… I’m sorry, but I gotta do this:

Unnecessary longer runtime aside, I feel like ‘Service‘ was a missed opportunity for our Alexandrians. Forget that the plot needs Negan to hang around for a while and just stay with me for a minute here.

Our guys spent a couple of episodes last season killing a bunch of Negan’s men, on the assumption that he must have been one of the guys they executed back at the bunker. Obviously dispatching their leader meant that they’d be home free; even though they grossly miscalculated the situation in terms of sheer numbers, that logic should still stand, right?

If we operate on that theory, then wouldn’t taking care of Negan whenever they can get their hands on him automatically give them an advantage? If so, then what better opportunity than to concoct a plan to kill him the first time he shows up in Alexandria? Even if they didn’t think Negan himself would grace them with his presence, a backup plan wouldn’t hurt, would it?

Instead, here they are, biding their time before Negan arrives to claim his ‘half of everything‘. No one’s done anything in the intervening week, not even had the foresight to hide some of the guns and cook the books so they never show up in the inventory. How is that even possible? Even if Rick explicitly told them not to, if freaking Spencer had the balls to hide a couple of handguns in his pitiful stash of cans and booze, then surely Michonne, at least, has enough balls (and pull in the community) to hide some weapons somewhere. She obviously spends quite some time on that field failing spectacularly at walker-shooting practice – woulnd’t that beat-up old car make a good hiding space? Hell, she could even enlist father Gabriel to dig a grave and bury a few of them right in their yard.

I mean, I know, Rick is broken and completely subservient right now, but even when the show tries desperately to convince us that he’s under Negan’s thumb, at least for the time being, they make the extra effort to show us that there’s still some fight left in him. If Rick’s tightening grip on Lucille every time Negan pushes his buttons is any indication, then the only reason he balks at taking a swing is the fact that whenever Negan bashes in a walker skull, all he sees is Abraham and Glenn.

However, that only happens after they’ve allowed Negan inside their walls and given him free reign over the town.

This week we saw Negan stroll in with a group of his men, which couldn’t have been more than 20. How fucking easy would it have been to take him out then and there? All it would take is sharpshooter Sasha on the tower and a few Alexandrians armed with machine guns to take out the entire group in a matter of seconds. Negan obviously wouldn’t expect an attack – if Rick became cocky last season, then Negan’s confidence is on a whole other level – and that damn RPG he ended up confiscating could have decimated the whole Savior contingent in one fell swoop.

(and yeah, Daryl might have perished in the scuffle; except you know the writers would have found some Deus ex machina way to save the fan favorite. If Glenn escaped certain death twice last season before finally getting killed a few weeks ago, then Daryl certainly could have ducked when the Alexandrians opened fire on Negan’s group).

Seriously, think about it: if we’re to believe that the only reason Rick & Co were caught in Negan’s trap was the fact that every capable fighter in the group was caught outside the city gates and allowed the Saviors to surround them, then doesn’t the combination of home advantage plus element of surprise give our guys the edge? Otherwise why had Negan never even made contact with them before now?

TWD has gone out of it way to illustrate that the reason the other two communities we know of are abiding by Negan’s rules is that a) Ezekiel is lying to his people, otherwise they’d rebel against the tyrant and b) Gregory is a douche and, save for Jesus and maybe a couple of others, the people of Hilltop are farmers who can’t fight for shit.

That fact alone makes Alexandria different. Not only can a lot of these people fight – our group of survivors and whichever Alexandrians they’ve managed to train – but they have a sizable armory in their favor.

So it all comes down to Rick’s new attitude, and that still isn’t explained away in a satisfactory manner. For one thing, we’ve seen dissent in the ranks before, and with much less provocation. Not everyone is down with Rick’s leadership – least of all that douche Spencer; managing to get two of his best people killed AND pledge the town to Negan is surely enough reason for even the meekest Alexandrian to stop taking Rick’s word as gospel.

And then you have his own tight group of survivors, the ones most affected by what happened. Aside from despondent Eugene, who was never the group’s best fighter to begin with, there’s at least a handful with some spunk still left in them. His own son, his own girlfriend, Rosita, presumably Sasha, Aaron – even father Gabriel, as it turns out. If they were willing to fight back, even in the ineffectual way they did this week, wouldn’t this have at least come up in the week before Negan showed up? Why did the town meeting at the church need to wait until Negan was INSIDE the gates and not before?

Even Rick’s insistence that they “don’t have the numbers” at the end of the episode only makes sense after the fact. He’s right, they don’t, not for a full-blown attack on Negan’s compound, especially now that their weapons are gone. But they could have easily taken the small group of Saviors on their own turf. They had their own big chance and they all blew it, and I feel like a supersized episode should have at least taken the time to adequately explain why no one even suggested the plan before Negan arrived – or at least should have offered a believable excuse as to why no one thought to hide a few guns just in case.

If anything, they should have shown us how a broken leader managed to illustrate the new state of affairs to the Alexandrians convincingly enough so that no one even thought to challenge his decisions. He was never a coward like Gregory; he was never the charismatic king everyone adored, like Ezekiel. He literally went from hero to zero within 24 hours, and next thing we know, everyone is patiently awaiting Negan’s visit, trembling in their boots. It just doesn’t jibe.

I realize this is all a moot point; plot advancement requires that Rick is a faithful Negan servant for a while, until we check in with the Hilltop next week and see how the Kingdom will feature in upcoming episodes. Still, if you’re going to devote a full hour to Negan’s plundering of Alexandria, maybe cut back on some of the ridiculously cartoonish dialogue and show us how the town came to the unanimous decision to comply?