Who Is the Croat on THE WALKING DEAD: DEAD CITY? The Ruthless Villain and His Burazi, Explained

Spoiler Alert

The Walking Dead: Dead City (we will simply call it Dead City) is expanding this universe further with familiar faces. This spinoff series gets into action quickly with Maggie tracking down Negan just outside of New York City. As we already knew, Maggie needs Negan’s help to locate her son Hershel after he was taken by a new villain called the Croat (Željko Ivanek). Many fans (including me!) suspected the Croat was a former Savior who eventually formed his own version of the Sanctuary… and we were right. Here’s everything we know about the Croat and what he’s up to on The Walking Dead: Dead City

a close up photo of the walking dead dead city villain the croat
AMC Networks

Who Is the Croat and What Is His Connection to Negan?

In Dead City’s debut episode, Maggie finds Negan, who is traveling with Ginny, a kid whose trauma has rendered her silent. We know that a couple of years have passed in this universe, so there are some gaps that the show will eventually explain. Negan wants to know why she’s stalking him and Maggie says she needs his help with finding and defeating the Croat. Negan pretends to not know him at first. That is, until Maggie says that the Croat’s group came into her community and began to do that famous Savior whistle.

Negan admits that the Croat was “an exceptionally insane son of a b**ch” and that Hershel is probably already dead. Maggie insists that he must help her because he still owes her (does he, though?) and reminds Negan that he’s a wanted man on the run with nowhere to go. Negan agrees to help her find the Croat but only because Maggie promises Ginny refuge and education in a safe community. After watching Negan and Maggie running from falling walker bodies, massive bugs, and a ruthless Marshall (Gaius Charles), we meet the Croat himself. 

Maggie, Negan, and Pearlie look up while standing in NYC the walking dead dead city
AMC Networks

At first glance, he looks more like someone’s grandfather than a ruthless leader. He confronts a bound Hershel, asking him what he knows about Negan. Hershel smart mouths him and The Croat prepares to torture him with a scythe-like instrument. But a worker interrupts him and his attention turns to an ill-fated prison escapee. 

In episode two, Negan reveals to Maggie that the Croat “showed up at his door” and had been through some terrible things. Apparently, his whole family died in front of his eyes. He took him in and the Croat began to call Negan his buraz (brother) because he made him feel safe. Negan says that while he was only a monster when he had to be to protect his people, the Croat liked to torture and toy with people for fun. The Croat was Negan’s resident torturer until an incident took place where he specifically told the Croat to let a young drifter girl go on her way. The Croat got her and did something so terrible that Negan wouldn’t even speak it aloud. Negan took a shot at him and missed, blowing off his ear. The Croat got away and Negan hadn’t heard of him since… until now.

Maggie tells the group that 1) he knows the Croat and 2) they can take him down much like the VA communities did with the Saviors. She wants Negan to be bait while they go in for the kill. Negan does prove to be helpful, giving them insight into the Croat’s way of thinking so they can devise a plan.

In episode four, we see a flashback of Negan and Simon confronting the Croat over a brutal murder. And, in the present time, Negan and the Croat come face to face for the first time in years. Unlike Negan’s prediction, the Croat welcomes him with open arms, wanting Negan to join his ranks. Negan refuses, of course, before saving Perlie’s life only for him to point a gun at him. Good times.

The Croat and His Burazi Group in The Walking Dead: Dead City, Explained

Who Is the Croat on THE WALKING DEAD: DEAD CITY? The Ruthless Villain's Connection to Negan, Explained_1
Peter Kramer/AMC

The Croat’s collective is known as the Burazi. The word buraz means brother in Croatian (the obvious reference for the Croat’s name) and Negan previously said that’s what the Croat called him. Towards the end of episode two, we find out via Tommaso that the Croat is known as “Van Gogh” and “the psycho.” And his Burazi are deeply, deeply feared throughout NYC. (They look like an evil version of Daft Punk when they are on the streets.)

Amaia later reveals that their group was struggling to survive after the military bombed all their exits from the island. And the Croat’s arrival made things worse. He offered shelter and creature comforts in exchange for joining his brutal group. Tommaso knows the Croat’s brutality all too well after being held captive and tortured for information. He escaped thanks to a walker (which they call fleshies) giving him an out, but thinks there’s no way Hershel is still alive.

We get a good look inside the Burazi’s complex at the Madison Square Garden in episode three and it is quite wild. There are these preservation tanks with human bodies, a Gladiator-style ring, and torture cells. The group also chants “Doma Smo!” which is Croatian for “We are at home!” They are essentially an even more twisted version of the Saviors with a “join us or die” mentality.

The Croat stands on a balcony holding a power torture tool in dead city
Peter Kramer/AMC

The Croat reveals to the captive Marshall that he worked in alternative energy before the outbreak. He literally uses the methane gas released by dead bodies to make a liquid fuel. The concept of death being a resource is a horrible message that he recites to his followers before making the Marshall breathe in that liquid and fight for his life. He also calls his place a “sanctuary,” which was the name of Negan’s complex. He’s a hands-on killer, from bashing in a man’s skull on a balcony to breaking a girl’s body apart while at the Sanctuary.

Based on Negan’s story, it doesn’t seem that any Saviors left with the Croat. We can only assume he found his collective over the years as he took over the island. The Croat’s existence truly speaks to the ripple effect that a single person can have in this world. It is very telling for the Croat and his group to do that Savior whistle years after Negan’s reign.

In a sense, this guy is a monster that is partially of Negan’s own creation. It is obvious he still subscribes to his conquering mindset. And if Negan—a man who bashed two people’s skulls to pulp with a barbed wire bat—thinks the Croat is a psychopath, then that is making a huge statement about what they are facing. Let’s see where Dead City takes us on this quest to save Hershel.

Originally published on June 18, 2023.

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