Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

The group arrives at the Hilltop Colony. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
The group arrives at the Hilltop Colony. Photo courtesy of AMC

How can the already large world of “The Walking Dead” get even bigger? “Knots Unite” serves to expand the scope by introducing a new community, new characters and a frightening threat. This episode stands strong next to the incredible first two episodes of this half of the season. There are a few slight problems, but the story is headed in the right direction overall.

The episode begins with Abraham and Sasha walking into Alexandria joking about Abraham’s time in the military. Sasha alerts Abraham that they will no longer be working together as she has traded patrol shifts with Eugene, who wants to contribute more. This creates awkward tension as Abraham is visibly disappointed about this change. Back in “Always Accountable,” a possible romantic relationship between Sasha and Abraham was heavily hinted at. The only problem is that Abraham is currently dating Rosita. He is shown in bed with Rosita, where she gives him a necklace made from a cracked piece of the fuel truck’s brake light. Rosita heads off to shower, but Abraham lies in bed thinking about Sasha. This is my major problem of the episode. Love triangles are nothing new to “The Walking Dead,” as seen during the first two seasons with Rick, Lori and Shane. Both Sasha and Rosita have demonstrated their individual strengths as characters, but this new storyline seems to lessen their importance for the purpose of furthering Abraham’s. The love triangle is only seen from the perspective of Abraham, while Rosita is completely in the dark about the situation. Hopefully, this aspect of the story is resolved sooner rather than later and develops each of the three characters equally.

At night, Maggie is shown to be discouraged about the lack of growth by the crops in Alexandria’s new garden. Glenn arrives and tries to reassure her that everything will be fine. Lack of food is a troubling and growing threat that Alexandria faces; Maggie mentions that the current set of rations will only last so long. This problem only makes the arrival of Jesus more important. Following his embarrassing run in with Rick and Michonne last episode, Jesus takes the time to explain himself to the group. He first explains how he managed to escape his holding cell and guards. He also shares that he was able to get a good look at the supplies in Alexandria’s inventory. Jesus then tells Rick and the others about his community and its trading system. He offers to subdue their uncertainties by leading them to his community. Before leaving, Rick talks to Carl about his new relationship with Michonne to which Carl immediately approves of. Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Abraham, Glenn, Maggie and Jesus pile into the RV and head off.

While on the road to the community, Abraham worriedly asks Glenn about Maggie’s pregnancy and the dangers of bringing a child into such a dangerous world. Glenn positively shares that he and Maggie are “trying to build something.” Abraham raises an important point about the situation that everyone surely has on their mind. Maggie, more than anyone, knows that pregnancy can be fatal. She delivered Judith via emergency C-section back in season three, which ended up costing the life of Judith’s mother, Lori. The road trip continues, but Rick notices a recently overturned car. Jesus recognizes this car from his community and exits the RV to investigate. Daryl leads the group to a nearby building that everyone enters, while Maggie watches Jesus outside. They find four of Jesus’ people inside, one of whom is injured. After loading back into the RV, Maggie and Glenn introduce themselves to one of the survivors, a man named Harlan Carson (R. Keith Harris). Harlan shares that before the apocalypse, he was an obstetrician. The RV gets stuck in a patch of mud, but Jesus announces that they have arrived at his community, the Hilltop Colony. The camera pans to show a massive wall made of wooden posts. This scene sets an exhilarating, yet suspicious tone that is reminiscent of the group’s arrival at Alexandria.

Jesus leads the group to the front gates where a brief, but heated conflict erupts between Rick’s group and the spear-wielding guards. Jesus contains the situation and orders the guards to open the gates, revealing to the characters and viewers the quaint community. The Hilltop Colony has an old-time medieval feel with its gardens, livestock pens and blacksmith stations. At the top of a hill, a large mansion rests, which Jesus shares was once a living history museum. He also points out a series of trailers that originated from a FEMA camp. He then leads everyone into the mansion where he introduces them to Hilltop’s leader, Gregory (Xander Berkeley). After noticing the brash nature of Gregory, Rick appoints Maggie to speak on behalf of Alexandria. This moment represents a much-needed turning point for Maggie’s character. After spending the past few seasons in a more limited role, Maggie finally emerges as a leader among the group. Her leadership skills can be attributed to many different factors, including influence from Hershel and Deanna.

Xander Berkeley as Gregory and Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Xander Berkeley as Gregory and Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Maggie meets with Gregory in his office to discuss possible options for trading between the two communities. After condescendingly arguing about Alexandria’s low provisions, Gregory offers a deal that would allow Alexandria residents to work at Hilltop in exchange for supplies. Maggie mentions the weakened position that Hilltop is in due to their lack of guns and ammunition. Both Xander Berkeley and Lauren Cohan delivered their scenes expertly to create an interesting dynamic between their two characters. A commotion outside pauses the trade discussions as everyone heads out to investigate; a team of Hilltop residents has returned from a meeting with Negan. The group alerts Gregory that Negan has killed two of their people and is currently holding another hostage. A member of the returning group, Ethan (Justin Kucsulain), approaches Gregory and stabs him in the abdomen, a direct message from Negan. Rick attacks Ethan, who he ultimately stabs in the throat. Abraham, Daryl and Michonne also fight with Hilltop residents, but Jesus manages to put a stop to everything. A highly symbolic moment is shown as Daryl helps Abraham off the ground, and Abraham leaves behind the necklace that Rosita made him. Dr. Carson tends to Gregory, while Jesus calls a meeting with Rick’s group. The fight sequence was very tense and demonstrates the difficulties of getting along with new people.

Inside the mansion, Jesus explains Hilltop’s situation with Negan. He explains that Negan leads a group called The Saviors, this is the same group that Daryl, Sasha and Abraham ran into back in “No Way Out.” Upon finding the Hilltop Colony, Negan and his men immediately killed one of the residents, a 16-year old boy. Since that time, half of Hilltop’s supplies are given to Negan in an agreement that The Saviors will not attack. Daryl and Rick, angry and worried at the situation, offer to kill Negan and his group and to rescue the Hilltop resident being held hostage. Maggie presents the proposition to a bedridden Gregory. After a few minutes of discussion, he accepts her offer. Maggie, however, decides to negotiate further and demands that Hilltop give half of their supplies to Alexandria in exchange for help with Negan and The Saviors. Gregory reluctantly agrees and the group begins loading supplies into the RV. Before leaving, Glenn and Maggie visit the medical trailer where Dr. Carson performs an ultrasound, giving the first look at Glenn and Maggie’s healthy baby. Jesus and a Hilltop resident named Andy (Jeremy Palko) accompany the group in the RV. The episode ends with Glenn passing around the ultrasound picture to Michonne, Daryl and Abraham. This show always perfectly places moments of levity in times of intensity and fear. Now that Hilltop and Alexandria have joined forces, how will Negan and The Saviors come into the picture?

“Knots Untie” continues with the great pacing of this half season. The introduction of the Hilltop Colony and its characters pushes the story in a refreshing and compelling direction. Terror is right on the horizon as the introduction of the infamous Negan approaches. Is war imminent or can the conflict be settled peacefully? My guess is that we are about to enter very deadly territory. Don’t miss “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."


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