The Walking Dead S7E4 Thoughts: When Service Becomes Horribly Bad Fan Service
When Negan was introduced, he was pretty much the mysterious bad man. He got everyone to admit that they were Negan. He even got people to risk their necks for him.
This is why we all wanted to know a little more about him. Just who is this great leader that The Saviors seem to respect and literally bow down to? Who is Negan, and why does he get a free pass to scare the hell out of the other colonies?
For The Walking Dead season 7 episode 4, titled Service, we get a glimpse of that. Scratch that, we get an entire episode of that, and the only way to describe it is to say that it’s a fan service gone horribly wrong.
Negan killed it in his speech during the cliffhanger and the season premiere. We get a bit of his swag and his charm. We even got to see a little bit of his anger. But the showrunners seem to think that we want to see it for the next 90 minutes or so, because they just wouldn’t make him stop.
Think of a bully who no longer delivers the punch because he’s already sent the hero to the infirmary. Think of the bully who keeps throwing around that story when he beat up everyone’s favorite hero. It gets old, but it’s still effective, so he just sticks to it.
That’s basically the story here for Negan. Instead of making him even more of a badass, he’s now just all bark with no bite.
Negan is like your brooding bad boy who promises to take you off into the sunset in a kicking Ducati. But apparently, he takes out his Vespa instead and leads his little gang of bullies, all of whom who follow him just because he’s got a little more experience than them. That’s pretty much what Negan became for this entire episode: a broken promise.
And as if we still didn’t feel it in the premiere episode, we see that Rick has gone from Ricktator to Rick the lapdog. From the way he can only look, almost teary-eyed, at the near-broken Daryl to the helpless and desperate way he wants to hunt down for Negan’s missing guns is nothing short of heartbreaking. We’re back to sad little Rick, guys. Get over it, Negan’s in charge.
Rick isn’t alone in losing his edge. All the badasses seem to be down in the dumps, which make for one very unappealing episode. Rosita can only glare at Negan and take out her frustration on zombies. Michonne is doing the same thing—taking out zombies and wasting bullets on them. But maybe it’s the sadness of the aftermath, but every bullet misses that she needs to kill the zombie with a katana.
It’s certainly not a good one to follow up on Daryl’s dark spiral. And it’s certainly not setting up the next episode for Maggie and Sasha.
Still, even though the show’s hyped longer run didn’t deliver a single progression, there are two surprising standouts. One is Spencer. Remember him? The guy who just suddenly decided to climb over the wall to cross over a horde of zombies and almost died? Yes, that one.
Not only did he have the nerve to play dumb with Negan, but he was also the only one who called out Rick. Granted, he called out Rick’s role in the fiasco when he was just with Rosita so it sort of comes out more whiny than heroic. But it’s all the same—even if he didn’t feel what it was like in the lineup, he still landed a dose of sense.
Then there’s Father Gabriel. His plan with the graves was some quick thinking—something I never thought I’d see from him. He is a changed man to say the least, but to an extent, here is some creepiness in his smile. He tries to reassure Rick when it’s not really the best time to.
My only wish right now is for The Walking Dead showrunners to step up the pace for the next episode. I’ve been hyped with the developments, if only because I wish to see Maggie take the reins as leader in the group. But from the pace off the show, which has been tottering since the premiere only to crash in a slow burn this week, I’m starting to worry that even The Big Bad can’t make for a big enough obstacle to overcome for redemption.
The Walking Dead will be back on Sunday, Nov. 20.