Review, The Walking Dead, TV Shows

The Walking Dead Dead City: Episode 1 Recap and Review

Negan and Maggie

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Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1, Episode 1.

Have you had a chance to check out The Walking Dead’s latest spin-off, Dead City? The Maggie-and-Negan-centric TV show on AMC has already kicked off to exciting action, typical character tension, and the blood and gore we’ve come to expect from a TWD show, but this one has something we haven’t seen yet: falling undead.

The first episode opens with our old pal Maggie scoping out an impressively ruined Manhattan skyline. After spotting an endless line of walkers across the water from where she is, she ends up fighting one herself. Within the first few minutes of the show, we get a sense that the creators (including TWD vet Eli Jorné serving as showrunner) are not holding back on the goriness of this spin-off. No sirree.

The Walking Dead: Dead City Review 

Maggie ends up at a local bar, in an almost pre-apocalyptic environment, but gets into a bit of a bar brawl with the locals when she can’t help but do some spying behind the curtain. We find out that she was hunting for Negan the whole time. Not to kill him, as one might think, but to elicit his help in a rescue mission to find Maggie’s son, Hershel, who has been kidnapped by a crazy guy known as “The Croat.”

That’s the reason Maggie was scoping out Manhattan and that’s the reason she’s willing to put up with Negan for the next few episodes (seasons?). Don’t get me wrong, she still harbors a whole helluva lot of hatred for the man who bashed her husband’s head in (we even get a few instant replays of that horrible moment in this episode), but she’s willing to soldier through to get his help.

But why his help, specifically? Turns out, this Croat guy was once on Negan’s team. He was heard whistling that same creepy tune that Negan used to whistle incessantly back when he was a bad guy, and Maggie recognized it. This “exceptionally insane son of a bitch,” as Negan calls him, is our established antagonist. And he’s a whopper.

In the meantime, Negan and Maggie (and Negan’s new mute friend, Jenny) have to deal with these marshals who are stalking Negan because he murdered a magistrate in New Babylon. The trio ends up capturing one of these marshals (or… marshal-in-training) to help guide them to Maggie’s son. But a final confrontation sees the end of the lawmen as Maggie, Negan, and Jenny trudge on to look for Hershel.

Negan The Walking Dead: Dead City

As mentioned earlier, one of the most memorable scenes in this episode included falling walkers (fallers?) splattering all around our heroes as they walk amongst skyscrapers. This is when we all realize that the undead can hear Maggie, Negan, and Jenny below, so they’re just casually dropping down all around them from hundreds of feet above. This was undoubtedly an exciting scene, but I couldn’t help but wonder how triggering it may be for those who lost loved ones in the same fashion (in the same city) on September 11, 2001. Sure, that was more than 20 years ago, and this is fiction, but the similarities made me wince a bit. Hopefully, it’s a non-issue.

At this point, we get to see Hershel’s point of view as he’s tied to a chair, listening to the insane ranting of The Croat (played by Željko Ivanek), awaiting certain torture. You may have noticed that Hershel is not played by the same actor who played him in the main series (Kien Michael Spiller) because Dead City is meant to take place several years after the end of the main show. So we get a great portrayal by Logan Kim, whom you may remember as the little boy in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

But the appearance of a mysterious woman who seems to live in one of the towering buildings has us wondering about this new character. We only see her for a brief moment, but it’s an intriguing mystery that I’m sure we’ll have solved soon.

So now we have the foundation for the rest of this show and the reason Maggie and Negan, the most unlikely duo in TWD history, would be featured together in their own spin-off.

But the thing is, I think it works. There will always be that tension between them (and tension is good!), but there are also occasional hints that Maggie might be lowering her walls a bit every time she sees Negan do something “nice.” We saw it in the main show several times and we’ve already seen it in Dead City while Negan was helping the young Jenny.

Despite Negan’s horrific act that polarized the core TWD community all those years ago, he’s still charismatic enough to be one of the most beloved characters. I think the pairing works well enough to keep me interested for the rest of the season. The storyline, however? I hope it picks up a bit and throws us some real curveballs.

The first two episodes of Season 1 are now available for AMC+ subscribers, with Episode 2 coming this Sunday for everyone else on AMC. Look for my recap and review of Episode 2, coming soon!

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    Shawn has been infatuated with the post-apocalyptic genre since he wore out his horribly American-dubbed VHS of the original Mad Max as a child. Shawn is the former Editor-in-Chief at, creator of the Aftermath post-apocalyptic immersion event, and author of "AI For All," a guide to navigating this strange new world of artificial intelligence.
    He currently resides on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with his wife and four children.

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