The Walking Dead: 611 “Knots Untie” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
After a, somewhat, filler episode last week, The Walking Dead gets it stride back with “Knots Untie”. Moving away from the daft, comical ideas of last week’s episode, the show concentrates once again on developing the narrative and taking the characters to their next destination, or should I say threat.
Jesus quickly warmed up to me as he showcases a somewhat unique character from the regulars. He appears fun, comical but above all showcases a kindness. This is explored further this week with him portraying a more peace-keeper styled character. I think this works and it really allows him to feel useful. He isn’t an annoying character that tries to interfere with backwards views, but instead tries to represent everyone. Also he just looks cool.
I liked how this week gave Abraham a bit of spotlight in order to grant him some further development. We had already seen this briefly in the first half of Season Six last year. He has become chummy with Sasha, feeling he can open to her about his progression as a person. It isn’t clear whether he has affection for her or simply finds her a good friend to be around simply becomes he can open up to her. Overall he really has come a long way from his first appearance which made him appear quite cliché and without depth. Now he is one of the regulars and does his share of helping out. It’s good to see him asking Glen questions about making a new life within the apocalyptic world around them. It shows deep down that he has opened up to a world of new opportunities and he’s ready to delve into that world without fear or regret.
It was good to see most of the regulars brought together for an outing where death and destruction wasn’t awaiting them around every corner. Of course their little outing isn’t peaceful, but more peaceful than most of their recent activities. I generally thought the episode was nice. I really enjoyed the warmth the episode brought by showing a little happiness, because it was needed. This entire series plays on the darkest aspects of living, cherishing on showcasing nothing but survival and what can happen if you don’t fight back or work together. So, yeah, a nice little change of tone was most appreciated.
With the narrative reminding us about Glen and Maggie’s expected child, we got a reminder that these characters can possibly make a future for themselves. Or at least you want them to. But, this is The Walking Dead and there is always something around the corner ready to kill them, whether it be flesh-eating corpses or psychotic humans that are no longer bound by the realms of law and punishment. There is only kill or be killed.
The narrative focused on Jesus showing Rick and the other his own settlement. Now, like probably everyone (unless you’ve read the graphic novels, in which case you kind of know what’s going on already), I was a bit sceptical of what was going on, which I’m sure Rick and the others were too. How many times now have we encountered other groups, or the possibility of peace, only for it all to blow up in our beloved character’s faces? Too many is the short answer.
It was actually good to see the opposite outcome and the settlement, known as the Hilltop, is actually a nice place filled with survivors that aren’t scavengers, murderers, or dictators. This was the exact opposite of Rick and the others arriving at Alexandria. The Alexandrians were living a fairy-tale and hadn’t been living the life that everyone else had endured during the apocalypse. This quickly showed when Rick brought reality to their doorstep which wound up killing a large percentage of the population.
Hilltop, on the other-hand, has a similar community, one that has endured the torturous nature of the outside world. But this happy little paradise is soon given a different light when it is revealed, as I suspected, to be controlled by Negan. This vile villain, who we have yet met, develops further through word-of-mouth. Negan and his gang, now revealed to be the Saviors, control the local area through fear and acts of hostility.
Naturally, as ever in The Walking Dead, one scene can change the tone and nature of a narrative. Within mere seconds everything goes crazy. Some of the survivors at Hilltop return, after visiting Negan, leading to one of them, Ethan, trying to deliver a message from the crazed leader through killing their own leader, Gregory. This leads to Rick and the others stepping in and killing Ethan. It is a tense few moments, especially since Rick and the others don’t seem as controlling as usual, with both Rick and Abraham being pinned to the floor. It did, however, add to Rick’s “Top 10 Badass Moments” chart after he stabbed the guy in the throat before casually responding to the survivors watching, “What?” It’s moments like these that make the show, and Andrew Lincoln, that bit more impressive.
Naturally of course this all turns the narrative into a new direction, namely going after Negan. With Rick being aware of Negan through Daryl, Abraham and Sasha’s encounter with his men a couple of episodes back he decides to declare war on him and the Saviors. This in turn seals an alliance between Alexandria and Hilltop in which Rick gains half of their supplies in return for protection.
As soon as this happened I started to feel a bit uneasy because I feel as if Rick is over his head on this one. Negan is supposed to be worse than the Governor. Apparently the Governor is a puppy compared to Negan, so that doesn’t fill me with much hope for Rick and his friends! People are going to die, that’s for certain. Many were sacrificed during the battle with the Governor, and I feel this battle with Negan will end with even more blood-shed. This could be a battle Rick may regret entering. At the very least we will see the characters pushed to new heights of danger and it will be exciting, and tense, to see where it leads them.
I obviously can’t go without mentioning my yet unconfirmed opinion on Rick and Michonne. I still don’t know whether it has really added anything to the show, but it seems to work. My fear is it will course distractions for Rick and Michonne and potentially put themselves and others in harm’s way, especially if Negan decides to be vicious.
Also Maggie was awesome. She continues to showcase her brilliant attitude of authority and that you don’t mess with her. She’s never been a weak character, per se, but it’s funny to see how far she’s come, especially since she has lost both her sister and her father to brutal people. Gregory was an ass and it was great seeing Maggie put him in his place.
“Knots Untie” was a massive improvement on last week’s “The Next World” and actually went about progressing the narrative again. Despite the fact we have spent the first half of the season securing Alexandria from a massive horde of zombies and The Wolves, the second half doesn’t give us much time to breathe as the next threat is put into play, and as mentioned above, this will be a massive turning point.
If it’s one thing this episode has shown, it’s how far the characters have come. To look back at the first episode is scary just because of how different it was, as well as remembering all those that have been lost on the long journey to this point. Rick and the others have faced so much throughout these six seasons; Shane, the Governor, Terminus, Dawn, the Wolves and the endless hordes of Walkers. Even though they have prevailed throughout all that, it hasn’t been without a cost.