The Walking Dead showrunner explains the "tiny bit of trust" between Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in "Acheron: Part 2," where the enemies work together to survive their trek through zombie-flooded subway tunnels. "Acheron: Part 1" puts Maggie's group, guided by Negan, on the road to Meridian: Maggie's old home they'll need to take back from the Reapers to save a starving Alexandria. But when Negan suspects Maggie is luring him to his death — revenge for killing her husband Glenn (Steven Yeun) — he decides not to help her escape attacking walkers, leaving Maggie behind to die to end "Acheron: Part 1."
But Maggie survives, making it to safety inside the subway car where walkers have trapped Negan and the group. When Maggie tells them what happened — she slipped, Negan saw, and he left her to die — Agatha (Laurie Fortier) says they'll kill Negan if Maggie gives the word. They can navigate the city without him.
Before Maggie can decide Negan's fate, Gage (Jackson Pace) returns after abandoning the mission and taking the supplies with him. He's on the other side of a door to the next train car over — the only thing keeping walkers from flooding inside where the rest of the group is now — and Gage is torn apart by walkers when Maggie refuses to let him in. But the door comes down anyway, overwhelmed by the sheer number of the undead pressing against it, filling the car with walkers.
Under siege by an overwhelming amount of the dead, Maggie hands Negan her gun. He takes it and helps free the trapped survivors, who escape when Daryl (Norman Reedus) shoots and then explodes what's left of the walkers filtered in from both sides of the train.
Once the group makes it out of the tunnels, Negan returns the gun to Maggie without a word. He holds the weapon a little too long before releasing, and he agrees to guide Maggie's detour to a hidden supply depot in nearby Arbor Hills. (The detour takes a detour when Maggie and Negan get hunted by the Reapers in next week's "Hunted.")
"An important moment in the arc between Maggie and Negan is, there's this moment where they feel like they're just in real trouble, and maybe they're all going to die, and Maggie hands Negan a gun that she has on her," showrunner Angela Kang said on The Walking Dead: Episode Insider. "Maggie really is just kind of like a cold hard leader at that point. Right then, he's just an asset. The mission has become more important than any one individual or any one dynamic that exists between them, and that is true even for her."
When Negan returns the gun to Maggie, Kang explained, "Maybe there is at least this tiny, tiny bit of trust that has passed back and forth between them, and that's going to just be part of the shifting sands that they're on as they're going through this mission together."
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.