Monday, November 14, 2016

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Four: Service

"Little pig, little pig, let me in", are the first words uttered by Negan when he shows up at Alexandria's gates to collect half of their possessions.  Rick is a little bit unsettled because Negan promised them a week but Negan clearly showed up early in order to keep the Alexandrians unbalanced.  Rick tells Negan that they set aside half of their supplies only to be told by Negan that he will choose what he takes. Once again, Negan is asserting his power over Rick.  Negan then sends his people to scour Alexandria to take what they want. 

How do you know that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is an amazing actor?  Well, if you're like me, you found yourself actively hating him throughout much of this episode.  I kept wanting  him to revert to Grey's Anatomy's Denny Duquette and be sweet and lovable again.  It's official, The Walking Dead has killed Denny Duquette and I'm never forgiving them for that. What we have instead is a swaggering, cruel, loud mouth pig who's drunk on his power. With every step Negan took, I wanted him dead. This made it easy to identify with Rick's rage and the desperation on the part of the Alexandrians. When Negan gives Rick Lucille to cart around Alexandria, like Rick I found myself wishing that he could just bash Negan's head right in, the way he did to Glenn and Abraham.

Last week's episode learning how Dwight had his face ironed and lost his wife to Negan, he engendered a bit of sympathy.  All of that disappeared this week when he demanded that Rosita hand over Darryl's bike after taking away her weapons and her hat briefly.  Dwight may not want to bow to Negan but clearly he enjoys the power that being part of the Saviours grants him.  He's clearly just as bad as Negan despite what he's lost. 

Spencer and Rosita head out to grab Darryl's bike for Dwight. Spencer wastes no time making his displeasure known. Spencer blames Rick for getting them all into this and wonders if they could have worked with the Saviours, if they had only talked to them first. It's clear that Spencer is starting to think that Rick needs to be replaced. Rosita however has her mind on other things. She heads into the brush and kills the Saviours who have turned into walkers.  As luck would have it, one of them has a gun which unfortunately has no bullets.  Rosita is certain that a gun is going to be imperative for resistance and survival. 

Negan begins his terrorizing of the Alexandrians early by asking about the fate of Maggie. Rick, accompanied by none other than Stokes takes Negan to a graveyard where they claim that Maggie died of complications after seeing her husband's death.  This is a ruse that was actually planned by Stokes and it turns out it's a good one as Negan has a thing for widows.  It would have been too hard to see Maggie forced into a relationship after the loss of Glenn.  Also, is it me or was Gabriel creepy as fuck in this episode?

Not aware that Negan had planned on visiting that day, Michonne took off early in the morning with her sword and a snipers rifle.  She heads to an open field and sits on abandoned car waiting.  When a zombie makes its way towards her, Michonne shoots several times but is unable to hit the zombie. Clearly her plan is to become proficient enough to take Negan out at a distance. She does manage to kill a deer which she takes back to the community, only to have to hand it over to Negan. 

Carl is the first one to offer resistance in Alexandria. When the Saviours come for the medicine and angry Carl tries to defend it because they are taking more than half. He responds by shooting a gun into the air, drawing the attention of Negan and Rick.  Rick is aghast when he sees a gun in Carl's hand and instead of immediately putting down his weapon, Carl decides to challenge and threaten Negan.  Look, I get being angry after seeing your father humbled and two people you cared about bludgeoned to death but what Carl did in this moment is absolutely stupid. Were it not for Negan's personal aversion to killing kids, Carl would be toast. 

The incident with Carl is enough to remind Negan of just how well armed the Alexandrians are.  To that end, Negan decides that he is going to take every single gun and so they head over to the armory. Olivia is the one who keeps account of the food and the weapons and so the Saviours use her logs to ensure that they have every single gun.  Of course at the end, they discover two weapons are missing. Rick is forced to have a meeting with the people of Alexandria to talk them into handing over the weapons.  When they remain passive, Rick is forced to declare that he isn't running things anymore, Negan is.  This is a huge concession for Rick to make. Rick and Stokes search Spencer's house for the weapons because he has done this sort of thing before. Stokes takes the opportunity to tell Rick that the community will get through this and that he is confidant that they will find a way to break away from Negan.  Stokes even invokes his friendship with Rick as an example of the way things change. In the end, they find the guns in Spencer's home along with some food and booze.  

Rick hands over the two guns and it's clear that it's the last thing that he wants to do. At this point he knows the reality of his situation.  Even if they were to join forces with the Hill Top they don't have enough forces to take on the Saviours.  Rick then tries to get Negan to leave Darryl and so Negan tells Darryl he has to ask and of course Darryl remains silent.  I don't actually think that Darryl has been broken, I just think he knows that asking is pointless.  Rick is then forced to tell Negan thank you for plundering Alexandria. Negan of course snarks how he put his dick down Rick's throat and then Rick thanked him for it. 

With Negan gone, Rick heads home to make a bed out of some blankets on the floor because the Saviours took all of the mattresses.  Petty little shits that they are, they burned them rather than using them.  At any rate, Michonne enters the room and she is pissed the hell off.  Rick tells her the story of Lori and Shane and the fact that Judith is probably not his biological daughter but he learned to live with it, thus implying that Michonne can learn to live with this as well.  Michonne agrees to try.

Later, when things have calmed down a bit, Rosita knocks on Eugene's door and asks him to make a bullet for her gun. 

I loved this episode which is saying something because I'm not a fan of  the comic version of Negan at all.  Negan is a complex character who doesn't believe in rape but will put women into situations where they cannot really say no to him. He doesn't believe in killing women yet he's willing to kill Olivia to prove a point.  He doesn't believe in violence against children but has no problem threatening Carl.  Negan in short is a story in contradictions.

I think it was pretty well established in episode one exactly how evil Negan is and in fact, the other episodes have only gone on to cement that.  Under normal conditions, that would make this extra long episode redundant because we didn't learn anything about Negan or the Saviours that we didn't already know. This entire episode could have read as repetitive particularly given that we've already seen Rick be humbled and beg on knees.  Yes, Service did absolutely call for more humbling of Rick which personally I think is long overdue.  That being said, it also gave us a chance to see that the fire isn't completely out in Rick or in the people of Alexandria.  They cannot see a way forward right now and so they are trying to live it with it but it's clear the first chance they get to fight back, they will.