The Walking Dead Review by John Keegan

The Walking Dead 7.04: Service

The Walking Dead 7.04: Service

Written By:
Corey Reed
Directed By:
David Boyd

When it was announced that this episode would be an extended installment, I was a bit nervous.  The Walking Dead has an unfortunate track record of delivering extended episodes that feel padded and unnecessarily long; in other words, it often feels like the scenes that could and should have been cut are reinserted.  Thankfully, that feeling was largely absent with “Service”, as the presence of a solid villain makes one want more rather than less.

 


 

It surprises me how many people in the audience were left wondering why Rick didn’t make a move against Negan in this episode.  Setting aside that it’s a near-faithful adaptation of the source material, so Negan’s exit was never going to happen anytime soon, Rick is very obviously still reeling from the events that just took place a few days earlier.  He is nowhere near ready to mount an offensive against the Saviors, nor does he know (as the audience does) that there could be some in Sanctuary ready to embrace change.  Even Dwight, shown to have reservations in the previous episode, presents himself as a full-on adherent while in Alexandria.

 

Much like this point in the source material, the intent is to show how menacing and daunting Negan is as an adversary, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan makes up for whatever happened in “The Cell” by delivering one hell of a performance.  For the initiated, it’s glorious to see some of the dialogue lifted word for word from the page, or close enough to it, and performed so well.  The plot barely strays from the events of the original storyline, with the exception of swapping out some characters here and there.  (For instance, it is heavily implied that Michonne is subbing in for Andrea’s role at this stage of the story, which also tracks with her relationship with Rick.)

 


 

Despite the fact that Negan openly plays Alpha Male with Rick throughout, there is an undercurrent that suggests what will come later.  The seeds have already been planted for a stealth campaign to unite the other communities against Negan in an all-out war, but it’s not going to happen overnight.  Maggie’s supposed death is part of that equation; presumably she is at Hilltop, where her presence will serve the same purpose as Daryl’s presence among the Saviors: giving the writers an easy means of adapting the scenes in those locations via a viewpoint character we already know.

 

The episode falters a bit towards the end, as Rick reveals that he is well aware of what he’s doing and it’s all about keeping his remaining people alive.  There had to be a better way to do that than call all the way back to the “question” of Judith’s parentage.  Did that really need to come up, just to show the audience that Rick has known all along and chose not to make an issue of it?  It seems out of place in the context of what’s happening now.  (It’s also worth noting that once Negan is off the screen, the intensity that keeps slower scenes from falling apart quickly evaporates.)

 


 

We also see Spencer making trouble again and Carl being overtly rebellious against the new order, both of which appear to be setting the stage for future storylines from the source material.  The writers are also playing a little bit of catch-up with Rosita, giving her a bit more to do and giving her a reason to go to Eugene.  It was a nice reminder that Eugene had already mentioned his ability to manufacture bullets.

 

What strikes me the most is what may be irritating a lot of the other fans of the show: they are taking their time with the story.  The source material didn’t rush things either, and the payoff was all the better for the time spent setting up the details that would matter a lot later down the road.  At this point in the series, we know the writers like to take their time, so all I ask is that there be a sense of progress.  This episode delivered that.


Our Grade:
B+
The Good:
  • Negan’s particular brand of insanity continues to be one of the most watchable things this season
  • Lots of important setup taking place throughout the episode
The Bad:
  • Mentioning Judith’s parentage at the end felt oddly out of place and forced

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The Walking Dead by - 11/14/2016 9:39 AM136 views

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