Television

Published on March 1st, 2016 | by Bean

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The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 11 “Knots Untied”

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The constant ebb and flow of the status quo in the zombie apocalypse is what keeps a show like The Walking Dead from stagnation. In the scheme of things, the experiences of Rick’s company, while extreme in cost of lives and sanity, has played out in a relatively small sandbox. With the arrival of the mysterious ninja Jesus, comes a summons to a wider world, and all things never being equal, likely a massive dustup.”Knots Untied”  feels like a bridge episode, filling us in with plenty of useful exposition, keeping the tension up with a few low-level fights, but ultimately building up to the real action next week.

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We do get a lot of new character information tonight though, starting with last week’s crafty sonofabitch, the enigmatic Jesus. A trader from the Hilltop community, Jesus proves himself to be a decent mediator, a good judge of character and someone willing to trust others to further the growth and stability of his camp. After explaining the scope of their trading operations – “Your world is about to get a whole lot bigger” – he makes his pitch to the Alexandrians, exhorting their kinship as fellow members of the living side.

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The show has long sidelined the undead threat, massive walker hoards regardless, for the more nebulous peril that warring factions of marauding humans pose. Jesus sees a group of well-equipped and handy fighters who can bring something to the table. Choosing to leave parts of the Hilltop story untold seems less devious and more tactical. I give him a pass for now. His “boss” (pfft) Gregory, not so much.

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Equilibrium is the dream for the saner survivors, and if we’ve learnt anything from six seasons of The Walking Dead, it is that such balance is hard-won and short-lived. Through the visit to Gregory’s camp we learn more of Negan and The Saviours (dreadful band name), bullies out to dominate the area using brutal tactics and intimidation. Of an indeterminate size, but with a knack for convincing grandstanding, they represent everything Rick and co. must combat if their new world is to stand even a chance of thriving. After earning Jesus’ respect and favour by coming to Hilltop’s aid not once but twice in the space of a few hours, the group has a further opportunity to prove their value when trade with the infamous Negan goes south and they offer to step in take the Saviours out.

The Walking Dead has been increasingly interested of late in examining the possibilities of normal experiences for it’s characters, such as new relationships and making babies. Battlestar Galactica made a lot of noise about such things during it’s duration, pointing to the need for re-population after global massacre with frequency. The characters in this world have always seemed more circumspect, with no big picture to encourage or dismay them, scattered as their species is. Refracted through the shattered lens of their post-apocalyptic environment, such things take on extra significance since nothing can be taken for granted when it is always in jeopardy.

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Abraham is the strongest voice of caution in this respect during “Knots Untied”     , but he appears to be grappling with a complicated love-life himself, quietly pining for Sasha after a brush-off and playing house with Rosita, who can perhaps see he’s not fully committed. The uncertainty in Abraham’s past, and the loss he experienced when his broken mental state caused his own family to flee him in terror, remain integral to his personality, however deeply buried, and he is pensive throughout the episode, as if weighing some decision or judgement.

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Rick and Michonne’s new union gets thrown into the forum immediately, with half the crew and Jesus busting in on them post-coitus. Carl is suitably low-key-pleased for them both, but displays a reluctance to join Rick on the trip, citing his “messed up face” as part of his reasoning. The shadow of concern on Rick’s face at this hints that perhaps he is wondering whether this new introspection and extra sensitivity Carl has been showing is something to worry about long-term. Frankly, he appears to be handling his new circumstances remarkably well, but that can’t be the whole truth.

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Maggie and Glenn, an always solid coupling, make new strides by finding an Obstetrician at Hilltop, much more pleasant than Alexandria’s ex-porche-douche. Maggie comes into her own as a spokesperson/deal-maker for the Alexandrian community, outwitting Gregory and his bullish attempts at political bargaining, and claiming valuable, life-saving stakes for her people. Her no-crap attitude is an asset to the team, and Jesus makes a good impression by not only pegging Gregory and his many flaws but being up front about them with the group.

And so, our heroes descend into another shit-storm, wearing their combined skills and experiences like so much armour. It’s gonna get messy, but at least they have a new badass on their living side.

Review by Nina Clark

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Bean

Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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