Grue-Believers, what’s the word? Has anyone started their Christmas shopping? When shopping for a present for your resident thug, you should know I’m not too picky, but make sure it’s awesome. The first three episodes of this season of The Walking Dead have been pretty dang good. The problem with peaks is eventually, you wind up in some valleys and I’m expecting the first one to show up soon. With that said, let’s get this review started; it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.
“Service” begins with Michonne (Danai Gurira) getting up, leaving Rick (Andrew Lincoln) sleeping in bed. She quietly makes her way to the fireplace and grabs a rifle she’s stashed in the chimney. As she walks out the door, we see Rick quietly watching her. He then retreats back upstairs to his daughter.
Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Spencer (Austin Nichols) head out for some recon to gather supplies before the impending Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) visit. Well, sooner rather than later happens immediately, as Negan and the saviors arrive before Rosita and Spencer can leave. This immediately brings Rick and some of the Alexandria town folk to the gate, where Negan begins his pecker measuring contest by asking Rick to hold Lucille for him. To the credit of Morgan, Lincoln, and the other actors, the tension is thick every time Negan is on-screen. You immediately feel uncomfortable, because like the characters in the episode, you have no idea what this madman is going to do. I will say, the tension is loosened a bit every time Morgan’s Negan throws out a one liner that literally makes me laugh out loud, whether it’s pleasant as punch or tickles my balls. His delivery is nothing short of fantastic and you would be hard pressed to find another actor that could bring Negan’s huge persona to the screen as Morgan does.
Negan has shown up a bit early to collect his first “payment,” so he sends his gang, including Daryl (Norman Reedus), into homes to plunder whatever they can find. Rick tries to speak to Daryl, but Negan quickly squashes it. Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) leads the charge as the fun begins. Dwight (Austin Amelio) stops to “chat” with Rosita, taking her hat and guns while questioning her as to the whereabouts of Daryl’s motorcycle.
Meanwhile Michonne is sitting on a rusted car frame apparently waiting for something. What is that something you might ask? Walkers, of course. She spots one, raises the rifle and takes aim. Despite firing repeatedly, she misses him and eventually has to use here katana to slice and dice.
Back at the ranch, in his usual antagonizing way, Negan inquires as to Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) status. Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), playing the pleasant priest role, informs Negan that she didn’t make it. Gabriel shows him the graves of Glenn, Abe and supposedly Maggie. Rick tightens his grip on Lucille, which he’s still toting for Negan, as the tension continues to build within him. It’s a great plot device as Negan tortures Rick by making him carry the very instrument that caused the deaths of his close friends, almost daring him to make a move resulting in the decimation of Alexandria. All outcomes hinge on how Rick reacts to carrying one 34-inch Louisville Slugger wrapped in barbed wire.
In the infirmary, a shot is heard and we see Carl (Chandler Riggs) and his (as Negan refers to them) giant man-sized balls holding David, one of Negan’s henchmen, at gun point because he was looting all the meds. Rick convinces Carl to give up the gun to Negan, who then decides that all of Alexandria’s armory is his. On that note, they head on over to meet up with Olivia (Ann Mahoney), who’s in charge of the inventory of guns and food. Negan is quite surprised at the irony of a fat lady in charge of rationing.
Back to Rosita and Spencer, who, while on their trek, stop at the site of their battle with Dwight. While disagreeing on a number of topics, Spencer loads Daryl’s bike into the van while Rosita takes off to investigate something interesting she’s spotted in the woods.
When Arat discovers two guns are missing from the inventory, Negan’s not happy and he lets Rick know it. To try to save Olivia, a meeting is held in the church to discover if anyone knows the location of the missing guns. Rick informs everyone that Negan is in charge and they’re not happy about it.
Back in the woods, Rosita is hunting down Dwight’s former gang members, now walkers, in order to recover their weapons, and comes back with one gun but no bullets. Of course, Spencer gives her a hard time, but she’s absolutely correct in thinking that Negan is taking all their weapons.
Back in Alexandria, Rick, Aaron and Gabriel are searching Spencer’s house for the missing guns. Gabriel is optimistic that things will work out despite Rick’s current state of defeat. Rick finds the guns in a duct along with food and liquor. Outside, David is giving Enid (Katelyn Nacon) a hard time over balloons as Carl looks on in anger.
Rick gets the recovered weapons to Negan, saving Olivia’s life. As they’re gearing up to go, Rick and Negan spot Michonne in a burnt up building and Rick begs Negan to let him have a second with her. Rick talks with her, knowing she has the gun to practice her shooting, and convinces her to give it to him so he can hand it over to Negan. As they head out, Rosita and Spencer return with Daryl’s bike, which Dwight happily accepts. Dwight tells Daryl he can have it back when he says the two words he’s currently refusing to say. Negan also takes a deer that Michonne found on her trek and before he leaves, asks Rick to say two words to him. You can see the anguish in Rick’s face as he says, “Thank you.” The tension is broken with another one liner from Negan as he says, “I just slid my willy down your throat and you thanked me for it.” On that note, the gang rolls out.
Back inside the gates, Rick tells Spencer that he found his stash in the duct and questions him on it. As Rick walks away, Spencer begins chastising him and his leadership skills. He makes the mistake of bringing up Abe’s and Glenn’s deaths and we see Rick’s pained look morph into one of anger. Without turning to look at him, Rick says that if Spencer ever talks to him like that again, he’ll break his jaw and knock his teeth out. He authoritatively asks if he understands, to which Spencer replies in the affirmative (I like angry Rick!). Rosita then questions Spencer and after he leaves, retrieves the gun she took from the walker and tucks it away.
Since the Saviors took the mattress, Rick spreads a blanket on the bedroom floor. Michonne questions Rick about teaming up with Hilltop and fighting the Saviors. However, Rick convinces her they don’t have the numbers. As they argue, he also reveals to her that he knows Judith is Shane’s daughter, not his. But yet, he loves and protects her like his own, which is what he is trying to do for the people of Alexandria.
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) hears a knock at his door and opens it to Rosita, who is holding a bullet shell. She looks Eugene in the eyes and tells him she needs him to make bullets for her.
While “Service” lacked the sheer intensity of the first two episodes of season 7, as well as the positivity that last week’s episode brought us, it relied far more on the characters and the acting. If I said it was a severe letdown, I’d be lying. It wasn’t my favorite episode, but thanks to good acting, writing and direction, it certainly packed an emotional punch. Next week it looks like the Hilltop, along with Maggie, will be in the fold.
This season seems to be building towards something spectacular. If this was Fear the Walking Dead, I’d be a bit more apprehensive, but this is The Walking Dead and I’m holding it to a much higher standard. So, to the writers and directors, from the Thug and all your fans, we boldly plead, “Please, oh please, don’t let us down!” And one last thing – these commercials are driving me mad!!!! Who’s with me?
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 4 “Service” (3.5 / 5)