REVIEW: The Walking Dead S7 E4 ‘Service’ is an excessive dollop of unnecessary misery
We’ve had such a run of excellent The Walking Dead episodes that it had to come to an end soon – and painfully. Monday’s fourth and feature-length offering ‘Service’ contains none of the thrill, shock or emotion of the previous episodes, and as such it is the weakest episode of the season so far.
‘Service’ returned fans to the lives of the battered and broken Alexandria group, led by the even more battered and broken Rick Grimes. If you didn’t realise Rick was broken after the astonishing effort made to put this point across in episode one, ‘Service’ drives this point home even harder than a vengeful Lucille (sorry, too early?). Negan arrives in Alexandria earlier than planned after the brutal killing of Abraham and Glenn, ready to receive his first offerings from the newly-submissive group. Rick puts up the least fight of anyone, turning Alexandria upside down to look for guns missing from the town’s inventory for Negan and later offering up Michonne’s sniper, despite the fact Negan was not aware it existed.
The whole episode is yet another masterclass from Negan in how to get things done through striking fear in the hearts of enemies. However, at this point we’ve seen three episodes full of Negan – there’s not much else he can do to shock and surprise us, and this is getting repetitive. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is phenomenal as always, but he is only as strong as the material given. If The Walking Dead doesn’t do something more interesting with the character soon, he will start to feel like a one-trick pony.
Thankfully, not everyone in Alexandria is as broken as Rick. Carl aims a gun at a Saviour attempting to take their medicine, Michonne is practicing with a sniper gun (for a little while, at least) and Father Gabriel digs a series of graves to hide the disappearance of Maggie and Sasha, who went running to the Hilltop for medical aid after the events of episode one. Negan believes they are dead when Rick says as much, but that’s about as much resistance as you’ll see from the once-great Rick.
Watching this episode is a little like getting beaten down again after finally waking from a fortnight in a coma. It’s a reminder that Negan’s world is grim and hopeless, and our leader is in a dangerously compliant fugue. It adds nothing to the world of Walking Dead we did not know already. To add insult to injury, the episode is a whole 90-minute extended episode full of this miserable rubbish. The reason for ‘Service’ being the length of a short film is completely unfathomable. One can only assume there was a lot of advertising gain in stringing out this episode on this particular weekend.
Oh, what we would give for another episode with Ezekiel.