Lauren Cohan explains why Maggie hasn't pulled the trigger on killing Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — even after he nearly pushed her too far to start Season 11 of The Walking Dead. Spoilers for TWD Season 11 Episode 1, "Acheron: Part 1." Negan guides the way through the D.C. metro when the Alexandrians set out to take back Meridian, where Maggie lived with the Wardens before their home fell to the Reapers. When their mission to save a starving Alexandria takes a detour through walker-infested subway tunnels, Negan believes Maggie is leading him into a trap to die, and his mouth almost gets him killed with a gutsy Glenn remark about being put down "like a dog."
"I feel like she's trying to put the needs of the many, in front of the needs of the few... the few being herself," Cohan told the AMC Blog about Maggie working with Negan to save Alexandria. "And it's not really her needs per se, but more her hopes of avoiding him, because he's either dead or he's just not around anymore. I think she's making a deal with the devil, because a lot is brought up for her in this episode."
It was Negan who spurred Maggie to leave Alexandria in the Season 9 episode "What Comes After," but it's the Reapers who made her return home in the Season 10 episode "Home Sweet Home." Maggie told Daryl (Norman Reedus) she would deal with Negan if it means having a safe place for her son Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller), but when pressed by Negan in the subway, she tells him: "The woman who left six years ago is not the one 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. So keep pushing me, Negan. Please."
"It involves them going down into the depths of their own souls in a million ways... She keeps Negan alive because she has to keep alive the part of herself that doesn't kill people. That part of her that doesn't indulge in that brutal kill-or-be-killed attitude. Maybe he does have something to offer, and maybe she doesn't know what hope is around the corner," Cohan explained. "She says to him, 'The woman who left here isn't the one that's standing over you right now.' She doesn't say it, but I actually think she's thinking, 'I really hope [the woman who left here] comes back. I really hope she's not completely gone. I have to try to do things that bring her back — and one of those things is not killing you. I won't let you make me be that person. I won't let you bring that out of me. You insult my husband, but I won't become that person.' So it's very dark, but it's hopeful in its own weird way."
It's the memory of Glenn (Steven Yeun), and her father Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), that continue to inspire Maggie years after their deaths. "But I also think it's who she is as a person," said Cohan.
"It's Maggie and Glenn's first meeting [in Season 2 episode 'Save the Last One'] where you see Maggie's plan is 'You can't wait. You've got to make it okay somehow.' It's one of the first things she ever says to him, and I think it's that shared view that bonded them so deeply. It's part of how she honors him—keeping that alive," Cohan explained. "It's such an interesting thing. When you look at your spouse and you just think, 'I want to be the best thing that you saw in me. I want to keep that person intact, and that's how I keep you alive too' ... the people make you your best self whether they're here or not. It's such a sustaining thing amongst all our darkness."
The real test is what happens if or when Maggie and Negan reunite after he leaves her to die in a walker-swarmed subway tunnel to end "Acheron: Part 1." Season 11 Episode 2, "Acheron: Part 2," is now streaming on AMC+ and premieres August 29 on AMC.
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD Universe. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.