The Walking Dead: Dead City Review

The Walking Dead: Dead City Review – An Especially Average Zombie Series

Like its namesake monsters, The Walking Dead is the show that won’t die. It keeps going — it gets revived, renewed, resurrected. The show’s first reprieve, The Walking Dead: Dead City brings back two favorite characters, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and sends them to Manhattan.

Set an indeterminate time after the end of The Walking Dead (I would guess a couple of years), Maggie goes looking for Negan to assist her on a dire task. A man who goes by the moniker The Croat (Željko Ivanek) came to The Hilltop (or rather, a new settlement, because apparently the original Hilltop was burned to the ground), took all their grain, and kidnapped Maggie’s son, Hershel. He promised that his men would return every few months for more grain and supplies. The Croat used to be one of Negan’s strongmen — one who was known as the torturer among Negan’s crew. He was so bloodthirsty that eventually Negan had to cut him loose. Maggie believes Negan will be of great help in finding The Croat and bargaining the release of her son. 

When Maggie finds Negan, he is accompanied not by his wife, Annie, or their young child; he is instead with a mute girl named Ginny. Negan is also being hunted by the marshal of New Babylon (a community that we learn virtually nothing about) for the murder of five men, one of whom was a magistrate. Negan agrees to help Maggie in exchange for Ginny getting safety in Maggie’s new community.

The Croat is set up on the island of Manhattan, which was one of the epicenters of the zombie apocalypse. The government blew out all the bridges in the hopes of containing the outbreak; as we all know, that didn’t work, and Manhattan became home to millions of zombies and a handful of human survivors. One of them, apparently, is The Croat.

An underused Manhattan

I had some problems with the overall logic of the setting. Though Manhattan seems like a great, horrifying setting for the show, the opening episode has all the characters make a huge deal about actually getting to the island. Then, it doesn’t seem very difficult. Hell, when Ginny runs away from her new home to rejoin Negan, she makes it to Manhattan floating in a cooler and rowing with a plank of wood. She didn’t seem to have any trouble making it through the streets to find Negan, either.

Manhattan is underused as a location. You get plenty of wide shots of the crumbling cityscape, teeming with thousands of zombies roaming the streets, but there is no real sense of danger when you are with Maggie, Negan, or any of the few other characters the show introduces. In fact, they meet a small group of survivors almost immediately, and there is mention of other survivor groups and communities on the island, which makes all the talk of it being Ground Zero feel a little overblown.

The Walking Dead: Dead City

The Walking Dead: Dead City lacks the worldbuilding that the original series was so well-known for. It feels as though the show takes its established characters for granted, giving them new problems with little backstory. We do finally find out what happened to Negan’s wife and why he takes care of Ginny, but we never find out about what happened to Hilltop. Similarly, a major plot point is New Babylon, but we never find out anything about it. Are they a big community? Are they corrupt? 

The new characters that we are introduced to are scarcely outlined. Besides The Croat, we meet Tommaso (Jonathan Higginbotham) and Amaia (Karina Ortiz) — the two leaders of the barebones survivor group that Maggie and Negan encounter early on. Other than the fact that they are native New Yorkers, we know nothing about them. With only six episodes in this season (or series? It’s never clear if this is meant to be a miniseries or if there will be more seasons), the show doesn’t spend much time with Tommaso and Amaia, so I never felt any connection to them. 

The other new character we meet is the marshal, Armstrong (Gaius Charles), who feels like a better represented character. In Episode 2 he encounters the corpse of his brother, but even then, it’s a little early to be expected to feel any sympathy for his character and we don’t learn about his backstory until several episodes later. However, we spend a lot of time with Armstrong and he seems like a complicated, fully realized character by the show’s end. I want to see more of him.

Ultimately, The Walking Dead: Dead City isn’t bringing anything new to the table. It doesn’t introduce any new mythology, no communities with interesting characters, etc. If you were a big fan of The Walking Dead, you will probably watch this show. If you weren’t a fan, Dead City is not the place you should start. It is a perfectly average show and one that might have been a little more impactful if I weren’t still reeling from The Walking Dead lasting about three seasons past its prime.

SCORE: 5/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 5 equates to “Mediocre.” The positives and negatives wind up negating each other, making it a wash.

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