"The only way this works is if we trust each other," says Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) when left alone with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in a sneak peek from the next episode of The Walking Dead. "Why would I ever trust you?" asks Maggie of her husband's killer who left her behind to die to start Season 11. After escaping walker-infested subway tunnels and being hunted by the Reapers on their way to Meridian, now Alexandria's last hope for survival, Negan and Maggie must work together when they regroup without the injured and left-behind Alden (Callan McAuliffe).
As they make their way towards a supply stash in Arbor Hills, Negan answers Maggie's question: "'Cause you want to stay alive, same as me." If she stays alive, Maggie retorts, "It'll be in spite of you. Not because of you."
Negan asks why Maggie hasn't put him down yet. Before she can answer, Maggie hurls a knife at an approaching walker. "I ask myself that question every day."
"Maggie hates Negan, that's it. Maggie wants him dead. Unfortunately for her, the only out, the only way that she's going to survive certain situations is if she lets Negan into the fold. It's as simple as that," Morgan said about the Maggie-Negan team-up on Talking Dead. "What it is, is kind of what it is. She hates him but needs him."
Maggie and Negan formed a temporary truce when trusting him with a gun in "Acheron: Part 2," which he handed back after helping Daryl (Norman Reedus) and the group escape the zombie-swarmed subway tunnels beneath D.C. As for why Maggie doesn't kill Negan despite his killing Glenn (Steven Yeun), Cohan told the AMC Blog:
"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. 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," Cohan explained. "I think she's making a deal with the devil, because a lot is brought up for her in [Acheron: Part 1]. 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," continued Cohan. "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."
"Out of the Ashes" is now streaming early on AMC+ and premieres Sunday, September 19, at 9/8c on the AMC channel.
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.