The first season of Dead City ended in such a way that it set up one interesting dynamic for season 2.
We leave things with Maggie trading Negan’s freedom in exchange for Hershel. There was a part of her that I’m sure felt it was a good chance at revenge and believed he deserved it for taking Glenn away from her so many years ago. In her mind, she feels she can do whatever she wants to Negan for karma. But there is also no method to the madness for Maggie. She will do whatever is necessary to get her son back but can she still protect him once she has him?
There was never a moment where Negan did not want to help get Hershel back. He was all in and knew from the moment he realized the Croat still had an obsession with him that he could make some kind of deal with the psychotic villain. Little did Negan know, though, Maggie was one step ahead of him the whole time.
Will she have a change of heart come next season? Will she realize her vendetta finally pushed her too far and turned her into a woman she no longer recognizes? Only time will tell. But from what we saw, Hershel has grown weary of her need for revenge, so much so it has put a heavy strain on their relationship.
Dead City: The Dama gives Negan an offer he can’t refuse
By no choice of his own, Negan now has to return to the glory of the past and become a leader again. Pushed into the situation by Maggie as a trade deal for her son, the man cannot say no and allow Hershel to be taken again and tortured.
In the season finale, we saw the Dama gift Negan with Hershel’s toe as a reminder that she could take Hershel any time he wants. And the next time Hershel might not get out of it so lucky. Negan is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Dama needs his leadership expertise to defend the city of New York. After the stories the Croat had told her about how Negan made an empire with the Sanctuary, she wants Negan and will stop at no cost to get him. Now Negan must confront his past.
He has worked so hard to become a man that Lucille could be proud of. During the season when the Croat talked about their old times and how beautiful it was to control people, murder, steal, and do whatever it was that needed to be done to survive and thrive, you could see the look of disgust on Negan’s face. This shows you his immense growth. For Negan, it was really hard to fake that he enjoyed doing any of that. At the time, it may have seemed like he did, but he later revealed to Maggie that he had to put on a show for people to gain respect out of fear.
If Maggie would have been honest with Negan from the start, I think he still would have gone to New York and done everything he could to make a deal to free Hershel. In Dead City, I believe Maggie’s manipulative moves made her more the villain than Negan.
His heart was in it and he was trying to do the right thing, maybe even hoping Maggie would loosen up her reins of justice against him after he carried it out. Never knowing until the very end that nothing was stolen from Maggie at the Bricks except her son in an effort to get Negan to New York City because the Croat and his boss, the Dama, needed him to create a new empire in Manhattan. They have the brains now they need the muscle.
Dead City: Maggie will have to work on her own redemption in the meantime
Maggie has come to the realization that she’s letting too much of her past control her. She knows she has to go about how she handles Negan differently.
Torturing herself and Negan over what happened with Glenn is not the way to spend the rest of her life. There are no rules that say Maggie can’t find her own happiness. Constantly looking over her shoulder and waiting for the next shoe to drop is not how Hershel wants to live his life any longer.
And now Maggie will have to come to terms with the lies and mistakes she made in the first season. Taking Negan away also took away the father figure that Ginny had. Though some may say Negan’s own mistakes helped make that happen by not revealing to Ginny he was her own father’s murderer. However, she also lied to Ginny and worked overtime to keep Ginny and Negan apart because he couldn’t protect her and be traded in for Hershel at the same time.
Time will tell if she ends up making amends to Ginny. Will she have any regret for possibly pushing Negan back into the man she’s so desperately trying to seek revenge against?
Dead City: The King of New York
Now Negan must come face to face with a past he tried to bury a long time ago. His redemption is one that’s been met with much controversy. There are some who believe he will never be redeemed. But he is now in a place where he doesn’t have anything more left to prove.
He’s a man who helped save Maggie’s friends and family time and time again. He’s saved many children such as Judith, Lydia, Ginny, and now Hershel. And he has opened his heart enough to love and get married to Annie and have a son. He’s come a long way from the man who caused a world of turmoil and pain to Alexandria.
It is a little heartbreaking to watch him have to battle a past he put to bed a long time ago. To him, that was a totally different man he no longer recognizes. He’s strived hard not to become that man again, and he knows the longer he’s in this situation the closer he could get to being that person again. And that’s the last thing he wants. The more he has to pretend the easier it might be to fall back into those old ways and lose himself entirely.
"“The island needs leadership now more than ever. Someone with confidence, fearlessness, charisma, that special shall we say political talent. For what is politics if not performance.” -The Dama"
Manhattan carries a natural resource that even New Babylon is aware of. Having natural resources that people want will always create enemies. People will come for it and they need a leader who can put the fear of god into others and create the dynasty that the Dama has envisioned.
The Dama has settlements as far north as Harlem and uniting all the settlements into one big rule is called domination. She sees no way they could ever falter with a man like Negan holding the key to the kingdom. Leading the saviors seems like small potatoes compared to leading something as grand as New York City. It will also make him untouchable to the leaders of New Babylon who want their resources. Negan will become the most wanted man to the most revered.
Or could this be a whole other level of redemption for Negan?
He knows the mistakes he made the first time around with the saviors. He became a leader of Annie’s group which had a whole different way of life. He also knows the man Lucille would want him to be. He may have a fear of reverting back to his old ways, but this could be a blessing in disguise for the one-time villain. It could be a revival of the goodness that is inside of him.
Instead of success by fear he could become a leader that earns respect by giving it and creating a brand for himself in honor of everyone he has lost. He could have a resource of methane gas to do good for all people, and not just what benefits him and his. Now that would be something Lucille would be proud of.