“Knots Untie” is another episode sticking closely to the comic and it’s another good one. There’s a definite trend here, for those of you who haven’t read the comic, that when the writers of the show adhere to Kirkman’s original vision, the story and characters make a lot more sense. That’s why the first half of this season was god awful – they made up their own stupid predicaments and problems for Rick’s group to face that don’t connect to each other well at all. For example, the huge zombie herd. In the comic, the herd just shows up because it’s established that that’s what zombies do. In the show, they made the contrived plot that the zombies are stuck in a quarry and Rick wants to move them or whatever – dumb! I know Gimple is trying to create new scenarios so comic readers have some surprises, but do it with the characters. The scenarios and plot should stay strictly in like with the comic, but change up some character personalities and relationships – like Rick and Michonne getting together.
This episode introduces us to The Hilltop, another community of survivors who’s settlement is like something out of the 18th century. They have blacksmiths and farms and use weapons like spears to defend their walled off home. None of them are real fighters according to Jesus and even if they were, they ran out of ammo a long time ago. Gregory, their leader, is sort of disconnected from his community, at least that’s what I gathered from Xander Berkeley’s portrayal. Jesus is the real leader. He speaks to his people, actually goes out and gets stuff done rather than hide in The Hilltop’s big mansion. Gregory’s really just a figure head, but he’s someone The Hilltop need to keep them calm, especially with the threat of Negan looming over head.
As for Negan, the boogeyman as Daryl calls him, is out in the open; no more wondering what he and his people are about. The Saviors harass The Hilltop into periodically giving them half of everything they have – kind of like the grasshoppers vs. the ants in A Bug’s Life. It’s obviously a lopsided deal that leaves The Hilltop scrounging for supplies out in the wild. But Rick sees this as an opportunity for Alexandria. They need food, something The Hilltop has in abundance. After meeting with Maggie (who is acting as the “ambassador” of Alexandria), Gregory determines Alexandria has nothing The Hilltop wants; trade between the two camps isn’t worth The Hilltop’s time. What Alexandria lacks in supplies they make up for in balls. Maggie goes back to Gregory later, after he’s been stabbed by his own man per the request of Negan, and says what Alexandria can offer is protection – a promise to take down Negan and The Saviors in exchange for what they were going to give The Saviors anyway. Gregory agrees and Rick and the gang load up their RV with all the food Alexandria needs. Jesus and some other dude from The Hilltop are on board too.
Rick and Daryl are very cavalier about taking down Negan. They know it’ll be a costly fight, their confidence comes off almost as cockiness. Rick says, “confrontation’s something we’ve never had trouble with.” For the most part he’s right, they’ve dealt with a lot of crazy foes – The Governor, The Termites, The Wolves, The Hospital People (I barely remember that saga) – and they’ve come out on top. Not without their bumps and bruises, but they have come out on top. Maybe it’s confidence from experience more than cockiness, but Rick’s group is never the aggressor in their confrontations. Like, all other people who’s messed with our heroes had it coming to them. Other than the brief run-in with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham, Alexandria has no qualms with The Savior. Maybe you could say Rick wants to be proactive against such a threat, hit The Saviors before they know what’s coming, but it does seem worrisome that Rick is so ready to jump into battle after a couple months of peaceful living.
Putting on my “TV only goggles,” we’re lead to believe Negan and The Saviors are just like any other foes. They aren’t The Wolves – random and unorganized – but their group surely can’t outgun Rick and the Alexandrians, right? We’re lead to be cautiously optimistic that the deal with The Hilltop is a great one in favor of our heroes, but what if it isn’t? What if The Alexandrians are actually getting the short end of the stick on this one? What is Negan and his goons are more than just goons?
Back to reality, the answer to all those questions is YES. I’ve said this many times before in older posts, but I’ll say it again: NEGAN IS NOT A PUSH OVER. He’s the toughest fight Rick and the gang has ever come up against and he’s going to leave some of our favorite cast looking for a new job.