In this year's The Walking Dead midseason premiere, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) promised Carl (Chandler Riggs) that he would show him a "new world" with the hopes that he'd survive the horrific gunshot wound that took out his eye. Now, in the sixth season's 11th episode, it seems, Carl and the rest of the group aren't just seeing a world from a fresh perspective, but also one that's expansive, with several previously unseen communities.
However, with new settlements come new conflict. The show's gearing up for another showdown with the series' real antagonists: humankind. (Warning: detailed spoilers for "Knots Untie" and mild spoilers for the comics ahead).
After Rick and Co. met Jesus (Tom Payne) in last week's episode, he opted to bring the group back to his community, called Hilltop, in an effort to spark trade between the two settlements. At Hilltop, the crew was introduced to its leader, Gregory (Xander Berkeley) — and it didn't take long for the settlement's leader to draw the ire of Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who was tasked with negotiating with him about their respective supplies.
Rather than treat Maggie with respect, Gregory seemingly mispronounces her name several times, and belittles the group's most valuable resource: weapons (Hilltop has no guns, just spears and a wall). Conversely, Hilltop is teeming with crops and livestock, which he believes gives them an inherent advantage with negotiations. Maggie seems to be willing, begrudgingly, to concede to Gregory's firm stance — but the real lack of power for Gregory and Hilltop is revealed with another group's presence.
Members of Hilltop return to the refuge after bringing supplies to another community called The Saviors, and the now-familiar name of their leader, Negan (to be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Presently, Hilltop gives up half of its supplies to The Saviors in exchange for safety from the group's violent lackeys — it's revealed by Jesus that Negan murders a 16-year-old boy in the eyes of the entire community in their first encounter, demonstrating his crew's lethality.
However, Negan's dissatisfied with the group's haul, and has a member of the Hilltop held hostage back at their refuge. He asks the returning members to send "a message" to Gregory — stabbing him, in the stomach — which sequences a violent and bloody confrontation between the attackers and Rick's group.
With the ailing Gregory's hand now dealt, and an on-site demonstration of how effective Rick's crew is at taking people out, Maggie takes the upper-hand with the negotiations — a fitting transformation for a character mostly kept off-screen recently to hone such abilities from Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh). Now, the group is committed to disposing of The Saviors and Negan, and head toward The Saviors' complex. In exchange, they'll receive half of Hilltop's crops, the same amount as Negan's crew.
While Rick and Co. are confident that they'll be equipped to take out Negan, the Twitterverse — and namely, comic book readers — know it's not going to end well for the group.
THEY WANNA KILL NEGAN OH GOD #TheWalkingDead
Rick and Co be riding up to Negan like #TheWalkingDead pic.twitter.com/Lj8kBSKnvK
TheWalkingDead The gang is all "We'll kill Negan for you! No problem!" And I'm all: pic.twitter.com/bf9Sly55fP
"We'll kill Negan, we can handle him". #TWD pic.twitter.com/TqdPQaOUWq
Negan terrifies me I'm not ready for this war. People we love are going to die . #TWD
When you realize Negan's coming vs When you actually REALIZE Negan's coming pic.twitter.com/2pRJeKnMvK
Thus, The Walking Dead's primed to face off with another threat from humanity in the zombie-centric show. Some of the group, and the series' best moments have come with confrontations with other communities — think the explosive aftermath of The Governor and Terminus, among others. The show's at its most compelling in these scenarios, and for better or worse with the group's wellbeing, we're primed for another epic showdown in the very near future.