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Some bad stuff was going down in Alexandria in The Walking Dead’s midseason finale. Not only was the community destroyed, but Carl revealed he had been bitten by a zombie. However things weren’t a whole hell of a lot better over at the Hilltop. Not only was it on the verge of being back under Negan’s control, but two people were executed.

What was so shocking is that Maggie was the executioner for one of them. After watching one of her own shot down right in front of her by Simon, Maggie went back and murdered a Savior in cold blood before sending the body (and a message) back to Negan.

It was a jaw-dropping (and perhaps line-crossing) move for Maggie, but how much of that was calculated strategy and how much was straight-up revenge? And will the newly installed Hilltop leader continue down that dark path when the show picks back up on Feb. 25. We asked Lauren Cohan all about Maggie’s big move and what it means moving forward.

Credit: Gene Page/AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like when you first found out about Maggie shooting that Savior in cold blood and sending him back to Negan? Because that was a huge move for her.
LAUREN COHAN: I think that these actions definitely ripple through her, as we saw at the end of episode 8. She is so determined to take some kind of action when they get back from their conversation at the road with Simon, and so shaken up. This has honestly been like the wave hitting the shore since losing Glenn. I just think there’s only so much that a person can take, and in the aftermath of all of this happening, she really does need to put her foot down and show that she’s running the f—ing show at the Hilltop, and show that she’s going to direct things there. This definitely sends that message.

She’s thinking about Hershel and Glenn and where she’s come from and what she now needs to do and how she now needs to suit up. I don’t think she regrets doing it, but she does feel it. This is just an armament that is becoming more and more necessary for her. It’s just one of the hard decisions that we’re going to see her having to make.

Was that move of hers to shoot that guy and put him in the coffin all calculated strategy? Was there any just straight-up revenge in there? Or was it a mix of the two things?
Oh yeah, I think it was definitely impulsive revenge and reaction, based on how she reacts after it all happens, in cold blood killing somebody. But does she feel that it still has the desired effect? I think that she does. I was believing that Maggie was kind of navigating this world still with compassion and still a really hopeful person, but she’s just really pulled in different directions trying to sustain that. So I was really surprised, and I think I realized, “Oh, this is kind of what’s been brewing for her underneath all along.”

She’s dealing with that while trying to maintain some control and give into her compassionate side and her hopeful side, but she obviously had this lurking anger. More than anything, I think she just got to a point where she snaps and she reacts. We can all relate to your patience being tested and your heart being broken and you still try to do the right thing despite just wanting to lash out. I mean, what would be appropriate to what you’ve gone through? I think that she’s just at a point now. You can see everybody’s sort of threadbare. She gave into that anger.

But I guess the question going forward then is after someone does that, one of two things can happen: Either it becomes easier for them to continually do that and go down that dark path, or they have a moment where they go, “Whoa, I’ve got to pull back now.” What can you say in terms of Maggie moving forward now after doing that? Which of those paths is she going to be on?
She continues down this path of vengeance after Negan that I feel like the audience is on. I really feel like Maggie gets to vocalize the anger towards that enemy in this, and it gets very much more specific as we go on. That definitely, in some strokes, came as a surprise to me because we had this sort of subdued seeming feeling for her, and it was like, wow, is it really going to be okay? Am I recovering? Am I becoming just this leader who can handle all this and put the past behind her? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and that’s life, I guess.

For more exclusive Walking Dead scoop, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly and follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss. The Walking Dead returns on Feb. 25 on AMC.

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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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