The Walking Dead 7×04 Review: Service & Negan Mind Games 101

Negan’s special brand of mind games continued in The Walking Dead‘s “Service.” And while the Saviors first visit to Alexandria didn’t go like I expected, aka him killing someone to teach them a lesson about obedience like scared little puppies, he did prove that there are other ways to tear people down. Negan doesn’t need to kill to wear Rick & Co. down. He can demoralize them and make them fall in line in vast and mysterious ways. It’s psycological warfare at it’s best, people!

It all makes you wonder, what the hell did Negan do before the apocalypse? Was he a disgruntled car salesman turned high school coach who liked to belittle his pupils? (That was in the comics.) Or was Negan something more? My money’s on something a little shadier. Nothing like this comes naturally or as easily as it does to Negan.

Time to Get on Your Knees, Alexandria

Hearing about the terror that is Negan is completely different than actually experiencing it. The people of Alexandria were sheltered from the death of Glenn and Abraham. They heard about it but didn’t quite understand the control that Negan had over Rick & Co. They’ve led a sheltered life behind those walls, comforted by the fact they had Deanna, Rick & Co. to protect them. Not anymore.

Negan came when Alexandria least expected it. He kept them on their toes because of the legend that he’s built around himself. He isn’t just a man. He’s a symbol of strength, man power, mercy, and death. That makes him more dangerous than anyone they’ve experienced before. He wields psychological warfare with a masterful hand, keeping everyone in line because of it. Rick was made to hold the murder weapon of two of his family members because Negan was so damn sure he’d broken our leader. It was a test for Rick but also a way to show Alexandria, “Look what I can do with your leader. Imagine what I can do to you.” The same thing applies to Daryl. Fearless protector turned into meek servant. They’re both examples that he will keep alive as living representations of his reach and power.

And burning the mattresses…well that was just a dick move. He didn’t need them for his Savior camp because they’re doing just fine. But sleep deprivation and the added stress of servicing Negan the next time he comes, are all part of the plan to break Alexandria and grind them down to complacent dirt beneath his foot. Overcoming the fear of the unknown is the only way these people are finally going to wake up, unite, and overcome Negan.

Richonne, Baes Through Thick and Thin

Despite everything going to shit around them in “Service”, Rick and Michonne are still together. Everything isn’t perfect though. She’s hiding secrets (gun stash and walker sharp shooter practice, are definitely secrets you don’t keep from bae) and a slight resentment that he’s not fighting hard enough against Negan. She wants to fight when all he can think about is protecting them. Negan has broken Rick and turned his want to protect his family into complacency and Michonne hates it.

It takes until that powerful scene at the end in their home, for Michonne to finally see why he’s not fighting. It’s born out of love and the fear of loneliness. He doesn’t want to be alone in this cold and crazy world. He’s lost his best friend Shane, his wife Lori, and he knows that Judith isn’t his daughter. He can’t bear to loose Michonne, Carl, Judith, or anyone else because of his pride or bravado. Negan is stronger than him, for now, and Rick’s not willing to put their lives on the line to test if he can overcome him.

Rick’s family is more important than anything in the world and Michonne understood instantly. It was like a switch was flipped and she knew that they needed to have each other’s back or risk falling apart. Sure she still went out afterwards for some alone time where she was practicing her shooting skills, but she let her anger and disappoint in Rick go. Michonne isn’t a doormat or a complacent woman. She’ll have your back as long as you have hers. Right now Rick needs her support and she’ll be damned before she let’s him face all of this alone. They’re not just lovers or friends. They’re partners.

Conceal, Don’t Feel Rosita

The utter poise and restraint that Rosita displayed in “Service” was applause worthy. Any other person would’ve snapped and clocked Negan and Dwight in their smug faces. Not Rosita. She was calm and collected. Rosita was NOT going to give them the satisfaction of knowing that they had affected her with the death of Glenn and Abraham or their visit to Alexandria.

This composure is what draws in people like Negan and Dwight to her. She’s unique. Instead of cowering she’s closed off and docile. Both men know that people like Rosita are ultimately the most dangerous of all. They shut down, bid their time, and hit you with all they can when you least expect it. She differs from Daryl and Rick in that she has no family left. Sure she cares for these people, but not in the way that she cared Abraham. She opened up to him in a way I’ve never seen her do with Rick & Co. and most likely will never do again because of the risk of loss.

I’m not saying that she’s disconnected from the community and our group of survivors. She’s a soldier who knows what must be done when the shit (also known as Negan) hits the fan. She’ll keep watch because of her connection to the community, do the things that other’s wouldn’t ever dare, and wait however long she has to for the community that took her, Abraham, and Eugene in.

At the end of the day, the slow burn is the only way to kick Negan’s ass. Let him continue playing out his psychological warfare. Let him think you’re compliant and meek as you build up your strength once more with the communities around you. One day you’ll be ready to knock him down a peg or two and show him what real power looks like.

Additional Notes:
  1. Dwight is still trying to prove to Daryl that they’re not so different.
  2. Negan is a wordsmith who has no qualms about talking about slipping someone his dick.
  3. Spencer is cruising for a bruising with his accusations towards Rick. He’s trying to keep this place so man up and show others that you have the balls to do the right thing for everyone.
  4. Imagine if the bullet that Negan shot off, actually hit someone? Say Judith?!
  5. Father Gabriel is a creeper and the real downfall of Negan! You mark my words!
Favorite Scene from Service:

Daryl and Rick staring at each other as the distance grew between them, gave me all the feels. If this were a romantic comedy this would be the point where I’d yell at the TV, “GO TO HIM!” while crying into a tub of icecream.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

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