The Walking Dead‘s Rick Grimes had a vision — a vision of communities working to bring society back from the brink while prospering alongside each other. But that idyllic vision is easier said than done, especially when you decide to spare resources to help your former enemy, and especially when you decide to keep their leader alive.
Maggie certainly was not on board with Rick’s decision to spare Negan at the end of season 8, and when things pick back up in the season 9 premiere (Oct. 7 on AMC), she will not necessarily have warmed to the idea. We spoke to Lauren Cohan about Maggie’s tenuous leadership position both at the Hilltop and within the community alliance as a whole.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, we pick things up 18 months later. Is Maggie still pissed at Rick for keeping Negan alive, or what?
LAUREN COHAN: I’m not gonna say she’s holding on to things towards just Rick per se, but she is realizing that she has to rely on herself and she has to make a decision she believes in and let the chips fall where they may. What we’re going to see in the first couple episodes is that she needs to take responsibility for the good and for the bad, and that means she has to dig deep and say, “What do I believe in and can I stand by it?” So that’s the journey that she goes on, and I think part of that is the realization in herself that Rick had said he’d follow her and he didn’t.
I’m sure there’s a more succinct way to explain it, but it’s just this idea that if I’m settled on my position I better be able to explain why I made it and where I’m coming from, because there’s nobody else here. And a lot of other people that are in the Hilltop camp with her are challenging her position, so she really does need to speak for herself.
There was obviously some sort of thought that she was going to be not just leading the Hilltop but Rick was going to follow her. Instead of, “I believe in Rick Grimes.” It was going to become “I believe in Maggie.” But that quite hasn’t happened on schedule yet, has it?
I think it was a long time of Maggie stepping into bigger shoes. At the beginning of last season we really finally looked it square in the face, and that’s when she says it to her.
I know Maggie and Michonne are going to have some big scenes together, while maybe not always seeing eye to eye. How would you describe their relationship in season 9?
I think it is really like true friendship with those two now that we get to see they’re two women with strong and valid opinions in opposite directions who try to help each other see the other way, and get frustrated when they don’t come around and appreciate parts of each other’s viewpoints. They occasionally use emotional blackmail to get the other one to see their way. But they know each other at this point and that’s what’s been cool this year is to see people who know each other argue.
That’s what makes it raw, to look someone in the face and say, “I love and respect you, but I don’t agree with what you’re doing.” Or, “You’re making decisions based on you, so I’m gonna make decisions based on me.” Not that it’s tit for tat, but it is coming to that, especially when we have these different factions. What works for Rick and his people isn’t going to work for me and my people. I can’t keep telling the Hilltop that we have the give to the Saviors and not expect some kind of revolt.
And I need to make Rick understand that, and I need to serve up to him my observation that his method of grief resolution isn’t the same as mine. He gets peace from doing what Carl wanted him to do, and that’s great, but that’s not doing anything for me. And how is Maggie going to pursue some kind of personal resolution? We’re not saying it has to be revenge, but she definitely is still trying to find what it could be. Not revenge, but justice.
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