The Walking Dead: season 7 episode 4 review – Service
The Walking Dead returns this week with an extended episode. Excited? Don’t be. Somehow AMC have managed to follow last week’s snore-fest with an episode consisting almost entirely of Negan’s dialogue. Admittedly, I’ve enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of the charismatic villain so far, but this was excessive. The Savior’s pay an early visit to Alexandria to collect their share of supplies and parade around the community intimidating it’s inhabitants. Or I assume that’s the intent, but Negan talks so much that it’s not terribly effective. Despite some similar dialogue, it played out much more convincingly in the comics. Below is our spoiler-heavy review.
It isn’t clear exactly how much time has passed since the premiere, as it’s difficult to follow chronology with bottle episodes that, well, aren’t chronological. But here we find that Rick is flustered by the fact that The Saviors show up sooner than anticipated, which he states was a week. Given the short time frame, you would expect the group members from the line-up to be a little more distraught. And they are to some degree and are each coping in their own ways, most of them by tossing dirty looks and not speaking, but not as much as you would think. Which makes last week’s episode focusing on Daryl all the more frustrating, as there are several other characters whom viewers are invested in. Take Maggie and Sasha for example, who both lost their significant others at the hands of Negan. This episode finds them, wait, no…they’re not in this one. At all. Better luck next week, I suppose.
Maggie’s absence is explained when Negan inquires after her and is asked by Father Gabriel if he would like to pay his respects, he’s then shown to an unmarked grave and is lead to believe that’s hers. Now, viewers know that she and Sasha were headed for The Hilltop seeking medical treatment, and they’re both probably there safe and sound. But for some reason the group thinks it’s a good idea to keep this hidden from this incredibly large and very dangerous group. That won’t backfire on them, surely. The irony here is that Negan decides they’re going to take the group’s entire supply of weapons, and threatens to kill Olivia when two of them are listed on the inventory but are not found in the armory. I doubt he’ll react much differently when he finds out Maggie’s location was kept from him and he was lied to. In most of the scenes in which Negan isn’t talking, we witness the rest of the group frantically looking for the missing weapons. They eventually find them stashed in Spencer’s house, which isn’t much of a surprise considering he’s been known to hoard supplies before. He also questions Rick’s leadership, which is likely to come up again later in the season when Negan finds out how much guts he has.
By the end of the episode, Rick even turns over a rifle that Michonne had kept hidden and wasn’t listed on the inventory, attempting to earn Negan’s trust. Little does he know Rosita took a handgun off a walker that she’s keeping concealed, which she later asks Eugene to make bullets for. Seems she’s out for revenge, which isn’t likely to go well. Though it is understandable, especially given how much Dwight tormented her this episode, practically taking her weapons right out of her hands and then insisting that her and Spencer go after Daryl’s motorcycle, so he can presumably taunt him with it and keep it for himself.
Speaking of Daryl, The Saviors parade him around the community in his prison suit, telling Rick that no one is to look at or speak to him or he’ll be made to cut pieces off him. Daryl plays the part, acting entirely submissive toward Negan throughout for the entirety of their visit. By the time The Saviors are leaving, Rick appeals to Negan to leave Daryl behind. Negan of course is not having it, and declares that he’ll consider it if Daryl can plead his own case, but he doesn’t even try. It isn’t clear if Daryl is faking it out of fear of getting anyone else killed, or if he’s truly broken and considering joining his captors. More likely he’s punishing himself as he feels responsible for Glenn’s death.
Carl has a great moment when he shoots at a Savior for taking all of their medication instead of half. Negan seems entertained by Carl, but isn’t willing to tolerate his behavior, and Rick has to keep his son in check in what is one of the more tense and stand out moments of the episode. The more exciting aspect of this scene is the potential for the series to explore the Negan and Carl dynamic further, as they have a truly compelling relationship in the comics. The producers have teased that they may or may not be giving the arc to someone else, but it feels like they’re building things in a similar fashion to the source material. If that’s the case it could prove to be one of the more interesting narratives of the season.
The episode closes with an emotionally charged scene between Rick and Michonne, who is quite displeased with him for turning over her weapon. He discusses his relationship and falling out with Shane and states that Judith is Shane’s baby, but declares that loves her anyway. He discloses all he’s had to do to protect her, and explains that’s why he’s doing things this way now, as a means of protecting those he loves so that they can live. He requests that she understand, to which she says she’s trying. Now, I don’t know how much creative influence Robert Kirkman has on the show these days, but this is something that he’s never definitively stated in the comics, so as a reader I find it disappointing that the show chose to do so.
Ultimately, this episode had some intriguing moments, but was more of a filler episode and really didn’t need to be extended to be effectual. In fact it probably would have fared better at it’s normal length and with less dialogue. Negan psychologically toying with Rick and his group might just be more convincing if he spoke less, and making Rick carry Lucille around for the entirety of their visit was leagues more powerful that anything that came out of his mouth. He’s charismatic and makes threats in between saying kids rhymes, we get it. Parading it in front of us for 90 minutes was, quite frankly, insulting. Even knowing that Negan will be around for a long time to come, I couldn’t help but wish that Rick would just go for it when he tightened his grip on Lucille and got that look in his eyes.
Image credits: AMC, FOX TV