SPOILER WARNING: This article will discuss The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 4, 'Service'; as always, if you're not caught up, stop reading now and come back later.
The Walking Dead isn't big on dwelling on old stories and characters directly — hence why it was such a shock that Rick had a conversation with Michonne about Judith's paternity. In 'Service', they not only brought Shane's story back, but they also hinted at many moments from previous seasons. While some of those callbacks were inserted purely for emotional reasons — i.e. Enid's balloons — others served the larger purpose of exploring the characters's current mindsets and hinting at where the story might go from here.
Let's get straight into pee-pee pants city and check out some of those more significant callbacks from The Walking Dead Season 7 episode 'Service'.
Michonne Replays Sasha's Time-Out
Back in the Season 5 episode 'Forget', Sasha went outside the safe walls of Alexandria with a rifle just like the one #Michonne uses in this week's episode of The Walking Dead. For Sasha — who joined Daryl as one of the only two people Deanna didn't give a job to — shooting picture frames, and later hunting Walkers, was a coping mechanism. She had barely finished mourning her brother Tyrese when her boyfriend Bob was bitten and died. Actually, Michonne went after #Sasha on one occasion, to try and bring her into a mental state more befitting of their new life in Alexandria, but she failed.
In 'Service', it is Michonne's turn to go outside the walls with a rifle; only for her, it is more than simply a way to deal with the Survivors's recent losses. Michonne knows that Sasha is their sharpest shooter and that, with Abe dead and Sasha gone to the Hilltop with Maggie, someone will have to step up to the sniper job. Of course, shooting at Walkers and decapitating them must do wonders to relieve stress, but Michonne's endgame is to finish Negan's rule.
Collateral Damage Deer
Well, even if you don't recall his name, you surely remember #Carl getting shot as he was seeing a deer up-close for the first time in Season 2. Otis, it turned out, lived in #Hershel's farm and was hunting the stag, when his shot went through the deer and hit Carl as well. The symbolism of that scene was one of beautiful and innocent things abruptly dying in this apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead.
This week, Michonne proves to be a fitting stand-in for Otis, as one of the shots she fires at a Walker misses it and hits a stag (What is it with The Walking Dead and deer!?). The scene is once more heavy with symbolism, as the stag represents Abe and Glenn. They were the innocent victims who ended up paying the price for Rick's failed plans against the #Saviors — just as Michonne's bullet misses its target and kills the innocent deer. In some cultures, the stag is also a representation of happiness and peace, which is unlikely to exist in The Walking Dead as long as Negan is around.
Say what you want about #Negan, but the guy knows how to go about his bullying in the most effective way. As he peruses the streets of Alexandria with Rick on his heels, Negan doesn't waste one single opportunity to torment the Survivors's now deposed leader. At one moment, Deanna's camcorder is found, with Rick's admission interview into Alexandria playing, and Negan taunts Rick about him not being a fierce and dangerous man anymore.
Truth is, none of our Survivors have stayed the same after they joined the Safe Zone. That was one of Carol and Rick's main concerns as they took up residence there — that they would become soft, because of the ease of life there — which blew up in their faces after all. I'm not saying Rick and the gang have gone soft (although there are some out there who wished to see Rick bash in Negan's head with the bat he was holding in 'Service'), but they clearly became more arrogant and self-reliant, misreading Negan and the danger he & his men posed to the community.
The Rocket Launcher
"The Dick Brigade", as Negan called them, was obliterated in Episode 9 of last season, when Daryl, Sasha and #Abraham dealt with a group of Saviors at a roadblock. Abe had found the RPG — along with a box of fine cigars — while waiting for Daryl to regroup with him and Sasha in 'Always Accountable', but it was Daryl who got to use it to kill the Saviors on the road, and the Walker herd in Alexandria later on.
In 'Service', Negan collects all the weapons in Alexandria — RPG included — and praises Rick's people for being the ones who killed his Saviors. This scene is also relevant because we see Daryl carrying the guns out of the armory for Negan, and this broken and guilt-stricken #Daryl bares little resemblance to that one who kicked proverbial ass exploding people with the rocket-launcher not so long ago. It proves that Negan doesn't only own "all their shit", but he's also broken their spirits.
A New Martyr Figure
Glenn Rhee was the epitome of all that was good and pure in The Walking Dead universe — even more so in the comics than on the show. Until late last season, Glenn had never killed a living human before, and he firmly believed in taking the higher road and offering second chances. His "resurrection" in 'Heads Up' — when he survived under the dumpster after being presumed dead for four episodes — served as proof of his role as a martyr in The Walking Dead; the good and just guy who always got screwed, but never offered payback.
Rick gives his "I'm not in charge anymore, Negan is" speech in the same church Glenn spoke to Enid about hope and not giving up. In fact, The Walking Dead even uses a camera angle very similar to the one they'd used in the scene with #Glenn, just to show Rick's current mindset. He's between a rock and a hard place, completely devoid of hope, yet sacrificing his ego and leadership for the benefit of keeping his people alive. Talk about martyrdom...
"They Killed Denise"
We all loved Dr. Cloyd — especially the Alexandrians, who lost their only doctor with her death — but, let's be honest, as things currently stand, we didn't expect to see any revenge exacted for her brutal demise. Dwight shot her in the eye with an arrow and his men proceed to threaten Daryl and #Rosita, then Eugene demonstrated his survival skills by biting Dwight's junk and things spiraled from there. Negan's line-up came soon after that, and so avenging Denise went to the bottom of the priority list. There is another callback to Denise, though, when Negan drinks the orange pop that the doctor asked Daryl to procure for her.
Seeing Rosita put down the Saviors — now turned #Walkers — who had something to do with Denise's death was certainly gratifying. It also proves that Ms. Espinosa is one hell of a quick thinker, as she assumes that those Walker-Saviors had guns with them. In the end, Rosita doesn't go after those Walkers simply for the guns, though; as she puts it to Spencer, "they killed Denise," and so they had it coming. She also does it for Daryl, who went after the rest of the Saviors in Dwight's group to avenge Denise, but ended up captured and shot in the process. In a world where Rick seems to have given up, it's good to see Rosita thinking outside of the box and gathering guns and shells — for Eugene to make bullets, of course.
"It Wasn't Always So"
In another callback from Season 5, Father Gabriel reassesses his relationship with Rick, saying that now they are friends, but that it wasn't always so. Back when they first met, Rick had trust issues with the priest and threatened to kill Gabriel more than once; but as of recently Father Gabriel has proved himself not only as a wonderful nanny for Judith, but also as someone who "believes in Rick".
That means their relationship has gone a long way, but it also serves as a backdrop for what may happen with other characters that Rick initially didn't get along with. Currently, two candidates come to mind, with Spencer getting on Rick's nerves every other day, and Negan...well, Negan being himself. Although Rick vows to bash #Spencer's teeth in during the latest episode, at this point, it's fair to assume that if anyone has a chance of redeeming himself to Rick, it's Deanna's son.
"Are You Going To A Party, Little Girl?"
Watching that Savior bully Enid — and coming that close to her face — is creepy, to say the least; but it is also an emotional callback to last season's 'Start To Finish'. Back then, Glenn and Enid are outside Alexandria's Walker-infested walls and manage to use some green balloons to let #Maggie and the others inside know they were alive.
The balloons had been used to mark the path to be followed by the herd, while the Survivors were trying to get it as far away from Alexandria as possible. On their way back into the community, Enid and Glenn found the unused balloons, and Glenn began to break Enid's tough girl act. So, for Enid, those aren't just party balloons, as the Savior ironically suggests; they are a reminder of Glenn, and something to hold on to as she follows his advice of "carrying on living for those who are gone".
Alexandria Safe Zone
The Wolves were hinted at for some episodes during Season 5, but in the end, they came and went in a single episode on Season 6 — apart from Morgan's pet, the Wolf leader, who stuck around a bit longer. 'JSS' showed the Wolves invading Alexandria, just as the most of Alexandrians were otherwise occupied with guiding the Walker herd away from the community. Carol suited up and saved the day — killing most of the Wolves and distributing guns for the other Alexandrians to do the same — but the Safe Zone, and the people living it, were forever changed.
Soon after that episode, we got a glimpse of the new sign outside Alexandria — the same sign that receives a huge emphasis at the end of 'Service'. "Mercy for the lost, vengeance for the plunderers" became #Alexandria's new motto, and Rick spends some meaningful time looking at that sign after Negan's people fan out. Negan may think he's justified in taking half of Alexandria's things, but for Rick that clearly stands out as plundering. I wonder what kind of vengeance Rick is planning for Negan...
More on #TheWalkingDead:
- How Daryl And Dwight Could Be The Perfect Weapon Against Negan
- Breaking Down The Promo Posters For 'The Walking Dead' Season 7: How Many Have Been Revealed So Far?
- Is Daryl To Blame For Glenn's Death In 'The Walking Dead' Season 7 Premiere?
The Walking Dead is not big on flashback episodes, so it uses these callbacks and Easter eggs to help tell the story and set the mood for what the characters are experiencing. Being under Negan's thumb is certainly an unprecedented experience for Rick and co. but the Survivors have endured their share of rough and tough patches along their way — which has made them stronger and quite apt to stand up to Negan and his gang of bullies. 'Service' uses the callbacks as reminders of how things got to the point they're now, what it cost the Survivors and, most importantly, how tough Rick and his group are when trouble comes a-knocking.
How do you think Rick is going to fight back Negan? Or do you think he'll play along? Let me know below in the comments