Tanner reviews The Walking Dead: Dead City pilot episode

If you were upset that the Walking Dead had finally come to an end following season 11, then you’ll be thrilled to know the spin-off series is here! The one with Maggie and Negan if you’re confused. There’s supposed to be a few coming out, with stories going into different directions. This one is called Dead City and it starts off with Maggie in the middle of nowhere. She’s very distraught, by herself, and is trying to hide from a herd of zombies that lie ahead. She has her head down, waiting it out before a walker surprises her from behind. It’s not looking too good, but eventually she finds something off to the side and beats its head in. She does this over and over again, in a pretty drawn out start to what ends up being a very good episode. You’re further left to believe Maggie isn’t in the right head space, but why? Turns out there’s someone in New York City who has kidnapped her son Hershel and she’s unsure what to do.

Old Acquaintances

Following Maggie’s brief encounter with death to start the episode, she moves into a town in hopes of finding answers. She ends up being attacked and questioned by a crew who think she’s sniffing around where she shouldn’t be, and for the wrong reasons. They attempt to harm Maggie before she turns into John Wick and beats the shit out of all of them. Near the end of the fight, she stumbles into Negan. This encounter annoyed me because much like the start of the episode, the script was poorly put together in the beginning. You’re left wondering what has happened between the two of them since The Walking Dead finale and you’ll continue to wonder throughout the episode. The anger between them doesn’t make much sense, but you’re to believe it’s because of what happened with her husband Glenn. You may think this is old news, and rightfully so, but you eventually find out there’s more to it.

Negan is now watching over a little girl by the name of Ginny, who became an orphan when her father passed away one night. Negan introduces her to Maggie, which leads her to question how they know one another. The two make it seem like there’s much to tell and that they go way back. Maggie asks some of her friends to watch over Ginny and you’re to wonder what is next for the two main characters.

The scene where they’re talking for the first time becomes more intense as simultaneously you’re watching flashbacks of when Negan bashed Glenn over the head with a baseball bat. Negan looks to Maggie and expresses to her how she isn’t so innocent, as she herself has been forced to kill husbands and fathers throughout her own journey. It’s at this moment you realize the two understand there are bigger problems that lie ahead.

Negan Is A Wanted Man

During the back-and-forth between the two, Negan shows a WANTED sign with his face on it. Apparently marshals from a place called New Babylon are looking for him for crimes he committed. You instantly wonder what happened, but consider how it’s most likely a misunderstanding.

Negan admiring his WANTED picture

You flashback to a specific marshal who is on the trail of both Negan and Maggie, who goes by the name of Perlie Armstrong. He wears a black outfit, black hat, and is very soft spoken. You later find out he has a wife and three children, but is also very aggressive when it comes to asserting the law. He’s upset because he’s claiming Negan killed a magistrate and four others. He uses that aggression to find some clues that ultimately lead him to where they’re running to – New York City.

It’s Raining Zombies!

Maggie and Negan are on a boat, traveling through the water and fog to get to an island. The marshal they have captive is tagging along as insurance, but Negan thinks it’s a better idea if they throw him overboard. Maggie disagrees and they get into another fight. At this moment you find out why the two have hated one another for what appears like a second time. Negan looks to Maggie and says that she has been at his throat ever since they hooked up. Who knows what that means exactly, but it appears as though it triggered Maggie in some way. So much so that they went their separate ways.. until now.

The three eventually get to the island and you’re left wondering if Perlie Armstrong isn’t too far behind. The city scenes in this episode are the best. It’s when the three characters walk into the city and the first zombie falls from the sky that you realize how intense this series is going to be.

Jano, Maggie, and Negan when they arrive in New York City during the pilot episode of Dead City
Jano, Maggie & Negan

As they progress their way into the city, more and more zombies fall from the tall buildings nearby as they hear the three walking on the streets below. This leads to more and more zombies and eventually they become cornered. The three of them are hiding behind a large hill of garbage bags as the zombies get closer and closer. At the final moment, someone shoots them all, giving them a chance to run into a nearby building for cover.

The someone is Perlie Armstrong and he’s there to collect his bounty. He’s unsure why Maggie is protecting him, and he makes it known that she is now going to be hunted just like Negan. Maggie eventually gets behind him and knocks him out, but for whatever reason doesn’t kill him. You’re left to believe he’s going to continue to be a thorn in their ass as the show takes us to another perspective.

You Know, I Think You’re Gonna Like It Here

After Maggie and Negan fight with Perlie Armstrong, you are now looking into the perspective of what appears to be the main villain of the series. He’s the one who has kidnapped Maggie’s son and the scene begins with Hershel tied to a chair with Perlie looking over him and saying, “You know, I think you’re gonna like it here” before one of his henchmen interrupt to say that someone had gotten away.

The Croat in the pilot episode of Dead City
The Croat, played by actor Željko Ivanek

You’re now on the rooftops of the building with the new villain, who goes by the name of The Croat. He and his entourage begin walking towards a man. He’s bloody, has gashes all over his body, and it’s apparent he wants to escape. The Croat allows him to continue running and he eventually gets to a zip-line, and attempts to scale off the building. The man almost gets away, but the line is severed and he falls 20 stories to his death. The Croat looks over the edge of the building and you’re left wondering how much more brutal can it get.

Final Thoughts & Score

At first, I wasn’t picking up what this series was putting down. I thought the story telling taking place, since the end of The Walking Dead finale, was tacky and quickly put together. The fact that they started the pilot with Hershel already kidnapped and Negan randomly popping up out of nowhere annoyed me, but the episode doesn’t continue to disappoint. Once the origin story is told, and the two embark into the city, the show finds its footing.

The trailer for the episodes ahead have the two attempting to enter into what they’re calling the arena. It appears to be a sporting arena where the enemy has not only set up shop, but have also taken Hershel. The series will ultimately be about Maggie, with the help of Negan, attempting to find her son, while battling through all the different types of people and walkers along the way. It’s dark, it’s intense, and it’s exactly what The Walking Dead stopped being after about the fifth season.

I recommend watching the pilot and I’d give it a solid 8/10.

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