When AMC ordered The Walking Dead: Dead City, I was worried about how long the series would be able to stretch the Maggie and Negan dynamic.
And then comes The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 Episode 3, a near-perfect hour of TV that successfully built a bridge between them.
By this point in their story, we know a lot about who they are as people, including their hopes and fears, but you could tell they were both bonded by the thought of losing the people they loved.
In the real world, people struggle with losing the people they love, but that must be somewhat accelerated in a world overrun by zombies.
The chances of reuniting with people you lose contact with are slimmer than ever in this universe, so all Maggie had of the people she loved were in her memory box.
Her arc has been widely governed by the people she’s lost, and while there’s no telling where her journey will end, I hope it’s infused with peace and happiness because she’s been through the mill.
It must have been difficult for her to compute the fact that Negan picked up a T-shirt for her to give Hershel when she finds him. A gift from the man who murdered his father will never land well.
Negan: I found this in the back of one of those tourist shops. I remember, uh… I remember Hershel used to wear one sort of like it. Thought maybe you could give it to him when you see him. He’s wrong, Luther.
Maggie: He is wrong. Your plan is gonna work. If you wanna talk about it or whatever, I… Contrary to popular belief, I do occasionally… know how to shut up.
Maggie: When the Croat showed up at our gates… I told Hershel… to get in the root cellar. I tried to make him hide. By then, I could’ve said left and he’d go right just to spite me. And he went and grabbed his shovel and a brick like that was gonna do anything. And I told him he was stupid. He told me to get off his damn back for once. And that is the last thing that we said to each other. And I screwed up so many ways before then. Fumbling through, doing it by ourself… There weren’t a lot of people that meant anything to me in this world. But there were enough. And whatever’s left of all of them is inside this box. And I’m…
Negan: A few years ago, Joshua, Annie, and I, we were living in this little cabin outside of New Babylon. One day, Annie decided to go into town to do some trading. When she wasn’t home at nightfall, I, uh… I knew something had gone wrong. I went looking for her. I found her. And she had been… ( sighs ) She had been– She had been robbed, beaten, and, um… She begged me not to do something stupid. The hell, you know me. I found ’em. All five of ’em. Some shit drinking hole. Honestly, I don’t think I even wanted to kill ’em. After that, we were on the run, and it was very hard for Annie. So I put ’em on a wagon train to Missouri, and I said I’d be right behind ’em. I stayed. I think about them every single day.
Maggie: I hope to god they are okay, and maybe I have no right in hoping that. Negan: I don’t know, Maggie. I mean, what else do we have? Besides hope.
As The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 Episode 2 teased, Hershel is filled with hate for the world.
It’s easy to put that down to him being at that stage of his teenage years, but you have to remember how much this kid has been through.
He’s traversed this dead world, knowing his father was murdered and been pursued by the Reapers and countless other villains.
When the Croat showed up at the New Hilltop, he probably wanted to defend his mother and everything they’d built there, but Maggie was more concerned with her son’s safety than her own.
Tommaso: Sometimes the door would open and he’d offer me food or medicine. All I had to do was start talking. How many of us were left, where we were hiding. But I knew the second I talked, I’d be axed, so… you know, the door kept opening. But let’s just say there was no more food and medicine. When I was a kid, my nonno used to talk about working on the crew that rebuilt Penn Station. People assumed the old station was gone. But Gramps, he knew the spots where they left the framework hiding behind the walls. So one night, the Burazi were kind enough to clean out my cell from all the blood they spilt in there. And lucky for me, a fleshie got in. I ran as fast as I could, followed the framework, found the tunnels.
Negan: So how far are the cells once we get in?
Tomasso: It’s close.
Negan: Wouldn’t bank on those cells being full. After your disappearing act, he would’ve moved folks off site.
Tomasso: How do you know?
Negan: It’s what he would’ve done.
Maggie: He and the Croat know each other. They go back.
Negan: Way back.
Maggie: He knows how he thinks.
Luther: Huh. So they buddies, then?
Negan: Were. Took a shot at him. Blew his ear off.
Maggie: He can bait him. Lure him out of the arena. And we get him to tell me where my son is. And we kill him.
Amaia: The rest of us will get a jump on his people so he can’t follow you. Luther: I’m sorry. You said he shot his ear off, right? So how is he gonna bait him?
Negan: You don’t think he’s gonna want payback? Eye for an eye? dіck for an ear?
Luther: And what if you’re wrong? What if it doesn’t work?
Maggie: It will work.
Amaia: Y’all gonna get us killed. And for what?
Maggie: For my son. So that I can get my son.
Luther: Your son is already dead! I think you know that.
Negan: All right, you know what? It’s been a long day. Let’s take five.
Ordering him to the root cellar was the only way she could go into this argument with the Croat and his men because she had to ensure her son’s safety.
Hershel declining the order and the subsequent argument between the mother and son sounded grim, but I’m sure they will find a way to move on from it if Hershel is found safe and well.
This will probably be a learning experience for Hershel. He was avoiding training and other things that could have aided him the day he was kidnapped.
Hopefully, that gives him the nudge to listen to his mother because her only hope is his safety whenever he’s away from the compound.
Negan’s admission about what happened to Annie was another bleak moment. It’s almost like the creatives wanted us to cry while watching this hour.
When Medina Senghore’s name was missing from the cast after her breakout performance on The Walking Dead Season 11 as Negan’s wife and baby mother, we could only speculate.
The easiest way to remove Negan from his wife and son would have been to kill them both off-screen, so I appreciate that the creatives went a different direction here, offering us much-needed context about why Negan became a wanted man.
We witnessed Negan at his most vulnerable on The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 22 when he said goodbye to Lucille, and he’s never really been able to bounce back from that.
You inspected the meat? Rotten meat can host all types of bacteria. And without the treatment that we once had, all potentially deadly. Why would you serve me rotten meat?
Losing Lucille forced him into this dead world to make decisions that would allow him the opportunity to survive — and thrive.
Hearing what happened to Annie was emotional because Negan understood that he couldn’t let these men get away with their actions.
It’s a depressingscenario because, no matter what Negan did, these men were in positions of power and could easily influence their peers to believe their story.
Sending his wife and son on a train was tough, but it was a selfless decision because he understood that these men would never stop until Negan was caught and killed.
The series has done a perfect job of fleshing out what happened to Maggie and Negan before The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 Episode 1 to craft a compelling arc for each of them.
I dare say Maggie will consider helping Negan get back to Annie and Joshua if he follows through on his end of the deal to reunite her with Hershel.
But deep down, you could tell she was already doubting the heart-to-heart with him when she entertained the possibility of setting the teddy bear reserved for Ginny on fire.
Then again, maybe Maggie will also go anti-Negan again when she learns of Luther’s demise.
The Croat: “Pearlie, I don’t know if you’ll even read this. I feel dumb it took me so long to realise you all changed your numbers. I wonder what those other people thought when they heard my messages. I’ve been trying so damn hard, but it’s too much for me. I’m too weak, and I can’t do it by myself. I need help. Please help me. Please come find me. I don’t like it where I am, and I just want to come home–”
Pearlie: Stop it! It’s just me. No one else. I had two partners, but they’re dead. We came to bring a wanted man home.
The Croat: Who is worth following here?
Pearlie: His name is Negan.
Through two episodes, Luther made a significant impact because his sole purpose was to keep his people safe. That’s why it was painful when he called out Negan and told him to leave, because obviously, Negan would have to retaliate.
Luther’s death was gruesome, but I was more concerned with the look on Negan’s face. He’s desperately tried to sidestep the fact that he’s been a ruthless killer in the past.
It was more a look of unleashing the beast than of disgust, which makes me worry about how bloodthirsty he’ll get in the back half of The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1.
Ginny’s arrival in Manhattan will undoubtedly change his priorities because he was so fiercely devoted to looking after her.
He couldn’t shake his worry about her survival, but her arrival could also send things with Maggie in a different direction.
Negan will probably blame Maggie for her escape from the Hilltop, and it could lead to a breakdown in this newfound friendship before it’s begun.
Ginny is a decent enough character, but I can’t be the only person who eye-rolled when she managed to get onto the island while people who have been there years struggle to escape.
It wouldn’t be The Walking Dead: Dead City without some weird and wonderful entertainment from the Croat, and Pearlie was seated for one of the most shocking dinners of his life.
You must be hungry. Pasticada. It isn’t magic, I promise. Only science. That was my profession. Alternative energy. So naturally, when I first arrived here, I couldn’t help asking myself, what is the most abundant natural resource on this island? Death. The sewers are full of it. As the bodies break down, they produce methane, and because the intermolecular forces are weak, the gas can be pressurised into a liquid fuel at regular temperatures. Amazing, isn’t it? What we have built here is a sanctuary. And all are welcome. So, why are you here, and whom did you bring with you? You understand, I can’t offer you refuge until you no longer pose a threat. Because above all, above all in this vicious, monstrous world, we must stay safe.
Pearlie has made a huge impact across a handful of episodes, and he proved resourceful to the Croat, which could bode well for his future.
Pearlie survived the cage, despite being high on the toxins from a walker, which is pretty wild.
The Croat is impressed with Pearlie, but without his new prisoner talking, how else could he break him?
Hearing Joel’s letter about how he needed his family and couldn’t cope in the city confirmed my suspicions that Joel killed himself early into the apocalypse, meaning that his remains sat in the apartment for years.
The only good to come of Pearlie’s tears is that he implied he didn’t have a family besides Joel.
Pearlie is honorable, so I don’t think he lied about having a family in New Babylon. Had Pearlie told the truth about it, the Croat would find some way to use it to his advantage.
With Maggie, Negan, Amaia, and Tomasso ready to invade Madison Square Garden and kill the Croat, my hope is that Pearlie joins their cause because they need someone like him.
“People Are a Resource” sent the series in a convincing new direction, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
What are your thoughts on Maggie and Negan’s talk? Are you surprised Annie is alive?
What will Maggie do when she learns of Negan killing Luther?
What do you think will happen next?
Hit the comments.
Catch new episodes of The Walking Dead: Dead City on Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC and AMC+.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.