The Walking Dead: Dead City Season Finale Recap: "Doma Smo"

In Croatian, "Doma Smo" means "we are home." But the "Doma Smo" season finale of The Walking Dead: Dead City is anything but a homecoming for Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). After discovering that the runaway Ginny (Mahina Napoleon) is on Manhattan Island, Negan entrusts New Babylon Marshal Perlie Armstrong (Gaius Charles) with escorting her back to The Bricks. "I can't protect you and help Maggie. There was a plan," scolds Negan. "Her and I, we come here, we get Hershel, you stay with her people where you're safe. That was the whole goddamn point! That you stay safe." 

Negan can't go with her, and Ginny can't stay with him. "I am not who you think I am," he tells her. She finally speaks for the first time since her father's death months ago: "I want you to—" but before she can say another word, Negan does the only thing he can to get her to leave. "I killed your dad," he tells her. "I'm not wanted for robbing a wagon train. I killed five men. And your dad, he was one of them. It's why I tracked you down to the farm. Why I let you tag along, 'cause I knew you had no one. You? You're just a debt that I had to pay. That's it." 

Ginny leaves without another word as Negan sheds a tear. Later, Maggie and Negan scope out the arena where the Croat (Željko Ivanek) has established his New Sanctuary. Negan is confident he'll be able to work something out with the ex-Savior who idolizes him.

The dysfunctional duo takes to the streets and heads toward the building of billowing black smoke. The one that conspicuously blows smoke at the same time every morning and night ever since Maggie and Negan arrived on the island. He asks Maggie what she thinks Ginny wanted to tell him. But Maggie is a bad liar, and Negan doesn't buy her reasoning that she was trying to talk her way out of trouble. 

Maggie and Negan trade glances. In the blink of an eye, Maggie and Negan both go for her knife. He hurls her into a wall, knocking her weapon away and throwing her to the ground. Negan takes off, hopping a rail and walking out over a beam. It's a balancing act as Maggie gives chase, trying not to stumble into the horde of walkers waiting below.

Negan tries to talk his way out of the fight, but she takes a swipe at him with her knife. He overpowers his attacker and almost knocks her off the platform into the undead masses below. Negan yells for her to stop, but Maggie plunges her knife into his shoulder. The scuffle ends with Negan's knife at her throat — and an order to stand down. 

He's figured out that Maggie lied about the circumstances surrounding Hershel's (Logan Kim) abduction. The Croat didn't steal their grain and extort the Bricks for their harvest. The Croat took her son because he wanted Maggie to bring him Negan. 

"He wanted me. And for what? Who the hell knows. But whatever that crazy son of a bitch wants with me, I sure as shit ain't gonna like it. You and I both know that much," Negan tells her. "The shit thing is, Maggie, we could have done it! We could have saved Hershel. Because you and I together, we made one hell of a badass team. But you know that, don't you? Maybe some part of you always wanted it to end this way. The fact is, Maggie, it doesn't matter what excuses I give you or how many apologies I offer — you can't get over it. And you shouldn't." 

Before Negan can say another word about Glenn, the Croat's Burazi finds them. With Maggie's knife to Negan's throat, the Croat smiles. It's revealed that the Croat returned to the Saviors' Sanctuary to find it abandoned, and after months of searching the mainland, learned from an ex-Savior "the story of the Widow." 

When he learned of Maggie's history with Negan — "vulnerabilities to be exploited," as the Croat puts it — he knew that taking Maggie's son was the push she'd need to find Negan and bring him to New York. Doma smo.

At the bank building, Maggie leads Negan inside like a man to the gallows with her knife pressed to his throat. The Burazi lead them to a vault. "Just look after Ginny, will you?" a contrite Negan asks Maggie. "That's all I ask." The door opens, revealing Hershel. He's alive, with hate and anger in his eyes. Negan takes Maggie's hand, still gripped to her knife, and moves it down. He accepts his fate and hands himself over to his fate. The exchange happens as Hershel walks toward Maggie, and Negan toward the Croat. "It's good to see you, kid," Negan says to Hershel, who is quickly enveloped in the arms of his mother. 

Back at New Babylon, Armstrong tells his director (Jasmin Walker) that he tracked the fugitive Negan to New York. He made a move to escape, so Armstrong shot and killed him. Negan is dead. A shame: she wanted Negan alive so she could have him executed and strung up to put on display and "make a statement." She not-so-subtly reminds Armstrong that they had eyes on his family — Marjorie, Bea, and Dessie — while he was away working to protect their body politic. She reminds him how ethanol comes from corn, which takes up thousands of acres of fields. So what I'd like you to do, Marshal, I'd like you to tell me your story again. And this time, I want you to tell me all about the methane." 

In New York, Maggie and Hershel look out at Liberty Island. Their conversation is terse. "All we ever do back home is wait for the next bad thing to happen," the teen grumbles. "If anything, I felt safer back there." Maggie doesn't know what to say to that. He finds the baseball cap that Negan gifted Maggie to give to Hershel, which he sarcastically writes off as "a souvenir for being kidnapped." Finally, Hershel unloads: 

"It's like you're obsessed with him. With Negan. With what he did. Getting him back," Hershel tells mom. Maggie protests that she came to New York for him, not Negan. "I'm right here, but you don't see me," he fires back. "It's like my whole life, you've been looking over my shoulder, watching for him, waiting for him. But you never see me." Maggie cries. 

In the city, the Croat transports Negan in the back of an ambulance and reminisces about the time he handled the River People "like an actor commanding the stage," with all the swagger of a rock star. "But what is a rock star without his microphone? So, out came Lucille," the Croat says of Negan's barbwire-covered vampire bat. "Then you turned, and you offered her to me. I didn't understand. I'd only just arrived at the Sanctuary. I was nothing. I was broken. But you saw something in me. Not what I was. But what I could become." He grows emotional over the beautiful brotherhood they had at the Sanctuary. The Croat tells his idol that he never should have disobeyed Negan's orders and tortured that girl to death. "I became the threat that needed to be handled," he realizes. "I promise you, that will never happen again."

At the Bricks, Maggie checks in on Ginny, slipping in the room to return her stuffed dinosaur and slipping back out without a word. In Hershel's room, she makes her mea culpa to her son. "For a long time, for most of my life, I felt like the world kept taking... and kept taking and... I think at some point, I thought that if I could just fight hard enough, I'd be able to get it back. A little piece of it, at least," she confesses. "But it doesn't work that way, because you just end up losing what you got. And I don't want to keep doing that anymore. I don't know how, but this thing with Negan... I'm gonna finish it. So that I can just let it go."

In New York, the Croat takes Negan to the Dama (Lisa Emery). "My battles with the tribe, the rats I had to exterminate, that was practice for the war to come. Once we have full control of the island, Dama says a clash of civilizations is inevitable," the Croat says. "So when I told her about all the good you had done, all the people you had saved and protected, she said you are the missing piece." He's giddy like a child, beaming about "mommy and daddy coming together." He's summarily dismissed by the Dama, who marvels at the rock star sat before her. "I heard about your performance at the bank. The taunting, the joking, that extra-but-absolutely-necessary pinch of gruesomeness," she says of his bloody knock-knock joke. "Shock and awe, and all of that. Bravo."

The Dama presents Negan with Armstrong's marshal badge. She explains that the New Babylon Federation will come for their natural resource: the methane that the Croat's Sanctuary produces from corpses. "The island needs leadership. Now more than ever," she says. "Someone with confidence, fearlessness, charisma, that special, shall we say, political talent. For what is politics if not performance?" The tribe has been eliminated, but there are settlements as far north as Harlem. The Dama hands Negan the literal keys to the kingdom. "If we can unite them under one rule, we'll be indomitable. And all of it, that can all be yours again." But first, she needs to be sure that Negan is the man he used to be.

Negan unlocks the small box before him. Inside is a toe. Back at the Bricks, a shoeless Hershel is missing his pinky toe. "My former guest and I had a lot of talks. He told me this story of a man who murdered his father, not just in front of his mother, but him, the unborn baby in her belly," the Dama reveals. "And I could sense in the rest of this story what he himself couldn't. That his father's killer might feel remorseful, responsible for the boy whose family he destroyed."

Maggie makes Hershel's bed and finds his drawings: of New York, of the bank vault, of a woman that Maggie doesn't recognize. It's the Dama. "Of course, he only told me this once he felt safe with me," she explains to Negan. "And here you are, come all this way to save him. As you know, I eventually let him go in exchange for you. But I kept a little piece of him. And I can always go back for more." Negan silently sips his drink. "Make it last," she tells him. "We have a lot to discuss. A lot to plan for."

The screen splits. Maggie and Negan's faces become one as "Slipping Away" by Nine Inch Nails plays. "I keep slipping / I keep slipping away / myself keeps slipping away / tried to save myself / tried to save..." End of season one.

The Walking Dead: Dead City will return for season 2 at AMC.

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