The Walking Dead: Dead City Recap: "Everybody Wins a Prize"

Years ago, at the Sanctuary, the Croat (Željko Ivanek) defied a direct order to release a girl he believed was sent by the Kingdom. In his pursuit to extract information, he subjected the girl to brutal torture, causing severe injuries to her hands, feet, throat, and head. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Simon (Steven Ogg) bear witness to the gruesome aftermath, realizing that the Croat's methods led them to discover a hidden arsenal at the Hilltop. Simon reminds the Croat that "we draw the line at children" as he refers to him as a "Slavic, psychopathic lunatic."

Seeking his "brother" Negan's approval, the Croat attempts to justify his actions with a nonchalant smile. It is this moment, the "point of no return," that convinced Negan the Croat had become "an uncontrollable threat that needed to be eliminated." As Negan shared with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), he had one chance to neutralize him, but only managed to wound the Croat's ear. The rest of him managed to escape, and they hadn't encountered him since. Until now.

In the present, Negan, Maggie, Amaia (Karina Ortiz), and Tommaso (Jonathan Higginbotham) gather together, preparing for their assault on the Croat's Sanctuary. Luther (Michael Anthony) is nowhere to be found, presumed to have fled after his fatal clash with Negan in the kitchen. Negan swiftly collects Luther's tin of beeswax, stowing it in his bag.

Negan opens up to Maggie, confessing that he feels unprepared to face the Croat. "It starts to feel too damn familiar. Like, if he starts talking, it won't be him speaking at all. It'll be an echo of a song I never want to hear again," Negan admits. Maggie recalls a time when her son Hershel was just a baby, living below a man named Amos who played the harmonica incessantly, even at night. Maggie reveals, "When talking to him didn't work, I snuck into his room the next time he was out hunting. I took his harmonica and buried it in the damn ground."

With a smirk, Negan teases Maggie, saying, "Looks like you lost a couple of those precious Girl Scout badges, huh?" She quickly fires back, "Oh, I'm sure you would've come up with something way worse." Negan casually asks if she has seen his matchbook, and she deceitfully denies it.

In the bustling streets of New York, Maggie and Negan join forces with Amaia and Tommaso's tribe. The underground tunnels are filled with pockets of methane gas, causing occasional bubbling. As they venture into the subway system, unbeknownst to them, Ginny (Mahina Napoleon) secretly follows their trail.

The group bravely navigates through the zombie-infested tracks of the long-abandoned subway, determined to reach their destination: old Penn Station. This dilapidated station holds the key to their entry into the Croat's new Sanctuary, located at Madison Square Garden. As they cautiously move forward, passing deserted prisoner cells, Maggie anxiously examines each room, only to find empty chairs and walls splattered with blood. Finally, at the end of the hallway, Maggie steps into a fresh trail of crimson liquid on the floor.

The captive is a young boy, with black hair and his head hung low. Blood streams from his hands and feet. Negan examines the zombified boy, and to Maggie's relief, confirms, "It's not him." It's not Hershel, her son. However, Negan recognizes that he was someone's child, prompting him to end the boy's suffering with a knife through the brain.

They devise a plan: Maggie will procure a vehicle while Negan lures the Croat down to the garage. As they lead the Croat halfway across the city, Amaia and her group will eliminate the Burazi. "You retrieve your child. We eliminate the psycho. Everyone wins," Negan asserts.

Maggie and Negan venture into the depths of the arena. Maggie takes Negan's matches, inquiring if he has a strategy to entice the Croat into revealing himself. Negan exudes confidence in their plan, assuring her, "We'll rescue your son." Just as Maggie is about to disclose Ginny's dinosaur, her attention is caught by Luther's can of beeswax in Negan's bag.

Negan attempts to explain, but Maggie dismisses him. "Don't act as if you've never done something that requires an explanation," Negan retorts, yet they acknowledge there isn't time to delve into what transpired between Negan and Luther.

Inside the arena, Negan beckons the Croat with a distinctive whistle—the signature whistle of the Saviors. Simultaneously, Maggie hotwires a taxi in the garage for a swift getaway. However, when she spots Ginny lurking nearby, Maggie pursues the girl, leading them both onto the arena floor, where Amaia's group anticipated encountering the Croat's Burazi.

As Negan approaches the garage, the Croat responds with a whistle of his own. Suddenly, the arena erupts with lights and the resonating melody of his homeland, "Proplakat Ce Zora." Canisters detonate at the entrances, transforming the arena into a deadly trap as a horde of walkers inundate the premises.

There's no escape. Every exit is teeming with the undead. The once hunters have now become the hunted. Armed with melee weapons like Maggie's chained belt, wrenches, and blades, the survivors fight their way through the horde, but not everyone manages to survive. People are torn apart and devoured. As Maggie slashes her way through the crowd, a walker grabs Amaia, nearly sinking its teeth into her, but she fights it off. Tommaso finds himself surrounded and disappears amidst the swarm of walkers. Meanwhile, in the garage, Negan skillfully evades the Burazi's search, but his presence is noticed by the Croat.

Inside the arena, Maggie, Amaia, and the Scavenger Woman (Aixa Kendrick) lock themselves inside a cage with Ginny. Drawing from a technique Maggie learned when clearing the prison fences, the women stab at the walkers pressed against the cage. However, they know it won't hold for long. The group tears off the padded panels from the arena cage and huddles closely together. Moving in unison, they make their way through the horde, dispatching walkers as they go, heading towards an exit. The Scavenger Woman is torn away and devoured, and Amaia narrowly escapes a similar fate thanks to Tommaso, who guides the three survivors out of the arena.

Above, on the rafters, the Croat catches up to Negan, but to Negan's surprise, the Croat's reaction is one of joy. "Negan! My brother! Buraz!" the Croat exclaims, brushing off his missing ear with laughter. ("So what? I have another one!") He explains that a former Savior named Jerome informed him about the war involving the Hilltop, Kingdom, and Alexandria, which ultimately led to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) ending Negan's reign. "I should have been there. I can only imagine the chaos Simon caused. He never truly listened to you," the Croat remarks. "Losing the Sanctuary is alright because I've built a new one. And we won't stop. We'll construct something even greater, more resilient! The entire island will become our sanctuary, fueled by the death that lies within its depths."

Negan insists on seeing the Croat's captive and is taken aback when he comes face-to-face with Marshal Perlie Armstrong (Gaius Charles) instead of Hershel. The Croat presents Negan's pursuer as a twisted gift, claiming to act "in the spirit of friendship and brotherly love." In a shocking display, the Croat callously hurls Armstrong over the walkway, sending him crashing onto the platform below. Moved by his instinct for mercy, Negan extends a helping hand to the wounded lawman, and together, they manage to escape.

Down below, Maggie, Ginny, Amaia, and Tommaso venture into their only means of escape: the treacherous sewers, as warned by Amaia. The dark tunnels are infested with the undead and filled with lethal methane gas. Tommaso descends a ladder into the sewer, closely followed by Amaia and Ginny. Maggie gives a reassuring nod, signaling to the young girl that it's safe to proceed, assuring her that she will be right behind them. Doing her best to obstruct the entrance, Maggie blocks the cover behind her and descends the ladder, vanishing into the abyss of pitch-black darkness.

Meanwhile, Negan and a limping Armstrong find refuge in a shoe repair shop. Negan mistakenly believes that they are in this predicament together, but little does he know that Armstrong has his gun firmly trained on the fugitive. With determination, Armstrong cites the New Babylon law, referencing "Code 14, Section 2," which deems intentional killing as first-degree murder, punishable by supplementary execution—five times over. Negan is to face death without trial for the heinous crime of murdering a magistrate and four other men. However, before his imminent demise, Negan can't resist delivering what could potentially be his final words to Armstrong: "You're a colossal dick."

In a thrilling revelation, the highly anticipated new episodes of The Walking Dead: Dead City now premiere on AMC every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

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