We’re mere days away from the premiere of AMC’s new The Walking Dead (TWD) spinoff, The Walking Dead: Dead City, and many fans are both apprehensive and excited ahead of the franchise’s return. With Fear the Walking Dead in its final season, Dead City will undoubtedly set the tone for the future of the Walking Dead cinematic universe ahead of the the release of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon and be the first test of whether these spinoffs can manage to achieve success in a world where the main series has gone out to pasture (to mixed reviews at that).
Starring Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in their iconic roles from the original series as Maggie Rhee and Negan Smith, Dead City is set to follow the two as they travel to the island of Manhattan, New York, which has remained largely isolated during the apocalypse due to its geographical nature. While it seems like Maggie and Negan had come to a tenuously amiable understanding at the end of the original series, Dead City is set to see old and new tensions flare up between the two on their latest adventure. Though fans can’t be sure exactly what’s in store for the spinoff series (besides Hershel getting kidnapped), here are a few things that I am personally excited to see explored on the show.
It’s no secret that fans were devastated by Glenn Rhee’s death at the hands of Negan back in Season 7 of the flagship show. Despite all the suffering it caused Maggie, Glenn’s legacy did live on in the couple’s son, Hershel. Named after his maternal grandfather, a more grown-up (10-year-old) Hershel made his debut with limited screen time in the back end of the original series when Maggie reappeared. Having grown up on the road and already showing some of the cleverness and guts that his late father had in his previous appearances on screen, Hershel could be the tough, youthful presence for Dead City that characters like Carl, Enid, Judith, and more have brought to the table over the years.
With some time having passed chronologically since TWD’s end, it’ll be interesting to see how a teenage version of this character will be disposition and personality-wise (though the trailer already shows him getting into trouble — a rite of passage for the franchise’s young characters at this point). Will more of the late Glenn’s traits shine through? Will his “unfinished business” we witnessed in Season 11 with Negan come to a head as the two presumably meet again? These and more are questions we hope to get some answers to in Dead City.
The Fate of the Commonwealth (So Far)
TWD’s finale seemingly left our remaining survivors in good standing with the Commonwealth after helping save it from the variant horde, with Ezekiel and Mercer named as governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, and Hilltop being restored and maintaining a good relationship with the larger community. However, we’ve seen multiple civilizations come and go throughout the original series for a myriad of reasons. While I’d like to think that all is good and well with the Commonwealth, it will definitely be interesting to see how things have changed (if any have) with the time jump that takes place with this spinoff.
New Spinoff, New Civilization
Speaking of new civilizations, Dead City is setting itself up for a gritty new playing field for our beloved old characters in Manhattan, rife with new dangers, challenges, and possibly knowledge. At the end of TWD, Maggie sends Daryl off on a quest of his own to scout around and find out what’s out there in the rest of the ruins of civilization. While it’s unclear if this misadventure is what leads to him ending up in France in the other spinoff about to debut, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon (heck, he doesn’t even know how he got there), it’s not exactly a stretch to imagine that part of Maggie’s journey to Manhattan could be a part of this quest for expansion of their knowledge of the world. With the new variant of walkers ambling around, Daryl’s upcoming ties to France (linking back to The Walking Dead: World Beyond), and the upcoming Rick and Michonne production, it may be time for these larger narratives to start tying in with each other, though how New York might fit into that remains to be seen.
Evolution of Maggie and Negan
It’s no secret that Maggie and Negan have had a contentious relationship since their ugly start (for obvious reasons). However, TWD’s season finale ended with them coming to a truce filled with mutual respect and tenuous trust. However, the trailer for Dead City doesn’t seem to show any love lost between the two. What’s happened between them in the years since TWD’s finale to re-spark that animosity? Additionally, it will be interesting to see how the characters’ individual paths have diverged since we last saw them. Where is Annie/Negan’s child? Why did they leave Hilltop? How is Hilltop? All things that remain to be seen.
Return of Familiar Characters
Above all, it will be nice to see some familiar faces return to our screens. New characters have come and gone in the series — they’ve added much to TWD cinematic universe, breathing new life into the franchise at times. I, however, am a sucker for character development; there’s nothing like getting deeper insight into characters that we already know and love, seeing how their motivations twist and turn and how they react in different situations.
Lauren Cohan was a part of the original series since Season 2, taking a brief hiatus in Seasons 9 and 10 before returning for 11, while Negan was a staple since late Season 6/early Season 7. Over the years, Maggie grew into a strong and capable leader, in some ways taking up the spiritual mantle of Rick Grimes in terms of leadership. Negan came to be a fan favorite in his own right, morphing from someone that fans loved to hate to one they hated to love and everything in between. Though his complex character was definitely frustrating and downright despicable at times, he ended up serving an important role in the show’s overall narrative. It will be interesting to see how these two (often diametrically opposed) characters will change and grow in the face of new challenges that they will face together in this upcoming series.
Whether Dead City will be a success or a failure remains to be seen. At the very least, Scott Gimple is continuing to find ways to keep the legacy of TWD universe alive in a world where the flagship series and comics have been laid to rest, and that in itself is admirable.
The Walking Dead: Dead City starts streaming June 18, 2023, at 9 p.m. ET/ 10 p.m. CT on AMC. The production team includes showrunner and executive producer Eli Jorné, Chief Content Officer, EP Scott Gimple, and EPs/stars Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.