When The Walking Dead returns for season 9, the series will explore the fallout surrounding Rick Grimes' controversial decision to allow Negan to live — a decision that doesn't sit right with Maggie and a like-minded Daryl.
The ominous tone of the shadowy cabal, which included Maggie's right hand man Jesus, gave the impression the trio were plotting against Rick Grimes, but the brewing conflict could be less "civil war" and more "clandestine assassination."
"What Maggie has said to Daryl and Jesus was, 'The Hilltop is going to flourish… I'm going to lead this place and make it work. But after that, I have this little thing on my to-do list, and it has to do with Negan,'" The Walking Dead executive producer Scott Gimple tells TV Line.
"That's the main thing. It isn't like, 'I wanna get Rick!' or something like that, it's about Negan."
Maggie maintains Rick "had no right to do what he did" by single-handedly choosing to keep Negan alive as a prisoner, but despite her seemingly threatening tone towards Rick and Michonne, fans need not worry Maggie is becoming a villain — but the pregnant widow will be more dangerous come season 9.
"Make no mistake, no one is getting in front of Maggie to stop her," Gimple adds. "That's where there is danger and potential conflict."
Rick's decision to ultimately spare Negan was made in the moment, explaining why the Alexandrian leader failed to let Maggie in on his intentions:
"There was no warning Maggie, because there was no warning for Rick himself," Gimple says.
"He was in denial — like, 'Maggie, I'm gonna kill him, I'm gonna kill him… ' He kind of pushed against any other possibility, not allowing it to even enter his mind that there would be mercy. He couldn't open the door to it till he invoked Carl's words to get the opportunity to cut Negan's throat," Gimple explains.
He continues: "It was only after he did that that he could hear what his son was saying to him and understand what his son wanted him to do. But I will say, when he called Siddiq over to help, would Rick have been heartbroken if he didn't save him? I don't know, but he knew he had to try."
Maggie actress Lauren Cohan recently confirmed she'll be back for season 9, putting to bed months worth of worries she wouldn't re-sign with the series following a pay dispute that left her without a renewed contract at the end of season 8.
The Walking Dead is expected to return to AMC this October.