Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 1 Ending Explained: Is Negan a Villain Again?

The bad blood between Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) will be bigger, badder, and bloodier — if Maggie survives the Season 11 premiere of The Walking Dead. Spoilers for TWD Season 11 Episode 1, "Acheron: Part 1." When Negan returned to Alexandria after Maggie and her son Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) made themselves at home in Season 10, his season-ending smile said it all: here's Negan. In Season 11, Maggie lives behind the same walls as the man who murdered her husband Glenn (Steven Yeun) years earlier, but maybe not for long — Negan leaves Maggie to die to end "Acheron: Part 1."

In the season premiere, aired August 22 on AMC and streaming now on AMC+, Negan guides a group led by Maggie and Daryl (Norman Reedus) on a survival mission to save an Alexandria in danger of falling after The Whisperer War. When a violent storm forces the group underground, diverting their mission to Meridian through subway tunnels beneath Washington, D.C., Negan suspects Maggie leads a death march that ends with the vengeful widow killing him.

"Me dying on your terms, it ain't happening," Negan taunts from inside the walker-infested subway tunnel, pushing Maggie to end it and get their seasons-long feud over with. "I am not gonna let you drag me through the mud, filth, and slime to put me down like a dog. Like Glenn was."

Killing Negan is "always on my mind," Maggie growls through gritted teeth, gun in Negan's face and her finger on the trigger. "I'm not gonna tell you that you're wrong about me because you aren't."

"The woman who left six years ago is not the one standing over you now," warns Maggie, recalling her plot to execute the jailed Negan during "What Comes After" in Season 9. "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."

They press on towards Meridian, but an abandoned subway car makes a choke point at the end of the tunnel. At the other end is an encroaching walker horde, leaving the survivors scrambling to climb on top of the platform to make their escape. When Daryl breaks off to chase after Dog, Negan hoists himself up onto the subway car as walkers claw at Maggie.

"Negan!" Maggie screams, kicking off the biters clutching her legs, but Negan does nothing except watch from above. Negan turns away and disappears into the darkness, leaving Maggie to her fate just as she loses her grip and falls to the tracks below.

"The final scene with Negan and Maggie, I think we were really interested in the idea of just pushing the conflict between them as far as possible," showrunner Angela Kang explained on The Walking Dead: Episode Insider. "Negan, that guy's a survivor. If he thinks somebody is out to kill him, then I don't know that he's actively trying to get rid of her, but he's an opportunist as well. So he sees this opportunity to just not help, even if that effectively means he's okay with letting her fall to her death, possibly."

Negan leaving Maggie to die "was always about this character moment of these two people that hate each other and don't trust each other," said Kang. "And when you're in an extreme situation, do you step up and help unexpectedly — which is usually what we see our characters do — or do you let the worst version of things happen? We just thought it was interesting to push them to that point."

Find out what happens next in "Acheron: Part 2," premiering August 29 on AMC or streaming early on AMC+.

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Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD Universe. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.