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Sunday, August 13, 2023

Doma Smo |SEASON FINALE| The Walking Dead: Dead City

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Originally Recorded 2023.07.23
"We are home" …if it's where the heart is, are we really? Our experience has altered our sense of what home really means. Was it ever a home to begin with? Meanwhile, our antagonists are setting the stage for war.
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:


  • Our dear friend and fellow co-host/creator, Bridget, broke down both the trailer and first ten minutes of the upcoming spin-off, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon:
  • Although we haven't yet found the time to edit/publish it, Fear The Walking Dead's Top 7 Best Moments is already available in all its hilarious and unedited glory! You can stream it on either Ko-fi or Patreon!

  • Takeerah's overall impression: many questions answered, loved the tussle between Negan & Maggie Rhee, and expressed some consternation over TWDU's formula of receiving only 6 episodes in the first season of every series, but thought The Walking Dead: Dead City managed to pull off a satisfying first season, overall. On that note, Rachael thought the series finale of Dead City was meh, but enjoyed it overall: she notes that it sets up the second season very well. However, both Sherrandy and Rachael weren't surprised that Hershel Rhee was rescued and were disappointed that the season finale wasn't more of a banger. Dave and Bridget thought it was really good: Dave really enjoyed the symmetry between several characters on (seemingly) opposing sides and Bridget appreciates all the different ways the series, on the whole, showed the depths of Maggie's suffering, lest we forget (because even Negan says that it's not just something you get over).

  • In case you missed it, we went live to break any news relating to The Walking Dead Universe coming out of San Diego Comic Con and, as it pertains to Dead City, we received the announcement that there would already be a second season! At the time, we avoided showing the montage they made for it because we were concerned it would contain spoilers from the season finale, which hadn't yet publicly aired. After finally watching the season finale, then the montage, we posted a clip on our own social media explaining why we didn't and how it didn't actually contain any spoilers, in case people avoided it, too.
  • We hone in on the trauma Maggie keeps reliving - Negan murdering Glenn Rhee right in front of her: Dave thinks it's something she feels she has to conjure up in order to commit to trading Negan for Hershel while it's also fair to say being placed in this predicament by The Croat is reason enough. We take a step back and ask the question of whether she's always felt this way because, according to Hershel, ever since they left The Hilltop (Lauren Cohan leaving the show), she's always been looking over her shoulder. Though we all concede that maybe she's felt this way since the first time jump on The Walking Dead, we only differ in the severity she's felt it over the years. Being around Negan all this time has undoubtedly made things worse, but also complicated.

  • To contextualize how Maggie's suffering is something greater than a single, traumatic event (or even the series of losses we've seen on TWD, like her sister, Beth Greene,  her father, Hershel Greene, and all of Meridian's wardens), it goes back to her childhood and how (she tells Negan) New York City reminds her of the displays in the windows of Macy's department store during Christmas time and wanting to meet and befriend Santa Claus so that he could somehow repair and bring back toys that were broken and lost. She's always focused on the things she's lost and Negan was just another catalyst.
    Editor's Note: I also wanted to relate this to the elder Hershel's alcoholism and how the note of broken and lost toys was probably a sly way of implying how bad it must've been to live under his roof during that period of time in her life.
  • @freyian814 asks what our reaction would be if Negan & Maggie got together. Dave thinks that if even the most offensive jokes can somehow make people laugh if well-constructed, equally if the show could somehow build up to that in such a way that would make it possible, he would accept it. Sherrandy says they have had amazing on-screen chemistry since her reappearance at the end of Season 10, but doubts it. Rachael says, no matter what, it's just not possible - the chemistry is simply between Lauren Cohan & Jeffrey Dean Morgan as actors.

  • All of that aside, their fates are intertwined. Takeerah even says the show may give Hershel, in some way, the comic book narrative of Carl Grimes checking in on Negan, who had left the group. Sherrandy takes that further and says Hershel might find kinship with Negan if he heads back to The Dama's group. No matter what happens, it seems Maggie is set to save Negan because it's the right thing to do.

  • In an earlier episode, Sherrandy relayed a theory from another podcast saying Negan had killed Ginny's father. They ended up being right, but the series goes further to mention that he wasn't just some ranch hand working the farm: he was among the group of people, including a New Babylon Federation magistrate, who (sexually) assaulted Annie Smith. Bridget interjects: maybe Negan just told Ginny that to get her to leave NYC with Marshal Pearlie Armstrong, much like the end of Harry and the Hendersons. Takeerah disagrees because she watched the commentary from each episode and JDM does allude to this fact. Dave compounds this by going all the way back to Negan & Maggie's first argument on the boat on the way to NYC, where he says, "How many husbands and fathers have you killed," which shows the depth of his torment over murdering Ginny's father. Takeerah goes on to say that he would've done the same for Hershel as he did for Ginny if something ever happened to Maggie. Rachael's final nail in the coffin is that Negan doesn't lie.

  • Takeerah reminds us of the gruesome state of Ginny's recently reanimated father: it was so traumatic that Ginny stopped speaking. The guilt of murdering Ginny's father, on top of what he probably didn't want to have to do to all of these men, scared him: it may have reminded him, too, of the horror and trauma he wrought on Maggie and her family (along with countless other families). When Ginny finally speaks to him, he can't even bear it (Dave jokes that her speaking was the thing that actually made him want to send her away). She even says, I want you to... what, exactly? The ladies say, "I want you to leave with me." Dave did not think this because, in context, this was just after she escaped Maggie, who had been lying to her about The Croat stealing all their food and why she needed Negan to help get Hershel back. Because she doesn't speak throughout the entire series, we really don't know the kind of person she is, either.

  • The gang all speculate that Ginny and Hershel are going to team up and find Negan, with her first words referencing how cool Negan was to hang with and how Maggie is a total liar. On a serious note, we're a little split on whether Ginny will forgive Negan for murdering her father or whether what he said to her was just to get her to leave him. Though Negan's vengeance against her father was righteous, we think he might hold back on telling Ginny why he killed her father in order to preserve her memory of him. To make the point, the series includes this scene, that didn't have to even be shown, of Ginny staring across the water at NYC just after Pearlie and she reach the other side of The Hudson River: it's hard to know what she's thinking in this moment.

  • Just after Pearlie drops Ginny off at The Bricks (AKA, New Hilltop), he tries to give her the flannel Negan used to cover her like a blanket in the first episode but she refuses it. Rachael thought it was because it might contain a note from her to Pearlie. Going back to the moment Pearlie and she reach New Jersey, we were surprised that they only took a small piece of the floating dock at Chelsea Piers to float across the Hudson River. But Sherrandy had a bigger question: how did Maggie and Hershel get across? We remarked in an earlier episode that The Burazi (or whatever this larger group with The Dama is called) have the means to get to and from Manhattan safely: now that Maggie's part of the deal was completed, they probably provided safe passage.

  • Dave and Bridget liked the big setup for the second season, even if the Rachael & Sherrandy would've preferred more of an explosive season finale or even a cliffhanger. Takeerah asks if we might even meet Joshua Smith, Negan's son. Dave takes a step back to say he almost hopes we don't because Annie and he being sent far away makes then safe from The Dama and Negan stands more of a chance of getting out of this, somehow. Sherrandy interjects, though: we see Hershel's fascination towards The Dama and how she and her group made him feel safe. Rachael says Hershel might've already informed The Dama that Negan has at least a wife and Negan's family might have a bigger part to play in Season 2.

  • On top of the symmetrical shot of Negan's & Maggie's bilateral faces at the end, Sherrandy pointed out other visual storytelling elements, like the shadows of Negan and Maggie stretching across the street as they amble their way in the direction of The Croat's car whizzing down the avenue or the wide shot of Maggie and Negan running across the screen on the mezzanine of The Staten Island Ferry terminal. Speaking of The Staten Island Ferry, the series did a great job of trying to show what the terminal looked like before it's facelift in more recent years, since the fall of humanity occurred only just prior to it.

  • Takeerah wanted to address some criticisms people had with the Maggie & Negan fight, which she and many of us liked. Yes, Negan could've demolished her in a fight if his intention was to harm her: it's only when she stabbed him that he unleashed a burst of fury that sent her flying (to the amusement of some). Bridget's consternation was more towards Maggie's lack of acrophobia (present in the 2nd episode) as she navigates the girders leading to the platform above all the walkers. At the end of the day, our conversation only revealed Bridget's severe acrophobia (compared to both Maggie's and Lauren's mild case). We all decided, on a serious note, that her determination to capture Negan outweighed the fear of falling (into a mob of walkers that had gathered below).

  • Rachael asked an important question that shouldn't be glossed over: why choose to fight Negan now? Truth be told, though we established in the first episode that Negan was prepared to not come back from this mission, up until Maggie's 3 lies (the last one about what Ginny was about to say to him), he seriously thought Maggie and he were in lockstep in this fight to retrieve Hershel. Sherrandy rightfully says Maggie panicked: they were so close to the prize and she just could not think of a convincing enough lie. Dave follows up on this by reminding everyone of the sheer amount of methane exposure; exhaustion over nearly being bit by both the Madison Square Garden walkers, sewer walkers, and Walker King; and extreme lack of sleep. He also refers everyone to the first interview we had with Teo Rapp-Olsson who played Sebastian Milton on TWD, and how our post apocalyptic survivors live in a world where their heart's resting rate is high - meanwhile, walkers never tire.

  • Given all that, Maggie is kind of a bad-ass for powering through for Hershel, but still, #NoDragonsForMaggie. No matter what her opinion of Maggie, Takeerah has always admired the way Maggie repeatedly gets up after every knock-down, e.g. The Reapers. Sherrandy compares it to a little dog trying to take down a bigger breed of canine or, as Dave says, a honey badger, taking down predators like snakes despite its small size. She may not always make the right decision, but still a badass. Takeerah professes that, even though she's not a nice person, she's a good person who she will continue to root for her even if she's not her favorite character.

  • Sherrandy even mentions how Maggie pursued political aspirations after Glenn's murder, rather than that of a badass warrior. Rachael even goes on to say: despite pursing more of a leadership role - allowing her to focus on making her community thrive - this series illustrates how her anger had only festered over time. It may have turned her into a powerful warrior, but it has also caused her to unravel. Sherrandy thinks it hasn't helped Maggie that Hershel is an ungrateful brat of a teenager, though Rachael covers for this saying that he's a teenager in the zombie apocalypse - what do you expect?

  • Bridget goes on to say that Hershel's even more of a little a-hole because he has Stockholm Syndrome. Dave attempts to add to this by asking the gang whether Hershel feels as though, by way of associating himself with The Croat and The Dama, he's taking credit for taking down Negan where his mother couldn't: eliminating the very threat that had made her constantly look over her shoulder all these years, growing up. In doing so, maybe he hopes that this will finally get his mom to see him (instead of constantly worrying about losing him, just like she's lost countless others). The ladies don't really agree, but it was worth a shot.

  • Rachael says goodnight! …but not before dropping a bomb on us: though this series hasn't changed the way she feels about Negan and she was always felt ambivalent towards Maggie, by the end of this series, she definitely does not like Maggie and it mostly comes down to her sad parenting skills. You know what, just let Hershel stay with The Croat…
  • Takeerah qualifies her statement about Maggie not being a nice person, even though there were so many moments where she rooted for her. Her disdain for Maggie is more born out of her general demeanor and things she's said over the things she's actually done. As glad as she was to have her back, Maggie has managed to piss her off since TWD 10x17, Home Sweet Home. Her lies toward Negan are terrible because - and we all agree - Negan would've given his life to help her save Hershel. Sherrandy takes a step back to defend Maggie because, even though she is constantly seeing so much evidence that this may be true, she can't rely on the possibility Negan would sacrifice himself for a variety of reasons. In addition to this, Dave adds that she is finally seizing the opportunity to rid herself of the very representation of the event that has debilitated her - affecting her and Hershel's relationship - for over the last decade. Unlike Takeerah, Sherrandy actually liked seeing independent, bad-ass, honey badger Maggie after she returned to TWD.

  • Dave takes a moment to focus on the moment Maggie glances at The Statue of Liberty, after Hershel expresses his desire to be seen. It's a lot like seeing a reflection of herself: though she, too, is worse for wear, she's still standing. It's also an echo of the kind of person she has shown herself to be and, at some point, it got away from her in the pursuit of vengeance. Maggie even adds to this at the end - almost as a follow-up to what she told Negan about what Macy's meant to her (along with Santa and the broken and lost toys) - that she struggled for so long to hold on to whomever she had she forgot to appreciate the time she had with them when she had it. In essence, she allowed her tragedy to define her.

  • We're reminded of how much shit Rick Grimes even took from the audience after Lori Grimes' death: everybody's lost somebody, Rick, get over it. But Maggie has lost a lot and mostly right before her and the audience's very eyes. Sherrandy compares this to Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones: though she charted her own destiny, while the entire kingdom of Westeros wanted her dead, her cumulative losses drove her to (repeat history and) go mad, in the end. Shaunna calls her selfish and Dave agrees, mostly because Negan probably could've found a way to take out both she and The Croat at any given point in time during his capture, as evidenced by the way he gingerly removes the hand with Maggie's knife to his throat after seeing Hershel again. This indicates what we feel has been the case the entire time: Negan really was ready and willing to give himself up to save Hershel and all she had to do was ask. Sherrandy marveled at Maggie's paralysis seeing Hershel again, which reminded her of the breathtaking expression she had as she approached not Hershel strapped to a chair only two episodes prior and the not so relief on her face after discovering it wasn't him.

  • Takeerah disagrees with Rachael's assessment on Maggie's terrible parenting: she did a fantastic job of keeping Hershel safe in an unbelievably hostile world. Dave and Takeerah both think it's upsetting that Maggie's anger and paranoia became learned-behavior to Hershel and he, too, could never fully feel safe. Is it any wonder why, the moment he is away from her, he finds refuge with a force formidable enough to guarantee that he actually is safe?

  • Negan's encounter with The Dama has a lot of symmetry with Pearlie's status report to NBF's president (played by Jasmin Walker, whom we are calling Smokey for now). Both Pearlie and Negan initially refuse the temptations they are being offered, which aren't appealing to them anyhow, but in the end they are coerced into it in order to get along to get on because there's a greater threat in the wind than just Hershel being threatened by The Dama - as far as Negan knows - or Pearlie's family being harmed by Smokey. Bridget felt that these two scenes were the bang that the made this a great series finale because of the massive setup we have to an even longer and complex season two. Wait'll Smokey finds out that Negan is still alive…

  • But it brings us to a prediction that both Sherrandy and Dave had from the first episode: not only does NBF want to expand in order to achieve Tranquillitas Ordinis, but the resource that Manhattan has that they wish to exploit is the near limitless supply of Methane in the sewers (as a result of all the millions of dead that were trapped down there when the sewers were sealed off by the military during the fall). Bridget and Sherrandy are upset by this because NBF could just make their own methane, but they answer their own question: scale and time (well over 15 years). Dave also mentions that NBF's mission is all about bringing it back to the way it was and part of that is the immediate exploitation of abundant resources in order to live a life of comfort. Dave juxtaposes their society to The Commonwealth's (under Pamela Milton): it definitely isn't the illusion of safety and they have the exact opposite sensibilities (aggressive) when it comes to justice.

  • Takeerah had tried to bring up earlier and Dave, now, uses this as a jumping off point: Negan's role as Manhattan's new warden is to protect them from NBF's encroachment. Their only response is Negan Takes Manhattan, which prompts laughter. But Dave presses on: this could be exactly what The Dama/The Croat described - a clash of civilizations - not limited to just these two factions, knowing what we know about The Walking Dead Universe (The Civic Republic, our friends at The (New) Commonwealth, etc). Takeerah paints a picture of what it might be like for Negan, being placed into his position of power again, having been about 15 years sober, and Dave no longer feels great about him being Manhattan's protector, especially if Maggie's aim is to venture back into hell's maw in order to rescue him. Sherrandy compares The Dama to Martha (from FearTWD) who just wanted to make Morgan Jones strong.

  • The Croat says something very chilling in the ambulance on the way to the prisoner exchange (Negan for Hershel), lucky me, I get to have Negan and the child. While the rest of the gang were disgusted by this statement, and even though The Croat does say that Negan is enough, Dave thinks he is tipping his hand: doesn't he have the child if Hershel continues to draw The Dama and told us, just earlier, that they made him feel safe? In reference to The Croat telling Negan that meeting the Dama is just like introducing mommy and daddy, Sherrandy says, be careful: you may not get the #hatebang you wanted...

  • Bridget leaves for the night, barely getting out the words, They should exchange digits, referring to her desire for June Dorie and The Dama to hang out.
  • After Takeerah mentions how much she admires the beautifully dilapidated state of Manhattan and laughs at The Croat's awkward durag, Dave launches into the music that was playing as Negan meets The Dama for the first time: Die Zauberflöte or The Magic Flute which is an opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The story parallels very well to Dead City's in that not all is as it appears: allies turn out to be villains (Maggie playing a very good Queen of the Night). All Sherrandy is obsessed with is who gets Negan's magic flute. Sherrandy, seriously though, says that The Croat and The Dama might be the ones protecting Hershel from Maggie. The one big question that we have to ask is whether The Magic Flute is foreshadowing Maggie's eventual descent into being the big bad of this series, after all. This reminds Dave of how FearTWD, under Dave Erickson, wanted to eventually make Madison Clark the big-bad of the series and wonders whether (Executive Producer and Showrunner) Eli Jorné might've borrowed this abandoned(?) subplot. Dave doesn't like this, but Maggie does eventually acknowledge to Hershel that she's allowed her life to be defined by tragedy.

  • Takeerah stresses that even though it sounds like The Croat understood why Negan tried to kill him years ago, he still doesn't because it wasn't the disobeying of orders: it was refusing to allow a kid-killing and torturing psychopath like him to exist. Dave takes this a little further to illustrate how either extremely intelligent or evil (maybe both) The Dama is when compared to Negan: whereas Negan was more interested in saving people by not having psychopaths like The Croat exist among them, The Dama exploits, disciplines, and refines The Croat's proclivities to her advantage. She clearly knows how to reign him in, somehow, as he is completely subservient (while clearly exhibiting desires to at least share power).

  • And as a result of The Croat's talents and The Dama's talks, they may even have a mole in Hershel, living in The Bricks and maybe even calling upon him when the time is right. It's really, really interesting to note how Negan is oblivious to what they've done to Hershel and The Dama can continue to leverage him under threat that they'll take more pieces of him if he refuses to play along.

  • Takeerah also wanted to take a minute to note how Negan managed to save so many folks and give them purpose like Simon, Dwight, Sherry, and even The Croat. He showed all these people that they still had the power necessary, however broken they felt at the time, to thrive in this broken world. Her big takeaway was that it was a shame that he didn't channel their talents in a more positive way. Dave says it might've been different had he found the right people first, similar to what Judith Grimes says to Gamma/Mary in her cell. He also muses that this ability must be a direct result of his time as an educator and gym teacher, teaching even the toughest kids to harness their potential to be more productive members of society. The problem is that maybe he gave some of these people too much credit and too long a leash, but couldn't help himself: clearly, he waited too long and allowed The Croat to flourish as a child-murdering monster before trying to clean house. Even Simon murdered children at The Oceanside and all the residents of Jadis' heaps before too long.

  • Takeerah asks whether The Dama wants Negan to lead and Sherrandy makes it clear that she wants Negan to be subservient to her. It's a lot like The Hilltop formula: the second-in-command is the more effective leader, while the one in charge takes all the credit. Sherrandy equates The Dama's role to an executive producer, while Negan is the Director: he moves all the players on the board while she institutes the overall strategy.

  • Dave takes a moment to read Emma Lazarus' The New Colossus, some of which is inscribed at the base of The Statue of Liberty. All of this to is to say that this is what Maggie could've been all this time - and still could be - because, throughout all of this, she still stands:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 
With conquering limbs astride from land to land; 
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she 
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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