The Walking Dead: “Service” Review
Negan comes to town.
Warning: Of course spoilers are all over this review.
After the startling events that transpired during the seventh season premiere, I’ve been sort of anxious to get back to Alexandria to see how Rick’s group and the town’s people handle the treat of Negan. The previous two episodes were fine, introducing us to The Kingdom where King Ezekiel runs the place, and episode three where we got a look into Negan’s compound where Daryl was being held prisoner. But the whole time, I kept wanting to see what was next for Alexandria. Well, I finally got my wish, and the situation was made quite grim once Negan arrived shortly after the episode started.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan so far has been killing it with his portrayal of Negan. His grins and postures have already left a haunting impression that is bound to be in all of our minds until the show comes to an end… whenever that will be. We already know how violent he can get, we’re aware of his charms, he’s a master of intimidation, and obviously, he’s quite smart. Well, “Service” was the episode we saw just how calculated he can be. We saw that by him and his army arriving at the town a few days early than expected. This obviously caught the people of Alexandria off guard and unable to defend themselves properly. I must say, it seems quite troubling that Rick didn’t properly get his people ready. It’s quite obvious Negan’s tactics are to break the will of the people, forcing them to give up half of what they possess. As can be expected, that includes all of their guns. Taking a queue from Hitler’s handbook, Negan has all of his men disarm the entire town, taking every last firearm. To demonstrate just how serious he was, he threatened Lydia’s life when it was discovered two handguns were missing from the inventory. Personally, I think it was kind of stupid to have every single firearm listed in the inventory. They could have removed some weapons from the list and hid them elsewhere. The guns turned up after Rick found a secret stash in Spencer’s house, saving Lydia’s life. The whole incident was strategy. It was to send a message for the people to comply. It was to make them desperate and uncomfortable. Speaking of uncomfortable, they even took their mattresses and burned them along the highway.
Disarming the town was one thing, but Negan’s master plan had to be humiliating Rick in front of his people. Not only to further break Rick, but to discourage any kind of rebellion the people may have been thinking of. Me being a big fan of Rick, it was hard to see him be so submissive, How insane for Negan to make Rick hold Lucille, Negan’s bat, the whole time he and the Saviors were there. Of course I wanted nothing more for Rick to do what he wanted to do and bash Negan’s head in. But that wouldn’t have been smart. To see Rick try to convince his people that this is how they have to live now, oh, man, it sucked. The whole time though, I was hoping Rick’s plan was to let this all pass and wait for the right time to fight back. However, once he told Michonne that even though he may not be Judith’s biological father, he’ll do whatever he has must to stay alive and watch see her grow. Interesting to hear him talk about Shane, by the way. This painted the picture that Rick’s fighting days were over. That he had no plans to fight Negan. Rick Grimes, had gone soft… but not completely. A shred of bad assery was shown by Rick when he threatened to break Spencer’s jaw if he ever criticized his leadership and brought up the deaths of Glenn and Abraham again. He even demanded Spencer respond. I’ll hold on to that moment in hopes Rick’s fighting spirit returns.
As with Rick, it was also tough to see Daryl being paraded as a slave, staying silent, bending to every command. I refuse to believe he’s been broken too. He obviously had no choice but to act like a good little boy. I’m sure he’s just waiting for the right moment to do something, but for now, it’s pretty painful to see him helplessly serve Negan and the Saviors.
But while Rick may have submitted to Negan’s will for now, it’s clear not everyone is going to accept this new lifestyle. Rosita is clearly pissed. She’s no doubt planning a revolt. I am a fan of this character and certainly an admirer of the beautiful actress Christian Serratos. She’s a tough cookie, so I’m excited to see the show give her a chance to rise up and take on a bigger role. I just hope she doesn’t get killed in the process. You also have to wonder about Maggie and Sasha who were still absent from the town. While Maggie is away recovering from her sickness and broken heart, she has Sash there right with her, feeling the same way. They made it clear they want revenge. Now that Negan thinks Maggie is dead, thanks to a fake grave set up by Gabriel, this can open the doors for some sneak attacks against The Saviors. Plus, if Eugene can make good on his proposition on making ammunition like he mentioned in season six, the ladies of Alexandria can slowly fight back. I guess we’ll see. It will be very interesting to see if the women of the show lead the way towards revolution while some of the guys hesitate.
Carl’s standoff with Negan was chilling. Carl is ready to fight, and Negan see’s that. Much like with Daryl, Negan takes a liking to people with that kind of fighting spirit. Now the question is, where do they go from here? I’m wondering if Negan is going to try to take Carl away from Rick. Carl has often shown disappointment when his father showed weakness. Now that Rick is at his lowest point, it will be interesting to see if Negan can charm his way into Carl’s naive little heart and tap into that will to fight. I hear they have some kind of strange relationship in the comics. This scene may have hinted at Carl’s destiny.
Last week’s episode “The Cell” presented Negan’s right-hand man Dwight as a character who we should be sympathetic to. They made it seem like he had no choice but to roll with Negan. I mentioned in my review that I kind of didn’t care. He’s not a character I choose to invest in. This episode did nothing to change my mind in his favor. He acted like a straight prick with his taunting behavior. Okay, I get it, he may have been putting on a show. However, he looked like he was enjoying himself. He demanded Rosita retrieve Daryl’s bike so he could claim it. He proceeded to taught Daryl once he got it. I am not convinced he’s a good guy at all. At this point, I hope Daryl f**ks him up.
This was, I guess, the annual special extended 90 minute episode of the season (59 minutes without the commercials). Was that necessary? No, not really. Much like last season’s extended Morgan episode, I think what was shown here could have been accomplished in a standard length episode. This will teach us that when they plan another extended episode, not a whole lot is going to happen. However, at the same time, the extension did have some benefits. Put yourself in Rick’s shoe’s, this situation would feel like an extended nightmare. Negan overstayed his “welcome” within two minutes, so to have him be there as long as he was, would seem unbearable to the characters. His time in Alexandria seemed endless and brought forth a lot of tension with each passing scene. Especially when he kept getting up close and uncomfortably personal with Rick to the point where their beards almost scratched each other. The extended length allowed for the other subplots to flow naturally and not rushed, giving this episode a long but balanced result.
I shouldn’t enjoy Negan’s presence as much as I do, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is so damn good as this evil man, I want to hear him talk as long as he wants to. The character is so fascinating with his tactics and charming personality, yet, you know when he attacks, it’s not pretty. I should not enjoy seeing him make Rick look like a pussy, and I don’t, but the way Negan works him like a puppet is captivating. So when Negan finally leaves after saying to Rick he just “slid his d**k down his throat”, I wanted to be pissed, but at the same time, give the man props with that savage comment.
So much credit has to go to both Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Andrew Lincoln for their performances this week. I already made it clear why Morgan did great, but Lincoln gets credit for basically changing his character. Rick is supposed to be in control, but he’s hopeless throughout the episode. He seems so emotionally drained by Negan. His body language was damn near perfect. Everyone else did exceptional work as well.
This is going to be a long season. I can see that now. We have characters determined to fight back, and others who appear lost. This episode seems to have taken away all hope. For most shows, it’s easy to predict a triumphant outcome for our main characters. The Walking Dead however, mostly takes the possibility of triumph away. From what I’ve heard, Negan isn’t going anywhere. He may continue his reign for the next couple of season. As far as I know, he’s still in the comic books after being there for a few years. At this point, I have no idea how this season is going to fully play out. I also wonder how many attempts of revolt are going to happen in the meantime. I wonder how many good people are going to die. This season is making feel very uneasy.
“Service” was a good episode, but nothing special. A little too long in length, yet, it didn’t always feel that way. As unpleasant an idea it is to mock my boy Rick, and take away all the guns from the people, it worked in favor of establishing Negan’s dominance. This episode, though less than eventful, set the stage for how dire life is going to be under Negan’s rule. I really don’t know what the next few episodes are going to offer. All I know is things are not looking good for Alexandria in any capacity.