The Walking Dead has always been a show with a fairly narrow world. Entire seasons take place at singular locations, which is great for building a small world, but there is a larger world out there. Other people have surely created civilizations, places to live, societies that are new and stable. Why don’t we hear more about them? It’s one reason why a show like Fear the Walking Dead might be fun; it’s new, fresh, another take on a different place impacted by the end of the world. The Walking Dead has always played with other communities, but never to an extent that has been truly illuminating as to the way that the status quo is crafted differently in different places.
“Knots Untie” is an interesting episode, more setup than anything else, but it plays with some ideas of community and legacy, what it means to consider that there really could be a future after believing for so long that there isn’t. The episode revolves around a new community, the Hilltop colony, a group of survivors that are out of ammunition, have only spears and blade weapons to defend themselves, and are being extorted by a group called The Saviors, led by Negan. It moves through much of the comic book’s storyline quickly, soaring through exposition in order to set up the conflict for the next episode. While this is certainly a good thing, as we’re moving closer to another storyline while streamlining what happens in between, it can prove a little problematic when we really get into the inevitable Negan vs. Rick storyline.
Exposition can be troubling, especially in a case like The Walking Dead Season 6B, where the climax for the first half of the season wrapped up in the first episode of 6B. In moving through plot elements, it’s great to see a vision of where The Walking Dead is going. Rick’s group is now part of a larger community, where different groups and factions are aligned or are at odds with one another. It’s great to see all of this being set up. The issue is that we know absolutely nothing about Jesus, about Gregory, and about the rest of the Hilltop. Before a conflict can happen, we need to have some idea of who these people are, how they’ve lived, and so on. The Walking Dead has a troubling history with supporting characters, where they exist to be cannon fodder for the zombie machine, and so far the Hilltop colony doesn’t seem to be getting any better a treatment than the survivors from Alexandria.
But this is all still mostly positive, especially Abraham’s interactions with Sasha and the way that he looks at the world around him. Abraham has gone through a personal journey from losing everything to feeling like he could have a life and a future after all. Maggie’s pregnancy has been mostly downplayed, which is fine, but it thematically collides with Abraham, who values his relationship with Rosita to the point where he’s thinking about making it as permanent as Glenn and Maggie’s. He’s gotten to the point where he wants to live now, and it gives him a reason to fight against those who try to do him harm. I’ve always valued Abraham’s story arc, especially in his spotlight in Season 5A, and a continued focus on it now is fantastic.
Clearly, we’re being set up for another large confrontation, and if this Negan is anything like The Governor (sadistic, brutal, etc), there’s one big question on the horizon: How will this conflict be any different from before? New communities are great, new enemies are great, but it all needs to offer something that hasn’t entirely been done before. Right now, we’re seeing a “good guys”/”bad guys” scenario, which is great for tension, and the bartering that is going on between Rick’s group and the Hilltop colony is interesting. However, it’s going to have to get a lot better if this storyline is going to keep the show’s momentum moving into the seventh season. Only time will tell.
What did you think of “Knots Untie”? Are you interested in what comes next for the Hilltop community? Let me know in the comments!