Entertainment Television

'The Walking Dead': The 5 best moments from 'Service'

By Steve Tilley, Special to Postmedia Network

Andrew Lincoln plays Rick Grimes in AMC's "The Walking Dead." (Handout)

Andrew Lincoln plays Rick Grimes in AMC's "The Walking Dead." (Handout)

There can be only one alpha dog in the pound. And Rick Grimes has lost his bite.

That much was clear in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, the first time since the awful events of the Season 7 premiere that we see Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) going mano a mano.

When Negan and a small army of his ruthless Saviors show up at the walled town of Alexandria to claim their tribute from Rick and his people, tensions run high. There are stares, swears and a lot of hands twitching on weapons.

AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama is at its best when the character drama gets thick and deep, and the literal nose-to-nose showdown between these men made for plenty of verbal fireworks. Here’s the best of the best from Sunday’s super-sized episode of The Walking Dead, titled Service.

Best moment – Carl stands up to the Saviors

Negan knocking at the Alexandria’s gate like the human embodiment of the big bad wolf was pretty cool, but seeing young Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) face down Negan’s men ratcheted up our growing, grudging respect for the kid.

When the gun-toting Carl tells Negan and his people that they should leave “before you find out how dangerous we all are,” Negan praises Carl’s cojones before reminding Carl and the rest of the group that the Saviors will brook no disobedience. “I’m serious,” warns Negan. “Do you want me to prove how serious? Again?”

In Negan’s many displays of dominance this episode – including helping himself to all the Alexandrians’ guns, medicine and best loot – the most striking one is the way he makes Rick carry Lucille, Negan’s barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat. Sort of like a woman forcing her husband to hold her purse while she shops. That is, if her purse had recently been used to murder two of her husband’s closest friends.

Best character – Negan

We’ve seen different sides of Negan so far this season, all of them frighteningly dangerous and unhinged, yet weirdly, grossly charming. The awfulness simply oozes from him in this episode, as a wisecracking Negan struts around town like a dog pissing on every tree it sees. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Jeffrey Dean Morgan bringing this psychopath to life in way that makes him so love-to-hateable.

Best zombie kill – road zombie

Negan gets in a couple old-fashioned zombie beatdowns, first with Lucille and then later with a long candlestick. The second walker falls in the road before being unceremoniously run over by one of the Saviors’ trucks, exploding its head like a ripe melon. It just seemed so undignified somehow. No respect for the undead?

Best line – “I’m not in charge anymore. Negan is.”

Some fire inside Rick has been snuffed out by Negan’s strength and cruelty, but it isn’t until Rick makes this admission – almost matter-of-factly, rather than with any real anguish – that it’s crystal clear. He is no longer the Ricktator. His will to fight has been Negan-ated.

Or maybe the best – and most lurid – quote comes from Negan, after he forces Rick to say thank you during their farewell: “In case you haven’t caught on,” Negan tells Rick, “I just slid my d--k down your throat, and you thanked me for it.” The man certainly has a flair for oration.

Best surprise – Maggie’s “death”

That Negan and his people would strip Alexandria of its weapons shouldn’t come as a shock. We’ve got a whole season – maybe two seasons – to see how the Alexandrians will regain control, re-arm and figure out a way to confront Negan.

But with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) absent – she’s being escorted to the Hilltop community by Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) to get medical care for her in-jeopardy pregnancy – it’s Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) who steps up with a quick deception.

While Negan makes awful insinuations about what he’d like to do to the freshly widowed Maggie (ugh), Gabriel pretends that she’s dead, a clever way to account for her absence and douse Negan’s suspicions. He even goes so far as to dig a fresh, fake grave.

Hopefully we’ll catch up with the grieving, vengeful Maggie next week. Because we could use a little break from Negan. But only a little one.