Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Walking Dead! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “Service,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
Negan is annoying. Intimidating? Maybe. Threatening? I guess. But more than anything, he’s annoying. It gives me no pleasure to say this, because four episodes ago, in the season 6 finale, Negan cut an impressive figure when he introduced himself to Rick and his friends. In the season 7 premiere he got into Rick’s head after slaughtering Abraham and Glenn, and appeared poised to be the Big Bad to end all Big Bads. But something happened in last week’s “The Cell.” Maybe it was the moment he told Daryl he could live like a king if only he joined him, and we saw that Negan’s idea of living like a king is living in a dorm room. Also, Negan’s world view is that of a fourteen-year-old sociopath–hit things with a baseball bat, collect shit, take women by force, and have everyone prove their loyalty to you by saying your name. So, crazy, immature…annoying.
God knows he doesn’t get more interesting in “Service,” the title of which is what Negan claims he provides Rick when he whacks a walker’s head in while arriving at Alexandria to collect the first of his many payments from our survivors. We’re supposed to find Negan even more outrageous and reprehensible than ever when he announces he wants to take Maggie back with him after killing her husband. Fortunately, Rick and Father Gabriel have planned ahead (one of the few times in recent memory in which Rick has planned ahead), and dug and marked a fake grave for the grieving widow. At least we can assume Maggie is grieving, because she’s nowhere to be seen in this episode. But then neither is Sasha, who must be mourning Abraham somewhere. Instead, the “B” story of “Service” involves the late Sergeant Ford’s ex, Rosita, who’s after Negan’s head, and winds up the only Alexandrian in possession of a firearm after the bearded man-child villain, like some kind of R-rated Grinch, takes all of the town’s guns and mattresses.
At least Michonne, like Rosita, is feeling more defiant than the rest of Alexandria (with the exception of the sniveling Spencer, though the less said about him the better). She holds out as long as she can but finally surrenders her weapon to Negan via Rick, who, just for the hell of it, is made to hold Lucille when he asks her for it. Also, for Negan’s childish pleasure, Daryl is forced to come along, and remain silent as he bears witness to the looting. I’d say it’s another round of last week’s misery porn, in which we got to see our favorite bowman psychologically abused for 45 minutes, but, again, Negan grows more toothless with his every utterance. This week we get to hear such over-the-top chestnuts as “Easy peasy lemon squeezy” and “Hot diggity dog!” It’s hard to tell if we’re supposed to laugh with or at him. But we’re certainly not scared.
Weirdly, the one villain who did reveal some depth in last week’s “The Cell”–Dwight–shows none of that growth here; wearing Daryl’s vest, riding off with his bike, and, of course, harassing a woman (Rosita). Given that Negan spends a large chunk of the episode threatening to kill Olivia for losing track of two missing guns, it’s an especially shitty week for females on The Walking Dead.
But things may change sooner rather than later. Rosita’s eyes are daggers when she asks Eugene to make her a bullet. And Maggie and Sasha are still out there. As well as Carol–and it’s only a matter of time before she joins Ezekiel and her new friends in the Kingdom in forming a cavalry the likes of which we’ve not yet seen on this show. But to what end? To kill a one-dimensional infant who calls Olivia a “fat lady” and says things like “I’ve got my fingers crossed for a little freaky deaky”? Sure, Negan is reprehensible. But he’s not very interesting.
The one thing that is interesting about Negan is something I’m not sure is intentional. When he arrives at Alexandria he wistfully tells Rick, “I missed you.” Then, after making Rick thank him for taking all of his shit, he remarks, “In case you haven’t caught on, I just slipped my dick down your throat and you thanked me for it.” Is Negan really in love with Rick? Or does he just like flirting with him? I’m sure these questions will never be answered on this show, but somewhere there’s a porn parody waiting to happen.
— In light of this week’s real-world events, I’m not sure “Service” is the best episode of the series to air at this time, since Negan’s attitude and actions are bound to remind far more than a few readers of a certain individual on his way to Washington.
— It’s ironic that Father Gabriel, once the most cowardly character on the show, is now the most fearless. Or perhaps he’s just the craziest. Creeping up on Negan with a big grin on his face, he’s definitely become the most likable guy in Alexandria, if only by default.
— “Maybe if Rick thought it through…” Spencer’s a dick, but it is nice to hear someone express dissatisfaction with Rick’s bad decisions.
— In Rick’s conversation with Michonne, “Service” toys around with the idea that his Achilles heel is guilt over the deaths of those closest to him, from Shane to Glenn. But it doesn’t go much beyond informing Michonne, and the audience, that Judith is Shane and Lori’s baby. Albeit no less of a daughter to Rick, one for whom he says he will give his life.
— Is Daryl reminding anyone else of Theon Greyjoy to Negan’s Ramsay Snow right now?
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).