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The Walking Dead: Dead City Episode 5 Review – Stories We Tell Ourselves


The Walking Dead: Dead City unleashes a threat unlike any seen before in post-apocalyptic New York City.

Jeffrey Dean Norgan as Negan in The Walking Dead: Dead City episode 5, Stories We Tell Ourselves
Photo: Peter Kramer/AMC

This The Walking Dead: Dead City review contains spoilers.

The Walking Dead: Dead City Episode 5

Negan is a swaggering, leather-clad bad-ass who smashes zombies and people with equal ease, if his introduction was to believe. The Negan who was introduced in the season 6 episode of The Walking Dead, “The Last Day on Earth,” has slowly changed into something different. Not changed, as much as revealed; we’ve been allowed to see behind the mask that turned a humble gym teacher and devoted wife guy named Negan Smith into the character of Negan. Behind the leaning-at-angles shtick and the constant stream of quips, there’s a real man masking real emotions and insecurities. The Walking Dead: Dead City has provided more of a peek behind that curtain and given Jeffrey Dean Morgan more to play with that isn’t just surface-level cool.

Maggie is going through that journey in the opposite direction. We know Maggie very well at this point, and we’ve watched Lauren Cohan take her from a tough-talking farm girl to an actual leader, who refuses to allow others to push her around and who’ll do anything to get what she needs for her people, or herself. She’s willing to beg, borrow, or steal, and if the last season of The Walking Dead didn’t prove that, Dead City certainly has thanks in no small part to some of the flashback moments in this week’s episode. Gandja Monteiro makes the best possible use of all of her actors this week, from Maggie and Negan to Perlie’s reveal of his psyche concerning his brother’s misdeeds.

The entire premise of Maggie tracking down Negan is real; what’s falsified is the thing The Croat (Zeljko Ivanek) wants from her. Turns out, he’s never really been interested in grain, as we learn from Ginny’s trip down flashback lane. Negan has been his goal all along, but it doesn’t seem like he’s the one looking to actually get hands on with the former leader of the Saviors. There’s someone else involved, who appears to be a power behind the throne sort, who only shows up to be scary and put The Croat at his proper place at her feet. It’s a novel enough wrinkle; we’ve mostly seen bad guys who are the guy in charge, all lieutenants have clearly been labeled as lieutenants. Now this little surprise.

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