By: Amy West
Having watched her step down as Hilltop leader and leave to start a new life with young son Hershel prior to season nine’s time jump, The Walking Dead fans were thrilled when Maggie Rhee reunited with Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride) and co. towards the end of season 10.
With her help and survivor savvy, the group managed to beat Beta and the rest of the wily Whisperers. But with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the man who infamously murdered her husband Glenn years prior, still living at Alexandria, her innermost thoughts proved far from peaceful. In light of that, the fan favourite character will be forced to “face the darkest parts of herself” in the zombie drama’s upcoming final chapter, says longtime cast member Lauren Cohan.
Following the season 11 premiere, which landed on Disney Plus in the UK yesterday (23rd August), the actor teased that the tensions between Negan and Maggie will be a “driving force” going forward, as the latter is confronted with the fact that the bat-wielding baddie brings out a side to her she’s fought hard to suppress.
“A big thing for me, reading, living and watching this season, is noticing all the parallels and how a huge part of their conflict is what they have in common,” Cohan told RadioTimes.com exclusively. “I think that’s really difficult for them to see, I don’t know how much they’re aware of it.”
The new chapter’s opening two-parter sees Maggie lead Daryl, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Kelly (Angel Theory), Magna (Nadia Hilker) and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) on a dangerous supply run through Washington DC. Much to the others’ annoyance, she elects to bring Negan along too, as he “knows the city”. Things take a turn though, when the group find themselves underground, stuck between a broken-down metro train and a horde of walkers.
Negan suggests they bail on the mission, and is quickly backed up by Gage (Jackson Pace), which leads Maggie and Daryl to berate them both. In response, Negan claims that Maggie brought him along just to kill him “away from the prying eyes of Alexandria”.
He goes on: “If we get through this, I’m not coming back. She’ll find a way, she’ll find a reason, she’ll do it herself – here in the jungle. Her head isn’t even in the game because I’m in her head, living rent free. So, Maggie, me dying on your terms, it ain’t happening. So what do you say? Let’s get it done, right here, right now. Because I am not gonna let you drag me through the mud, filth and slime to put me down like a dog, like Glenn was.”
“We’re down here because up-top is death. We’re moving fast because our kids are starving, and I’m calling the shots because that’s how everyone voted. As for me killing you? It’s always on my mind,” she says.
“I’m not gonna tell you you’re wrong about me because you aren’t. ‘The Woman Who Lived’ six years ago is not the one that’s standing over you now. There’s a little bit of her left in me, and that little bit is the only thing keeping you breathing. But I don’t know how long that’s gonna last.”
“Maggie’s desperately trying to keep a hold of the steering wheel as it were,” Cohan told RadioTimes.com. “She’s realising that the best thing one can hope for is to live in all of these intense emotions and be able to get on with the job anyway.”
“We go down into the subway and, to me, I read that and was like, ‘Oh, here we go, down into the depths of personal hell’,” Cohan chuckled. “That combined with Negan’s paranoia, the way Jeff played that, I just freaking loved it so much, and it’s tough on us, too, because there’s all these memories and things you can let overwhelm you. That’s the raw stuff.”
“It just all feels very honest – that you’d have this woman who’s seen the things she’s seen and really now has to weigh things up in the way that she does,” she concluded. “There are decisions she makes here that come at a cost, and she has to make them on the fly. That’s what it would be like… and then you’d have to keep moving.”
The Walking Dead season 11 premiered in the US on 22nd August 2021 on AMC, before arriving in the UK the following day exclusively via Star on Disney Plus. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Sci-Fi hub for all the latest news.