Minor Spoilers Ahead!
Although tonight’s 90-minute episode was titled “Service,” a more appropriate title may have been: “The Rape of Alexandria.” Tonight we sat back and watched Negan and his band of merry thugs come into Alexandria and take half of everything they owned. Oh, and Negan gets to define what “half” means. Fairness is not in the cards. The sense of violation is palpable: physically, mentally, and sexually.
The Saviors waste no time spreading out to pillage the homes of our heroes, who are powerless to stop them. Rick, paralyzed by fear of getting more of his people killed, rolls over like the good dog he is. He even gets to hold Lucille for the day! He also has to give an impassioned speech to his terrified people telling them Negan’s in charge now; the opposite of his blood-soaked Alexandrian speech of yesteryear. Well ,there goes the beds, furniture, and weapons.
Negan, for his part, struts and gloats his way through tonight’s episode making menacing quips. He makes sexual threats towards Maggie and one of his thugs does the same to Enid. As he makes his exit, he even takes a swipe at Rick: “In case you missed it, I just slid my dick down your throat and you thanked me for it.” Lots of violent sexual imagery tonight!
Negan also threatens Olivia’s life when a pair of guns are discovered to be missing. This prompts the whole town to go on a search for the weapons, which are eventually found in Spencer’s secret stash. Negan at least has the good sense to disarm the Alexandrians. After all, a lot of those guns were stolen from Negan’s outpost when they came in and killed the Saviors there.
Those were the days!
Although “Service” was filled with tension, the Saviors and Alexandrians managed to not kill each other. Perhaps the best possible outcome? One of the best shots of the episode, just after Negan leaves, has Rick glance up at the board mounted on the Alexandrian entrance: “Welcome to the Alexandria Safe Zone. Mercy for the lost, vengeance for the pillagers.” An on-the-nose reminder of what’s at stake and how Rick’s philosophy clashes with his position.
Dwight also got to complete his Daryl collection this week: sending out Spencer and Rosita on a quest to retrieve his captive’s motorcycle. It’s not entirely clear why Dwight’s so obsessed with collecting all things Daryl, but gosh if he isn’t thorough!
Speaking of Daryl, he got to stand around silently, having been reduced to an Avox from the Hunger Games. Rick tried buying Daryl’s freedom and Negan’s good will with the gifts of a rifle and a nice deer courtesy of Michonne. Negan was very pleased indeed, but no dice. Daryl was going to have to plead his case and, well, Daryl.
We also got a bit more information on Rick’s decision to submit to Negan in his confession re: Judith. He knows in his heart Judith is Shane’s child with Lori, but he has come to terms with that and would still die to protect her; she is all he has left of his wife and best friend. A bittersweet memento: their love child! It was nice to be reminded of Shane and Lori after all this time: the show and its characters have all come so far since their time.
Rick’s decision to submit has to do with protecting people that he’s not sure he can protect anymore. Negan’s domination is all about Rick’s crisis of confidence and how long he can keep him down. To drive his point home, Negan burns the mattresses he takes from the Alexandrians. There will be no comfort for anyone. Comfort breeds confidence which breeds resistance, and we can’t be having that, now can we?
On a final note, it’s good to know that there are still some constants in this world. Namely: Spencer still sucks. He challenges Rick while he is clearly at his lowest, earning a vicious threat (the old Rick is still in there!). He was also the one hoarding guns and other supplies in a secret stash and inadvertently endangering Olivia’s life. Classic Spencer.
In summary, tonight we got a slow-burn super-sized episode featuring Negan tormenting the Alexandrians in their living rooms. It was all well worth it, if for nothing else than his reaction to Gabriel: “Damn, you’re creepy!” Amen, brother.
Photos courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.