And yet, like so many walkers before it, the universe simply refuses to die. Where the main series has ended, many smaller spinoffs have sprouted up to seek more flesh (and audience’s eyeballs) for some of its fan-favorite characters. “Dead City” is the first of these, and thus a test to see how these splintered stories will fare. And the future’s looking a bit bleak.

Set some time after the finale of the original series “Dead City” reunites Maggie (Lauren Cohan), last seen becoming the leader of Hilltop, and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), former big bad turned semi-repentant hero, whose introduction saw him bashing in the head of Maggie’s husband, Glenn, with his signature barbed-wire baseball bat, Lucille. (She’s nowhere to be found in “Dead City,” with no explanation given.) Now, the two of them become reluctant partners on a most dangerous mission: break into zombie-infested Manhattan, which was cut off from the rest of the world early into the outbreak in a futile attempt to stop the spread of the virus. 

As Maggie explains to Negan, a new group of baddies raided Hilltop, stealing all of their grain and—most crucially—Maggie’s son, Herschel (Logan Kim). What’s more, she has a sneaking suspicion their leader, “The Croat” (Željko Ivanek), has a history with Negan. So off they go to Manhattan, to face down the Croat and get Maggie’s kid back.

What follows is “The Walking Dead,” kinda, but with a heaping helping of “Escape from New York” slathered atop like so much viscera. Ian Hultquist’s synth-droning score evokes John Carpenter’s patented electronic pulses, with Negan and Maggie as our bifurcated Snake Plissken wandering down emptied New York City streets. They run across gangs both hostile (The Croat’s goons) and friendly (a group of native New Yorkers still hopeful they can take the island back), all of them in leather coats and sporting improvised weapons. “The Walking Dead” shows prior were ensemble dramas that often weaved their narratives across dozens of central characters; the narrative of this six-episode season is more focused, and the better for it.

That’s not to say it’s all rainbows, though; if you were tired of the “Walking Dead” formula, “Dead City”’s modest modifications aren’t quite enough to save you. Creator/showrunner Eli Jorné (who co-created with “Walking Dead” showrunner Scott M. Gimple) still leans on those tried-and-true TWD patterns: murky flashbacks, bursts of gooey KNB EFX Group zombie violence interspersed with one weepy monologue after another. While Maggie and Negan are as strong as ever (though Negan’s witticisms have evolved to dad-joke levels at this point), the show frequently splits them up for extended periods. What’s more, the secondary protagonists leave much to be desired: There’s a small-town marshal (Gaius Charles) whose Javert-esque journey to bring Negan to justice doesn’t add much to the table, and a mute teenager named Ginny (Mahina Napoleon) who’s meant to offer an emotional anchor for Negan, but instead wastes our time with pointless subplots. 

By admin