The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 Episode 1 Review:

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On The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 Episode 1, Maggie and Negan are brought together under the unlikeliest circumstances, setting the thrilling tone for the latest chapter in The Walking Dead universe.

One of the biggest problems that plagued other series in the franchise is the desire to serve too many characters. 

Thankfully, “Old Acquaintances” had just the right amount of people to tell the story at hand, beginning a fascinating new journey with characters we know so well.

The Walking Dead: Dead City

We’ll begin with this complicated dynamic between Maggie and Negan because that’s undoubtedly the most polarizing aspect of the series.

Their first meeting, years after they reached this resolve with one another at the Commonwealth, is anything but pleasant, but Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan bring a palpable energy to Maggie and Negan that continues to make their interactions worthwhile.

Maggie in the Big Apple - The Walking Dead

You’d think by this point in their respective stories, we’d be tired of their bickering, but their differing viewpoints in a harrowing situation are electric.

Maggie has changed since The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 24. Hershel is older, a teenager who probably has many questions about Glen and how Negan was welcomed back into their community after all of his crimes.

Negan: I hate to even ask, but how do I figure into this, Maggie?
Maggie: The man who’s got Hershel, they call him the Croat. Bullshit. You know him. When he scaled our walls, had us surrounded in the dark, right before he took my son. Do you know what he did? [ whistles one high tone, one low tone ] That rings a bell, doesn’t it? It did for me. That’s the last thing I heard before I met you.
Negan: Oh, that Croat. All right, so what you’re thinking is, since I knew this guy back in the day when I was running the show, that maybe I had some special insight into his modus operandi. Or, hell, maybe I could just sweet-talk him into giving you your boy back. We’re talking about the same Croat? Let’s just say there were a lot of psychos in my crew back then. But he always stood out as being an exceptionally insane son of a bitch. So the odds are if it’s the Croat that’s got him… No. All right, tell me this. Why would I help you? Maggie: Because you owe me…
Negan: Because I owe you, right.
Maggie: You’re the last person that I wanted to ask for help. It doesn’t look like you got too many options yourself. Because if I found you here, the marshals will too. Far as I can tell, you have exhausted every shithole.
Negan: Still got a decent setup at Hilltop? Kids? School?
Maggie: I’ll put up that girl. You, we see how things play out.

I expect these questions to rear their head as this six-part series continues.

Maggie knew the moment she heard The Croat’s whistle that this man had to have been associated with Negan at some point or another, but there are so many blanks she needs to be filled in to make this next phase of her quest worthwhile.

Maggie's New Role - The Walking Dead

Turning to Negan is the last thing she wanted to do. Why would she want to be indebted to the man who killed her son’s father and changed the trajectory of her life forever?

Like Maggie, Negan has also changed in the years since The Walking Dead series finale, and parts of his personality that were prevalent as the leader of the Saviors are back.

With the heightened stakes and unpredictable nature of the people he’s encountering, he’s had to adapt, but I bet the last thing he expected was to be looking after a teenager.

When we left Negan in The Walking Dead Season 11, Annie was expecting his child, and they were very much loved up, but it seems something happened along the way that sent Negan on this very different path.

Negan in New York - The Walking Dead: Dead City

I bet he thought the next time he saw Maggie Rhee that she’d be ready to bash in his brains because, any way you look at it, she’s one of his most significant enemies.

No matter how many times these two put the past aside, there will always be the worry from either party that the other will take a shot.

Croat: Look at you, acting so tough. Just like your mother. Maybe your father. Tell me, did you ever meet the man who killed your father? He lived among your mother’s people for years. Negan. What do you know about him?
Hershel: You can keep sitting there in the dark trying to freak me out, but I’m not saying shit.
Croat: Ha. You know, when I was a boy, I was fascinated by Manhattan. All those people on such a tiny island pushing, shoving. The irony is that in death, the city is so much more alive than it ever was. Because the struggle, it galvanizes you. Shows you the strength you had inside all along. You know, I think you’re going to like it here.


That’s a fascinating dynamic, but it must have killed Maggie seeing Negan play father figure to Ginny because, in her mind, she can’t escape her resentment of him for robbing Hershel of his father.

Ginny being sent to the Hilltop — or whatever it’s become now — was a nice tie to The Walking Dead, but I’m not buying what Maggie’s selling about the place imploding and having to relocate.

Negan in the Big Apple - The Walking Dead

She was adamant that the Whisperer War was its downturn, but her final scenes on the series finale showed it thriving.

That was around the time she revealed she wanted to see what else was out there, and given that she was coached in helping emerging communities by Georgie, it makes me think she’s leading more than one location at this stage.

It’s hard to imagine the community falling apart and having to relocate, not when you have people like Ezekiel and Carol in positions of power at the Commonwealth. They wouldn’t allow any of their friends to go without.

The more likely theory is that many bad things have happened following The Walking Dead Season 11 that we’re not privy to, and we’ll get answers as The Walking Dead: Dead City progresses.

New Face in New York

The series premiere did an outstanding job of leaving us plenty to chew on as we await The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 Episode 2.

The biggest compliment I can give is that it started the story in New Jersey and charted Maggie and Negan joining forces, as well as their journey across the Hudson and into the Big Apple.

Perlie: My name is Perlie: Armstrong. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I like a good hog stew. Just want to give you a sense of what kind of people I am. I’m not your enemy. I come from New Babylon. Capital city. It’s more of a small town, tree-lined streets, families looking out for each other. I got a wife and three daughters. They’re my everything. Now, I don’t know why you with that man I’m looking for. Or why you’ve taken one of our marshals hostage. But I’m guessing you got your reasons. Heck, might even be a good one. I’m open to hearing it. And I mean that sincerely. But if I get to you first, I’m going to be a little less open, and I will get to you.

The cinematography was on point, delivering a chilling feeling as we got our glimpse at the most densely populated area we’ve ever encountered in The Walking Dead universe.

The setting allowed for some big swings in terms of zombies and exciting new set pieces, reiterating that TWD: Dead City will continue to exceed expectations.

Maggie vs. Negan Again - The Walking Dead: Dead City

Gaius Charles is an excellent addition to the universe as Perlie. He brings a unique viewpoint as a marshal for Babylon, which we haven’t had in this universe. He’s driven by his need to follow the rules.

It was inevitable Negan would cause trouble everywhere he went, but he crossed the line by killing a sheriff — that’s punishable in this new world order.

It’s hard to tell whether Perlie will be forced to join forces with Maggie and Negan because, let’s face it, he’s a bit of a lone wolf in NYC.

On top of that, the Croat seems to have the lay of the land, which could mean he’s being hyped up as the only person in power on this island filled with the dead.

Aiming at the Horde - The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 23

The Croat’s crazier side was introduced when he allowed one of his prisoners to fall from a zipline while counting away the building’s stories as he did it.

Negan: Good try, kid, pullin’ on our heartstrings.
Maggie: What are you doing?
Negan: Tossing him overboard. It’s not like he’s coming to the party. Hey, relax. It’s a short swim. You can doggy paddle. You’ll be fine.
Maggie: No!
Negan: He is a marshal, Maggie… Junior Marshal. Whatever the hell he is. Every second he stays, he’s a threat, a liability.
Marshall: Yeah, or insurance.
Negan: Either way, it doesn’t matter what you think. You know, you have been sticking it to me in infinite little ways since the second we hooked up. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. And I get how having Hershel taken has you spinning out, stirring up emotions, memories, all sorts of shit, but vengeful thoughts that I thought you had put to bed, clearly you have woken the hell up. But what I don’t get is after all these years, you still think I’m the bad guy? I’m not. No one is. Or you know what, Maggie? Maybe everyone is. Ask yourself one question. How many husbands and fathers have you killed?
Negan: What you did, you don’t ever put something like that to bed.

He strikes me as someone who expects people to follow his orders, and for that reason alone, I want to know more about his time with Negan.

They have personalities that would clash, so there has to be more to this story.

Another wild, unexpected, and unnerving scene came from the woman throwing the zombies off the building. Zombies falling from the sky sounded harrowing, and it was proven true for Maggie and Negan as they desperately sought safety.

Maggie Searches for Her Son - The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 22

Also chilling was the way the woman blew out the match, plunging the area into darkness. I imagine they’ll have a battle with her as The Walking Dead: Dead City continues.

It’s hard to believe, but I’m all in on this latest spinoff. I hope it continues using the New York backdrop to deliver fresh and exciting horrors.

The premiere was bursting at the seams with meaningful development, which hasn’t been the case with the other spinoffs, so we’re off to a flying start.

TWD: Dead City Key Art - The Walking Dead: Dead City

What are your thoughts on Maggie and Negan being thrust back together? Does it feel forced, or did it work for you?

Out of the new characters, who’s your favorite?

Negan: Hey, when this is over, will you look after Ginny for me?
Maggie: We don’t have time for this.
Negan: Hey, wait, wait, wait. Just… please, look after her for me.
Maggie: ‘Cause you’re not going back to her.

What are your thoughts on The Croat and his wicked tests?

Hit the comments.

TWD: Dead City continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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