The Walking Dead continues to march us around its now huge separated cast one episode at a time, which means that there the latest episodes have felt like not very much happens, but maybe, just maybe, they’re leading to something eventually.
Service brings us back to the main group which was very much needed, as much as Rick is so often the dull generic white male protagonist for me, except when he’s being ruthless. I say this without meaning to criticise too much, as he is literally a father but he can so often give off an air of ‘depressed dad’ and he’s been doing that a lot lately. Which I get, given the circumstances but it’s not ideal watching. Negan on the other hand is alive in this episode, affable and completely and utterly horrific, with his bullying tone and barely concealed menace towards any of the residents of Alexandria as they take all their stuff. But everyone else is moody and downcast and again, I expect them to be but it doesn’t make for ideal watching. Service also gives us very little indication that there’s a fightback going on, there are small details and the beginnings of a rebellion, if you can call Rosita and Eugene making bullets, as much as I like the two, a rebellion, but the outcome is an episode with very little going for our heroes and yet more shows of the Saviours’ seemingly unlimited manpower.
The main problem with Service is that there was just far too much of it. When I heard that it was a 90 minute episode I expected some earth-shattering twist or at least a big game changer. That’s normally what you expect when an episode is unexpectedly long. But no, it was just extra time for Rick to fall deeper into his mood of ‘the Saviours are here to stay and hand over everything that could be used to fight against them’. And the conclusion was very weak for a 90 minute episode. And we had so much Negan swaggering about and throwing his weight about means that I already need a bit of a break from him, if we are going to circle around, let’s give Jeff. His torture of Daryl, I’m hoping it’s going to serve a purpose later down the road, it’s admittedly hard to take with a character who we’ve grown so attached to but at the same time, there’s so little risk of him dying that heavy torture is the most we can expect for him.
At least, the best thing I can say about Service is that I wasn’t sure if they were going to kill Olivia or not. That could really have gone either way and credit to the producers for teasing us with a character that could easily die and not be missed and then ending up sparing them, because that’s something they do precious little of.
Go Getters I think was far more promising, not least because it was a reasonable length and therefore, despite similar padding, felt much tighter. But focusing on the Hilltop, who had been offscreen for so long I had almost forgotten about Gregory and Jesus (whose name they were having fun with in this episode, half the time it was said it sounded like a standard exasperation), brought another player back into the fold and made me think of a situation similar to international political wrangling. Hear me out here, in this world where society has collapsed, groups like the Saviours will be the big international bullies beating down on the powerless, vassalising and forcing them to pay valuables to them in exchange for “protection”, it’s a theme current throughout history. However if they get too many of these, then they are able to band together and push back. With the Hilltop, the Kingdom and Alexandria, it might just be enough to eventually stage a push back against the Saviours’ hegemony. That’s my international relations degree opinion on the subject. It probably only slightly works.
Anyway, we get quite a lot of Gregory’s sliminess this episode, and seeing him squirm under the bug-eyed gaze of Negan’s new henchman is very enjoyable watching. Simon, who I swear I recognise from somewhere, although that’s apparently not the case, his retro Latino hard guy look is very familiar. And refreshing, after the menace of Negan, he’s still dangerous but in a much lighter and jovial way, and so you feel he might actually be more dangerous still.
Maggie and Sasha had their requisite grieving period for those they’ve lost, I liked the dilemma with what to do with Glenn’s watch, as that watch has been a symbol of continuity throughout the show and it wouldn’t do to let it die with him. Carl and Enid… I want to believe in their relationship as they’re about the only younger characters left alive and them staying alive is quite necessary if you want any future human race but the awkwardness was still quite palpable between them, even when Carl drove up in a car after smashing some zombies. He’s still a teenager! Not that I care too much about fictional teen love lives, let them have it if it works, but I don’t know that it will. Tragedy is in their future. Of course it is. It’s the Walking Dead.
I don’t have much to say about the rest of it, I think mid-season TWD fatigue is already setting in this season. The one bit of hope is that Carl and Jesus are now both on their way to infiltrate the Saviours and that may be exciting. And there’s another bit of hope. We finally get round to Tara next week if I caught her in the preview correctly. It’s been far too overdue, although I fear that we’ll spend all of next week on this beach figuring out how she got there. Which I might not mind because I’ve suffered a severe lack of Tara lately but my god Walking Dead, move on with your plot already.