After a very strong mid-season premiere, The Walking Dead has stumbled with two very slow, very uneventful episodes. “Knots Untie” is an essential watch to set up what will ultimately be the emergence of Negan, and there are several important character introduction and development moments, but was lackluster in terms of presentation. Fans with no context may disagree, so let’s break it down:
Abraham’s internal struggle: The concept of a man torn between the choice of two women is nothing new. However, the glimpses into how Abraham’s mind is working does more than words could. It’s subtle and doesn’t bore us with the exposition of a situation that is already painfully obvious to the viewer. Oh, and let’s not forget this week’s “Abrahamism.” I’ll never cook pancakes quite the same anymore.
Gregory’s casting: Although he’s kind of a douche here in the TV show, he’s perfectly cast with Xander Berkeley (Salem, The Mentalist, Nikita… or John Connor’s foster dad in Terminator 2). He looks the character to a tee, and his reluctance to let our group “take care” of his Negan problem is well-warranted. I look forward to more of him.
Carl’s down with Richonne: Thank goodness this didn’t end with Carl throwing his hands in the air and pouting that Michonne would never be his mom. Mostly because he was holding Judith at the time, but also because Michonne and Rick are a natural fit. Keep in mind, though, that just one episode after they get together, her part is largely diminished in terms of dialog, not screen time. Not a red flag yet, but kind of peculiar.
Background on Negan: It’s been a season-long carrot on a stick with this mysterious Negan figure, so it’s great to get a real explanation as to who the leader of the Saviors really is. He’s gonna be around for quite a while, we think, so we’ll learn more as time goes on, but it’s still nice to be rewarded with a little bit of what the heck is going on.
Rick being Rick: Never change, Rick Grimes. It never ceases to amaze just how many fucks Rick Grimes seems to leave at home when visiting new people – pretty much all of them. He sees a threat, he moves in to neutralize it.
Jesus was pretty static: In “Knots Untie,” Jesus felt more like a guide in an RPG video game than a dynamic character trying to make an alliance between both sides work. The close-ups also give it away how fake his beard and hair extensions are, no matter how much like real Jesus it made him look. Jesus will hopefully become as much of a counterpart to Rick as he is in the books, so maybe it’ll just take some time to find the right chemistry.
Who’s guarding the camp: Seems a bit of misplaced bravado to leave Carol and Morgan, who have pretty much become mortal enemies over that Wolf, as the only two from the group in charge of Alexandria. Maybe it’s showing that Rick feels that the Alexandrians can handle themselves after the tower fell, but it still feels like a dumb idea.
The struggle is no longer a struggle: What really has made The Walking Dead such a fun and exciting show is the element of survival. How are they gonna eat? Where do we find sustainable sources of water? Basically, how do they mean to get from sunrise to sundown without dying? That element is all but gone anymore. When the focus of the show suddenly shifts from survivor/horror to… whatever the hell that was, it’s reminiscent of the change of pace that almost ruined Season 2 on the farm.
No surprises for fans of the book: What made this episode extremely frustrating was the exact nature in which it followed Issue #95-96 of the comic books. Aside from the scene with Rick getting a crimson shower [and Gregory getting stabbed, I guess], there wasn’t really anything dramatic or suspenseful happening. For better or worse, the episode played out how the comic book story did almost verbatim, making it almost a waste of time if you already know what’s going to happen. This was a letdown mostly because there were so many opportunities for the show to diverge itself from the comic books, yet they played it safe and delivered a live action version of one of the weakest points in the books – one that honestly could have used some changes.
It’s kinda obvious: There isn’t a review site on the internet that won’t tease Lucille or All Out War, or any numerous references to people dying in the comic books, so I won’t add any more fuel to the fire. I’ll just say that it’s safe to assume that things won’t go as swimmingly as they think it will.
Eugene and Abraham: These two have really run in different circles since arriving at Alexandria: Abraham with the big guns, and Eugene just running in literal circles. When they reconnect, they have two things going against them. Distractions, for one; Abraham has a lot on his mind already, so coupling that with having to take care of Eugene and put up with his dumbass comments will be a hell of a distraction.
Maggie puttin’ in work: Maggie’s delegation to handle business at the Hilltop is going to be just the first step towards being a boss, herself. It doesn’t seem like Gregory is very well-liked there, but more so just the guy who conveniently deals with Negan. If she survives the war with The Saviors, it could mean supplanting Old Gregg as the leader of the Hilltop.
Walking Dead Easter Eggs & Other Tidbits:
Sasha doin the right thing: That’s right; Sasha ain’t no homewrecka! She knows that Abraham is with Rosita, so she takes herself out of the equation and lets Eugene take her shift to distance herself from the horny, confused Abraham.
Barrington House: The Hilltop’s colonial home is said to be the real life Barrington House. It’s not real, but it does look a lot like a historic home in that area of the country. The Barrington community in Virginia is located less than an hour of the real life Alexandria, Virginia. The Hilltop seems much tinier than its comic book or real life counterparts from what we saw in the show, though, with like 1-2 dozen inhabitants.
Harlan Quinn, Medicine Man: Dr. Harlan Carson makes his debut in The Walking Dead, and he turns out to be a vital, but not oft discussed character. He pretty much shoulders any real responsibility of being a doctor, and teaches Denise the best he can to keep her from killing any more people. Hope he sticks around in the show. They’re gonna need him.
What?: Hi, we’re the new neighbors! Man, talk about an awkward introduction. It’s pretty much exactly how it plays down in the books. And it’s awesome.
“Right off the bat”: It hasn’t even happened yet, and still, TOO SOON.
Hush Comics gives “Knots Untie” a D+ for giving the fans an episode that was identical to the comic books, for better or worse – mostly worse.
All images belong to AMC and are credited to Gene Page. The comic book images belong to Image Comics and are credited to Charlie Adlard and Robert Kirkman.