The plot on “The Walking Dead” is about to get a lot more complicated. Although Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the Alexandria survivors seem to be doing well and are picking up the pieces after the fall of the wall, the newcomer from last week is going to shake up their reality.
Episode 11, “Knots Untie,” kicks off with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) engaging in some small talk after their patrol shift. Fans of the AMC series can’t forget about the sexual tension between them from a couple weeks ago. But it looks as if Sasha is trying to forget about that. She tells her partner that she’s changing watch shifts.
Abraham is surprised by the news, but doesn’t argue with her. However, later, when he’s in bed with Rosita (Christian Serratos), Sasha is all he can think about. Could that be the reason why Sasha is trying to stay away from Abraham? She doesn’t want to stir the pot with Rosita? If that’s the case, it seems to be a good move. Rosita is definitely emotionally attached to Abraham, even making him a necklace from a broken brake light from an oil tanker.
Of course, thoughts of love come second during the zombie apocalypse. The whole town snaps to attention when Denise (Merritt Wever) discovers that their new prisoner, Jesus (Tom Payne), has escaped the cell.
Jesus doesn’t go far, though. He simply wants to talk to Rick. But as viewers know from last week, Rick’s a little … preoccupied with Michonne (Danai Gurira). If the two new lovebirds wanted to keep their budding relationship a secret, that’s out the door. Jesus’ surprise wake-up call forces Rick and Michonne to do a “walk of shame” in front of Carl (Chandler Riggs), Daryl (Norman Reedys), Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham. The cat’s out of the bag!
So, what does Jesus want? After escaping his cell he did a little snooping around town and discovered that while the Alexandrians are stocked up on weapons, they’re dangerously low on food and other supplies. He knows that Rick and Daryl are “good people” because they didn’t leave him behind, and he wants them to “help each other.” It’s Jesus’ job to search for other settlements to make trades with — and Alexandria is not the first settlement he’s come across.
“Your world’s about to get a whole lot bigger,” he tells them.
Rick rounds up a group, asking Michonne, Abraham, Daryl, Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to accompany them to Jesus’ mysterious new settlement. But before he goes, he pulls Carl aside to talk about Michonne.
“I was going to tell you,” he promises his son. “It just happened last night. … This is different.”
Carl’s not upset, though. In fact, he tells his dad that it’s “cool.”
With Rick's awkward talk with Carl out of the way, the Alexandria group loads into an RV and embarks on a little road trip to see this exciting new world. However, due to past experiences, everyone is a little bit on edge. Could Jesus be leading them into a trap? It’s certainly a thought that has crossed Rick’s mind, and stumbling across a recent car crash does nothing to ease his worries.
Jesus realizes that the overturned car ahead of them belongs to his people. No one is in the vehicle, but he’s worried about their safety. Jesus explains to Rick that his group of people can't fight nearly as well as the Alexandria survivors. Rick is hesitant, but agrees to search a nearby building. However, he warns Maggie to shoot Jesus the second he tries to make a move.
Fortunately for Jesus, he wasn’t lying. They find three people hiding from walkers inside the building, but a fourth injured one is somewhere else. Abraham finds the last man and nearly chokes him to death, believing him to be one of the undead. Although it’s a close call, they all make it safely back to the RV.
As they continue toward Jesus’ settlement, the man Abraham nearly killed confesses that his wife’s face flashed before him. That strikes a chord with Abraham, who has been confused all episode about the lifestyle changes happening around Alexandria. Meanwhile, Maggie and Glenn discover that one of the other people they saved happens to be a doctor. He’s so grateful that they helped him that he promises to give them prenatal vitamins.
All small talk comes to a halt when Rick — who sweetly took the opportunity to hold Michonne’s hand while driving — gets the RV stuck in some mud. But that’s OK, because the Hilltop Colony is right ahead.
The group continues their journey on foot to the wall surrounding the Hilltop. But friendly faces do not meet them. Those guarding the wall want Rick’s people to drop their weapons, something that they’re not willing to compromise on. Jesus is the master negotiator though. After demanding them to get a man named Gregory, he allows Rick’s people to enter the Hilltop armed. He tells Rick that he likes him and trusts him. Now he just needs him to trust them.
The Hilltop Colony is much different than Alexandria. While Rick’s home is a neighborhood with sustainable homes, this new safe haven features a huge mansion surrounded by FEMA trailers. The people there have livestock, a blacksmith tent and more. In fact, the mansion is a building called the Barrington House. Prior to the zombie apocalypse it was a museum. And while the downstairs looks relatively intact, they made some of the other rooms in the house into bedrooms for survivors.
Rick and the others are impressed by what they see — until they meet Gregory (Xander Berkeley).
“I’m the boss,” he tells them.
Gregory refuses to hold a conversation with them until they get showered up, even going as far as to interrupt Rick when he tries to open a discussion up about trading. But Rick has a secret weapon — Maggie. Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) was training Maggie to be a leader prior to her death, and Rick needs Maggie to step up to the plate for her people.
Although hesitant at first, Maggie goes to see Gregory alone. And he’s impressed with her — in a gross way. When Maggie starts talking about trade, he interrupts her and says that her people “don’t have s---” and that he’s not in a position to give stuff away. However, he does add that she’s a “smart, beautiful woman,” and that they can work something out. Her people can do labor for his settlement in exchange for food.
“I can make it worth your while,” he says with a wink.
Maggie stays strong and ignores Gregory’s advances. She insists that their communities can help each other. But Gregory doesn’t care about how many weapons that Alexandria has. He knows that they need food, and is holding that over their heads.
Maggie reports back to the others, who are annoyed by the turn of events. Jesus promises that they won’t leave empty handed though. “Give me a few days,” he begs, telling them that he’ll negotiate with Gregory.
But before Jesus can work his magic, a couple of Hilltop Colony survivors return to the camp. Rick’s group follows Jesus and Gregory down to meet them. However, it’s not a happy reunion. A man named Ethan reveals that Negan has the others because the drop off “wasn’t enough.” But Negan promised to release them if Ethan delivered a message to Gregory.
Unbeknown to Gregory, the message is his head. Ethan lunges at the Hilltop Colony leader, stabbing him in the gut. Rick immediately leaps into action, attacking Ethan before he can finish the job. The other Alexandria survivors jump in on the action when the returning Hilltop people begin to defend Ethan. It doesn’t look like Ethan needs much help, though. He gets the upper hand on Rick, holding a knife to his throat. But no one messes with Rick Grimes. Rick surprises everyone when he turns the tables on Ethan and stabs him in the neck.
“What?” Rick asks when he finds the Hilltop people staring at him with horrified looks on their face. He’s completely covered in Ethan’s blood.
The woman Ethan was with makes one last attempt to attack Rick, but she’s slapped down by Michonne. Everyone is on edge, however, Jesus tries to defuse the situation. He tells the Hilltop Colony that Rick and his people stopped Ethan. Ethan was the coward who attacked first. But things aren’t as simple as that.
Jesus goes to check on Gregory while the Alexandria folks pick themselves back up. Abraham, who was getting strangled by one of the Hilltop people during the fight, seems to have had an epiphany. Like the man who he almost killed earlier in the episode, he saw the face of the woman he wants to be with. Although “Walking Dead” fans don’t see what he sees, it’s telling that he leaves Rosita’s necklace on the ground.
Of course, there is time to deal with love later. Jesus returns to tell Rick and the others about Negan and his group, the Saviors. According to Jesus, the Saviors showed up shortly after the walls went up. The made demands, and beat a 16-year-old kid to death to prove that they meant business. Although Jesus admits that Gregory is not the leader he would have chosen, he also explains that Gregory made a deal with the Saviors in order to keep everyone safe. They would give Negan’s people half of everything. In exchange, the Saviors would not attack or kill them in return.
The story of Negan and the Saviors doesn’t scare Rick. In fact, it inspires him. He pitches a new deal to Jesus — they will kill Negan and get back the Hilltop people if they get some of their supplies. After all, confrontation is something that Rick’s group has “never had a problem with.”
Jesus takes the deal to Gregory, who is interested in the exchange. However, he wants to talk to Maggie, not Rick. Gregory tries to play mind games with Maggie, continuing to hit on her and telling her that the new deal involves her people “working” for him, something that she shot down earlier. But Maggie’s stronger than before. She tells him that her people have dealt with others like Negan before and that they’re all dead. She promises that they can take care of his problem and get his people back.
Ultimately Gregory agrees to the deal. But Maggie’s the one holding the cards now. She demands half of what the Hilltop Colony has. While that seems like a lot, she argues that Negan wants more and more from the Hilltop Colony. That’s something Gregory can understand, and he gives her the deal.
As the Hilltop Colony begin to gather supplies for the Alexandria survivors, Rick enlists the help of one of the Hilltop people to accompany them to Negan’s camp. Elsewhere, the Hilltop doctor provides an ultrasound for Maggie and Glenn, giving them the first look at their baby. They pass the photo around to everyone in the RV, which provides a moment of happiness. However, death is on the horizon. Maggie’s deal with the Hilltop Colony could potentially cost the life of one of the Alexandria survivors.