by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for Dead City Season 1, Episodes 1-3.
Dead City is the first (of three) followup series to The Walking Dead. As a fan of the franchise, I tuned in to the first episode, eager to follow up with Maggie, and most importantly, Negan (one of my favorite characters from the comics and television series). Yet that first viewing was far from satisfying for me. I was just so confused, and had so many questions. Why was Herschel kidnapped? Why was no one else accompanying Maggie to get him back (the Hilltoppers and Alexandrians I know would be willing to do so with little notice)? Where were Annie and Negan’s child? Why was Negan wanted by New Babylon? And of course, why did the show kill off Michelle Hurd so early (seems like a lot of talent to waste on an early victim)?
AMC is now halfway through airing the first season of Dead City, and these confusing plot threads are finally starting to come together. While unsatisfying at first, I now understand the players, their motivations, and what they are doing in Manhattan. In this sense, ‘People Are a Resource’ (episode 3) was a watershed moment for this series.
Viewers have finally been given some of the information they craved. It seems clear that the Croat’s motivation in kidnapping Herschel had nothing to do with Maggie’s grain (after all, going from Manhattan to Alexandria for grain seems like a stretch) and everything to do with his desire for revenge upon Negan. Maggie’s obsession with finding Herschel has to do with his being her child, and last remnant of Glenn, but also because of her regret for the harsh words she exchanged with him before he was kidnapped. Negan is wanted for the murder of five men who robbed and brutalized Annie, leading him to send Annie and his son to Missouri while he remained on the run from the New Babylon marshalls.
Of course, there are still questions remaining (the series would not be interesting without some mystery) but episode 3 is where things finally came together, not just for viewers, but for Negan and Maggie themselves. It seemed as if they were actually finding some common ground as they both regretted their last interactions with their loved ones. And only a blink of an eye later, they were both betraying each other. In simultaneously horrible judgement calls, Negan chose to kill Luther rather than simply leave the group, while Maggie contemplated burning Ginny’s beloved dino to prevent Negan from learning that she was nearby (and possibly dead). The characters have returned to some depth, rather than the shallow personas that they inhabited for the first 2 episodes.
At the same time, viewers were given more background on the Croat. Apparently, his madness stems from his family falling victim to cannibals (a trait he shares with Rick, who nearly suffered the same fate at Terminus). Adding to that, Negan, who had at first offered the Croat refuge, eventually turned on him, shooting off the Croat’s ear in a failed attempt to kill him. This betrayal clearly eats away at the Croat, which helps explain why he is so invested in getting Perlie to ‘prove his loyalty’ before allowing him to stay.
Mixed in with all of this is the ‘New York flavor’ that Dead City is using to distinguish this series from the others. The zip lines between buildings, the use of Thanksgiving parade floats to herd walkers, and the takeover of Madison Square Gardens are all interesting quirks of the city (although the cage matches are not, as the Governor held similar events back in Woodbury).
It feels as if this series is finally getting started, and I find myself curious to see where it is going.
As they did with the main series, Walking Dead: No Man’s Land has been providing weekly episode missions, highlighting key scenes or ‘behind the scenes’ moment. This week’s season episode features Negan and Maggie gaining the trust of their new allies by fighting Burazi with them.
What has been your reaction to Dead City so far? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!