After brief excursions exploring The Hilltop and The Sanctuary, last night's bumper episode of AMC's The Walking Dead, 'Service', returned the focus to Rick's group in Alexandria as Negan and his Saviors arrived to pillage homes, subjugate citizens and strip the survivors of the bulk of their arsenal.
Unsurprisingly, the Alexandrians' reactions to their leader allowing a group of thugs to enter their homes and take whatever they please aren't all in line with Rick's way of thinking. Whilst the likes of Aaron and Eugene seemed accepting of the situation they find themselves in - admitting that Negan's group both outnumber and out-muscle them and that fighting back is futile - others such as Carl and Rosita seem more resistant to the idea of living as an extension of the Saviors and providing Negan with whatever amount of supplies he sees fit.
In a new clip from next week's episode - titled 'Go Getters' - Rick's son Carl is seen discussing this very issue with his father's partner Michonne. Whilst Carl vocally believes that his group should mount some kind of fight against the Saviors, Michonne appears to be very much on the fence about the issue, accepting that whilst she may think living with the Saviors is unsustainable, she isn't sure that Rick is wrong about Alexandria being unable to fight back.
This clip continues the tension established in last night's episode between Rick and Michonne, with the latter very obviously conflicted about her loyalties to both her partner and the group as a whole. This mirrors a key story-line in the comic series where Rick's other half - the still-alive Andrea, rather than Michonne - adopts a more aggressive, gung-ho attitude towards the Saviors, whilst her partner continues to submit. Carl's rebellion against his Dad's wishes also nicely sets up a potential plot from the comic books whereby he makes his own stand against Negan - with somewhat unexpected results.
The fact that the two people Rick holds closest to his heart are perhaps the ones questioning his decisions the most demonstrates just how divisive his response to Negan has been within Alexandria. The clip could also signal that after a blisteringly intense season premiere, followed by two slower-burning episodes, The Walking Dead will be once again focusing on the relationships between the various main characters in the immediate future as they all attempt to navigate a threat bigger than any they've faced previously. As was suggested in last night's episode, being within the safety of Alexandria - and shaving his beard, obviously - has perhaps stripped Rick of some of the hardened toughness he possessed when he first arrived.
Of course, whether viewers are familiar with The Walking Dead's source material or not, the show wouldn't have much of a future if Negan was in charge from here on out and at some point, a fight-back is inevitable but it remains to be seen whether Rick can keep his group together until that point and what exactly it will take for Negan to push him over the edge and resurrect the ruthless Rick Grimes of seasons past.
The Walking Dead continues November 20th on AMC.