|Photo Credit: The Walking Dead / Gene Page|
Season six has not been my favorite so far. From the slowed-down first half to the distorted second half, I'm trying desperately to keep the storylines and style of this season mentally in check. However, everything just seems all over the place.
One second Jesus is a prisoner, and the next the group is taking his word to go to the Hilltop Colony and join his people in a possible exchange of weapons for food.
But let's delve into it a bit more.
Rick and Michonne were woken up by Jesus at the foot of their bed. As they were dressing rather calmly, Carl and the rest of the Alexandrians cornered the stranger in the Grimes household. Reading the Alexandrian situation as desperate - limited food supply - Jesus invited them to his camp. It was the promise of a much bigger world.
A much bigger world, or a much dumber world.
The Hilltop Colony had a pretty sweet set-up. I'm not gonna lie. Taking residence at an old museum, Gregory and other survivors took materials from a power company nearby to create their own forts. There was livestock and grown crops. The colony came out of something from a dystopian 1778 film, it was short of everything but the Liberty Ball. What it was missing was people to actually defend it - again.
Once arriving at Gregory's camp, we find out just how weak they are - they don't have weapons and can barely defend themselves. The only way they've survived this long is because they're beholding to Negan. In the first few months of the apocalypse, one of the kids were killed by Negan's group. In exchange for mercy and not being further attacked, Gregory cut a deal to give half of their food and supplies. As time goes on and every group is growing more desperate, even our own, Negan wants more and more and more - he'll do whatever to take what he wants.
The lure around Negan is real. It's happening. Even just the bleak line of Jesus mentioning that a poor kid was beaten to death right off the bat made me cringe.
When Gregory meets a few of his team members outside, it's revealed that Negan further killed two of them and is holding, Craig, hostage. As a message to Greg, he was stabbed. Rick's group immediately intervened like a gang of ninjas.
Before you knew it, a deal was struck - Rick and his people will kill off Negan and his group, in exchange half of Gregory's supplies.
I don't know if this was brilliantly written or just plain stupid. In retrospect throughout this season, there's been plenty of hints that the group is low on supplies - as far back as Pastalady complaining about low rations. And group members like Heath going on two-week supply runs, so they have to go further, much longer. Even when we think we've settled down and made a homebase, we're always on the run.
However, when you pair this type of evidence next to last week's breather episode where Daryl and Rick could give a hoot about not bringing back food or medicine, it's hard to look at our group as struggling to make it. They're desperate but also comfortably desperate.
Why would your risk your peoples' lives for food and supplies for strangers? Why not spend time rebuilding the walls and collectively building up your entire group so everyone is a stronger force as a unit, so more runs can be made, so if you face another threat by Negan you're prepared? Rick and his group are essentially catapulting themselves to be slaughtered by Negan's group - at one point Gregory counting that they had twenty men with them. 20. THAT'S ALEXANDRIAN'S ENTIRE POPULATION.
Not only that, but they become aware that Negan murdered a kid just over a move for power. He killed two people just for Gregory being low on supplies and wanting more. AND, Gregory's own people were sent back to kill him just to send a message. All of those things together scream: DO NOT GET INVOLVED.
Don't get me wrong - I liked this exploration of a bigger world. We're getting a sense of how camps are beholden to each other, if they don't defend themselves and one guy rules with an iron fist. But the circumstances in Knots Untie came about too quickly, almost randomly. It felt more like the fans have been waiting for Negan for so long, we're making him happen without a clear map of what the hell we're doing.
Next week's episode is gonna feature Rick trying to convince Alexandria that they made the right move. So much of season six parallels season three with Negan as the Governor, the prison as Alexandria, the blurred line between Rickocracy and Ricktatorship. And now Rick convincing people he's doing right by all of them when all of the signs point to wrong. Hopefully this descent into Negan's territory is quicker than Rick and the Governor just talking and waiting to attack.
My other issue is: how is Alexandria still up and running if Negan has been so close? If Alexandria's people are on runs for two weeks, and the Hilltop Colony and Negan have been established since the start, wouldn't they had invaded sooner before Rick's group arrived? Of course, this is all just explained with plot and the timing of our current storyline to even happen. But it's a semi-big plothole with this timeline.
All these meetings where the group got into trouble, Carol wasn't there to stop them. She needs to attend more of these things to keep people's heads on straight.
While returning to Alexandria Rick recruited one of the Hilltop members because he's familiar with Negan's group. Again, was this a smart move to their already spontaneous plan? How could any of them know he's not a double-crosser? or that someone isn't going to run to Negan and tell them of their plan to save themselves in case Rick doesn't win?
What Knots Untie really became clear to me is not so much the group's desperation to survive but Rick's supposed invincibility. This is something that has been building from the start: from Shane to the Governor, Terminus, Dawn and her cops. Their survival has been waist-deep in Rick killing everyone to keep everyone safe. Only this time he's completely gone over his head and the set-ups from previous seasons isn't as strong or cohesive.
Rick and the group tried to convince themselves that they are going to win, they have to. But for what - to exchange supplies with Gregory's group. It's a little respite in exchange for a lot of sacrifice - that sacrifice being people's lives. Like Maggie said, this is going to cost them something, or someone. The world did get bigger. I just hope as Jesus puts it, most of our loved ones stay on the living side.
Any line that comes out of left field, Cudlitz delivers perfectly. Every time Abraham opens his mouth, I'm a little apprehensive and enthusiastic. Once again, he's provided plenty of great catch phrases for our fandom that's left us both cheering and scratching our heads: Mother dick, Every fine grain of said shit speech, scrapping our sacks in sandboxes, etc. Let's chew some asphalt is going in me and my sister's vernacular anytime we get in the car now.
Besides his creativity with words, I love it when we get more of Abraham. In contrast to Rick starting his relationship with Michonne, Abraham is in an in-between example of a man unwilling or unable to settle down in the apocalypse. While everyone has found someone to hold onto and build a future as long as it'll last, Abrahams' is dealing with his feelings for Sasha and Rosita.
Both women are complex, extraordinary characters in their own right and don't need to be downgraded to a love triangle. But it's inevitable that this would happen, per the comic books and Abraham cheating on Rosita with Holly (whose non-existent on the show).
Abraham is getting a lot heat for his interest in Sasha. Can we blame either one of them as of yet? The worst is that Abraham tried flirting with her by recalling his military days or apocalypse kills-of-the-week as great pick-me-up stories. He reminded me of a divorcee whose getting back into the swing of dating after a twenty year marriage. He wasn't necessarily smooth.
Emotionally, he's cheating on Rosita. It's not morally right but too many fans are making a mountain out of a molehill. Not everyone is going to have four years of built-up chemistry and little shipping moments like Rick and Michonne. Sometimes relationships spring up.
A relationship with Abraham isn't even something Sasha has actively pursued. For the most part it seems to me that she is still hesitant to pursue anything, especially behind Rosita's back. Perhaps because she hasn't completely healed from Bob's death.
While the women are not aware of Abraham's quandary, Freddie from Jesus' group certainly helped him figure it out. A portion of Knots Untie focused on Abraham's apprehension.
Parts of the episode played with characters seeing their loved ones before they died. In Freddie's last close moments, he saw his wife. Abe's almost shared the same fate by being nearly choked to death by one of the Hilltop peeps. When Daryl rescued him, it seemed his mind was made up.
Is it going to be Sasha because Rosita's necklace fell off during the fight? Or will it be Rosita because Sasha is just a momentary crush? Not a lot of people or fans I guess are interested on how it turns out, but I am. The only qualm is if anything further does occur between Abraham and Sasha, it's explicitly addressed with Rosita. A love triangle usually ends up ruining whichever couple tries to survive.
To be honest, the most important aspect of the episode was Maggie. We do not get enough of this girl. That's one of my major quandaries with this season, and season five and season four. The group's been so split up over time, I don't feel like we see enough of the original main cast anymore. New people are going to come and stay, or go, and Maggie's taken a major backseat.
One of Deanna's hopes was making Maggie their negotiator and representative of the group. While it looks like Rick makes all the major decisions, a woman who is not going to lose her cool in 30 seconds of meeting someone has to keep the others safe. Maggie stepped up to the plate to negotiate with Gregory.
Maggie stepping up to negotiate also proved Rick's ability to be democratic. It was more than just fulfilling Deanna's ideas for Maggie as her second-in-command. He knew enough of himself not to get involved with Gregory and sees him as making mistake that will get him killed. (another exhibit of Rick's intermittent belief of being invincible - will this be his ultimate downfall someday?)
Honestly, I just love how Maggie handled Gregory. If we measure characters as awesome as Carol, only a select few make the cut. Maggie would be one of these people. Outspoken daughter of Herschel who was completely forced to change her perception of walkers as sick people into just straight-up zombies, to become a warrior, a wife, a leader, a mother-to-be, and can still kick ass and take names. She never lost her determination, a will to not be scared to stay alive and her outspoken nature.
Maggie and Glenn didn't get a glamorous return as much as I wanted. Except for Rick re-uniting with Lori and Carl in season one, The Walking Dead isn't romantic on making grand reunions between long-lost characters. Then again, the show is taking a turn for the romantic by pairing up characters and letting us see them sleep together. The longest running couple didn't get a grand reunion, and I kinda missed that.
But what we did get in return for their non-reunion is probably one of the more precious scenes of the series: Glenn and Maggie getting a sonogram from the Hilltop's obstetrician. It was so sweet and so beautiful after what came up earlier this season with his supposed death, and her wandering if he was dead or alive. On the drive back to Alexandria, Glenn passed around their sonogram picture. It was wonderful to see what the baby meant to each of them: Michonne with the painful memories of her baby, Daryl contemplating settling, Abraham thinking about the future. And, for Glenn and Maggie about building something together. I just hope it lasts.
+ Negan and his best friend Lucille. It's such an iconic moment in the comic books, it'd be daft for the show not to include it in some way. Honestly, the fate of any of the characters is making me too nervous for words. In the comic book, Glenn is killed. But with the fake-out, does Gimple and the writers have enough guts to pull through with it?
+ To me, honestly - it should be Morgan. While Glenn, Daryl, and any of the other characters has more room for growth, Morgan's arc to me is already complete, and to a point, boring. I wish he'd stayed back in Clear, when we just saw him as someone who had dissented into madness. He's made too many mistakes in allowing the Wolves to come back for the Alexandrians. He's failed the Eastman Experiment in seeing if murderers changed. My only other idea is Abraham because he's been a growing central focus in the past few episodes.
+ I have a feeling season seven is going to finally introduce Negan. So what the heck has season six been all about. I'm holding onto hope.