In “Knots Untie,” The Walking Dead introduces viewers to the Hilltop. Not only has the Hilltop proven itself to be a sanctuary since the onset of the apocalypse, but they’re aware of other communities in the area. This truly is the New World, and not just because the Hilltop looks like an American colony. Let’s hope it’s more Jamestown than Roanoke.
Abraham is all over in “Knots Untie,” providing some comic relief while asking some uncomfortable questions, and taking on the role of neighborhood gossip. We love the growing dynamic between Dr. Denise and Daryl, and she looks out for him because he reminds her of someone she used to know. Another star of the episode is Jesus, who stays strong, never panics, and plays peacemaker between the Hilltop and the Alexandrians.
That’s right—Rick and his crew are officially Alexandrians. There’s nothing like an external threat to help build group identity. It may not be the birth of nationalism, but the risk posed by these outside communities certainly creates tribes. When Jesus is questioned about his community, it’s not the news that he’s part of a group that garners their interest; instead, it’s that he comes from a settlement that is already trading with other groups. Jesus tells them, “Your world’s about to get a whole lot bigger.”
Getting acquainted with the Hilltop isn’t the only new relationship on The Walking Dead. Carl finds the stranger Jesus sitting in the hallway of his home, and pulls a gun on him. Jesus tells Carl that he’s “waiting for your mom and dad to get dressed.” Carl turns and looks at the closed bedroom door. Does he assume that means that his dad and Michonne have hooked up, or does he think Lori has returned from the dead even though he stabbed her brain back at the prison? Probably the first thing.
Rick and Michonne finally got together, only to be discovered within a few short hours by Jesus, then Carl, and finally Maggie, Glenn, Abraham and Daryl—so pretty much everyone except Carol. There’s a serious lack of privacy in Alexandria, though the PDA between Rick and Michonne in the RV tells us that privacy isn’t a big concern for this happy new couple.
The good news is that Carl’s cool with it, particularly as Rick tells him, “It’s different this time.” Carl must realize, as the entire audience does, that that whole Jessie thing was a fiasco of epic proportions (Who’s Jessie?). So in two episodes, an opaque comment from Rick is all we’re going to get in terms of him mentioning, let along mourning over, Jessie. That’s okay. We’re all pretty eager to move on.
While new relationships begin, Abraham and Rosita’s long-term liaison continues, even if Abraham doesn’t seem to have his heart in it. In “Always Accountable,” Abraham approached Sasha about starting a relationship, and in response she told him “Well … you got some stuff to take care of.” Looks like he didn’t take care of it, as he and Rosita continue to be involved. Despite this, it appears that Abraham is still unsure about what he wants.
While clearing walkers from a building, Abraham nearly kills a man who he thinks is a walker. Afterwards, the man joyfully tells everyone that he had a vision of his wife: “Just when I thought it was over, there she was.” When Abraham is almost killed at the Hilltop, he seems to have some sort of epiphany of his own when he hears Sasha’s voice from that morning explaining why people would have children now. The thoughtful necklace made by Rosita gets left behind in the aftermath. Here’s to hoping he lets Rosita go so she can be with a man who actually appreciates her—Spencer. The fact that Spencer is so young and handsome may be the best form of revenge.
Maggie is trying to prepare for the future by making a garden, but her tomatoes aren’t growing. Maggie seems concerned as though this signifies something more. Glenn reassures his wife, “Babe. It’ll grow. We’re gonna be okay.” At the end of the episode, as Maggie and Glenn look at the baby on the ultrasound machine, Glenn gives a rare smile and holds Maggie’s hand.
The Walking Dead is normally stingy with the tender moments between The Walking Dead’s favorite couple. We didn’t even get to see their reunion after Glenn was almost killed, beyond Maggie yelling for him. When the quiet conversations between Maggie and Glenn do come, we can’t help but feel hopeful and a little happy. That’s probably not how the show wants us to feel most of the time, so these sweet moments are rare.
Abraham is preoccupied with Maggie and Glenn’s baby news. When Abraham and Sasha walk back from patrol, he brings it up. He can’t comprehend why anyone would choose to have a child with the way things are now. Sasha understands that people need hope in a future, now more for than ever.
As they drive towards the Hilltop in the RV, Abraham asks Glenn, “When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you trying to make pancakes?” Abraham can’t fathom that Glenn and Maggie might have wanted to start a family. While Abraham is focused on survival, Maggie and Glenn are building a future. Abraham tells Glenn, “For the record, I see rain coming, I’m wearing galoshes. I double up.” TMI, Abraham.
It’s not really fair to compare Maggie and Glenn’s experience to Abraham’s. They are starting a family, while he has already lost one. He already knows what it’s like to fear for your children in a situation where it’s almost impossible to keep them safe.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Jesus convinces Rick that they should come to his community, where they have food and they trade with other groups. Rick isn’t sure, but agrees they should go check it out. He tells Carl, “But if he’s telling the truth, this could be the start of everything.” It’s an awkward ride, mostly because of Abraham’s baby questions and Richonne’s PDA, but also because they have to rescue some of Jesus’s people who were in a car accident. They build some goodwill, which pays off for Maggie and Glenn when it turns out that one of Jesus’s comrades, Harlan, is an obstetrician.
The Hilltop “boss” Gregory turns out to be a pompous ass and Maggie’s initial meeting with Gregory goes nowhere. Gregory doesn’t think they have much to offer, and Maggie doesn’t want to accept an offer for the Alexandrians to work at the Hilltop for a share of food. Jesus tells Rick and the others that he’ll work things out with Gregory if they can just give him few days.
A group of Hilltop residents return from a run to see Negan, but not everyone is back. Two were killed and one is being held captive. Negan has ordered Gregory’s execution in exchange for the captive. Ethan, brother to the man held captive, attacks Gregory, but Rick intervenes.
Ethan has a knife to Rick’s throat, but when Michonne distracts him, Rick stabs his own knife into Ethan’s neck. Ethan’s artery opens and blood pours all over Rick. Rick stands up, covered in blood, sees the townsfolk staring at him and says, “What?” At least Rick didn’t open the man’s throat with his teeth. The situation begins to escalate, but Jesus intervenes, calming things down. Jesus points out to Rick that things at Hilltop are complicated, asking again for a couple of days.
Jesus explains that Negan is the head of a group called the Saviors. The Saviors came to Hilltop and made demands and threats, beating a 16-year-old to death in front of them. Gregory traded away half of everything they have for safety. Gregory’s not good with confrontation. They tell Jesus they’ve already had a run in with Negan’s men, whom they left in pieces. Daryl suggests, “If we go get your man back, kill Negan, take out his boys, will you hook us up? We want food, medicine, and one of them cows.” Rick points out, “Confrontation’s never been something we’ve had trouble with.”
Gregory and Maggie discuss the plan and come to an agreement. He points out that she didn’t want her group to work for supplies, but that’s exactly what’s happening. He tells her he was just using his leverage. Gregory makes some other snarky remarks, but Maggie doesn’t react. Instead she tells Gregory that he’s going to have to give up half of what they have because she realizes that Negan will take and take from the Hilltop until they have nothing to give but their lives.
Rick solicits the help of the man who fought Abraham earlier, because he knows Negan’s compound. As they prepare to leave, Jesus asks to come along as well, pointing out, “You still have my knives.” They head back with an RV full of supplies for Alexandria.
As they ride back in the RV, Glenn passes around the ultrasound picture and you can see the different reactions. Michonne, who lost her own baby, smiles at Glenn and then gets a sad look on her face. Daryl looks at the black-and-white scan with no visible reaction. Despite his own loss, Abraham smiles at Glenn. Perhaps all this baby talk has inspired him to feel hope for the future.
With “Knots Untie,” The Walking Dead creates an interesting dynamic as these two communities band together. They realize they do have something to bargain with when they recognize that their mercenary skills are a valuable commodity. Before they face Negan, they will have to face the rest of Alexandria. Rick has to convince everyone that this is a good plan. We’re not so sure, but time will tell.