Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The entire reason Negan did what he did in the season premiere of The Walking Dead was to make Rick utterly and completely submissive. But did the big bad miscalculate in a major way by ignoring the pregnant widow he left kneeling next to her dead husband? Because while Rick is the established leader of Alexandria, Maggie has been evolving into a leader in her own right of late. And now’s she heading to the Hilltop, where — if the show follows the comic book trajectory — big things could be in store for her.

We spoke to Lauren Cohan to get the scoop on what this all means for Maggie going forward, and she had plenty of words to say, but it all comes down to one big one: vengeance.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Negan’s whole goal was to make Rick completely submissive. But what did this act do to Maggie?

LAUREN COHAN: It’s funny because Negan already sees that Maggie has submitted in a way because she’s so physically crippled, and I think that once the worst has happened, then that surge of adrenaline comes and there’s nothing she can do. And there’s nothing left to do. There’s no worse case scenario now. But what Negan’s actions do to Maggie is light this crazy fuse. And we’ll see that burn pretty strong.

I think it’s very Glenn that she gets up and insists on taking his body and she wants to protect him and give him a funeral that he deserves and that overcomes all the inhibition. And so Negan gives Maggie vengeance, and I don’t think that she’s a vengeful person, but It’s going to be a really interesting push and pull this season. You’ll see how she lives on in honor of Glenn and in vengeance of Negan, and it’s a real war in her brain, and in protection of the baby. I really liked the fact that Glenn says, “I’ll find you,” because she takes him with her. It’s difficult to even encapsulate the grief like that.

We’ve seen this evolution in Maggie, especially over the last season and a half. And as horrible as this event was, it sort of occurred to me, is this the final step that turns Maggie into this full-blown leader? Because we see her even in her immense, painstaking grief, sort of taking control there at the end, and telling people, here’s what has to happen next.

I think that she needs to cope and she needs to push forward, and it’s just that next task that she can take. And as things go on, she needs to do right by people and honor her husband and take care of her child, and those things might become things that make a good person to look up to. But she’s trying to do the right thing at this point, and she keeps him in her mind’s eye, and she keeps her dad in her mind’s eye, and she keeps her sister. We’ll see Maggie being very pragmatic and what we all know by now is that those people need to live on in her, or otherwise it’s all for naught, basically.

But there’s a lot of anger ahead in this road for the group and it’s a very complex season. This fallout now is so heavy. It’s really rich, and the places that we see everybody go, and the worlds everybody’s going in to and how they’re all dealing with losing Glenn and Abraham — it’s the linchpin. I mean, there’s been so much loss to this point, and this is just the entire house of cards.

There are a few storylines that comic book fans look forward to and are excited to see, and I think that Maggie at the Hilltop is certainly one of them. And we know she’s on her way there now and I think people are really excited to see her in this place and what she becomes out of this.

It’s a really interesting spiritual journey that she goes on. Sasha and her are gonna be incredibly tight and they really need each other, and they really lean on each other. Within all the drive and the violence that the group has to perform and to undergo, there is going to be honor to our fallen.

Check out our new Walking Dead cover of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here. And subscribe now to receive a free Walking Dead tote! For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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