Talking Out The Dead: “Knots Untie”

Thomas Crawford: Okay, so let me get this straight. Rick has turned his crew into some hitmen? Or would it be better to call them mercenaries? As Maggie told Gregory… the Alexandrians do have leverage.

Overall, this episode had a weird feel to it if you ask me. I know you didn’t, but I’m just saying it anyways. We find out Paul aka Jesus isn’t so bad. He also isn’t working for Negan. Though as this episode shows, he does sort of lead the group towards him.

I have to say that this episode felt like filler, with some amazing parts to it. You had Big Red and his colorful language, you had everyone finding out about Richonne, the group met another community, and how about Rick showing the past couple of months hasn’t made him soft. “What?”

First off, I have to say farewell to Abraham. I know we have been throwing this back and forth for a while now. I’m making a solid prediction. I don’t think he is getting out of this season alive. He is struggling between Rosita, a woman who adores him, and Sasha, a friend who seems to want to keep it that way. He is asking deep questions about settling down and bringing children into the world. “When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you planning on making pancakes?” I don’t think Big Red could have asked that question any better. You know he is struggling when he is asking Daryl, DARYL, about settling down.

He seems torn and at odds. Then he has that moment of peaceful insight when he almost gets choked to death. It is like a realization. I think you said he was thinking about Sasha. I thought maybe he was seeing his wife and family from before TWD world. Either way, his head isn’t in the game. We know what that means, he is going to miss something or mess up. The question is will it be soon, or will it be in the finale?

Ah Richonne, it was nice to see that there was no awkwardness when the group found out. I will say it was funny seeing Rick trying to explain it to Carl. Who knew Carl was going to be the more mature one in that conversation. I guess it is good they aren’t trying to put any “teenage son mad at dad for getting busy,” into the show. That would just ruin it I think. Though who knows, we still have time for that. The best we got was Abraham talking to Daryl. Asking, again in his polite way, how long he thought they had been bumping uglies.

I will say it was nice to see the little flirting looks Rick and Michonne were passing on the drive. Ah, new love, can melt a cynic’s heart. How about the hand holding? Rick, you are a romantic man. Knowing how to woo your new lady while going out on a potentially lethal mission. The guy is great at multi-tasking.

The group meets the Hilltop community. They meet Gregory, the supposed leader. Then they find out that he is a bit of a nut. I’m not sure what the deal is with him. Does he think that he is a great leader? Does he think that it is because of him that Hilltop has survived? If anything, it looks like a lot of work from the people, a lot of work from Jesus, and more than a little luck that Hilltop isn’t overrun with walkers by now.

In my opinion, Rick probably made the right choice having Maggie talk to Gregory. He ended up being a chauvinist, a narcissist, an elitist, and quite the douche. I think Rick knew if he tried to handle the negotiations, he would have ended up knocking Gregory out. Good call Rick.

The returning Hilltop crew attacking Gregory for Negan. Now that was great. Ethan getting attacked by Rick and seemed to have the upper hand. That is until Rick did what he does best. Went straight for the kill with a knife to the throat. I got to say, him covered in blood, looking around, was great. The shocked expressions of the Hilltop community were even better. Him with the icy stare and saying, “What?” That was priceless. Any time I think Rick has shown the limits of how badass he can be, it shows he takes it up a notch. I can definitely say that plowing the mattress with Michonne hasn’t made him lose a step. Good to know.

I want to take this moment to mention something that I have read. People are pointing out how Michonne jumped to defend Rick when he was down. Some seem to think it is a big deal. I have to ask… why is this a big deal? It really isn’t anything new. Michonne would have done the same if she and Rick were still just good friends. She probably would have done it for Glenn or Daryl, even Abraham. I think some people are now just looking for stuff to talk about. Just a thought.

Let’s get to the crux. The deal. Rick says the Alexandrians will take out Negan and his Survivors. Maggie works it so Gregory will give them half of the food they have, up front. This shocked even Jesus.

On one hand I don’t blame Rick and the group for doing this. On the other hand, I can see this might get them in trouble down the line. They are basically doing the same thing that Negan’s crew did. They roll up, kill a Hilltop resident, and then demand half of their food for protection from another threat.

Now I hear you, the circumstances are totally different. Gregory had been stabbed, they offered help, and they were just defending themselves. Do you think that matters to the Hilltop residents who watched this unfold? All they see is a blood covered Rick emotionless about killing one of their members. Then they drive off in a Winnebago with half the food of the community. Do you think the member that Rick and company took with them is going to be one hundred percent behind them? I’m not so sure. There are just a lot of things up in the air that left me unsettled in this episode. I’m going to throw it over to you. What do you think?

Kelen Conley: I’m thinking that Hilltop isn’t brave enough to do anything about the Alexandrians taking their food and killing their people. If they were, they would have made some effort to fight back Negan and his forces. Instead, they’ve brokered a deal with them and Negan still doesn’t respect them enough to not send one of their own to stab Gregory. So let’s put any Hilltop is going to strike back talk to rest.

The deal is… asinine at best. Maggie volunteered the Alexandrians as a bunch of mercenaries to kill Negan and his group of Saviors. As you and I both know (as well as any comic fans), Negan is no joke. Clearly the Alexandrians have done well with threats in the past (except for that last encounter with the Governor but there was nothing to be done about him once dumb ol’ Andrea didn’t kill him in his sleep) but I always thought of our protagonists as resorting to violence in reaction to violence. Sure, Rick has steadfastly maintained a kill first, ask questions later policy recently but I never saw this as something unnecessary. This whole idea feels completely unneeded. Alexandria clearly needed supplies but what good is supplies if the deal you made for them gets you killed? I don’t like this one bit.

I expected there to be some backlash from Richonne but her defending him at the Hilltop isn’t a big deal. Just people behind keyboards complaining about the show… wait a minute. Isn’t that the exact thing we do? But I agree, Michonne would have defended Rick the same if they were still friends. And she would’ve done the same for any Alexandrian at this point. That’s just who Michonne is and that’s another reason why she’s such a great character.

I love Rick Grimes. Scenes like this one at Hilltop where he just springs into action and destroys anything that gets in his way gives me goosebumps. This is another reason Hilltop won’t retaliate; Rick Grimes is clearly a crazy person. He just killed one of their own (despite it making sense considering he had just stabbed Gregory) without a second thought. You don’t mess with crazy.

Rick definitely made the correct call by letting Maggie handle the deliberations with Gregory. Despite him being a complete ass towards her, she held her own before and after the stabbing. I like that she seems to be really taking cues from Deanna’s passing and stepping into a leadership role. Especially because we’ve all seen how terrible Rick deals with being the public face of the group. He blurs the lines between Action Rick and Political Rick way too often.

Speaking of public faces, I really want to know the backstory to how Gregory became the “leader” of the Hilltop Colony. He’s obviously way too comfortable and thinks he’s really in charge with the way he spoke to Maggie during their first meeting. And we already know Negan isn’t a fan considering he sent a Hilltop member back to his own community to bring him Gregory’s head. I doubt we’ll ever learn about that tale though.

CARL IS WAY TOO COOL ABOUT EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW. SLOW DOWN JOHN STAMOS. I know time has passed since he lost the eye and they took back Alexandria but Rick’s all like, “Uh, son,” and Carl’s like, “Say no more fam.” I kind of love it though. I still expect at some point for Carl to start acting like something’s wrong. He is a teenager after all.

And you know I love all the PDA they showed between Richonne. Those little signs of affection let everyone know that this wasn’t a night of passion between the two. Richonne appears to be here to stay… as long as they both remain alive. I really can’t say enough how happy I am that I don’t have to deal with Rick and Jessie anymore.

Abraham isn’t going to die. I have someone in mind but I’m not ready to fully commit to it until a few more episodes go by. He’s definitely conflicted between Rosita and Sasha and at the end, I just know he’s heading back to Sasha and dumping Rosita. And you have to love the humor he brings to such dark times. “Pouring the Bisquick”? I have to give a lot of credit to the writers and Michael Cudlitz for the life and animation they bring to Abraham since he’s been on the show. I also disagree about his head not being in the game. I think he’s more focused than ever after the altercation at the Hilltop.

I also don’t think Abraham is a big enough character to be the big death that we think is coming. It has to be someone who’s been there from at least the farm.

One last thing: I am not a fan of Maggie and Glenn seeing the ultrasound thanks to Harlan. Not that it wasn’t a beautiful moment, I just fear that something will happen to the baby before it’s born. Which means something would have to happen to Maggie because again, Glenn escaped death twice so far this season. To have him not make it after all of that would be a bit disappointing. For me at least. I also think that with the introduction of Richonne that the Maggie/Glenn union might be a bit more expendable now.

I really can’t wait to hear how thrilled Morgan will be when he hears that Alexandria is going to go kill Negan and the Saviors unprovoked. He might start a picket line! The audacity!

TC: First off, we don’t sit behind our keyboards and rant and rave about the show… okay? We have an adult oriented discussion, a back and forth if you will. While we do that, others can watch. Though truthfully, very few probably take advantage. Then they can weigh in on our thoughts and opinions in an adult fashion as well.

So please, don’t compare us to the “behind the keyboard complainers”. That is like comparing us to the “Twitter Twits”. Those are the people that think it only takes 140 characters to display an important, rational, world changing, call-to-arms, holier-than-thou, provoking, never before seen or heard, well thought out opinion (Why am I not well liked on Twitter?)

Okay, back to the show. Asinine is a good word to use, because the whole setup sounds that way. I mean, we are talking about a group that has finally settled down. Rick’s group has finally solidified their walls and gotten the immediate threat of the swarm out of the way. Of course, that doesn’t make for interesting story. They have to have a conflict.

Now, I could complain about this, as you are probably expecting me to do. I mean, Rick has pretty much shown that the small group in the RV could take down Hilltop. They only have knives and spears. The Alexandrians have an entire arsenal at their disposal. The small group inside the compound could probably hold most the Hilltoppers at gunpoint, take what they want, and be on their way with little trouble.

But, they are the good guys and can’t go that route right? No, they have to wheel and deal, and try to work with the Hilltoppers. They have to respect the group and let them have some basic human rights as individuals and a community. Even though this is hurting them and dragging them into a conflict that they probably shouldn’t want with the infamous Negan.

Like you said, this would be the smart move, just taking the food from Hilltop. I mean, Gregory talks about leverage to Maggie. However, the Alexandrians have the guns to wipe the Hilltop community out. It is a strange situation that I am having trouble wrapping my mind around.

I guess what the show is of course doing is trying to portray the Alexandrians as the good guys, and the forces of Negan as the bad guys. It is pretty simple and formulaic, though convoluted. Let’s be honest, the group has survived in this world for awhile now. The ideology can’t keep coming back to “are we the good guys or the bad guys”?

I guess that is what makes this episode so strange in my opinion. I guess some could make the argument that this is like turning the clock back to ancient times, and seeing how people group together and act. However, at some point, a lot of the old moralities and ethics should fall away.

The group needs food. This has been a driving point for the past two episodes. Perhaps it hasn’t been showing enough. However, the Alexandrians are trying to find the basic necessities to survive. Until all basic survival requirements are fulfilled, morality and ethics can’t come into play.

Hypothetical situation, just throwing it out. One man has a gun and is starving. Another man has food and no weapons. The unarmed man mocks the guy with the gun, and says the armed man can’t have anything to trade for food. What REALLY happens in this situation? That is the basic situation of this episode. Am I right or wrong?

I guess I am starting to sound a bit a cynic, but honestly, this still happens today. Those who have the guns or access to them in certain parts of the world make the rules. This episode seems to rely on a western ideal, geopolitically speaking, that morals and ethics will still dictate actions between factions. I am just having trouble taking it as a serious episode.

In the end, that is why I say it feels like a filler episode. It is something that shouldn’t be happening if the situation were real. It is something that seems out of place and down right dumb for a group that obviously has all the leverage, yet according to Gregory, has none. In the end it is simply a tool to make sure Rick and the Alexandrians cross Negan.

No, it isn’t a chance crossing (which happened and apparently Daryl/Sasha/Abe never mentioned to the rest). It isn’t Negan finding out of a small colony called Alexandria and coming to see what it is about. It is about a group of unarmed farmers with no power. Somehow, they convince the people who have been through hell and have weapons that there is no option but fight their battles for them, or get no food. Is this asinine? HELL YES! I’m going to throw it back to you for final thoughts.

KC: Well, when you put it that way, I totally see your point now. This whole bartering with the Hilltop thing makes no sense in the context of how TWD world operates.

But then again, we know that Negan and the Saviors are supposed to be bad guys. Why didn’t they just take Hilltop at the first opportunity? That would’ve been the villainous way to handle things. Ah! It’s because they need a story! Dead men tell no tales and neither do dead groups of people!

Now you got me feeling all cynical, so let’s look at it another way. Maybe Hilltop isn’t as weak as they appear in this episode? Maybe they have something going on that the Saviors want to take advantage of? Something the Saviors wouldn’t be able to do without the Hilltop existing in some form? Clearly, Gregory isn’t a major part of this theory since Negan tried to kill him. But maybe there’s more to this colony than spears and knives?

I think a lot of this moral high ground the Alexandrians have to take has to do with the changes that our main group has went through over the course of Season 6. I fully believe that if the RV Gang had rolled up on Hilltop prior to Aaron bringing them to Alexandria, they would have taken it by force. They were hungry and desperate to get off of the road. I even think that Rick could have swayed enough of the core group to join him in taking it prior to the walls of Alexandria coming down. It wouldn’t have fit the good guys narrative but I don’t think Rick was a very good guy after Terminus and the Claimers and the hospital. I don’t know, I’m spitballing but I think they’re trying to show the Alexandrians have turned a new leaf (aside from them killing the immediate threat of Ethan).

I think the line between good and bad will truly be blurred once Negan and the Saviors are introduced. Clearly, they’re being positioned as the antagonists of either late Season 6 and Season 7 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some unconventional, very protagonistic things being done by them. Just to shake things up.

I can understand how this is a filler episode for you too. After all the action we got in Season 6a, it doesn’t surprise me that things have to slow down this much. But I also think there was a lot of valuable information that we learned that we wouldn’t have otherwise. My major problem with this episode again goes back to Maggie wheeling and dealing and volunteering the group as mercenaries. But I think we’ve both exhausted that topic above so we’ll just have to see how things play out over the rest of this season.

I wonder if they’re setting up Hilltop as a possible destination for certain characters? I can’t see them losing Alexandria and moving all over again but depending how things shake up with Negan and the Saviors, maybe some people will abandon Rick and Alexandria and go to the Hilltop Colony. At least then, they won’t be getting volunteered as mercenaries. More spitballing, but a major character still hasn’t left or came up missing. That’s an avenue I hope they explore rather than just continually killing people. And no, Andrea doesn’t count because we as the audience knew that she had met Michonne and we saw they ended up in Woodbury. I want an honest to goodness defection or missing persons storyline. I could be asking for too much.

I find it interesting that Sasha is trying to push Abraham away by switching guard duty with Eugene. Not that she’s given any vibes that she’s actually into Abraham past being friends but maybe she does have more feelings than she’d like to admit. She told him he had some things to deal with after they got separated from Daryl earlier this season but that doesn’t really tell us much. It would be interesting to find her so eager to start a new relationship after what happened to Bob and Tyreese; letting new people in for her is probably difficult.

I also wonder what they’ll do with another couple on the show now too. We’ve had Maggie and Glenn; the rock. Now we have Richonne; the new hot romance. There’s not a lot of screen time left to deal with a Sasha/Abraham thing properly. Unless they try to throw it into one episode that ends with one or both of them dying. That would be very typical of the show. It would all depend on the execution, but I probably wouldn’t like if things go that way. And that would be another black character dead and another uproar from the fans.

And did you know that Tyreese and Sasha’s last name was Williams? If they ever said it on the show, I forgot. Thanks for yet another assist The Walking Dead Wiki.

I think the main thing we got to see was this “next world” that Jesus was talking to Rick and Daryl about last episode. For the longest time, the group and their random encounters, good and bad, have been the only parts of the apocalypse we’ve seen. I think the show is really going to open up and show a broader scale of things for more people now. This can be interesting as the show should still focus on Rick and the core group and hopefully the writers and creators don’t stretch themselves too thin.

And maybe Glenn and Maggie don’t die and they deliver a healthy baby. Does TWD really need two fricking babies crawling (eventually walking) around? I’m all for repopulating but can we get to some kind of true safety before that? Does Big Red want to knock up Sasha next now?

Although, I think a show about Negan and the Saviors would be awesome too. Savior The Walking Dead anyone?

I’d also like to apologize for my joke about Morgan previously. A picket line isn’t his style. A sit-in or a hunger strike. Morgan will be there with bells on.

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