‘The Walking Dead’: A brave new world

The Walking Dead
“Knots Untie”
February 29, 2016

Hey, remember all that sexual tension between Abraham and Sasha that came out of nowhere in that super-boring episode in the first half of the season? Well, it seems that Abraham is still nursing a crush on Sasha, enough of one that he can’t quite get his mind off of her, even when he’s in bed with Rosita. Rosita has no idea, and gifts him with a necklace she made for him out of a broken taillight.

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In other news: Sasha is not longer going to patrol with Abraham; Dr. Mullet finally knows how to use a gun; Rosita has an interest in chemistry; Maggie worries about tomatoes.

Meanwhile, over at Rick’s house, having taken the MOST inopportune moment to reintroduce himself to Rick and Michonne, Jesus sits outside their bedroom waiting for them to retrieve their pants. Passing the time, he admires some weird Queen of Clubs painting when Carl pulls a gun on him, demanding to know who he is and why he’s in their house. Jesus explains that he’s just waiting for his mom and dad to put their underthings on, and Carl is like, “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” but there’s no time to wrap his brain around this before Glenn, Maggie, Abraham and Daryl come storming into the house, having been altered by Dr. Denise that Jesus escaped. But before anyone can shoot Jesus’s face off, Rick and Michonne come out half-dressed and stop everyone.

Downstairs, Jesus explains that he is a scout from a community similar to Alexandria, which is why he stole the truck: he was just trying to take it back to his people. At first he thought Rick and Daryl were scary, what with the greasy hair and all the leather and the waving guns around. But then they didn’t leave him behind when they could have, so maybe he misjudged them. The point is, while everyone was sleeping, or planting tomatoes or planting other things, Rick, Jesus took a look around the place, and noticed that while they’ve got a nice arsenal, they seem to be low on provisions. One of his jobs is to seek other settlements to trade with, and he thinks they can help one another. And Maggie is like, “Hold up, there are other groups besides yours?” And Jesus is all, “Oh honey, bless your heart.”

So they load up into the RV to go take a looksee at Jesus’ community: Maggie, Glenn, Michonne, Abraham, Daryl and Rick. Before they leave, Rick explains to Carl that he would have told him about Michonne, except that it just happened, helpfully clearing up for me whether their hookup in the previous episode was the first time that happened, or something that happened in the time jump between the first and second episodes. Asked and answered! However, not answered: If everyone else is wearing the same sweat-stained shirts from three years ago, where are they finding tights for Baby? And why WHY??? are they putting that poor baby in tights in the first place?

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“SERIOUSLY, I KNOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE NORTHERN VIRGINIA, BUT IT’S ATLANTA IN AUGUST. GET ME OUT OF THESE THINGS.”

On the drive, Abraham becomes perturbed at the idea of Maggie’s pregnancy, and asks Glenn if when he was “pouring the Bisquick,” he meant to “make pancakes…”

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and Glenn is all, “yeah?” before explaining that ha and Maggie are trying to build something together. Abraham is all:

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The RV come across a car crash, a car that Jesus recognizes as one of his community’s, and he urges them to stop and help. Rick, sensing this is a trap (Although how Jesus would have managed to arrange such an elaborate trap is unclear: First I’ll steal their truck and then they’ll steal it back and in the process I’ll get knocked unconscious and they’ll bring me back to their community where I will convince them to come with me and meanwhile, I’ll have some of my people lying in wait at a “car crash” to ambush them. IT’S THE PERFECT PLAN.), agrees to investigate the nearby building where Jesus’s friends are probably hiding out, but only if Jesus stays behind with an armed Maggie.

Team Rick go into the building, find a few friends of Jesus, one of whom Abraham very nearly kills. In the RV, Random Guy Abraham Very Nearly Killed tells Jesus that in the moment Abraham very nearly killed him, he saw his dead wife, clear as day. So, when you think about it, I guess Abraham did Random Guy He Very Nearly Killed something of a favor?

Also in the RV, Maggie meets one of the other people they rescued, Dr. Carson, who announces he’s an OB-GYN! What are the chances!

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Dr. Carson and his friend, Jesus. (youtube.com)

Eventually, Rick manages to get the RV stuck in a mud puddle, but Jesus is like, “No worries, we’re here.” Which you would think Rick could have figured out on his own, seeing as a giant wall stands directly in front of them about one hundred yards away. They march up to the wall where the guards are all, “DROP YOUR WEAPONS,” and Team Rick are all, “NO DROP YOURS,” and the guards are all, “NO YOU,” until Jesus is like, “ugh, this is boring, just let us in already,” before revealing to Rick that their community ran out of ammunition weeks ago.

Once in the walls, they are introduced to the Hilltop community, which is centered around a plantation-home-turned-museum, the Barrington House. There, they are introduced to the leader of the settlement, Baron Quinn Gregory, who takes one look at his guests and orders them to go upstairs and wash up because, “it’s hard to keep this place clean.” He seems nice.

As they go upstairs, Rick whispers to Maggie that he’s going to need her to be the one to talk to this Gregory, implying that he wouldn’t be able to check his urge to punch this fool in his fool face.

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Meanwhile, Abraham gossips with Daryl about Rick and Michonne, and outside, extras try to look busy by carrying buckets around.

Maggie, not looking any cleaner, honestly, returns to Gregory’s office, where he greets her as “Natalie,” and she’s all, “Don’t mess with me, old man.” Gregory sits her down and sneers, “Jesus tells me that you don’t have any food, how’s about your people come here and work for us and we’ll share. A good-looking woman like you would be a welcome addition to the community.” Maggie is like, “EW, GROSS, NO. No, I was thinking we we trade with you, not be your slaves. Y’all need some ammunition, right? How about some ammo and medicine for food?” But Gregory dismisses Natalie’s offer with a sniff.

Outside the office, Jesus asks Team Rick for few days to try to talk some sense into Gregory, when some guy comes running in, announcing “they’re back.” Everyone, including Gregory, marches outside to see what’s going on, and what is going on is that a trio of Hilltoppers have returned to the community, explaining that everyone else is dead and that “they” still have someone named Craig. Seems someone named “Negan” felt “the drop was light.” Good news: Negan will let Craig go if they deliver a message to Gregory. Bad news: the message is, and I quote: “STAB STAB STAB.”

Team Rick jump on Gregory’s attackers which, despite only involving three Hilltoppers somehow turns into a brawl? One that Team Rick is quickly losing? Abraham is very nearly strangled to death by one Hilltopper, and as the oxygen is drained, Abraham hears Sasha’s voice, which is supposed to parallel Random Guy He Very Nearly Killed seeing his dead wife, I guess. But then Daryl stops just standing around being useless and breaks Abraham’s arm, saving him. As Abraham gets up, Rosita’s tail light necklace falls off because symbolism.

Meanwhile, Rick is tackled by Gregory’s stabber and is very nearly killed until Michonne decides to bonk the guy on the head, giving Rick a chance to stab Stabby in the throat, killing him. The Hilltoppers are like, “NOT COOL!” But Jesus points out that Stabby tried to kill Gregory and Rick JUST A SECOND AGO, so, you know, shut it.

They take Gregory to Dr. Carson who manages to save him.

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Meanwhile, Jesus fills Team Rick in on their situation which happens to be a lot more complicated than they maybe kinda sorta made it out to be. So, this Negan guy, he and his group, the Saviors showed up as soon as Hilltop built their walls. Upon arrival, Negan beat one of their 16-year-old kids to death, explaining that Hilltop needed to understand “right off the bat” the Saviors were serious. With that, they demanded that Hilltop surrender half their supplies, crops and livestock and Gregory was like, “Sure, cool, whatever you want.”

Daryl is appalled that they would just give in to these people instead of fighting back, but Jesus explains that they don’t have many fighters at Hilltop. Rick suggests that they take care of Hilltop’s Negan problem for them, and Jesus agrees that this might work despite the fact that Abraham and  Rick were just very nearly killed by a trio of Jesus’s non-fighting Hilltoppers.

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Gregory insists on negotiating with Natalie Maggie. She promises they will retrieve this Craig person and get rid of the Saviors, and in exchange the Hilltoppers will give Team Rick half of their supplies. Up front. Gregory laughs that Team Rick is going to end up working for them after all, and Maggie’s like, “dude, I’ve got you over a barrell here. If you don’t agree to this, Negan is going to come back, kill you and take everything.” Gregory is all, “touché.”

So Team Rick loads up the RV with a bunch of food and one of the Hilltoppers who has been to the Saviors’ camp and head back to Alexandria.

On the drive back, Glenn and Maggie pass around an ultrasound picture that Dr. Carson was kind enough to do for Maggie, and everyone, even Abraham, is all, “D’AWWWWWWW….”

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Here’s the problem with writing about a show whose source material is out there in the universe: you don’t want to spoil anything for the folks who are reading the original materials and haven’t caught up yet; you don’t want to spoil people who have stayed away from the original material so as to not be spoiled for the show; but to pretend that you don’t know where this is all headed is silly and disingenuous. So I apologize for all the spoiler fonting that is going to happen here: I hate spoiler fonts, too, but I hate being spoiled even more, and frankly everything I have to say about this episode and where we are headed is firmly in comic spoiler territory. Whaddya gonna do? So scroll over everything below if you don’t mind a little speculation about who (SORT OF SPOILER) Negan’s first victim from Team Rick will be — and there will be a first victim — mixed with a lot of spoilers from the comics.

Those of you who aren’t afraid of comic spoilers know that the Saviors’ Negan is a brutal baddie with a bat, Lucille, which he uses to kill Glenn in front of Team Rick. There’s plenty of speculation that Glenn, having had his own non-death in the first half of the season (still mad), will be spared Lucille’s wrath, but that someone else from Team Rick will will take his place, probably in the season finale. But who?

Before we get to that, we have to discuss the Abraham-Rosita-Sasha love triangle in the making. A lot of fans were really irritated/bored/angry at this development that took up, what, five minutes of this episode? But it’s important for the Negan plot and gives us some hints as to who will survive past the season finale. In the comics, Abraham is with Rosita when he cheats on her with an Alexandrian named Holly. Sometime after Glenn’s death, Abraham is killed by one of Negan’s men, namely Dwight (the guy who stole Daryl’s crossbow). Later, on a raid on Negan’s site, the Sanctuary, Holly drives a truck through the walls to allow in a horde of walkers. Negan takes her hostage, believing her to be Andrea, Rick’s girlfriend in the comics, and then returns her to Rick, turned into a walker.

This story is important for a few reasons: Now that Rick and Michonne are a couple, it suggests that Sasha will play the role of Holly. Assuming he doesn’t get a good look at any of Team Rick, Negan will confuse Sasha for Michonne as they are both African-American, and this is how Sasha will eventually die. Which means that not only will Sasha not be on the receiving end of Lucille at the end of this season, it also means that neither will Michonne (and by extension, Rick, but that’s just a given: though no one is safe on this show, Rick is always safe, duh).

So if Negan’s first victim is not Glenn, Michonne, Sasha or Rick, who will it be? There’s a lot of talk that it could be Daryl: after all, he’s not in the comics, Norman Reedus has been given his own reality series on AMC, and there is no better character to kill off to upset fans and demonstrate how dangerous Negan is. However, he still needs to have a reunion with that crossbow of his, and there the writers really are taking their own lives in their hands if they kill the show’s most beloved character. It could be Carol: she’s long dead in the comics, and methinks she’ll be blaming herself for Sam’s death when we see her again and maybe not quite stable. But on the other hand, CAROL, NO, NOT CAROL!! YOU MIGHT AS WELL KILL DARYL. It could be Abraham: if they develop his relationship with Sasha enough in the next two or three episodes, his death would certainly motivate her to avenge him in the next season.It could be Morgan. In the comics he dies during the invasion of the horde, and we’ve seen a lot more about his past than we have of other characters, his arc could be complete. That said, his pacifist philosophy still has the potential to create conflict for Team Rick as they begin this new fight with the Saviors. It could be Dr. Mullet: although he becomes useful later in the comics when he figures out how to make ammunition. It could be Father Gabriel: he isn’t serving much purpose right about now. But then again they’re not going to give us what we want that easily. Same with Enid and Spencer: killing an unlikable character is not going to be emotionally devastating enough, they are going to take out someone we care about. That said, it’s unlikely it’ll be Maggie or Carl because even that is a step too far for this show. And not that it’s stopped the show from killing major comic characters before, but both Maggie and Carl have major plot points ahead of them.  It could also be Tara, Denise, Rosita, that pantry lady, Heath or Aaron. But probably not because who cares?

What do you think? Who will have the first dance with Lucille?

The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sunday at 8/9 p.m.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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