The Walking Dead: Dead City’s central villain, Croat, is a Negan copycat — and that isn’t a bad thing. A direct sequel to AMC’s ultra-popular, now-finished The Walking Dead, Dead City follows an unlikely duo: Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who brutally murdered Maggie’s husband, Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) in the original series. The Maggie vs. Negan plot continues as they journey through post-apocalyptic Manhattan to save Maggie’s son, Hershel Rhee (Logan Kim), from The Croat (Željko Ivanek).
The Croat may not have appeared in The Walking Dead, but he’s a former member of Negan’s ruthless Saviors group, who went “too far,” even by Negan’s standards. Although the Croat has been lording over the Walker-filled wastes of New York City for a decade, Negan is still top of mind; he wants revenge, but he also borrows from Negan’s Saviors ethos. The Walking Dead: Dead City‘s Croat is a Negan copycat — an antagonist who forces an allegedly reformed Negan to confront what once defined him.
5. The Croat Offers Walking Dead Survivors “Sanctuary”
The Croat’s time with Negan, however short, shaped his own warped approach to helming a group. While leading up the Saviors, Negan creates the Sanctuary, a community that’s not only well-equipped to keep Walkers at bay but hundreds of people strong. Negan maintains his power, and shockingly plentiful resources, by oppressing others. Although he promises them “sanctuary” — hence the name of his fortified community — Negan also forces other groups of survivors to pay tribute to him and meets any and all resistance with violence.
The Croat’s group, the Burazi — or “the Brothers” — also offer safety and creature comforts in return for fealty. A twisted version of the Saviors, the Burazi operate on a “kill or be killed” mindset, with Croat insisting that he wants to keep wayward survivors safe. Of course, that doesn’t just mean “safe” from Walkers but from the Croat himself. Those who refuse the Croat’s offer are hunted down, tortured, and killed. “What we have built here is a sanctuary,” the Croat says to a prisoner in episode 3 of Dead City. “And all are welcome.”
4. Negan Said The Croat’s “People Are A Resource” Line First
Using music to manipulate Manhattan’s Walker hordes, the Croat proves himself to be an incredibly inventive and capable figure. In pre-zombie apocalypse times, the Croat was a scientist — and that leads to a rather disturbing discovery. In episode 3 of Dead City, the Croat visits his newest prisoner, Perlie Armstrong (Gaius Charles), the New Babylon marshal who’s looking to bring Negan to justice.
In the Burazi compound, Perlie has a lavish cell, complete with music, wine, and a plated dinner. The Croat informs Perlie that his pre-apocalypse specialty was alternative energy. “I couldn’t help asking myself what is the most abundant natural resource on this island? Death. The sewers are full of it,” the Croat explains. “The bodies break down and produce methane and because the intermolecular forces are weak, the gas can be pressurized into a liquid fuel at regular temperature.”
Later, the Croat celebrates a fallen Burazi member, claiming that death isn’t the end, but fuel. Literally, people are a resource to the Croat. This echoes Negan’s remarks in The Walking Dead. Not only does he say, word for word, “people are a resource,” but constantly reminds the survivors who live at the Sanctuary that people are the foundation of what they’re building.
3. The Croat’s Tactics Are Exactly What Negan Did In The Walking Dead
“We provide security to others — we bring civilization back to this world,” Negan proclaims to his followers, both willing and unwilling, in The Walking Dead. Much like the Croat, Negan acts as though his purpose is a noble one, fueled by his care for humankind. Of course, it’s easy to see through that guise, but that doesn’t make his rhetoric any less effective on the desperate survivors that fall into his ranks. In addition to promising safety, Negan acts as if “the rules” put in place weren’t established by him but by some greater power.
He consistently uses language like “I wish” to express that he’s just abiding by the rules — that without these guidelines, the Sanctuary would crumble. And maybe that’s true. After all, Negan holds onto his power through violence and manipulation. Part of that is emotional manipulation — he claims to care about others, about their safety and growth, and acts like murdering people with Lucille is just out of his hands. It’s something that must happen.
Similarly, the Croat tells Perlie that he can’t truly offer him refuge with the Burazi until he no longer sees Perlie as a threat. It’s as if the decision is out of the Croat’s hands. This twists the situation, making the Croat looking merciful and “reasonable” (by apocalypse standards) when he does allow Perlie to stay. Much in the same way the Saviors proved themselves to Negan, Perlie must prove himself to the Croat through violence. And, like Negan, the Croat makes a point of saying he dislikes violence.
2. The Croat’s Dead City Episode 3 Kill Mirrors Negan In Episode 2
At times, The Walking Dead: Dead City seems to take great pains at rewriting the franchise’s history when it comes to Negan. The show really wants viewers to forget how evil Negan was in the original show. Maggie is right to distrust Negan, the man who took great joy in beating Glenn’s head in, and remain suspicious that he’s completely reformed. Dead City tries to paint Negan as someone who’s always had a moral code (no matter how loose) when revealing the bad blood between the former Saviors leader and the Croat.
Apparently, Negan thought the Croat’s display of violence during an interrogation went too far, which is why Dead City‘s antagonist fled. It’s hard to believe that a pre-Glenn Negan had his limits, and it’s even harder to believe he’s completely shaken off his violent tendencies after his wild display in episode 2 of Dead City. After a Burazi raid, Negan takes revenge on a remaining member of the Croat’s group by torturing him. Negan shoves the man’s head through a glass pane and guts him over a balcony. It’s a violent Negan callback that reveals quite a bit about his current state of mind.
In episode 3 of Dead City, the Croat finds larva inside his meal while chatting with Perlie. Offended that the Burazi would serve him life-threatening, bacteria-ridden rotten meat, the Croat repeatedly smashes the server’s head into a railing, breaks his neck, and shoves him over the ledge and onto the floor below. Any time a Walking Dead character ends up with a smashed head, it’s going to echo Negan’s murder of Glenn, but the parallel of tossing an already-dead person over a ledge really reiterates the similarities between Negan and the Croat.
1. The Croat Is Motivated By Loss And Revenge
The Croat reveals to Perlie that he lost his entire family all at once. While he was looking for food, another group of survivors had resorted to killing and cannibalizing the Croat’s wife, two daughters, and son. This pushed him down a dark path — one that ultimately led to Negan, who taught the Croat to protect what matters through barbarism. As viewers have seen throughout all iterations of The Walking Dead, loss propels survivors in all sorts of ways.
For characters like Maggie, living with her grief and finding new purpose pushes her forward. Although she does regrettable things, Maggie hasn’t let loss push her to commit atrocities. Negan and the Croat, on the other hand, have let their anger and tendency toward violence shape them. Instead of fighting for what they have, both characters fight to take away from others. While Negan’s plans for dismantling Rick’s group didn’t quite pan out, viewers will have to wait and see how the Croat’s ambitions unfold in The Walking Dead: Dead City.
The Walking Dead: Dead City airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.