maggie’s big moment
Maggie is a character that ever since her pregnancy came about, has been pushed further and further back to the sidelines. So it was nice to see her take center stage in negotiating with Gregory. Pregnancy hasn’t slowed Maggie down at all. as her pissing contest with Gregory ended up in her favor. Seeing Maggie not play up to Gregory, cutting straight to the the point and even calling him out on his bullshit (it also served as a stark reminder to piss off a pregnant woman), reminded us of how strong her character is despite being off-screen more.
The final icing on the cake was watching Maggie take advantage of Gregory’s bad pancreas situation; taking all the power and demanding half of the Hilltop’s food for there services, just like Negans Saviors are already doing. It was a nice reminder that at the end of the day, Rick and co are survivors and not Samaritans. Also even though we have yet to be formally introduced to the Saviors, we are already seeing parallels running between between both groups.
6. Abraham’s sexy dilemma
You would think that all of the attention in this episode would of been placed on the discover of a new community. Yeah you would think that, but buddy you would be wrong as shit. From the very opening of the episode, an unhealthy amount of time was spent exploring Abraham’s sex life, in something that would become this episodes quite over arching plot. It was as interesting as it was unexpected; big macho man and (and Duke Nukem stand in) Abraham has a crush on Sasha. Great, except there is just one problem, Abraham has largely been the love interest of Rosita (even though I can’t remember the last time I saw them in a scene together).
Instead of playing out like a post apocalyptic high school teenage drama, we are instead led into the minefield ridden psyche of Abraham; as we watch him silently and internally struggle to get his shit together. I found myself enjoying this overarching plot more than I expected to. The fact that it was a silent struggle added so many layers to Abrham’s relatively two dimensional character. Watching him observe Glenn and preggo Maggie, or his pained reaction to Freddies fear induced monologue about his dead wife (fear induced because Abraham almost killed the shit out oh him). The whole situation accumulates to Abraham coming to a decision, thanks to his near death experience by being almost choked to death by one of Ethan’s cohorts. The trick here though is that we don’t actually know what decision he came to, with only Abrham’s sudden positive change in exterior implied that he did in fact come to a decision. This clever subtlety is far from the Walking dead we are used to, nonetheless I hope we get more direct access other characters heads; so we can explore all these little problems that would make many of these larger than life charters feel that little bit more human.
7. Wars a’coming
By the end of the episode team Rick and Alexandria make a deal, they get food immediately, but in return they must take out Neegan and the Saviors. It’s not gonna take genius to figure out that this might not be easier said than done (even if Daryl thinks it’ll be a cake walk). I think it’s safe to say that next weeks episode titled ‘No tomorrow yet’ will be an action packed one and will finally introduce us to the Saviors. lets hope that rocket man Daryl still has a few left to spare for next week.
As for this episode, again it was exactly what it needed to be; a small introduction that we will see spiral out to a bigger world. ‘Knots Untie’ had just enough narrative and action to make it a good but not great episode, though honestly it’s a wise move as the great is still to come and leave you wanting more.