Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan has the potential to be one of the best villains of the show. Thanks to his much-hyped entrance, he’s left an instant impression, but it appears that he’s probably best left to just small-screen appearances where his impact can be felt. “Service” was the episode where we got to learn that too much Negan can be a bad thing. It didn’t help that we got even more Negan than we normally would because the episode itself was 90 minutes long, something that really didn’t feel necessary at all.
“Service” switched the action back to Alexandria, and this storyline didn’t really bring anything new to the show that we hadn’t already seen before. We’ve already seen Rick and the gang being terrorized by Negan. It kind of was there just to remind you how bad and evil Negan can get, but for the large part it’s completely unnecessary. We know how bad Negan can be, and it was more Jeffrey Dean Morgan having fun in this episode going around insulting people and having a laugh more than anything.
The episode did have the benefit of a strong start in the early arrival of the Saviors, much to the surprise of Rick and his crew. The group was just about to go out hunting to provide Negan’s Saviors with something exciting that they need. When he arrived, the tension was very high and very awesome. If the episode itself had been as good as the opening act, I would have labelled it as one of the best of the season. But sadly, it is not and it ends in a disappointment. It just feels dragged out and overlong. But then, The Walking Dead has never been a fast-paced show.
We also got to see Dwight again this week and it is unfortunate that “Service” can’t keep the sympathetic Dwight around. He just went back to square-one here, showing there’s been virtually no development in his character. It was good seeing Daryl again and Rick watching how broken he was, and the show itself went to great lengths to display just how unprepared Rick’s gang is for someone like Negan. Previously, they’ve mostly been able to escape from well-protected scenarios. But with a villain like Negan? He has the potential to inject something fresh and different into the series which has quickly become formulaic.
The long-held mystery about the identity of Judith’s father was revealed between Rick and Michonne towards the end of the episode. It feels odd that Michonne has never actually met Shane, but the fact that he was mentioned was nonetheless pretty cool. It was a throwback to a simpler time of The Walking Dead. Shane, however, is Judith’s father and Rick has to know that and accept it, raising Judith on his own. There’s interesting questions to bring up if the group ended up running into Negan say back on the farm or in the prison with Lori and Shane (and Beth!) still alive, and what their reactions would have been and how different things would have played out.
For now, this is what the show has left us with, in an episode of two halves with varying quality between them. The Judith stuff and the opener was good, but the rest was quickly forgettable. One promising mystery for the rest of the season is the inevitable consequences of Negan finding out that Maggie is actually alive, and whether or not we’ll see another death remains to be seen. There was also a good moment that came with Father Gabriel surprising Negan, earning a great reaction from him.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday on AMC at 9pm. Let me know what you think of Service in the comments below!