Ginger Nuts of Horror
Season 7, Episode 4 - Service
Welcome to the fourth installment of a weekly column where Gingernutters Kayleigh Edwards and Kit Power take to a shared Google Doc to discuss this week’s Walking Dead broadcast episode in a conversational exchange. Enjoy!
Warning: The following conversation contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead, up to and including the events of Season 7, Episode 4. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please turn away now. For those of you who have seen S7 E4, please join in with the conversation in the comments section. Also, sorry this one is a bit late.
Kit Power: AKA ‘Negan comes to town!’ Well, now. How did this one grab you?
Kayleigh Edwards: I loved it. I loved that it was a longer episode because everyone panicked that that meant someone was dying, and then he made a comment that no one died right before he left! And we got to see a bit more to a couple of lesser seen characters.
KP: One of the things I really enjoy about these chats is our differing perspectives. I deliberately avoid all extra-textual stuff - I didn’t know this was going to be extra long, for example, so I had no idea about the game playing. That said, interestingly the episode had the same effect on me regardless; namely, I spent the whole episode in a state of high terror, on the edge of my sofa, terrified that Lucille was going to rip someone’s face open. What a stressful episode. I guess a lot of that has to be down to Jeffrey Dean Morgan again, right? What did you think of seeing him strutting around in Haven?
KE: That Jeffrey Dean Morgan, man. Have you noticed that all of his lines are speeches, like, huge paragraphs? I’m always just hypnotised by him. I’ve never loved to hate a character so much! He just walked around the place like he owned it, and I like that he seemed to have no worry whatsoever that Rick was going to hit him with Lucille, or that anything bad would happen. Just total confidence! I loved all of the little details that went into this episode as well.
KP: Such as?
KE: For example, when he randomly grabs a can and only drinks a sip before throwing it down. That can was the very soda that Denise was out trying to find for Tara before Dwight arrowed her through the eye. It was like a reminder and an extra insult.
KP: Right! Damn. That’s some storytelling, right there. What a great touch. Yeah, Negan is such a walking horror show, isn’t he? My wife keeps yelling ‘kill him!’ at the screen about every two minutes! If only it were that simple.
The can thing is interesting - I remember the moment - and hating it, hating him, for just dropping it half-drunk. The whole thing was an exercise in dominance, complete control, from ‘I say what half is’ right down to that totally gross final line as he left. Not to mention the burning mattresses, which just make me sick with anger.
I’d like to get inside the confrontation with Carl, too, because in an episode full of menace, that felt like the epicenter, ground zero. I was almost certain something very bad was about to happen. What did you make of that?
KE: Carrrrrrl!!!!! I was about to ask if we could talk about that next! The theme of the episode was obviously control, but I did notice that it wasn’t just about Negan’s control, it was about all of them. Hmm, I’m not articulating this so well! So what I noticed was Carl most obviously was trying to retain some control of the way he’s used to living, not just backing down, because that’s what he’s been taught. Whereas Rick was trying to keep the situation controlled, and the only way to avoid any death was to just comply. But then he also had to control his own urge to bat Negan to death. Rosita knew that all the guns would be taken, so she went out looking for one, to keep some control. Even Enid put up a fight (in the only way she could, by begging), to not have her balloons taken away, because that’s the part of Glen she’s holding on to (that’s how I’ve interpreted it anyway).
But back to Carl - people are quite split about him still, but I love the little dude. I think he’s going to be the catalyst for whatever all-out-war situation might evolve.
KP: Carl and/or Michonne. Because she’s the other one who was quite clearly trying to maintain control - trying to learn how to use the rifle, and initially resisting handing it over. And she saw the mattresses, so she knows what this is really about. Also, well, not to put too fine a point on it, but ‘Service’ as the name of the episode is interesting, because this is really about indentured servitude. Or to use the less polite, but more accurate term, slavery. At this point, the inhabitants of Haven are de facto slaves to The Saviours, right?
In that regard, I think We Need To Talk About Rick. Because both Carl and Michonne's stories in this episode have a common theme, and that’s Rick properly, really giving up. This isn’t an act, or a front. He’s done - done fighting, done struggling to live free. He’s clearly decided that life in chains is better than a painful death for everyone and everything he loves. I guess two things - one, how do you feel about that choice, given the history of the character? And two, dramatically what does it mean? Last time I talked about Michonne stepping up, but now I’m not so sure...
KE: Oh gosh, that bit with the mattresses really nailed the point that Negan was more out to make the point that he’s the boss than anything else. I believe that at the moment, Rick’s only option is to comply, because there is no other way to guarantee his loved ones living - and that’s not even a full guarantee. Buuuuuuut I still think that when he sees a way out, he’ll take it. Historically, Rick has been willing to risk lives, so long as everyone is in agreement about fighting, and so long as he knows that they’re going to win. It’s never been in his nature to roll over and take it, he’s always fought. I’m wondering if he’ll start forming a plan when it’s too late though, and Carl and Michonne have already gone against him and secretly formed some idea of their own?
KP: Hmm. Or Rosita? One damn bullet could change it all...
KE: Ooh yes! I was so happy to see more of Rosita, the poor woman has not had a good few weeks! What do you think of them lying about Maggie? I have a gnawing terror that THAT is going to be the thing that sets Negan off, because he’s going to find out, right? Unless she actually becomes a secret weapon? But what about Carol being a secret weapon? I noticed a thing about Rick and Daryl and now I wonder if they’re gonna do something too… OH GOD KIT I CAN’T TAKE IT! THE SUSPENSE!! THE SUSPENSE I TELL YOU! THEY’RE ALL LIVE GRENADES! Ahem… I’m sorry.
KP: That’s a really good point, that could set things rolling way before any plan is set. I love this aspect of the show the most, to be honest - this huge cast of characters we all know, and they've all got their own interrelationships and foibles and loyalties, and Negan’s just this hand grenade thrown into the room, blowing everything off course and to hell.
Talking of Maggie, think she’ll pop up next week? And what other surprises do you think this season opening has in store for us?
KE: I don’t know if we’ll see her, they might save her for a while. But who knows? We could have an entire Maggie episode. As far as surprises, I strongly suspect that a particular character is going to do something absolutely mental in an attempt to shut Negan down. Aaannnnd I tell you what I’d love… if Eugene got a girlfriend. That would be shocking, but I just want the poor guy to have someone!
KP: See, my problem with that idea is that as soon as he does, I’ll be counting the episodes until Negan takes a shine to her and steals her away. Good Lord I hate him so much...
KE: I know. I’ve been re-watching Supernatural and he plays the Winchester’s dad and Sam was mouthing off to him and I was like ‘SHUT UP YOU IDIOT! DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT HE’S CAPABLE OF WITH A BAT?’ I joke. He’s unlike any other character in this role, right down to his physicality and inflection when he speaks, he’s such a good actor. I didn’t think I could love to hate anyone this much after the Governor, but I was wrong.
KP: :) . It’s a special kind of nasty, all right. Any other thoughts on Episode 4?
KE: Hmmm. OH YEAH! Judith! I don’t think that was so much of a revelation to the viewers, everyone suspected she’s Shane’s. But hearing Rick admit it.. Dear lordy.
KP: ...yeah. Yet another sign of how psychologically broken he’s become, did you think? Or just trying to level with Michhone?
KE: I think he told her because he had to explain himself to her. And it shows us how much he trusts her, because no one else in the world knows it, and perhaps he was trying to buy some of her trust back by sharing?
KP: Maybe. I am VERY curious as to how that relationship plays out over the rest of the season. I can see some serious heartbreak for both of them, depending on how events play out.
KE: Well…. Rick’s girlfriend’s do tend to be quite doomed! I guess my very final thought on this episode is that it reminded me that as he’s progressed, Rick has become more and more like the enemies he’s defeated. He almost directly quoted Shane when he was talking to Spencer, and he was behaving towards him like Negan. And watching him walk around with Negan’s bat, to me, was almost like visual foreshadowing of him eventually becoming Negan-like.
KP: Yeah. Except Shane would never have given up the rifle, IMO. Feels like Rick is falling between two stools, neither compassionate or ruthless enough. Maybe Daryl will put him back together. Somehow.
Hell, what a show. Roll on next week! :)
KE: Can’t wait!