Negan Reveals the Croat's Origin on Walking Dead: Dead City

[This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 Episode 2, "Who's There?"] "It takes a monster to make one," says Maggie (Lauren Cohan) upon learning the history of the man who took her son: The Croat (Željko Ivanek). In The Walking Dead: Dead City series premiere, Maggie turned to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) for help months after the Croat raided her home at The Bricks outside New Babylon. As Maggie told it, the Croat's raiders outnumbered and overpowered the farming colony, stole all their grain, returned a month later to collect more — and took Hershel (Logan Kim) as collateral. Sound familiar? 

If that didn't ring a bell, it was the whistle — one high tone, one low tone — that did it. It was the last thing Maggie heard before she met Negan. "Oh, that Croat," he recalled of the "exceptionally insane son of a bitch" who ran with Negan's Saviors when he was running the show at the Sanctuary.

In Sunday's "Who's There?," the uncharacteristically tight-lipped Negan revealed intel on the man known only as the Croat. And it turns out he was too extreme even for Negan's Saviors. 

The Croat turned up at Negan's door "right around the time that the world turned into shit soup." He'd been through "really bad shit, the worst shit imaginable," so Negan took him in and protected him. The Croat called him "buraz" — "brother" in Croatian — because Negan made him feel safe. 

"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," Negan recalled. "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.

We learn that the Croat took torture "too far" during one of the Sanctuary's first skirmishes with King Ezekiel's Kingdom, before Negan imposed his rule over Rick Grimes and the Alexandrians (explaining why the Croat was never seen or mentioned on The Walking Dead.)

"A person had holed up in a car a couple miles from the Sanctuary. She seemed to me she was a drifter, nothing to do with us or anything we were up to. So I gave a direct order: let her walk," Negan explained. "The Croat, he saw it differently, thought that she had beans to spill. And he was right. She was a scout. At least, that's what she copped to before..." Negan couldn't bring himself to utter how the Croat extracted that information. But his reaction gave it away: the young woman in the Croat's clutches suffered.

"She was just a kid. 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. Haven't seen or heard from him since." Until now.

"We will get to see a little bit of [the Croat's history] coming up, so you'll get a clear idea of how he's sort of folded into the Negan backstory," Ivanek told ComicBook. "But that's why I also went back and watched all 11 seasons [of The Walking Dead] just trying to a figure out the Maggie and Negan relationship in the first place, but just this whole Negan world that I come from and I'm trying to recreate in some sense."

New episodes of The Walking Dead: Dead City premiere Thursdays on AMC+ and Sundays on AMC.

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