Television

The Walking Dead: Dead City – Stories We Tell Ourselves review S1 E5

Are there any heroes, villains or even good guys left in the Walking Dead world? Stories We Tell Ourselves seems to indicate there are no heroes, just simply survivors. And how you long survive solely depends on how willing you are to do whatever it takes to stay that way.

This spinoff has had some issues — a number of which crept up in this episode — but it’s been executed well enough to keep me invested in spite of the problems. Stores We Tell Ourselves went against course for too many shows and pulled the curtain back on most of the major subplots unleashing one bombshell after another that addressed some nagging problems suggesting there legitimately was a plan all along.

The episode was split in two with Perlie and Negan slowly making their way out of New York City while Maggie, Ginny, Amaia and Tomasso were in the methane-coated sewers heading…somewhere.

Not surprisingly, the more nuanced of the two focused on Negan. Perlie is insistent that Negan is his prisoner despite being significantly hindered thanks to the bolt through the leg courtesy of The Croat.  One of the dudes that beat up on Annie was a magistrate connecting the loop with Perlie’s need to bring him in although his dedication to the job seems wholly unwarranted in this case.

Perlie’s plan is to take a pier and use that as a raft to get out of NYC. That’s… actually a decent plan. A problem with killing off so much of the expendable cast in one episode is it limits some of the potential drama. If some of Amaia and Tomasso’s crew ended up with Negan it would have made this walk through the walker-filled courtyard more tense.

the walking dead dead city - stories we tell ourselves review - negan

Since Negan can’t die here and Perlie can’t get killed (yet), they lumber through what should be an impossible number of walkers to get into an apartment complex. Negan does the smart survivor move and tosses an apartment dwelling walker onto Perlie. No sense keeping this guy who wants to arrest him alive especially since he’s a liability in getting back to Maggie anyway.

Somewhat out of character for the more logical Negan, he offers to help Perlie get off the island. Perlie and Negan have a quiet moment to bond in a bus to give Perlie some time to recover. Perlie’s family lived in NYC and when the walkers became the dominant population, he left with his mother leaving his brother behind. Perlie rationalizes it since his brother was a druggie, who’s betrayed the family long before the walkers popped up. This would have been an excellent, sympathetic character-building moment for Perlie if again he hadn’t so coldly killed the bartender in the first episode for daring to be civil to Negan.

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While he seemed to be the head man on NYC campus, The Croat heads to Broadway to report to his boss, The Dama (Lisa Emery, Ozark). This makes sense as The Croat is just a weapon, a tool to be used by a more dominant personality. First Negan and now The Dama. She’s not at all happy with his failure in securing Negan though it’s not clear why she wants him.

Back in the sewers, Maggie is getting frustrated that Ginny keeps trying to track down Negan. Understandably, Maggie can’t get her lasting image of Negan out of her head and can’t see the drastic changes he’s undergone since their first meeting. Their sewer tour continues taking them right underneath Hell’s Kitchen. Could Matt Murdock still be running around killing walkers? Now that’s a spin-off I’d watch for 10 seasons!

Maggie is getting suspicious of Tomasso and thinks he was the one who tipped off the Burazi. Especially after he just so happens to find two oxygen tanks to help them navigate the methane sewers.

It’s a little too convenient that Tomasso would betray his whole crew and that Maggie would be the one who would ferret him out. I mean it was a little pat that he happened to get moved off by the walkers and managed to get back to Amaia, but still. Those guys were his family and if absolutely nothing else giving them up to The Croat wasn’t a great long-term plan despite his promise to give Amaia and him a way off the island.

the-walking-dead-dead-city-stories-we-tell-ourselves-review-maggie-and-ginny.

It seemed like the better approach would have been to just have Tomasso get bit while separated from the others and using his remaining time to get Amaia to safety. This betrayal just doesn’t have the same impact for a character we just met three episodes ago.

Tomasso’s big confessional doesn’t lead to the group heading off in different directions. There’s only one way out of the sewer so now there’s this palatable tension among everyone — including Ginny who spotted her dinosaur in Maggie’s bag.

Maggie is taking in too many of the fumes and doesn’t want oxygen, preferring to have visions of Negan bashing Glenn’s head in and Herschel yelling for her. Tomasso tries to explain his actions to Maggie, someone he doesn’t know compared to Amaia.

It doesn’t matter since the pile of walkers they decided to rest on woke up and kill Tomasso and Amaia. First, taking a nap around sleeping walkers is never a decent idea. Secondly, this was a terrible way to kill off the remaining two members of the community.

My brother has a running joke that Rick and his crew are like locusts that just raze one community before heading off and tearing another one to the ground. Tomasso’s betrayal gets Maggie off the hook to some extent, but wouldn’t all of them from the Scavenger Lady, the Pigeon Woman and Luther been far better off if they never encountered Maggie and Negan?

Why is Maggie so insistent on not using an oxygen tank? It’s not like she has to share with anyone now. She and Ginny come to another walker mound with some melted human flesh in the mix as well. Maggie gets stuck and has to tangle with a mutated walker with multiple heads who is seriously one of the more impressive walker designs in the entire Walking Dead universe.

the walking dead dead city - stories we tell ourselves review - mutant walker

Maggie’s star armor is even more impressive though and she takes it down without too much fuss. This would have been a good use of a free kill by sparing Tomasso from the walker rest stop fate and him recklessly going after the mutated walker because he’s so grief-stricken. The walker was too cool to not get at least one body and it would have made Maggie taking it down even more impressive.

Ginny leaves a message in walker blood that Maggie is a ‘LIAR.’ Somehow it means more than she used all caps.

Now Maggie goes for the oxygen, but she’s still a little loopy from inhaling all the fumes.

Now we get the full picture. The Croat gave Maggie Negan’s wanted poster in exchange for Herschel. This explains the show’s biggest sticking point of why of all the people she knows why Maggie sought out Negan to help get Herschel back. And also, Maggie really shouldn’t have been judging Tomasso too hard… Turns out Ginny saw the wanted poster in Maggie’s gear. You’d think characters would learn not to keep incriminating things in their bookbags. Unless pockets don’t exist any longer…

Ginny pops a flare though it’s unclear if Negan will be able to get to her before The Croat and his crew or Maggie.

the walking dead dead city - stories we tell ourselves review - ginny

This was an illuminating episode that addresses some major questions for the spinoff. Some of the execution could have been better, but this was certainly an eventful episode. Now let’s see how everything shakes out with the season finale.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Photo Credit: AMC

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