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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

“The Walking Dead: Dead City” Review – Episode 5 Unleashes the Monstrous “Walker King”

Picking up right where the previous episode of “The Walking Dead: Dead City” left off, Maggie and co. dig deeper through the Methane-filled sewers of New York City while Negan and Marshall Perlie Armstrong (Gaius Charles) venture off on their own journey through the city. Ginny (Mahina Napoleon) is now also along for the ride after intervening during the attack on Madison Square Garden. 

Napoleon’s character continues to not say a word, choosing only to communicate through judgmental glances. Meanwhile, the Croat (Željko Ivanek) takes a rage-fueled trip to an abandoned theater where he reports the recent skirmish to a mysterious woman called the Dama (Lisa Emery) who seems to be his superior. 

The Methane in the sewers causes Maggie to aggressively hallucinate, once again replaying the visual of Glenn (Steven Yeun) getting his head bashed in by Negan. The shocking flashback was very effective in the series pilot, but at this point it feels overused and over-indulgent. It’s clear Maggie is still processing that painful memory, but there has to be another way to showcase that aside from constantly replaying the visual. 

Tomasso (Jonathan Higginbotham) manages to find oxygen tanks in the sewers, but Maggie is suspicious of the lucky coincidence. She manages to cough out a confession out of him that he confided with the Barazi in exchange for access to resources that could allow him and Amaia (Karina Ortiz) to travel to a safer place. Tomasso is the reason the Barazi knew about Maggie’s attack and partly responsible for the casualties that occurred in the arena. There’s a moment of brief relatability, where Tommaso explains to Maggie how he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family, a mantra Maggie has followed many times before. 

Unfortunately, Tommaso’s apology is short-lived as what were previously thought to be dormant sewer walkers spring to life and cannibalizes both Amaira and Tommaso. The deaths are quick, and rather unwarranted. Nothing about the sequence seems sensical, considering the survivors thought it would be a good idea to take a break and rest on top of walker bodies. It joins a long line of “The Walking Dead” universe deaths that feel tacked on and inconsequential. 

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

The biggest revelation of the episode comes when Ginny abandons Maggie in the sewers, leaving a blood-stained “LIAR” message on the walls. It’s revealed that while Ginny was temporarily living at Maggie’s community (dubbed The Bricks) she investigated Maggie’s grain supply after she claimed the Croat was draining the community’s resources periodically as punishment. Much to Ginny’s shock, Maggie’s community seems to be fully stocked on resources. 

Via flashback, it’s revealed that when the Croat kidnapped young Hershel (Logan Kim) he handed Maggie the “Wanted” poster with Negan’s face on it. All this time Maggie has been lying to Negan about the plan against the Croat, as it seems that she must trade Negan to the Barazi in order to get her son back. This certainly plants the seeds for a tense confrontation in the upcoming season finale, as until now, Negan and Maggie have developed a loose, but effective trust between one another. If Ginny’s ultimate purpose in the show was just to expose Maggie’s lies, then that’s quite an underwhelming revelation for a series regular. 

Seeing the Croat nearly crumble under the superiority of Lisa Emery’s Dama is an interesting reversal of roles for the character who’s served as the main antagonist since the pilot. With just one episode left in this season, hopefully the show is able to explore this additional villain enough to make her inclusion in the last two episodes feel relevant to the main story. 

The atmosphere of Dama’s lair, so to speak, gives off an eerie vibe with operatic music echoing throughout the vast theater. The building and Dama as a character evoke a twisted elegance that calls to mind the Milton family from the Commonwealth in the main series. These types of stylistic locations continue to add to “Dead City’s’” unique apocalyptic DNA . 

The true highlight of “Stories We Tell Ourselves” occurs when Maggie comes face to face with the creature referred to as the “Walker King.” First teased in one of “The Walking Dead: Dead City’s” early trailers, the “Walker King” is an amalgamation of about 3 walkers all stuck together with sludge, fat, and other putrid substances. The monster, practically created and puppetered by a crew, brings an old-school style of zombie shock to “The Walking Dead” universe. 

Walking Dead Walker King

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee – The Walking Dead: Dead City _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

Maggie tussles with the creature as all of its mouths and arms gnaw and thrash at her. While the fight is short-lived, the awakening and approach of the “Walker King” is some of the finest practical effects work we’ve seen in “The Walking Dead.” After Maggie defeats the behemoth, viewers are treated to a classic Jason-Voorhees-at-the-canoe-style jump scare when one of the walkers attached to the monster springs up one more time to screech up at Maggie. The puppeteer work in this moment looks like something straight out of “Creepshow,” which is totally a compliment by my standards.

Meanwhile, Negan and Marshall Armstrong continue to play cat and mouse as they explore more of New York City. They stumble upon some creepy doll sculptures that don’t really have much of a pay-off aside from the reveal of a corpse with an ax in its head. While Negan constantly tries to outsmart the Marshall and escape, the two continue to get the upper hand on one another. Eventually, they stop the games and get to talking. They bond over the fact that both of them used to work for the state, as Negan was a gym teacher and Perlie was a drift collector. 

The two have a heart-to-heart in a school bus, where Negan is able to find a first-aid kit because of his experience in schools. Throughout the show, Perlie has proven to be one of the better developed characters out of the new cast. His turn from supposed antagonist to valuable ally has been an entertaining journey to watch play out on screen. The bond between him and Negan rings true, and Gaius Charles and Jeffrey Dean Morgan have palpable on-screen chemistry. 

As we near the last episode of “Dead City,” one of the most glaring issues has surprisingly been the lack of exploration with Maggie. While each episode seems to give us ample time with Negan and his relationship with others, it often seems like Maggie is tasked with moving forward the main plot and re-treading existing character traits. 

The scene between her and young Hershel earlier in the series was such a fascinating glimpse into Maggie and her son’s relationship. It would have been beneficial to include more of these moments where we receive insight into Maggie’s life post-”The Walking Dead.” Now that some of the side characters have been chewed off, hopefully more time can be spent exploring other facets of Maggie’s character in the season finale of “Dead City.”

3 skulls out of 5

The post “The Walking Dead: Dead City” Review – Episode 5 Unleashes the Monstrous “Walker King” appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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