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Ahhh. Well, that was better, wasn’t it? That was a little more of what we needed, wouldn’t you say? THE WALKING DEAD this week added a little focus, drive and direction to proceedings, while centralising the story on a manageable number of characters. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was BETTER, and, more importantly, it was actually enjoyable.

‘Knots Untie’ focused on Jesus, his group, their plight, and what that means for Rick’s merry gang of zombie assassins. Jesus explained early on that his group trades with other settlements and that he wants to do a similar type of deal with Rick’s. You see, Alexandria is running low on food, they are struggling to feed the vast number of mouths they have, so this prospect was always going to be an alluring one, at least interesting enough to warrant them travelling to Jesus’ camp to check things out for themselves — such excursions in the past have always been risky but it’s a chance they felt had to be taken.

Once they arrived at the camp (basically everyone you care about apart from Morgan and Carroll), which is built up around a mansion, they met Gregory, the leader. They tried to negotiate with the man, but the deal quickly broke down over who gets what, and what Rick’s group has to do in exchange for the food they need. Soon after, more members of the settlement returned, informing Gregory that Negan’s group had killed some of their men — the result of a deal gone bad. Now, we don’t know much about Negan (unless you read the comics), but all we know so far is that his followers are pretty mean looking and they kill people for very little reason. He already seems like an ominous threat on the horizon, thus giving the show an energy that is most welcome.

The argument about how to handle to the situation didn’t take long to turn into a brawl, one of the returning members delivering a message to Gregory in the form of a knife to the gut —  a deed that was supposed to free his imprisoned brother from Negan’s clutches. Chaos ensues, with Rick, not fucking around (a much appreciated character trait as always) eventually killing the culprit. It was a pretty neat introduction for these new folks to the skills Rick and his group possess, and a nice reminder to us that Rick is always teetering on edge of a psychotic break — more of this please.

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Anyway, it turned out Jesus’ group give half of everything they have to Negan’s for fear of… well, death. Seeing an opportunity, Rick’s group offered to take out Negan in return for food and crops. A deal is made for half of everything they have. So basically Jesus, Gregory, and their people, swapped one band of psychos for another — we will see how that works out for them. I do like the idea though of Rick’s group just becoming a band of mercenaries, food and meds in exchange for murder. I’d watch that show over this one, I have to say.

This episode was by the far best of the three installments 6b has offered so far. It did something that TWD rarely does anymore; it made me excited to see what comes next. Instead of regurgitating tired and tripe conversations about the plight of the world, plot took over; there was a clear direction, a mission and a looming presence waiting. The episode had energy and focus. It wasn’t great TV, as far as this show goes it was still merely fine, but again, like the week before, this was better. It’s fine to have an episode here and there that bathes in the minutia, which is purely about living, but, for the majority, this show needs a mission, it needs focus. This episode gave us that.

Obviously things won’t go according to plan with Negan, fingers crossed that they don’t, hopefully there are causalities, and ones that matter. A high profile death at the hands of this new enemy would really put the cat amongst the pigeons. It would also be an opportunity missed if the writers wimp out. I have a good feeling about this though. The plot going forward, at least for the rest of the season, gives me cause for optimism. I like this feeling. More please.

Verdict

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Film and TV Journalist Follow: @SamuelBrace Follow: @filmandtvnow

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