This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 11
“Knots Untie” is the kind of episode we’ve come to expect midway through a season of The Walking Dead. It’s a slow burn, and definitely could’ve used a bit more time in the editing room, but it also introduces new characters and places that keep things interesting enough. Things don’t trail off from the midseason premiere as drastically as they have in the past. That’s actually been something this season has done pretty well. The first half’s “Thank You” kept the pace of the season premiere and “JSS,” which made for the most exciting opening to a season in years.
The biggest thing “Knots Untie” has going against it is that it’s forced to follow the crazy antics of last week’s episode, “The Next World,” which provided us with a much more lighthearted Walking Dead that I hoped would stick around for a bit longer. But maybe what made that episode stand out was that it didn’t feel like it belonged on the show at all. Surely, the writers couldn’t keep that jokey, buddy cop tone going for more than an episode. I totally wished they had, though.
It’s sure a missed opportunity to spotlight Jesus’ lighthearted quips. Tom Payne doesn’t gel as well in the tense moments of the episode as he did in tonight’s opening, which is pretty hilarious, if for no other reason than the fact that he outs Rick and Michonne’s new nighttime activities. That moment on the stairs is a leftover from “The Next World” for sure. But when Jesus has to defuse the situation between the Alexandrians and the Hilltop, he doesn’t quite project the authority that he seems to carry in the settlement. People listen to him, but it’s definitely not due to his tough demeanor in a fight. He seems more Hershel or Dale than a man hardened by the world around him.
The action setpiece at the Hilltop felt a bit predictable, a way to continue to tease Negan’s arrival on the show in a few weeks, but it was a smart way to move things forward without having to watch Gregory (Xander Berkeley) be a dick for another scene. I like that the episode introduces the threat to the Hilltop with a crescendo instead of more exposition.
The back half of the season is taking the shape of a Magnificent Seven-inspired confrontation with Negan and the Saviors. Rick and the Alexandrians are the heroes hired to defend the Hilltop from the bad guys who have exploited the settlement for far too long. It’s a whole lot of fun. I’m a little surprised that this was all set in stone three episodes into the second half of the season. Pretty quickly, we know where the rest of the season is going. I’m actually a little worried that the wait for the confrontation will be a bit drawn out since there are still six episodes to fill.
We get hints of how the writers are going to go about occupying those episodes with story, though. And it’s as it always has been: subplots that kinda bore. This week, we get a lot of Abraham, who doesn’t do the episode any favors with his Sasha vs. Rosita storyline. I pretty much don’t care. Actually, I was sure they were setting the guy up to die at the end of the episode since we had that weird opening between him and Sasha. “See you around, Abraham” seemed like the nail in the coffin. But no, it was just to get Abraham thinking about dumping Rosita. There is now one too many romantic subplots on The Walking Dead. I hope they brush this under the rug quickly.
“Knots Untie” fails to be anywhere near as exceptional as the two episodes it followed, but it has done something vital for the show: opened the world up a bit more. The Hilltop, while not particularly as impressive a sight as Alexandria, is a major gamechanger for the story, and I’m excited to see how this all plays out in the next few weeks.
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