walking-dead

If the point of the current storyline on The Walking Dead is to grind down the viewer so that we’re obedient dogs, then it’s doing a good job.

But if the point of the current storyline is to grip the viewer with compelling drama, it’s not doing such a hot job. In fact, it’s becoming hard to get through each episode, as the bloviating has reached its zenith. That was the major problem with this week’s extended, 85-minute “Service,” which spotlighted how the Saviors suck the life out of their territories.

Unfortunately, the psychological torture of the current story is incredibly boring, reminiscent of those long chats with the Governor that bogged down previous years. The most recent episode highlight was watching people carry furniture out of the house while being berated by Negan and his lieutenants. We get it – Negan is a bad man. We got that three episodes ago. Enough!

Now in its seventh season, The Walking Dead series may be running out of steam. What works well in a comic book may not translate smoothly to the quick twitch world of the TV screen, and now that we’re somewhat numb to the appearance of any walker, the tension of the series has deteriorated into a classic good guys vs. bad guys battle.  That’s hardly enough to sustain major interest, unless you really care about Maggie’s pregnancy or Rick’s psychological struggles.

This week’s recap:

*** It is morning in Alexandria, and Rick and Michonne are back in their bed. But a restless Michonne gets up, grabs a gun and slips out the front door. Rick sees her depart, but doesn’t try to stop her. Where is she headed?  There’s a rusty auto shell in a nearby field. Michonne perches herself atop it and tries target practice on any approaching walker. She’s a terrible shot, though, and winds up dispatching them by sword. She did accidentally hit a deer.

*** Back in Alexandria, the citizens are prepping for Negan’s anticipated visit. Eugene is building a music player from scraps; Rosita and Spencer are prepared to go out and scavenge. But Negan arrives early, and announces that the half of the supplies he intends to take will be determined by him, not by the Alexandrians. He proceeds to send his team into everyone’s homes, and stands by monologuing to a stunned and cowed Rick. He even makes Rick hold Lucille, his barbed wire baseball bat, knowing that Rick is too intimidated to use it.

*** Negan can’t help but lay it on thick. He asks about Maggie, and says he’d like to visit her. The implication is that he’s had his eye on her, and wants to make her into a bride. But fast-thinking Father Gabriel overhears this, and together with Rick, they lead Negan to a grave, fooling him into thinking Maggie died (we learn later that she’s actually at the nearby Sanctuary, where medical treatment is more readily available).

*** Rosita and Spencer head out on the road after having their guns and water confiscated by a cackling Dwight, who adds insult to injury by taking Rosita’s cap. Their mission is to bring back Daryl’s motorcycle, which will be paraded as a trophy to further humiliate Daryl, who has been brought along as a cautionary example to others who would defy the Saviors. But Rosita has other ideas. After locating the bike, she stalks into the woods and finds some of the Saviors-turned-walkers that previously ambushed the team, killing Dr. Denise. She dispatches them and confiscates a gun from one of them. She intends to keep a firearm handy, despite Spencer’s caution.

*** Negan and his team are having a field day back at Alexandria. They take almost all the medicine, and when confronted by a gun-toting Carl, there’s an ugly standoff. Rick talks his son off the ledge, but the gun-waving triggers a thought to Negan. There has got to be an armory, he realizes, and asks to be taken to it. He will take all the weapons and quell any future thoughts of an uprising. But while taking the weapons, the inventory list indicates that a .22 and a Glock are missing. If they’re not found, Olivia, the guardian of the armory, will pay with her life.

*** At a hastily assembled town hall meeting, Rick implores the Alexandrians to cooperate. This is the new normal, he insists, and only by handing over all of the guns can they save lives. Some in the town are not convinced, but a frantic search soon yields a hiding place in the floor of Spencer’s house. He has the missing weapons, along with some purloined booze and food.

*** Rick turns over the guns to Negan.  As he’s about to leave, Rick spies Michonne lurking in a nearby building, and asks for permission to speak with her. Permission granted, and he goes in and asks for her rifle. Michonne is appalled, but Rick insists it’s the only way forward. When he turns the final gun over, he asks for Daryl’s return. Negan scoffs, but then asks Daryl, who is standing nearby, to speak for himself. A shell-shocked Daryl, who we’ve previously seen has been confined to a dark cell, has no answer. So off he goes as Negan and team depart, but not before a reminder to Rick that the Alexandrians better have some prime goodies to offer when they return, or someone will die. He really rubs it in when he crudely tells Rick that he’s just “put my dick down your throat, and you said thank you for it.”

*** Michonne confronts Rick later that day, clearly concerned that he’s given up. Rick lays a stunner on her, telling her that Judith is not his child, but really the spawn of his former partner, Shane, and his former wife. Although Rick knows the child is not really his, he’s learned to accept and love her. The broad hint in that story is that such acceptance is the only way he can handle things. Similarly, with Negan, such acceptance is the only way.

*** Not everyone is ready to go quietly, though. Rosita finds a bullet casing, and has hidden a handgun in the well of a vehicle. She takes the shell to Eugene and demands that he make her a bullet.

Next week:  What’s going on elsewhere in the Saviors empire?  What about Maggie?  Will Rick be able to live with himself now that his leadership has been ground down?  Will the other Alexandrians cooperate?  Will Negan ever shut up?  Let’s hope!

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