There’s another ingredient in the new show’s formula, and it capitalizes on what the old show did best, at least for a while: introduce new cartoonish villains that we can easily pit our heroes against. Chief among them is the Croat, a deranged and powerful man who seems to make a habit of capturing, torturing, and ultimately killing seemingly random people. In the final scene of the first episode, he rather hilariously cuts a zipline that a half-flayed captive uses to escape him, leaving the man plummeting to his death amid the city’s streets filled with walkers. Get a load of this guy, the show seems to say. he is not helping random orphans, right?
The introduction of another new character hints at what could be a compelling season-long arc for Maggie and Negan. Perlie Armstrong (Gaius Charles) is a marshal for a place called New Babylon, and he positions himself as a straight and narrow lawman despite his willingness to commit violence similar to that committed by the people he prosecutes. When we meet Perlie, he’s looking for Negan and describes the story of Glenn’s death (just in case we’ve forgotten!) as an example of the man’s monstrous abilities. Perlie, on the other hand, describes herself as a non-drinker, non-smoker, and likes “a good pork stew.” Yet he also throws a woman into a mob of zombies without hesitation, citing a particular legal code related to aiding and abetting a criminal.