When Jesus told Rick & Co. in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Your world’s about to get a whole lot bigger,” maybe he should have mentioned that it was about to get a whole lot more dangerous, too.
By the end of the hour, not only had our ragtag band of survivors paid a visit to Paul’s nearby community, The Hilltop, but they had also learned the conditions of their neighbors’ lopsided deal with Negan and seen firsthand the villain’s preferred method of making a point.
So, who was the unlucky recipient of a “message” from the leader of the Saviors? Read on and find out!
‘I APPRECIATE THE COOKIE’ | As “Knots Untie” began, Sasha informed a crestfallen Abraham that, effective immediately, Eugene would be replacing her on their patrols. She didn’t come out and say that she had switched shifts because the ginger hulk was still shtupping Rosita, but her reason was as obvious as Rosita’s affection for her lover was when, in a subsequent scene, she gave him a necklace made from a shard of brake light.
Back at Casa Grimes, Carl found Jesus waiting on the stairs for the teen’s “mom and dad” — Michonne and Rick, who emerged from the bedroom only semi-dressed. Surprise, Carl! While the boy absorbed the shock (and decided the hook-up was “cool”), Jesus explained to Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Abraham and Daryl that his job at The Hilltop was to find other groups with whom they could trade. Since Alexandria has an impressive arsenal but not nearly enough food, and The Hilltop has a surplus of provisions but no ammo, Jesus hoped that they could make a deal. After all, he noted, “We’re on the same side — the living side.”
‘THIS COULD BE THE START OF EVERYTHING’ | On the road to The Hilltop with Rick, Michonne, Daryl and Maggie, Abraham — clearly wrestling with big (love) life decisions — asked Glenn, “When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you trying to make pancakes?” Translation: Glenn, when you and Maggie were making love, were you attempting to conceive a child? Once Glenn figured out WTH Abraham was asking, he replied that yes, they had been hoping to get pregnant. After all, they were trying to build something in this new world. They all were. Well, except for Abraham. “I see rain comin’,” he said, “I’m wearing galoshes.” Okay, then…
Happening upon a fresh car crash, our regulars suspected that they were being set up to be ambushed by Jesus’ peeps. However, the accident was legit, and among the Hilltop denizens that were saved was — jackpot, Glenn and Maggie! — Harlan, an obstetrician. Back en route to The Hilltop, everyone was just getting to know each other when the RV got stuck in the mud. But it didn’t really matter since — ta-da! — they had arrived.
‘GOOD GRACIOUS, IGNATIUS!’ | After a tense moment at the gates — during which Rick & Co. were threatened with spears, that’s how poorly armed The Hilltop is! — Jesus vouched for his companions, and they all gained admittance. (Jesus even arranged it so that our gang didn’t have to give up their weapons — that’s trust!) Though most folks at The Hilltop lived in FEMA trailers, the community’s smarmy leader, Gregory (24’s Xander Berkeley), resided in Barrington House, the fanciest pile of bricks since Tara (or at least since Southfork).
If you didn’t hate Gregory the second he announced, “I’m the boss,” you certainly did by the time the self-aggrandizing SOB came on to Maggie and called her Natalie. (That’s no way to treat our new Deanna!) After the weasel proposed an unacceptable deal and Rick threatened to take what his crew came for by force, Jesus promised to fix things, as he had earlier with the sentries. Alas, before he could, a handful of Hilltop denizens returned a person short from dropping off supplies to Negan. Where was Craig? Negan said he’d keep him alive, the captive’s brother, Ethan, explained, if he delivered a message to Gregory. And that message? Die, apparently, because Ethan stabbed Gregory in the gut!
‘THINGS AREN’T AS SIMPLE AS THEY MAY SEEM’ | During the ensuing melee, Daryl broke a guy’s arm, Michonne distracted Ethan long enough for Rick to kill him (RIP, Man-Bun!), and, while being choked, Abraham had an epiphany that he should be with Sasha, not Rosita. (His girlfriend’s gift to him was even left behind, to make absolutely sure we understood.) Hilariously, when the bloody fracas was over, Rick turned to the Hilltop denizens staring dumbstruck and said simply, “What?” #priceless
Eventually, a spear-wielding sentry decided to step in, prompting Jesus to literally strike a crucifixion pose between the guard and Rick. So this probably won’t go down in Walking Dead history as the subtlest installment ever. Still, Jesus did manage to defuse the situation. Afterward, he explained that Gregory had long ago made a ridiculous deal with Negan: The Hilltop would give the Saviors half of everything they had (in perpetuity), and in exchange, the Saviors wouldn’t kill them. (Clearly, cowardly Gregory had been scared extra s—less by the fact that Negan had murdered a teenager back then just to prove that he meant business.)
‘WE’LL WIN… WE HAVE TO’ | Though Maggie (presciently?) predicted that “it’s gonna cost us something” to take on Negan, Rick, Daryl and Abraham were unimpressed by the threat posed by the Saviors. “These d—s just have a good story,” Daryl scoffed. So they decided to have Maggie present Gregory with a new offer: They’d vanquish the enemy in exchange for food, medicine and a cow. He tried to play hardball, but since The Hilltop lacked fighters, ammo and enough provisions to satisfy Negan, should his demands escalate, it wasn’t a game that Gregory could win.
As the episode came to a close, Jesus looked at the haul Maggie’d scored from Gregory as nothing short of a miracle. “Even Negan didn’t get this much upfront,” he marveled. Rick reassured Michonne that, failure not being an option, they’d come out on top in their imminent war with Negan. And, finally, Glenn and Maggie passed around their baby’s sonogram (thanks, Harlan!) as if to remind everyone of the hope for which they’d be fighting.
So, what did you think of the episode? Do you buy Abraham and Sasha as a couple? How perfectly cast is Xander Berkeley? Hit the comments!