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Maggie and Negan Are ‘Ill-Equipped for New York’ in the ‘Walking Dead: Dead City’ Spinoff

"Seriously? Walkers are fallin' from the sky now?" -Negan

Trey Santiago-Hudson as Jano, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in a scene from 'The Walking Dead: Dead City' on AMC. This is a full-body image, and they are standing in the middle of a New York street at night with a truck in the background. They're all looking up at something. Jano (left) has brown skin and curly, dark hair. He's wearing a dark button-down-, a brownish-greenish jacket, and dark pants and boots. Maggie (middle) is a white woman with chin-length, dark hair wearing a black, long-sleeved shirt, black pants and boots, and a brown leather vest. Negan (right) is a white man with slicked-back dark hair and a salt-and-pepper beard. He's wearing all black, topped off with a black leather jacket.

The Walking Dead fans got to enjoy The Walking Dead: Dead City’s very first WonderCon panel on Saturday, and learned that, in addition to stars like Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Dead City has another important star: the city of New York. Those WonderCon attendees got to see an exclusive clip of the show (the full version of a scene we see briefly in the below teaser).

In it, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and a character named Jano (Trey Santiago-Hudson) are making their way down a Manhattan street at night. As they catch the attention of walkers at the remains of the classic New York steakhouse, Delmonico’s, the noise attracts more. Suddenly, walkers start falling to the ground—pouring out of skyscraper windows, or off roofs—prompting Negan to say, “Seriously? Walkers are fallin’ from the sky now?” They find shelter under some scaffolding before continuing on their way.

As they continue down the street, the scene closes in on a mysterious, white-haired figure on a rooftop, whose face we don’t see. At first, the figure looks like it could be a walker, but at the end of the clip, this figure deliberately backs away from the roof’s edge after having been watching them throughout the scene.

New York’s sleek, cool post-apocalypse

Image of Lauren Cohan as Maggie and Charlie Solis as Bartender in a scene from AMC's 'The Walking Dead: Dead City.' The Bartender, a white man with short, black hair and a beard and wearing a white, 3/4 sleeved button-down shirt has his back to the camera as he leans on the bar. Maggie is a white woman who is facing him as she sits at the bar, her short, chin-length brown hair slicked back with a tendril falling in her face. She's wearing a dark, long-sleeved shirt under a brown, leather vest, and black, fingerless gloves. She's listening intently to the Bartender as he speaks.
(Peter Kramer/AMC)

In the clip, as well as in these stills from the show, we can already see how much the move from rural or wooded locations to a city like New York has changed the look and feel of the show. Dead City looks sleeker and, dare I say, more stylish than the flagship show.

“I think the city in the show looks amazing, and so cool,” showrunner Eli Jorné said during the panel. He went on to enthuse about how “unique and awesome and epic” their post-apocalypse New York feels and discussed the interesting look and feel of the destruction that happened there, both during and after the apocalypse. “It’s New York, so there’re just iconic landmarks—I don’t wanna give anything away—but we’re gonna see some iconic landmarks that have been messed up in the coolest way that are gonna play a part not just visually as just one shot, but also in the story.”

The change in location also changes how the characters will interact with walkers and with each other.

For starters, Manhattan is an island, currently accessible to the other boroughs of NYC by bridge, subway, or ferry. Secondly, Manhattan is currently the most densely populated borough of New York and serves as home to 1.6 million people.

Now imagine that those 1.6 million people have become walkers and there’s no functioning transportation to or from the island.

There’s the requisite tall buildings and scaffolding in Manhattan. As we saw in the WonderCon footage, this means that walkers can come at you from any angle. In the woods, you look around you. In New York, you also need to look up. Oh yeah, and there are subways, too. So, you also have to look down.

How New Yorkers learned to survive their “Dead City”

Lauren Cohan as Maggie in a scene from AMC's 'The Walking Dead: Dead City.' We only see Maggie in full-body silhouette as she walks across a street in downtown New York. She is illuminated by the bluish light coming from a still-functioning streetlamp at the end of the street in the distance.
(Peter Kramer/AMC)

Cohan told the WonderCon crowd, “[W]hat else [Jorné] did, too, I think just, like, creating characters and groups of people that we’ll meet in the show and seeing how they survived and prepared for the apocalypse is another way of us understanding New York in a different way.”

“Yeah … how to survive in the woods, or in a small town is very different than how to survive in buildings that are, like, 20-30 stories high,” Jorné remarked. “I mean, this is no spoiler because it’s out there, but … we’ve got some ziplining going on in the show. So, you can imagine that might be a way to get between some skyscrapers.”

Cohan talked about valuing what their new location has allowed her and Morgan to explore with these characters as actors. “With Maggie and Negan,” she explained, “both of them are ill-equipped for New York, because they’ve never been there, and that’s an interesting thing that I think comes up in the show. You’ve seen these people traverse scary terrain, but you’ve never seen them do it here, and the kind of stuff that comes up in New York … it’s just a cold, stark environment that’s gonna be different.

As a native New Yorker, I’m absolutely looking forward to watching “my city” acting as a crucible for two of my favorite TV characters!

The Walking Dead: Dead City premieres Sunday, June 18 at 10PM on AMC.

(featured image: Peter Kramer/AMC)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.