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"Stories We Tell Ourselves" is the fifth episode of the first season of AMC's The Walking Dead: Dead City. It is the fifth episode of the series overall. It premiered on July 16, 2023. It was written by Brenna Kouf and directed by Gandja Monteiro.[1]

Plot[]

Truths are unearthed and motives are revealed as Maggie, Negan and the others travel further into the city's depths.

Synopsis[]

Maggie, Amaia, Tommaso and Ginny prepare to make their way through the corpse-filled sewers. Tommaso notes that these particular corpses are recent, fresh deposits to the Croat's methane bank, effectively hot-boxing dead people for fuel. Maggie notices that Negan's missing from the group, but neither Amaia or Tommaso have seen him. Amaia asks about Ginny, but Maggie just tells her that Ginny's with her. As Maggie goes through her bag, Ginny spots her dinosaur toy inside which Maggie had chosen not to burn after all with Maggie noticing Ginny's attention on her bag. Maggie simply tells the others that Ginny doesn't talk much or follow orders, and Maggie doesn't have the extra flashlight that she thought that she had. Amaia goes to retrieve one from Tommaso's pack, but he quickly gets it himself instead.

Amaia blames herself for the disastrous attack that had killed their entire tribe despite Tommaso's attempts to dissuade her, pointing out that the Burazi knew that they were coming. Tommaso gets her to focus on getting out of the sewers, warning the others that they need to start running when they feel the effects of the methane kicking in. As they begin moving through the sewers, one of the bodies begins moving, revealing that some of the corpses are actually walkers.

Negan and Perlie make their way through the city with Perlie keeping Negan at the point of his modified Nail Gun. Taking shelter in an abandoned souvenir store as walkers pass by, Negan warns the marshal that his boat has already been sunk by the Croat who has the entire island on lockdown. Negan reminds Perlie that he had saved his life, but Perlie claims that it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with Negan and Maggie, although Negan states that Maggie isn't his friend. Perlie tells Negan that saving his life doesn't bring back the magistrate and the four other men with him that Negan had killed. "Those assholes, they damn near killed my wife. If you had seen what she looked like when I found her, well, I guarantee you'd done the same," Negan states. Perlie is visibly surprised by this, apparently having been unaware of what had happened to Negan's wife. Drawing his knife, Negan prepares to leave through the front door, but Perlie takes his knife and forces Negan to leave with him through the back.

In the sewers, Maggie's group experiences breathing difficulties from the methane in the air and Amaia and Tommaso go to investigate a strange pile of corpses covered in a white substance. A disgusted Tommaso thinks that it's fat while Ginny tries to climb a ladder out. However, Maggie tells the young girl that the manholes are sealed shut. Guessing that she's trying to go after Negan, Maggie furiously reminds Ginny that Negan had wanted her to stay at the Bricks, stating that they were so close, and that Ginny doesn't even know Negan. Maggie points out that Negan isn't wanted for some minor crime, and Ginny doesn't know the monster that Maggie knows, but she will if Ginny sticks around long enough.

Continuing through the city, Perlie reveals that they are going to Chelsea Piers, but Negan reminds him that the boats are all sunk. Handing Negan a brochure for Chelsea Piers, the marshal explains that they just need a dock because they float, and all the two men need to do is disconnect it. An impressed Negan realizes that Perlie is actually from New York City and Perlie admits that he's from the Bronx. Perlie explains that had worked for the state doing drift collection boats, picking up debris and keeping the rivers clean. In turn, Negan reveals that he had been a gym teacher before the world ended.

With a herd approaching from both directions down the street, the two men quickly move across the street and through the fence with the herd following after them, only to have more walkers emerge from all directions to corner them. Negan and Perlie manage to make it inside of a building through a barricaded window and find a disturbing effigy inside. The two guess that it was made by either an avant-garde artist from before or someone who had lost their mind afterwards and they search for a way out that's not blocked by walkers.

In the sewers, Amaia guesses that they're in either Hell's Kitchen or Chelsea. Stopping behind a large tank, Tommaso produces two oxygen tanks with masks on them that Tommaso claims must be extras for the Burazi. Although Tommaso calls it crazy lucky and Amaia gives one to Ginny while the adults will share the other, Maggie becomes suspicious, studies the room and refuses use of the oxygen tank. Donning an oxygen tank, Amaia still can't figure out how the Burazi knew that they were coming, and Tommaso suggests that Luther had tipped them off since he had left the tribe and didn't want to go through with the plan, but Amaia is doubtful while Maggie knows that it can't have been Luther since Negan had secretly killed him.

"It was him," Maggie realizes, accusing Tommaso. "You knew exactly how to get out last night. You knew to go to the sewers. You even knew how to get inside with that bullshit nonno story." Tommaso denies this, stating that it was how he got out the first time while he was being tortured. Despite his denials, Maggie deduces that Tommaso had cut a deal with the Croat and gave him the location of the tribe's hideouts so that the Croat could raid them and gave the Croat a signal so that the Burazi knew that they were coming. Having noticed Tommaso take his pack off before he had "found" the oxygen tanks, Maggie challenges him to tell the truth to a horrified Amaia: Tommaso had the tanks in his pack the whole time and taking them likely was the signal to the Croat that they were coming. Maggie accuses Tommaso of being a liar that only cares about himself, and Tommaso finally admits the truth, telling the heartbroken and furious Amaia that taking back their home was a fantasy and it's been gone for a long time. Tommaso insists that his betrayal was the only way and that he did it for Amaia who storms off, followed by Ginny, leaving Maggie looking somewhat regretful.

Passing a torn-apart racoon, Negan and Perlie find a corpse tied to a chair with an empty bottle of alcohol next to it and an axe in its head that had been rigged up as a form of suicide. Realizing that the corpse is that of the artist, Negan comments that Perlie was right and that it was definitely an after situation. Perlie experiences a flashback to finding Joel's corpse in his apartment after his brother's own suicide while a walker moves past the still open door, noticed by Negan.

Continuing on, Negan grabs the walkers and shoves it into Perlie before making his escape. Perlie manages to bash the walker's head in while Negan reaches a stairwell with a door boarded up at the bottom marked "DO NOT OPEN. DEAD OUTSIDE." As Negan struggles to open it, Perlie suddenly rips off the boards with his nail gun, revealing the street outside to be clear, but collapsing from the exertion on his injured leg. Rather than continuing with his escape, Negan stops as he doesn't like to leave people behind to die no matter how big of an asshole that they can be. Negan offers to help Perlie in exchange for him giving up on dragging Negan back to New Babylon, but Perlie refuses the deal. Negan asks if Perlie thinks that he knows him, guaranteeing Perlie that he doesn't and asking why he's doing this. Even though Perlie refuses to answer him, Negan decides to help the marshal regardless and helps him limp outside.

Finding the tunnel blocked with corpses, Tommaso begins moving them out of the way while the others take a break. Maggie tells the devastated Amaia that she doesn't know what she's planning or about Tommaso, but Amaia is free to go to the Bricks where she'll be safe and all Amaia has to do is give them Maggie's name and Ginny knows the way. As Maggie goes to help Tommaso move the corpses, she collapses, disorientated from her methane exposure, and experiences a flashback of Negan killing Glenn and Hershel yelling to her for help as he's kidnapped by the Burazi. Maggie rejects Tommaso's offer of oxygen, and the group takes a break, not noticing that one of the corpses behind Ginny is beginning to move.

Sitting with Maggie, Tommaso explains that "you don't know what it's been like for us. You can't put down roots when all you're doing is running for your life. My nonno's story? That shit was real. I didn't make that shit up. I was this close to getting out, but he followed me and... I gave up our hideouts to stay alive, to get back to Amaia. He said if I brought my people to him, he'd... He said he'd give me a boat. Left the tanks for me, like you said. He told me about this place on the mainland. He said they got homes with kitchens, rooms for your things, a farm, a school for your kids. That shit sounded safe because everything was made of brick. He said that's the kind of place we could get to." A now sympathetic Maggie realizes that the Croat had told Tommaso about the Bricks and Tommaso adds that "I -- I don't know. I didn't mean for it to go down the way it did. I thought at least they'd have a choice. I thought... I thought he'd... I should've... I should've known. But I had to try. For Amaia. For our... our... Like you said. Gotta do whatever it takes to make it safe."

Walkers rise from amongst the corpses and attack Amaia and Ginny. As Maggie and Tommaso rush to their rescue, one grabs Tommaso's leg and trips him and several walkers attack the man while Maggie puts down the walkers attacking Amaia and Ginny and a few of the ones attacking Tommaso who manages to finish off his other attackers with blows from the oxygen tank. However, while Maggie and Ginny are left unharmed, Amaia has been disemboweled by the walkers and Tommaso has been fatally bitten in the side of his neck, leaving him quickly bleeding out from his jugular vein. Maggie tries to comfort the dying man who apologizes to Amaia as it was all his fault. Tommaso dies and Maggie sadly stabs him in the head in order to keep Tommaso from reanimating.

The Croat drives to a theater, running down a walker that he encounters outside. Visibly distressed, the Croat lets out a scream, covers up his missing ear and heads inside. Making his way through the rowdy crowd in the theater and a very rude gang leader, the Croat visits the Dama in her dressing room, less than pleased that they are talking to that particular gang now, but the Dama tells the Croat that it's none of his concern. The Croat announces that his plan was a success beyond expectations, that his informant and delivered and the threat has been neutralized. The Croat reveals that Negan is on the island and that he saw Negan with his own eyes, but acknowledges that he doesn't have Negan. The Dama summarizes that the show started with such a bang that it kept her up all night and the Croat thought that he had his hero, but he got away so, with the hero off-stage, the ending fizzled, "and let's face it, everyone knows, the ending is all that matters."

The Croat pulls out Perlie's badge and tells the Dama that the New Babylon Federation marshals from the mainland are here, although just one so far. Just as the Dama had said, there will be those who try to bring back the old laws and prisons to protect and serve, but in reality, just to punish, steal and feed their fat bellies. The Croat believes that they will now come for what the Burazi have built, and they need to be ready. The Dama believes that they need Negan for that which is why he has fucked up so royally. The Croat insists that he will find Negan and that there's absolutely no way that Negan will be getting off of the island. Before he leaves, the Dama makes the Croat bow, kneel, and kiss her hand.

Maggie and Ginny continue to pass through the sewer with the corpses growing denser and older to the point that some are just skeletons. Ginny rejects Maggie's offer of a canteen that she will need on the way back to the Bricks and Maggie guesses that Ginny saw something in her bag at some point. Maggie explains that she had never showed Ginny's doll to Negan as she didn't know if the girl was still here or where she was, or if Ginny was even still alive. Maggie still can't let Negan know that Ginny's here or it will all fall apart as Negan will leave and take Ginny back. "A very bad man... took all of our grain and all of our food. It took us months to produce. And he's gonna keep on taking it every single harvest until we all starve to death. And worse than that, he has my son. His name's Hershel. And I have to think of Hershel. And... And Negan, Negan is the key to getting him back." Ginny acknowledges that she understands, and they press on.

Negan leads Perlie to an old school bus where he retrieves the bus's First Aid kit in order to treat Perlie's wound. Perlie is surprised that Negan had known about the First Aid kit before he remembers that Negan had used to be a gym teacher. Perlie questions why Negan is helping him, and Negan claims that it's because Perlie's death would probably be pinned on him, and Negan would be wanted twice as bad with someone much worse than Perlie coming after him as Perlie's replacement. As they settle in for the night, Perlie takes out Joel's letter and opens up to Negan, telling him that "my brother. His name was Joel. We were close. Even though I annoyed the ever-living Hell out of him. Would've followed Joel anywhere. So, when he got that job on the docks, I got one too. He was funny. Had this, uh, charisma. But he was restless, too. Got into fights, in and out of jail, had problems we just couldn't see. One night my folks caught him breaking in, lookin' to steal from them. He attacked my mother. So high he didn't know what he was doing. They were too scared to do anything about it. Maybe they hoped it would go away. So, it fell on me, which left me... angry. He was my big brother. He let me down, abandoned me. So, I guess I wanted to abandon him right back. This was the last time I ever heard from Joel. Couldn't bring myself to open it. Three years later the city fell apart. Mom and Dad and I got out just in time, but... it happened so fast, I didn't think... He was left to die all alone, in the worst possible place on the planet. Is that what he deserved? Is it really so black and white? You'd asked me back then, I would've said yes. But now? I don't know. Is it gray? Is it something else? Tranquilitas Ordinis. What if it's just stories we tell ourselves to sleep easier?"

Maggie and Ginny reach a massive pile of corpses covering the passage forward with Maggie continuing to experience blurred vision from the methane that she's breathing in. The two climb over the corpses, but Maggie gets her foot stuck in one as they prepare to move towards a nearby latter leading to a doorway. Maggie and Ginny become alarmed at the sound of walker growls, before a walker begins crawling out of a nearby pile of corpses. Giving Ginny her pack, Maggie sends her on alone while Maggie struggles to free herself. When the walker rises, a horrified Maggie discovers that it's actually not just one walker, but four fused together with two of the heads coming out of its stomach. After a struggle, Maggie manages to stab the fused walker in three of its heads, apparently putting it down. As Maggie relaxes, the fourth part of the fused walker emerges, but Maggie quickly finishes it off. Extracting herself from the corpses, Maggie continues after Ginny who has written "LIAR" in walker blood on the tunnel wall.

Ginny crawls through the tunnel, now just a pipe as, in a flashback to Ginny's departure from the Bricks, she checks out the grain silo and finds it full revealing the truth: Maggie had lied to both Negan and Ginny about the events that had led her to seek out Negan's help. Ginny reaches a ladder leading to an unsealed hatchway leading out of the sewers as Maggie follows her, but struggles from the exertion in the toxic atmosphere without an oxygen tank like Ginny has. In a flashback, Maggie runs after her son as he's abducted by the Burazi, but she's restrained by other Burazi. The Croat hands Negan's Wanted poster to Maggie: he wants Negan in return for Hershel. Maggie manages to make it out of the sewers, and she collapses.

Running into the middle of the street, Ginny fires a Flare Gun into the air which is seen by both Negan and Maggie.

Other Cast[]

Co-Stars[]

Uncredited[]

Deaths[]

Trivia[]

  • First appearance of the Dama.
  • Last appearance of Amaia.
  • Last appearance of Tommaso.
  • Last appearance of Joel Armstrong. (Corpse, Flashback)
  • Last appearance (in Dead City continuity) of Glenn Rhee. (Flashback)
  • Last appearance (in Dead City continuity) of Rosita Espinosa. (Flashback)
  • Last appearance (in Dead City continuity) of Daryl Dixon. (Flashback)
  • Last appearance (in Dead City continuity) of Michonne Grimes. (Flashback)
  • Last appearance (in Dead City continuity) of Rick Grimes. (Flashback)
  • The title of the episode, "Stories We Tell Ourselves", refers to Perlie musing that "is it really so black and white? You'd asked me back then, I would've said yes. But now? I don't know. Is it gray? Is it something else? Tranquilitas Ordinis. What if it's just stories we tell ourselves to sleep easier?"'.
  • This episode was made available for streaming to subscribers of AMC Premiere on July 13, 2023.
  • It's revealed that Maggie didn't burn Ginny's toy at the end of "People Are a Resource" and instead had kept it in her bag.
  • The new community that the Hilltop survivors had settled at is revealed to be called the Bricks.
  • Negan's past as a gym teacher is mentioned.
  • The door that Negan and Perlie force open is marked "DO NOT OPEN. DEAD OUTSIDE" which is a callback to the "DO NOT OPEN. DEAD INSIDE" sign in "Days Gone Bye".
  • The intertwined walkers Maggie fights in the sewers closely resembles the "Rat King" in The Last of Us Part II. The "Rat King" is comprised of a Bloater and several Stalkers and Clickers that were combined by the Cordyceps fungus while confined to a room for nearly twenty-five years.
    • In the Episode Insider, Eli Jorné refers to it as a Walker King. Lauren Cohan elaborated that, similar to The Last of Us Part II, it was inspired by the real-life phenomena of rats tangling their tails together to form a "rat king".
    • The puppet used for this walker was named Betty.
  • The song that the Piano Playing Buraz is playing is a warped version of "Anything Goes" by Cole Porter.

Episode Highlights[]

TBA

Goofs/Errors[]

  • Negan and Perlie walk by Dan's Hats & Caps which is actually a store that's located in Newark, New Jersey.

References[]

  1. Tweet by Julian Cannon
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