Gene Page/AMC
Dalton Ross
September 18, 2017 AT 01:00 PM EDT

Entertainment Weekly will be revealing our latest The Walking Dead covers on Thursday, Sept. 21. To lead up to the unveiling, we are posting a TWD news item every day.

Remember when Maggie on The Walking Dead announced she was pregnant? Doesn’t that seem like forever ago? That’s because it kind of was. But also, in another way, it kind of wasn’t. Allow me to explain.

Maggie (played by Lauren Cohan) first revealed she was with child back in 2015 during the first half of season 6. Yet, still, no baby. Not only that, but when I asked showrunner Scott M. Gimple whether we should expect Maggie to give birth in the upcoming season 8 (which premieres on Oct. 22), he was pretty blunt in his reply. “We shouldn’t,” replied Gimple.

What gives? For how long can this woman actually be pregnant? Well, if you take a look at the timeline of the show, it has actually not been all that long. The on-screen timeline of events for season 7 was actually only 19 days, according to co-executive producer Denise Huth on the most recent Blu-ray release, and Gimple tells EW that season 8 picks up just a few days after that — meaning Maggie still has a way to go before her and Glenn’s child arrives. “It’s quite early in, as it was in the book,” says showrunner Gimple about the pregnancy.

So Gimple says that unless something radical changes in the last two months of filming, that there will be no birth, meaning a span of over two-and-a-half seasons from when we found out Maggie was carrying. But because of the show’s considerably slowed down timeline, the character is not even at the point of showing yet. “I always want to put a little ticker tape along the bottom of the episode saying how far into the apocalypse and into the pregnancy we are,” laughs Cohan. “Because I’m playing newly pregnant for a really long time. But the truth of the matter is, it’s only been a matter of weeks since Negan killed Glenn.”

Of course, there’s also that possible time jump to consider. We saw a scene of an older Rick with a bedside cane in the season 8 trailer that seems to mirror a time jump that takes place in the comic book on which the show is based. But that time jump in the comic takes place after the war with Negan, and the war on TV is just starting, so who knows what really is going on there. (Andrew Lincoln talked with us about the mystery scene here.)

If The Walking Dead is going to go all Lost-style and give us some flash-forwards that happen simultaneously with the current timeline, then it is entirely possible we will see future Maggie with her child in season 8 without seeing her actually give birth. Regardless, Cohan also says there is no need to worry about Maggie slowing down to protect her unborn baby, and that she’ll be out there on the front lines whenever necessary.

“She’s in a mindset of doing everything she can to inspire at Hilltop and to inspire the people that she’s encouraged to join the forces,” says Cohan. “The symbolism of her being with her troops is really essential. And she needs to inspire confidence not just in the Hilltoppers, but in Rick and Daryl and Ezekiel, and to be somewhat fearless and say, I have this group’s strength on my side and that’s what’s going to keep me safe, and so I’m not afraid to go up to a reasonable point with you all to set this plan in motion and really fine-tune the wild bunch planning. So she does that, and I think, honestly, she does that to instill the confidence in herself that this will work and it’s pretty reasonable.”

Cohan also points out that a pregnancy is not as limiting physically as some may think, as she learned while watching others work out at her gym. “There’s an amazing amount that you can do,” she says. “The place I work out is a testament to this. I do a pretty crazy workout, and there are women there up to the end of their third trimester doing the same thing. They say that in pregnancy you can operate on a physical level to the same that you have been. You don’t want to up it once you’re pregnant, but you can continue on the same pattern, and she’s been living in this type of a world and this type of combat for a really long time.”

Bottom line: Expect to see plenty of badass Maggie Rhee in season 8. “Of course, the life in her body is precious,” says Cohan. “But in terms of what she’s capable of, the necessity of inspiring and maintaining that hope and inspiration is greater than what her fear is over her reservations of going into combat again.”

Make sure to check out our big Walking Dead cover next week. And for more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

RELATED:
• The Walking Dead: Danai Gurira promises a ‘deeply different’ season premiere
• The Walking Dead: Melissa McBride on Carol’s ‘call to duty’ in season 8
• The Walking Dead: Norman Reedus says Daryl is going ‘rogue’ in season 8
• The Walking Dead: Exclusive season 8 photos feature Daryl, Rick, and Ezekiel
• The Walking Dead: Andrew Lincoln ‘shocked’ by Old Man Rick twist

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