“The Walking Dead: Dead City” Season Finale Review – Negan and Maggie Battle in New York City

“The Walking Dead’s” first post-series finale spin-off has reached the end of its debut season. “The Walking Dead: Dead City” Season 1 concludes with “Doma Smo” (“we are home” in English), with all of the show’s storylines finally coming to a head in the Big Apple. 

At the start, Maggie, Negan, Perlie (Gaius Charles), and Ginny (Mahina Napoleon) all reconvene in a vacant lot, the narratives all converging as one. Last episode, it was revealed that Ginny uncovered that Maggie was lying about the terms of the deal to get Hershel back from the Croat (Željko Ivanek). Negan is frustrated that Ginny has willingly thrown herself into danger by entering New York City, despite Maggie setting her up with shelter at The Bricks.

In a moment that’s been building up all season, Ginny finally begins to speak after five straight episodes of staying mute. Shockingly, Negan cuts her off as he is still angered by her insistence on finding him in the perilous post-apocalypse New York City. Negan reveals to Ginny that the reason he sought to protect her was because he in fact was the killer of her father. With this devastating admission, it becomes clear that Negan has ruined yet another family. In this specific case, he’s done his best to provide protection and safety for the child of his victim as opposed to leaving her to fend for herself without a father.

After this horrifying revelation, Ginny storms off and Perlie is tasked with returning her back to The Bricks. While certainly occurring a bit too late in the narrative, this reveal regarding Ginny’s connection to Negan helps to strengthen the former-villain’s reasoning for aggressively protecting the young girl. Meanwhile, Maggie is dead-set on bringing Negan to the Croat so they can complete the deal and bring Hershel back home. Up until now, Negan still believes Maggie has only brought him along to help deal with The Croat, and not as a bargaining chip. 

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

As they approach the exchange point, Negan stops to ponder what Ginny may have been trying to say when he cut her off. Negan, no stranger to people trying to back stab him, immediately connects the dots that Ginny was almost certainly going to reveal to him that Maggie has been lying this whole time. Once Negan realizes what’s really happening, Maggie catches on quick that he knows that the jig is up. 

What follows next is a fight scene that’s been over 5 years in the making. Negan makes a mad dash for survival as Maggie chases him down on top of a catwalk that overlooks a scrambling horde of the undead. The duo jump from platform to platform, narrowly avoiding a plunge into the clawing hands below. The two survivors battle it out as the undead watch on, years of internal fury finally bubbling up to the surface. 

“Maybe some part of you always wanted it to end this way,” Negan says. “The fact is, Maggie, it doesn’t matter what excuses I give you, or how many apologies I offer. You can’t get over it. And you shouldn’t.” This line, expertly delivered by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, encompasses everything about Negan’s character at this state in the series. He’s aware of the pain he’s caused, and he never expects Maggie to forgive him for that pain. 

Negan continues to plead for Maggie to stop, but her rage has overtaken any sensibility. As a longtime fan of the series, it’s quite cathartic to watch these two “Walking Dead” legends finally battle it out fist to fist. Maggie manages to land a gruesome stab into Negan’s shoulder, an injury that doesn’t even scratch the surface of fair payback for what he did to Glenn. They continue to battle, but years of survival skills make the two both formidable foes. The Croat and the Barazi arrive just in time, with Negan giving up on his defense against Maggie and surrendering to his former-Savior companion. 

The trade-off with Negan and Maggie occurs in a bank vault. The air is tense, with Maggie keeping a knife to Negan’s neck. He lowers it for her, and willingly walks to The Croat as Hershel (Logan Kim) passes by towards Maggie. The reunion between Maggie and Hershel doesn’t exactly get the waterworks flowing, which most likely can be attributed to the fact that as an audience we’ve received very minimal screen time between Cohan and Kim until this point.

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

In the aftermath of this trade-off, we get one of the episode’s strongest scenes. As opposed to this being a heartfelt and eye-watering reunion, Hershel is frustrated and upset with his mother. He accuses her of being more concerned with getting revenge on Negan than actually caring for the well-being of her own son. 

It’s a very well written exchange, and newcomer Logan Kim perfectly embodies the character of Hershel in the aftermath of this traumatic kidnapping. Hopefully with “Dead City” Season 2, there will be more scenes between Maggie and Hershel, something that greatly would’ve enhanced this first season. 

As Maggie ponders if she made the right decision throwing Negan to the wolves in front of her son, she looks up to see the decaying Statue of Liberty. A visual reminder of the landmark Negan was most excited to see when they decided to embark on this adventure into the city. 

After the Croat excitingly hands off Negan to his superior Dama (and then is hilariously dismissed), the long-play for “The Walking Dead: Dead City” is revealed. Dama (Lisa Emery) desperately wanted Negan under her wing after Croat told her the stories about the intense grasp he had over the Savior army. Dama is looking for someone with that exact skillset to take on leadership among the dilapidated city. Dama believes that with Negan’s help the Barazi would be able to achieve the same ruling fist as the Saviors but on a much larger scale. 

Negan, obviously mostly reformed from his savior ways, is hesitant to take the deal, but Dama reveals she spent ample time with young Hershel and heard the stories of his mom and what Negan did to their family (this sequence is chillingly intercut with Maggie finding a drawing of Dama that Hershel drew in captivity). She presents a box to Negan and within it is one of Hershel’s toes! If Negan doesn’t comply with her demands, Dama will return to invoke more suffering on Hershel. Negan is completely trapped, with no choice but to become the man he once was to prevent the suffering of a family he has already ruined. 

Lisa Emery as The Dama  – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

Meanwhile, with Ginny returned to safety and Perlie back at the New Babylon, he is interrogated by the leader of the town. Perlie lies and says he killed Negan, completing the mission he was sent into the city for. The leader can see through his lies and presses him to expand on all of the methane that he encountered at the Croat’s base of operations. She’s clearly aware of the Barazi’s stockpile of resources, and with multiple factions in New York City aiming to take control, she sees this as a very important development. This scene further establishes and lays a ground plan for the kinds of conflicts that “Dead City” Season 2 will most likely expand on. 

Other random highlights from the episode include a heartfelt interaction between Maggie and Negan, as she talks about how she always wanted to go to the Macy’s in New York City to see Santa. Later on in the episode, The Croat reminisces with Negan about what actually went down during their infamous attack at (assumingly) Oceanside that was never fully explored in the main series. The Croat describes in gruesome detail the moment Negan let him use Lucille to punish a survivor, all while Negan listens on with angered disgust. 

The pre-airing announcement that “Dead City” was coming back for a second season certainly alleviated a lot of responsibility from this episode to tie up loose ends. Although, “Doma Smo” still delivered closure on several plotlines that had been winding their way through the entire season, with answers about Ginny’s connection to Negan, figuring out what the Croat wanted, and reuniting Maggie with her son. While the show had its ups and downs particularly in the middle of the season, it managed to tell a consistently interesting and entertaining “Walking Dead” style story set amongst the ruins of New York City. With Season 2, hopefully the series can continue to build on these newly established characters and create a strong, developed foundation for this extension of “The Walking Dead” world. 

“I’m gonna finish it, so that I can just let it go.” Maggie promises to Hershel. 

3.5 out of 5

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