This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the TV show being covered here wouldn’t exist.
We all knew that eventually the tension between Maggie and Negan would come to a head. Although these two have reached somewhat of an understanding in this show, that deep pain still exists in Maggie. In the season finale titled, “Doma Smo,” their journey into the heart of NYC and the decisions each of them makes come to a head. Thankfully we now know there will be another season of The Walking Dead: Dead City, so we’ll get to see the consequences of these decisions.
The episode begins with Negan finding out that Ginny has followed him into the city. More importantly, he realizes that Maggie already knew she was here, which angered Negan. Negan insists that Ginny go with Armstrong back to the settlement where he had originally left her. When she declines (and finally speaks for the first time in the show) Negan admits to Ginny that he was the one who killed her father. This breaks both of their hearts and makes Ginny go with Armstrong. Maggie and Negan set off to track down The Croat.
The two reach a dockside warehouse and believe this is where they’ll find The Croat and his men. As Negan follows Maggie inside, he starts putting together the puzzle pieces. He’s figures out that Maggie intends to deliver Negan to The Croat in exchange for Hershel. This ignites the fight that fans have been waiting for ever since Negan swung his bat against Glenn. Maggie and Negan fight through the warehouse and above a crowd of walkers. Just as Negan is about to have the upper hand, he gives up and allows Maggie to take him just as The Croat’s men arrive. Maggie takes him to a transport vehicle where The Croat is delighted to see the captured Negan in his possession.
Meanwhile, Armstrong returns Ginny to the settlement and then returns home to New Babylon. He sits with his fellow marshals and his superior who asks him about his journey. Armstrong lies to her and says that Negan was killed and that’s why Armstrong returned without his bounty. She did not seem to care about this, but she very obviously saw through his lie and began interrogating Armstrong about the methane The Croat was harnessing at the arena. It sounds like this isn’t the last we’ll see of Armstrong or the people of New Babylon.
The Croat brings Negan and Maggie to a bank where the exchange will occur. They pass by Hershel and Negan tells him it’s good to see him. Negan watches as Maggie quickly gets Hershel out, completing her mission. As the two sit in the truck, Maggie realizes how upset her son is. He tells Maggie that his entire life all he can remember is her always looking over her shoulder waiting for Negan to come and kill them. He feels that Maggie cares more about getting her revenge on Negan for what he did than bonding with her son. After all she went through to get Hershel back, this was not the reunion she was expecting.
We then find Negan and The Croat at the door of the Dama where she instructs The Croat to leave them so they can talk. He begrudgingly obliges, leaving a very unsure Negan with this mystery woman. She explains that she has a plan to take over Manhattan and rule over all that’s left of it before the marshals of New Babylon can. She needs Negan’s “charm” and his violent nature to help achieve this goal.
The most awful part about this proposition was when she revealed that she had “kept a piece” of Hershel before he was given back to Maggie by cutting off one of his toes. She stated very clearly that if Negan failed to “perform” like the Negan she has heard so much about, she would take even more from Hershel. In that moment, Negan realized that he was trapped and would need to revert to the monster he truly is.
A satisfying conclusion
This episode overall was a great conclusion to the season. Negan and Maggie were both explored more than they ever were on the main show and were given the respect and care they deserved as beloved characters. The twist of Maggie turning Negan over to The Croat was both completely justified and shocking due to the time this show took to create a false sense of common ground between these two.
Characters like Ginny and Armstrong, however, did not really get enough time in the spotlight to make an impact. Knowing that we’re getting a second season brings a small chance they will revisit these side characters and build them out more than this season did. I loved the fight scene between Maggie and Negan that OG fans of the show have been dying to see. These two characters were always on a collision course and the ending of the original series softened that conflict too much. We needed to see this conflict between Maggie and Negan reignited and addressed and that’s exactly what made this show work.
With the conclusion of their season-long journey through the infected streets of NYC and the boiling point of their strained relationship, the season finale of The Walking Dead: Dead City provided a satisfying finish to an overall great show. With another season on the way and several other spinoff series coming out in the near future, The Walking Dead is regaining power and making longtime fans proud once again.
All episodes of The Walking Dead: Dead City are available on AMC.
Featured image courtesy of Peter Kramer/AMC
'The Walking Dead: Dead City' Season 1 Finale - 9/10