‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7, “Service,” rolls out a 90-minute episode, reuniting Rick with his nemesis, Negan. But is the super-sized reunion lackluster?
Negan’s modus operandi is clear, emasculate the opponent. That’s a tough pill for alpha-male, Rick Grimes, but he’s choking it down. The tension between the two men remains palpable, but it’s Carl who most struggles to tow the line.
When two Saviors pilfer Alexandria’s pharmaceutical supplies,Carl pulls a gun on them until Negan intervenes. Carl’s act, however inspiring, costs Alexandria its arsenal. As it turns out, Carl isn’t the only rebel in Alexandria.
Someone hides a couple of guns, leaving Rick no choice but to tell Alexandria the threat that’s upon them. Rick, in no uncertain terms, tells the Alexandrians that they answer to Negan. Once again, an innocent life hangs in the balance. Luckily for Olivia, the missing guns show up at Spencer’s house, along with stashed food and liquor.
Meanwhile, Rosita exorcises some seriously pent up anger. Dwight targets Rosita and sends her (and Spencer) off to retrieve Daryl’s bike. Why is Dwight so hell bent on assuming Daryl’s identity anyway? Try as he may, he’ll never fill those shoes.
While the two are searching for Daryl’s bike, Rosita single-handedly kills eight walkers while Spencer hangs back, talking trash about Rick. Spencer blames Rick for their current situation.
It is refreshing to see the otherwise subdued Rosita handle business. Her slaughter wasn’t just to release her anger; it was an effort to find a firearm. She’s willing to do dangerous work for the good of her community while all Spencer is willing to do is take. Will Rosita’s quest for bullets and vengeance put Alexandria in jeopardy or will her defiance pull together a proper insurrection?
Will other Alexandrians blame Rick for not standing up to Negan? Will members of his core group fault him for failing to fight back? Michonne and Carl are particularly perturbed with Rick’s resignation. How long will Rick be able to keep them at bay?
Two of the most compelling aspects of this episode involve Daryl and Father Gabriel.
Rick offers Negan an undocumented gun in a show of good faith. It’s an effort he hopes will convince Negan to release Daryl, but the gesture isn’t enough for Negan. Negan gives Daryl the opportunity to plead his case. Daryl remains silent.
Does Daryl remain silent because he doesn’t want to be saved? Is he wallowing in his suffering to punish himself for Glenn’s death? Or is Daryl strategizing, planning to do more damage on the inside of the Savior compound? Either way, watching the distance grow between Rick and Daryl as the Saviors cart Daryl back to their base is tough to watch.
Father Gabriel thinks fast when Negan comes knocking. In a sickening turn, Negan seeks out Maggie. Gabriel tells Negan that Maggie is dead and brings him to her freshly dug grave. Hopefully, Negan never ventures to the Hilltop. I doubt he’ll take kindly to Gabriel’s lie. Gabriel reassures Rick that they will get through this time of pain. Will Gabriel be able to rally support for Rick?
Jaws likely dropped at the end of the episode. In an effort to get Michonne to accept Negan’s dominance, he shares that Judith is really Shane’s daughter. He had to accept her as his daughter, so he could help her survive. He must also accept Negan to help Alexandria and the people he loves survive.
Michonne was prepared to try to swallow her pride until she saw a torched pile of mattresses in the road. Mattresses that the Saviors took from Alexandria. Will she team up with Rosita to stand against Negan?
Overall, it is tough to watch Rick Grimes limply follow Negan as the Saviors gut Alexandria and harass its residents. If the AMC series follows the comic series, it won’t be long until Rick strategizes and overcomes Negan.