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Monday, July 10, 2023

The Walking Dead: Dead City Review Episode 4 Takes the Fight to Madison Square Garden

“The Walking Dead: Dead City” continues its run with Episode 4, “Everybody Wins a Prize.” Negan, Maggie and the band of survivors they’ve united with are on the attack. Seeking to reclaim Maggie’s son Hershel from the grasp of the evil Croat (Željko Ivanek), the group devises a plan that involves Negan distracting his former Savior while the rest of them swoop in to rescue Hershel. Housed in an abandoned Madison Square Garden, the Croat’s base of operation makes for a stellar “Walking Dead” villain lair. 

Using his signature whistle to lure the Croat deep into the depths of his stadium, Negan engages in a cat-and-mouse sequence as the Croat hunts him down throughout the once lively building. The chase results in a stand-off on a catwalk, with the Croat boasting about the new “Sanctuary” he’s created in the wake of Negan forcing him out of the Saviors all of those years ago. The placement of the Croat on the upper-balcony while Negan stares up above at the maniacal villain helps to emphasize the drastic shift in their power dynamic. 

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

An exciting cold open scene showcases the return of Steven Oog’s character Simon, last seen in “The Walking Dead ” Season 8. Simon, alongside a classic Negan (sporting leather jacket, Lucille, and all!), encounter the Croat’s handiwork after he brutally tortured a young girl to receive intel about The Kingdom. Seeing Simon, Negan, and the Croat all together really helps to contextualize the “Dead City” villain and his extreme connection to one of the leading antagonist groups in the flagship “Walking Dead” series. 

Negan is horrified at what the Croat’s done, as even he draws the line when it comes to children; fans will remember how much Negan sympathized with Carl Grimes despite his father being an enemy. A clever match-cut swifty goes from younger Negan’s greatly disturbed face to the present day where Negan is deep in thought over the Croat’s presence in New York City. Even to this day, the Croat’s relentlessness still scares him. 

“The closer we get to the Croat, it just starts to feel a bit too God damn familiar. Like if he starts talking it won’t be him at all, it’s gonna be the echo of some song that I don’t want to hear no more,” Negan exclaims to Maggie as they prep for the attack. The dynamic of a reformed, more civil Negan going after the ghost of the type of man he was back in Season 8 is a fascinating approach to exploring his current psyche. 

Željko Ivanek does an exceptional job in the role of Croat, showcasing a different style of diabolicalness and sadistic-ness than that of Negan in his Savior days. 

Zeljko Ivanek as The Croat – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

The plan to infiltrate Madison Square Garden and rescue Hershell turns out to be a trap, with Maggie and co. stranded in the middle of the stadium as walkers close in from all entrances. The sequence sports a few neat walker-killing moments, with the occasional red-shirt character meeting their end within the horde. Unfortunately, many of the new side-characters Maggie and Negan have recruited along the way continue to pale in comparison to the fascinating dynamic between the two leading characters. Characters like Tomasso (Jonathan Higginbotham) and Amaia (Karina Ortiz) round out the ensemble cast in a sufficient way, but when it comes to caring about their livelihood, there isn’t much weight to be felt. 

The visuals of this battle sequence are quite impressive, taking place in a giant caged-in boxing ring illuminated by spinning lights. Alongside the massive establishing shots of dilapidated New York City, other locations within the show like this continue to emphasize a refreshing sense of scale for “The Walking Dead” universe. 

Meanwhile, young Ginny somehow pops up in Madison Square Garden and quickly gets looped into the precarious situation Maggie has found herself in. Four episodes into the series and the character of Ginny still lacks much intrigue, often intruding back into the plot when there are already enough balls in motion. Hopefully the writing team behind “Dead City” has cooked up an exciting revelation about Ginny’s relevance; at this point in the series, actress Mahina Napoleon hasn’t been given much interesting material to chew on. 

Walkers – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

Gaius Charles’ Marshall comes back into the mix as the Croat tries to toss him over a catwalk right in front of Negan. Despite the Marshall conducting an ongoing man-hunt against Negan, the former villain still reaches over and rescues the Marshall from plummeting to his death. Here we have another act of heroism from Negan that showcases his continued shift away from being a ruthless menace. As Negan and the Marshall escape Madison Square Garden, Maggie and the rest of the survivors see no choice but to venture out through the Methane-filled sewers of New York City. 

With two episodes left to go, “Dead City” seems to be gearing up to a tense, action-packed conclusion. Snippets of the remaining two episodes hint at the appearance of some sort of mutant walker, first teased in the series’ original trailer a few months back. While the plotlines involving Ginny and some of the other newer characters have failed to draw in much intrigue, the endlessly complex dynamic between Maggie and Negan is always entertaining for the “Walking Dead” fan.

3 skulls out of 5

The post “The Walking Dead: Dead City” Review – Episode 4 Takes the Fight to Madison Square Garden appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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