‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6 Episode 11 Review: A New War Looms in ‘Knots Untie’

Recap and review of The Walking Dead – Season 6 Episode 11 – Knots Untie:

The Walking Dead has often been about how conflict arises in any community whenever Rick and co. appear. However, the show has always made such conflicts seem incidental. Rick and co. aren’t going out of their way to cause chaos. Chaos simply finds them, right? Not so in “Knots Untie,” as we get the start of a potential new war. And why? Because Rick’s group decides to take up arms to solve somebody else’s problems.

And yet, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group aren’t exactly depicted as making the wrong choice here. In short, Jesus takes Rick and his group back to his community, The Hilltop, with the hopes of working out some sort of arrangement. Apparently, Jesus’s job is to go around and find new communities with which The Hilltop could trade. He sees an alliance with Alexandria as a mutually beneficial arrangement: Alexandria has a lot of ammo but too little food, whereas Hilltop has plenty of food but hardly any weapons. Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) accompany Jesus to Hilltop to check it out, whereupon they learn about the twisted arrangement Hilltop’s leader has with a mystery man named Negan. As the leader of a group known as the Saviors, Negan has struck a deal with Hilltop’s boss, Gregory, in which the tiny community must give the Saviors half of everything they grow in exchange for not being killed. When Negan sends a hostage back to Hilltop with a message for Gregory (a message that involves stabbing, because this is Negan we’re talking about), it becomes clear to Rick and his crew that Negan will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. So they offer to take care of Negan in exchange for provisions. It’s a fairer deal than the one Hilltop has with Negan already, since it doesn’t involve anyone getting killed. Although, make no mistake, that bloody brawl with a group of Hilltop traitors midway through the episode is a definite highlight, even if all the carnage and bloodshed runs the risk of feeling like old hat by now.

The Walking Dead - Season 6 Episode 11 - Recap and Review - Knots Untie

Credit: AMC

But the problem here is that Rick’s crew doesn’t really know what they’re getting themselves into. Their savage efficiency in the past has made them overconfident in their abilities. I mean, how long has it been since Rick and his group were really tested? How long has it been since they’ve gone to war and actually had to deal with losing their own to the savagery of other humans? It’s been a long time since The Governor, and since then, walkers have been the bigger threat, far more so than Terminus or the Wolves. I guess if we count losing Beth to the weirdos in the hospital, then it hasn’t been that long. But Rick and his group absolutely slaughtered those crazies. This is an entirely different situation, as Rick and co. are actively seeking out conflict rather than simply leaving these people to the problems they’ve made for themselves through the deal with Negan. Granted, this is less a question of involvement vs. pacifism, and more about pragmatism: leaving the Hilltop community to its fate means Negan gets all the food for himself. Alexandria is running low on food, so they can either help Hilltop neutralize Negan now, or deal with him directly later once Negan monopolizes all of the food in the area. So even while it seems like Rick and co. are being reckless and overconfident…well, they don’t really have a whole lot of other options right now now. It’s fight Negan now, or deal with him later. Better to just take him out now before he amasses any more power. But it’s already clear that defeating Negan and the Saviors is a task that’s going to be far easier said than done.

The Walking Dead - Season 6 Episode 11 - Knots Untie

Credit: AMC

Of course, outside of the grim business with Hilltop, this was an episode with plenty of amusing moments. Abraham coming to the realization that he needs to dump Rosita if he’s ever going to be with Sasha is a moment inspired in part by a conversation in which Glenn admits that he and Maggie have been hoping to get pregnant. It wouldn’t be so entertaining if not for Abraham’s esoteric way of putting things (“When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you trying to make pancakes?”), or the awkward way in which those around him respond to his colloquialisms. It’s hilarious, and far more entertaining than I was expecting. By that same token, I also got a kick out of the look on Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) face when he realized the relationship had changed between Rick and Michonne. Sure, he’s cool with it, but I almost wish we’d gotten a little more out of the initial shock of Carl’s reaction. But the episode has heftier themes to tackle, I guess. For instance, we see that hope is a clear possibility in this reshaped Alexandria community, not just due to Rick and Michonne’s newfound love, or the food they’ve now been able to procure, but due to a sonogram of Glenn and Maggie’s baby. Sure, it’s likely meant to serve as a harbinger of bad things to come for that baby’s parents, but there’s something genuinely heartwarming and uplifting about seeing everyone pass around the sonogram photo. This is a group that has been through a lot, and it shows that they’ve formed more than a community. They’re a family. It makes the eventual hardships to come all the more engrossing. And it makes episodes like “Knots Untie” all the more memorable.

What did you think of The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 11, “Knots Untie”? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on The Walking Dead, watch Norman Reedus fight hoverboard zombies on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

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