‘The Walking Dead’ Episode 6.11 “Knots Untie” (8.5 out of 10) Created by Frank Darabont; Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, Lennie James, Lauren Cohan; Sundays on AMC.

I’m still kind of freaking out about Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) hooking up last week, so before we move on—how cool was that? There was the couch and then the naked with the sword and the guns…great moment in TWD history. Tonight was a classic slow-burn episode—light on zombie carnage, heavy on storytelling. Spoilers ahead!

Abraham’s Existential Crisis

If I was to guess which TWD character would start to get introspective and emotionally vulnerable, I would have put Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) at the bottom of my list. Cudlitz has built his ex-military character on a solid foundation of testosterone and violence, so this sudden surge in his paternal instincts was interesting to behold.

We’ve established that he had a fleeting crush on Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and I totally forgot that he and Rosita (Christian Serratos) were a post-apocalyptic item (their post-coital scene made me suddenly remember that creepy moment from season five when Eugene (Josh McDermitt) just watched them ump buglies, as Abraham would put it). When Rosita gives him a necklace made out of a busted taillight, some gears start churning in Abrahams head. Based on a conversation he has with Glenn (Steven Yeun)—“When you were pouring the Bisquick,” he asks, “Were you trying to make pancakes?”—it appears as though he’s entertaining thoughts of fatherhood.

The show was a little ambiguous regarding Abraham’s overall decision. After Daryl (Norman Reedus) pulls a crazed Hilltop denizen (Hilltop! It happened! More later) off of Abraham, he seems to have made up his mind—but if that’s the case, why did we get that melancholy shot of Rosita’s necklace abandoned in the grass? While Cudlitz has offered a spot-on interpretation of Abraham’s macho, post-apocalyptic warrior, he struggles a bit with this sudden surge of tenderness. I love that the story is taking a stab at making a fairly one-dimensional character a bit more dynamic, but I wasn’t totally sold on Cudtlitz’s performance tonight.

Hilltop

After Jesus (Tom Payne) gains the trust of the Alexandrians, they accompany him back to Hilltop—Rick’s team helps save some Hilltop folks, so everything is cool by the time they reach their destination.

Hilltop looks a little bit more backwards than Alexandria was before Rick showed up. Ideally, Rick and Jesus want to engineer a trade agreement between the two communities, but that leads to a conversation with Gregory (Xander Berkeley). Fans of the comics will know that Gregory is a bit of a skeez, and Berkeley totally captured that aspect of the character. Negotiations with Gregory aren’t great, though it was cool to see that Rick knows enough about himself and his crew to see Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) value as a diplomat. It’s not until a group of Hilltop folk return from a botched visit to Negan’s compound and try to murder Gregory does an actual negotiation take place.

With half of Hilltop’s goods in tow, Rick packs up the Winnebago and returns home with plans to wipe Negan and the Saviors off the face of the map. There’s something much more than bravado that echoes through Hilltop as Rick affirms that they’ve never had problems with conflict before. However, Maggie’s concern that this whole endeavor will cost them, coupled with the episode concluding with a solemn crew passing around an ultrasound photo of her and Glenn’s baby makes me uneasy. Plus, did you catch that bit from Jesus about how Negan beat one of their community members to death right in front of them? I dunno. Glenn’s survival rate might have dropped a few pegs on the survivometer.

Verdict

The Hilltop reveal was great, Jesus continues to impress me and the nefarious mystique that is building up around Negan is fantastic. There were a few hiccups tonight, but nothing serious. I still love Abraham, even though he emotes tenderness with as much range as a Tasmanian devil. I now find myself fascinated with the events leading up to Negan’s big reveal. According to “Entertainment Weekly,” Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln have called the season six finale “heartbreaking,” which gets me all crazy every time I hear someone mention Negan or the Saviors. Oh! And Richonne! Until next time, friends!

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