"Who's There?" It's Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), in hot pursuit of the woman who snatched their belongings to end The Walking Dead: Dead City's "Old Acquaintances" series premiere. The chase for this shabbily-dressed denizen of post-apocalyptic New York City leads Maggie and Negan to a rooftop, stories above the thousands of walkers amassed on the streets below. "Damn! Well, that's cool," Negan can't help but remark at the sight of the nimble older woman ziplining from one rooftop to another. She's playfully leading them along, and Negan doesn't hesitate to give chase. Maggie braces herself, grips the pulley... and is unnerved by strange music coming from somewhere down below. Maggie makes it over the death slide. Welcome to New York!
In the countryside, Nina (Pallavi Sastry) introduces Ginny (Mahina Napoleon) to The Bricks. People from the Hilltop have relocated to an old brick factory converted into a farming colony somewhere outside New Babylon. The unspeaking Ginny hails from Oceanside, Nina says, as Ginny silently watches a man climb atop a grain silo.
Maggie and Negan catch up with the bag-napper, who doesn't speak but offers a trade: a half-eaten pigeon that Negan graciously accepts. He asks if she can take them to the building Maggie spotted blowing smoke at the same time every morning and night. "Pigeon Lady," as she's affectionately nicknamed by Negan, says something in a foreign language that Negan roughly translates to "'hell freakin' no.'" They can either follow her or go back to face the swarm of walkers and a bullet from New Babylon Marshal Perlie Armstrong (Gaius Charles).
"Pigeon Lady" leads the "tourists" to Amaia (Karina Ortiz) and Tommaso (Jonathan Higginbotham), native New Yorkers holed up in a bank building with other survivors. Her name is Esther, and she has the friendly demeanor of the Pigeon Lady from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. "You don't know us, and we don't know you," Negan says, calming tensions. "Not saying that we're friendly, that depends on you. But I don't think this crazy pigeon lady — no offense — is gonna bring us all this way to get our asses smoked." Tommaso, who is the type to shout "I'm walkin' here!," gets tough: "Friendly? Does it look like we need friends? We own this city. There are thousands of us."
Clearly, they're not with the Croat. Maggie lies: they were heading up north to a settlement in Canada when their boat washed ashore in a storm. They're here to get supplies so they can get on their way again. But Amaia calls bullshit, so Luther (Michael Anthony) confiscates their weapons, and Tommaso takes Maggie and Negan to their cell: a bathroom with two sinks and two buckets.
Back at the Bricks, Ginny gets her own accomodations in Hershel's room. The humble bedroom shifts to another time and place: Maggie scolds a teenaged Hershel (Logan Kim) for skipping weapons training for the third time this month. She can't keep telling him how important it is "to be ready at all times," he finishes with attitude. She reminds him that the bo staff training is necessary: people could come at him with anything. He blows her off again. "Then I guess I'd be dead." Maggie admires his charcoal drawings, which her son snatches away and crumples into garbage.
In the present, Negan calls out Maggie for spinning bullshit instead of giving a little and getting a little. They could be good for manpower or information, Negan points out, which is what Maggie thought he's there for. Finally, he explains why he's been so tight-lipped about the Croat:
"Right around the time that the world turned into shit soup, the Croat turned up at my door, so to speak. He had been through... well, let's just say he had been through some really bad shit. Worst shit imaginable. So I took him in. Kept him from brain-painting the walls with someone he was calling his brother. Buraz. Said that I made him feel safe. I don't know, I guess at that point everyone was looking for a little sanctuary from the hellfire we'd all been damned to. I mean, we lost everything. The thing is, I really thought I was helping him."
"It takes a monster to make one, I guess," Maggie says through gritted teeth. "I was only a monster when I absolutely had to be," Negan responds. "When I had to put on a show to protect my people. Anyway... the Croat, he had a way of reading people. And then toying with them, and pulling them apart. When a threat needed to be handled, it was a skill set that I found very useful." The Croat was Negan's torturer, but he "took it too far" during one of the Sanctuary's first skirmishes with the Kingdom.
A young woman holed up in a car a few miles from the Sanctuary. She appeared to be a drifter, so Negan gave a direct order to let her walk. The Croat thought she was a scout with beans to spill — which she eventually copped to after being subjected to torture so heinous that Negan is unable to say the words. "She was just a kid," Negan recalls. "After that, I knew he was a rabid dog that needed to be put down. I had one shot. One. I missed, blew off his ear. The rest of him got away." Negan hasn't seen or heard from him since. Maggie figures the Croat is going to want to kill Negan, a detail he neglected to mention before. "I do know how he operates, Maggie," he reminds her.
Elsewhere, Armstrong makes it to the address on the note he carries in his pocket: Oliver St., Apt. 505. NY, NY. 1003. It's the apartment where his brother, Joel Armstrong, holed up — and shot himself in the head. Armstrong covers the long-rotting body with a sheet and a cross necklace. The closest thing to a burial. But no last rites. Armstrong picks up the gun, checks it for bullets, and leaves the room without a word. Outside in the alley, Armstrong steps into an animal trap and is strung up in a net.
Back at the bank building, Amaia and Tommaso's people are clearing out in a hurry. Maggie and Negan led the Croat's Burazi right to them. When Tommaso doesn't listen to his suggestion they join forces, Negan threatens him with the pigeon bone he's been sharpening all afternoon. "I want to gauge your jugular out right this second," Negan growls, "but I'm not gonna do that. Because we are here to help you." Maggie and Negan help Amaia and Tommaso's people fend off the Burazi, the Croat's gang clad in overcoats and motorcycle helmets fashioned with protruding blades. Maggie, Negan, Amaia, Tommaso, and Luther get away, but a Burazi takes Esther hostage. Negan tries to talk him down, but there's no negotiating with these barbarians. The helmeted Burazi stabs Esther in the guts, killing her, causing Amaia and Tommaso to mourn their beloved family member.
Big mistake. In a rage, Negan rips the Burazi's helmet off and drags him into the bank. As the Croat's convoy descends on the building, Negan slams the Burazi's head through panes of glass on the upper level. "Knock knock!" He shit talks a "neckbeard" Burazi below. "Holy shit, are you kidding me? Seriously? You have a neckbeard AND a rat tail? I get it, the world went to hell and you stopped giving a shit. But my dude, there is a line. So how about you put your helmet back on, stuff all that shit back away, and stop being such a distraction to the rest of us." As Negan puts on a show, he doesn't hear Maggie slink in behind him.
"Knock knock? Who's there? Butter. Butter who? Butter get out your umbrellas, because it is about to goddamn rain!" With that, Negan slits the Burazi's throat, spraying blood over his brethren. Then Negan grips the knife and slices open his victim's guts, draining blood and innards over the Burazi below. "I don't know if any of you have checked tonight's forecast, but if I see even one mole hair on one of your ugly-ass faces, it won't be just a rainstorm. Hell, it won't be a thunderstorm. It'll be a goddamn hurricane!" Negan casually dumps the body over the rail – and turns to see Maggie. Goddamn it. She saw that.
As Ginny sneaks a stolen motorbike out of the Bricks, Negan peels glass shards out of his blood-stained hands. He's sitting with what he did under Luther's watchful eye. Amaia comforts a grieving Tommaso. She hands him Esther's necklace of a gold Pi symbol. He cops to lying about "the thousands of us out there." The people they lost this day are their family, and the few of them still alive are all that's left, thanks to the Croat. "You get on the island, but you don't get off. Those Burazi back there, the psycho they work for, he made sure of that," Tommaso says.
"You mean the Croat," Maggie says. No more bullshit. That psycho "Van Gogh" is the reason they're in New York: he has her son. "So, you want to go to the psycho," Amaia tells her. "That we can help you with. You know... if you're looking to die."
Armstrong might do just that. Night has fallen when the Croat (Željko Ivanek) and his brotherhood of Burazi find the marshal strung up in their trap. Removing his bladed helmet, the Croat tells Armstrong: "Don't worry. You're safe now."
New episodes of The Walking Dead: Dead City premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow @CameronBonomolo and @NewsOfTheDead on Twitter for more TWD Universe coverage.