The Walking Dead, S6 Ep11 – Knots Untie

After last week’s relatively relaxing episode, The Walking Dead once more plunged into a new and exciting direction, with Jesus leading the group to a new community called the Hilltop, and then, dangerous deals being made at the end of the episode.

Just when things were calming down in Alexandria, Rick and the others will be facing another new threat, but this time they’re the ones seeking it out instead of being victims of bloody circumstance. Although to be fair, it was only a matter of time until Negan sent another batch of his men to terrorize Alexandria. Daryl was just lucky he had that rocket launcher the first time.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep11 - Knots UntieThere were also some great moments for Maggie, who has been underserved by the season so far, spending most of the episodes worrying about Glenn’s fate. But she had her chance to shine here when she was chosen as the Alexandrian representative to negotiate trade terms with the Hilltop’s leader, Gregory. She proved to be a tough and uncompromising negotiator, determined to do the best by her people. Rick confirmed that Deanna had been right about Maggie’s leadership potential and it’s true that the girl did everyone proud. It was amazing to watch her play a more significant role on the show.

She also had some sweet moments with Glenn, as they both seemed to welcome her pregnancy as an opportunity to build a new life together, even in the midst of the apocalypse. They had survived so much already and were somehow making a sustainable life, so the future did not seem so bleak for them. And the scene where they passed around the picture of the sonogram to the members of their group was a particularly touching moment.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep11 - Knots UntieAbraham was likewise contemplating the possibility of settling down and building a future in the new world. Whether this future would be with Rosita or Sasha was another issue. The first half of the season showed some sparks between him and Sasha when they were out leading the zombie horde away from town, but I wasn’t sure how much this would be followed through.

Apparently there is still something there, as evidenced by the subtle moment between him and Sasha at the beginning of the episode. But the show also reminded us that Abraham was still very much with Rosita, who even gave him a sweet necklace. But seeing how that necklace got left behind at the end is a not so subtle sign that Abraham’s relationship troubles may become more complicated before the season is up. The Walking Dead isn’t really the best show for love triangles.

But it can do romance quite well when the relationships make sense and feel earned. Other than Maggie and Glenn this week, there were some small but sweet moments between Rick and Michonne, carrying on from last week’s major development. There was that hilarious scene when everyone (Carl, Daryl, Glenn, Abraham) had a gun pointed at Jesus, and then the half-dressed Rick and Michonne awkwardly emerged from their bedroom. Then, there was that even more awkward moment of Rick trying to explain to Carl that he and Michonne were together, a fact that the kid probably already saw coming miles away.

Carl’s cool with it. Of course he is. He’s been treating Michonne like his awesome, post-apocalypse stepmom for a couple of seasons now, so her getting together with his dad can only make sense for him. He doesn’t need all the dirty details but he is totally on board with Richonne.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep11 - Knots UntieThen there’s the new community, led by the cowardly, sleazebag Gregory. How these people survived for this long is a mystery, considering they seem just as capable as the Alexandrians did when we first met them. They’ve managed to set up a sustainable agricultural system that is a source of food and supplies for them and apparently for Negan’s men too. Until Rick’s group came along and promised to trade protection for more food (since the Alexandrians’ attempts at agriculture were far from promising.)

As one reviewer pointed out, this episode reveals that Rick and his group’s true nature is that of highly-capable thugs. What they have to trade are their fighting skills, which is quite a priceless commodity in their world. They’re never going to be farmers or doctors or architects, but they will stay alive because they can kill both walkers and people. And the other communities in The Walking Dead will just have to co-exist with Rick’s band of killers because they must.

So, Daryl initiates and then Maggie negotiates the deal with the Hilltop community, which means that Rick’s group will kill Negan and his men (who call themselves the Saviors) in exchange for food and supplies. For those who have an idea of who Negan is, this is troubling territory because it’s obvious that Daryl and the others have underestimated this new adversary.

While it’s true that they’ve faced horrible psychos before (the Governor, the Terminus cannibals, the Wolves) and they’ve all managed to defeat these enemies somehow, they still shouldn’t be too complacent about taking down someone who’s managed to control and terrorize various communities of survivors. Negan is not someone to be trifled with, and I’m certain that our main characters are about to realize this very soon.

Next week on The Walking Dead, the fight begins: