Unlike the first episode of The Walking Dead season 7, this latest installment - a feature-length outing titled 'Service' - provides a faint glimmer of optimism beneath the tensely uncertain exterior in that every character escapes unscathed (just).
This time around, the focus is back on Rick Grimes and the remaining survivors of Negan's deadly line up for the first time since that traumatic opener (we're hoping you've recovered by now but if not, we're here for you).
In series time, less than a week has passed since the deaths of Glenn and Abraham - and now Negan has come a-knocking in an episode which sees The Saviours make their mark on the residents of the once-safe zone that was Alexandria.
Below are the episode's five main talking points.
The Saviours enact their regime
Negan laid out the rules in the season 6 finale - Rick and co's "shit" belongs to him - and now we see the size of this cross our group has to bear. Rocking up to Alexandria with his cronies (and Daryl), Negan demands loot; we're talking beds, guns and Daryls motorcycle (not food, though - he's letting them keep their chow). One of the episode's most heartbreaking moments? Perhaps when Michonne (Danai Gurira) later finds the charred remains of their mattresses outside the walls of Alexandria.
Rick's reached breaking point
"Let me put this to all of you as clearly as I can," Rick tells his people, some of whom just can't grasp it: "I'm not in charge anymore - Negan is." Some residents, however, don't seem to think these Saviours pose the threat Rick's frantically trying to convey so to make his point, Rick subsisdes with any attempt to look heroic in front of them (breaking down, he tells Michonne he just can't see another of his friends get hurt). Unless, like Spencer (Austin Nichols), they mention Glenn and Abraham; then he'll threaten to break your jaw.
Negan thinks Maggie's dead
Negan requests a meet with "the wife of number two," taunting Rick that widows are "special." In a deceptive twist played not only on the antagonist but viewers also, Negan's led to believe that Maggie passed away. In fact, they show him her grave - the one buried by a scene-stealing Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) to throw him off her scent. Just as well - Negan reveals he was going to take her with him, à la Dwight's ex-wife Sherry. The tragic thing of it all? Daryl's there too, none-the-wiser that Maggie is alive.
Carl's braver than anyone
While several characters are show making their stand silently (Michonne, Rosita - see below), it's Carl (Chandler Riggs) who's openly opposing these people. As a shot rings out, Rick finds his son pointing a gun at one of Negan's men - much to the leader's anger. Carl's not happy they're taking more medicine than they said they would (half), but Negan soon clears up that 'half' is whatever he says it is. It's this reckless behaviour which leads Negan to discover two guns are missing - it also proves another intriguing scene for the duo; "you should all go home before you learn just how dangerous we are," tells Carl to a visibly-impressed Negan.
Rosita's leading a one-woman rebellion
"Make me a bullet," instructs Rosita to Eugene (Josh McDermitt) in the episode's closing moments. That she says this after we see her poach a gun from a dead Saviour earlier in the episode gives the episode its fist-pump moment; all the firearms may now be in Negan's possession, but Rosita has sparked a secret rebellion - in turn giving the character a more inetresting story arc than ever before. When considering just how watchable Christian Serratos is in this episode, it's about time
The Walking Dead airs in the UK on FOX at 9pm every Monday.Reuse content