TV Show Review

TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD: Season 6, Episode 11: Knots Untie [AMC]

Peter Zimmerman Rich Ceraulo Tom Payne Andrew Lincoln The Walking Dead Knots Untie

AMC’s The Walking Dead Knots Untie TV Show Review. The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 11: ‘Knots Untie,’ took Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and his Alexandrians out of The Next World they had made for themselves, and into a much wider one in progress. Of course, some of them had to get dressed first.

For the record, I was wrong about that Rick & Michonne (Danai Gurira) thing. It turned out that their previous moment was, in fact, a spontaneous moment – the Michonne walking around in nothing but a towel kinda thing just being a roommate perk that Carl (Chandler Riggs) had to deal with (poor guy).

After demonstrating his knack for getting guns drawn on him, one more time, Jesus (Tom Payne) laid his cards on the table, eventually getting another road trip going – an RV of core cast members taking Jesus to his Hilltop.

As it just wouldn’t be quality time with Jesus without putting a gun to his face, an emergency pit-stop started with some doubts, as to his motives, but ended with friends of Jesus being added to the manifest. So far, so good.

I’m not sure how Rick managed to miss Hilltop’s massive walls, when the RV bogged down, but attempts by sentries – armed with spears – to intimidate Rick’s full-auto equipped crew was pretty funny. Beyond the walls, however, the Hilltop commune was no joke. Too bad the showrunners decided to do away with Woodbury – Woodbury, Alexandria, and now the Hilltop all make for some inspiring Doomsday Prepper material.

Much of the story was told through Abraham’s (Michael Cudlitz) eyes, and prismed by experiences & remarks made by others (one Hill rescue mentioning a life-flashing moment, for instance). Between a very awkward goodbye moment, with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), a new perspective on his ongoing ‘thing’ with Rosita (Christian Serratos), and his efforts to wrap his head around the optimism that is Glenn & Maggie (Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan), Abe’s role, this ep, was to question his place in the grand scheme of things, and make some viewers wonder about it being his very own life-flashing moment (in very slow motion).

The emphasis on his eyes may have been throw-away enough – given the significance that one organ has had on this material – source or otherwise.

Maggie’s diplomat apprenticeship, under Deanna, gave her some gravity this ep, as well. As Hilltop community leader, Gregory (perpetual Horrible Boss, Xander Berkeley), made for a rather poor first impression, Rick correctly figured it diplomatically unwise for him to take lead on dealing with the man. Maggie was handed that straw, but had some trouble getting past Greg’s idea of leveraged negotiation.

Between Greg’s misogyny, and Abe’s… preoccupations, the subject of the Warlord harem may have been lightly touched upon, here – an issue the show really has seemed to avoid, overall. Closer to the surface, however, was the almost passive-aggressive bullying to Greg’s manner. The thing about bullies, though, is that they are often redirecting fear & loathing from Bullies of their own – Greg putting the squeeze on Alexandria after having been long squeezed himself. This was why the subject of Negan & his Saviors was brought back front & center; the how was a little more How-the-World-is-Now, according to Rick.

Jesus had mentioned that the Hilltop was short on fighters. Well, it’s shorter one still. A Viking of a man, named Ethan (Justin Kucsulain), came back from a Savior servicing with a message that left Greg with a bad feeling in his gut. What was shocking about what followed wasn’t the level of reflexive violence it inspired, from Rick & co., but the nonchalance with which they went about it.

Rick’s beard tasted man-flesh, again; but at least he used his hands, this time (it’s come a long way since the Claimers).

The reaction to Rick’s response was understandable. From what we’ve been shown of him, thus far, ‘Gov. Greg’ was kinduva prick; if the choice came down to defending him or Ethan, I could see the Hill Bills going with Ethan. It was a moot point by then, of course; but I wonder if anyone else found it ironic, that Rick’s group had established their merc credentials by killing one of the locals during first contact.

In any case, Jesus mended the ear (more biblical references, folks, trust me – it applies); Maggie got the leverage to pin Gregory; the whole exercise ended on a miracle of loaves & fishes, for Alexandria… so you just know this was all an exercise in inflation, for a roll through a room full of sharp objects.

The title to the episode still itches my scalp, a little, though; as the whole escape artist angle went past pretty fast. It could’ve been a reference to rules & confines of Walker World, as the Alexandrians have come to regard them, no longer applying (on account of their world about to be getting so much bigger, and all). It could be a Karmic thing, with Team Rick meddling with their own fate in ways they may only see in hindsight. It could also be a reference to the Gordian Knot, that convinced Alexander the Great that he was, well, great.

It has been argued that the seeds to Alexander’s downfall were sown at that moment; so maybe the same could be said about Team Rick’s mounting of not one, but two whole communities, on its shoulders, coming down from the Hilltop.

Some fans already know what’s coming. The rest at least know that something is coming. Even if neither were true, the casual swagger to Team Rick – that now seems very obvious, in their approach to the Hilltop community – could almost seem like pride begging for the fall.

Something’s coming, all right. The only question is who gets it, when it arrives.

‘Knots Untie’ may have dropped some not-so-subtle hints as to who the fielder, for the swing, might be; but there is still time to place your bets. I suspect other candidates will be receiving spotlight treatment, just so they can be nominees for our consideration.

Between the guess-the-character-exit device, and the the playing up of expectations angle, ‘Knots Untie’ started something that any character-driven thriller of this kind always needs: a long, steady, and building sense of suspense – not just despite presented optimism, but because of it. True suspense doesn’t come out of conflict; it comes going into it.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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