TV Review: The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 4 “Service” is a highlight of the season

After a couple self contained episodes that explored characters that are no longer with the group in Alexandria, we’re back home and the all of the tension and palpable hatred has come flooding back.

Negan has come to collect his first batch of goods and Service, despite a very rudimentary premise (Negan and his crew taking their definition of “half”) manages to pack in a hefty amount of character building, even going so far as to create arcs for people who haven’t had much to do.

Rick and Negan are front and centre though, as you’d expect and their one sided interactions are so indicative of how different Negan is to anyone else Rick has encountered. Continuing on from the opening episode, Rick doesn’t have  a hell of a lot to say, occasionally finding enough gall to question Negan’s demands. Most of it gets shut down immediately as Negan uses Ricks loved ones to keep him under control.

Hats off to Andrew Lincoln who at this point is doing a lot of standing and looking like his insides have been ripped out of his body. Rick has resigned himself to the fact that there is no getting out of this, even go so far as to explicitly state it. His position as leader is moot and that shift in power is infectious, as morale has been irreversibly shot down.

That is really the crux of Service, analysing how everyone has adjusted to their world, post-Negan and that this new era of tyranny may break characters or force drastic decisions.

Carl, after his near loss of limbs, threatens Negan in an incredibly brazen show of courage (or stupidity), almost standing in for what he needs his father to be.

Rosita – who up until this point hasn’t served much of a purpose – may have found an arc. Finding herself the target of Dwight’s complete apathy, she risks her life in an attempt to procure a single gun, maybe in an effort to spark an uprising. Whatever it is, her initial role as a bad ass needs a revival because she has been stale for far too long.

Spencer finally speaks up regarding his thoughts on Ricks leadership. This not only provides a momentary break in Ricks defeated disposition (telling Spencer he’ll “break his jaw” if he ever brings up Glenn or Abraham again) but gives us an insight in to where Spencer’s head might be. He almost get Olivia killed when it’s found out that he took guns from the armoury and when it’s discovered that he also took food and liquor, it paints a very clear picture; that maybe he only has his own needs in mind.

Negan is completely sickening here. Jeffery Dean Morgan is absolutely relishing his new role. His repugnant charm is entirely confusing. You can’t help but smile but you also can’t wait until he gets his head caved in. His last words in this episode may be the most vulgar sentence uttered in the entire series and puts into perspective just how horrible this entire situation is. I would go so far as to say it affected me more than the killings in the first episode.

Michonne and Rick close the episode. It’s apparent how much bitterness and resentment Michonne feels towards Rick at this point. She fell in love with him for his tenacity and “survive by fighting” mantra and now he’s essentially weak. But he explains himself with a surprising monologue about Shane and Judith, admitting that he knows he isn’t her father. It’s an outpouring of emotion and revelations from someone who doesn’t open up a lot. And presents Ricks one weakness, the reason he is in fact weak in Negans presence: he cant bear to lose anyone else.

Service, when boiled down to a brief recap was pretty depressing. Rick’s 100 yard stare, Negans final words, Darryl being dragged along with the look of someone whose spirit has been all but beaten and those final moments where Michonne sees the mattresses Negan stole burned on the side of the road. The episode existed as a reminder that Negan and his crew simply want to break everyone down until they sincerely question whether death is a better option. Now that their guns have been taken, my mind can’t conjure a scenario where the group escape this and that make this season extremely intriguing.

Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights

  • Negan showing how despicable he can be
  • Fantastic attention to character building and creating arcs
  • Rick’s closing monologue

Lowlights

  • Too solid of an ep.

Stray Thoughts

  • I haven’t really explored it but am I in the minority when I say that Jeffery Dean Morgan might be hamming it up a little too much?The over-the-top delivery, the drawn out dialogue etc. I get that that’s his character but I don’t know if it will reach a point where his theatrical way of speaking is going to grate on me or not.

Episode MVP: Rick

The Walking Dead Season 7 will air in Australia every Monday on FX, fast-tracked from the U.S at 1:30pm AEDT and again at 7:30pm AEDT.