Lauren Cohan wanted Maggie to kill Negan on The Walking Dead
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's "Archeron Part II" of The Walking Dead.
If you were hoping Maggie would put a bullet in Negan's brain once she made survived and made it back into the DC Metro car in Sunday's "Acheron Part II" episode of The Walking Dead, then you weren't alone. So did the woman playing Maggie.
EW spoke to Lauren Cohan to get her take on Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) leaving Maggie to die after refusing to help her escape a hungry pack of zombies (and then rationalizing it by saying there was a difference between trying to kill Maggie and simply choosing not to assist her), and suffice it to say the actress was similarly pissed about both the action and the rationalization. However, maybe just possibly there is a greater gain to be had by keeping the man who murdered her husband and then left her to a group of ravenous flesh-eaters alive. (Or… maybe not!)
Cohan gave us the lowdown on Maggie's big moment and how a gruesome story from years past may help inform her stance on Negan moving forward. (Also read our episode Q&A with Josh McDermitt.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Negan essentially left Maggie to die at the end of the season premiere, and then in this next episode, when she gets back, he defends himself by saying, "Hey, there's a big difference between trying to kill you, and seeing you in trouble and deciding not to help you." What do you make of that distinction, Lauren?
LAUREN COHAN: I just wanted to kill him. I wanted to kill him. I wanted Maggie to just shoot him. The fact that I want that and she wants that, then she doesn't do it — that's why I'm like, okay, she's keeping this this hope of overcoming this animal anger. There's a tiny little thread of like, "I got to keep that alive. I got to keep this respect for life alive." Jeff is so good too, because, when I watch the episode and I'm like, "S---, I could see why Negan's so scared of her, that this can happen."
Does that excuse his actions then?
You should just hate him for this moment when he leaves Maggie to die. And then when he says, "She just said she was going to kill me. What would you do?" And it's like, everybody in this world who is still alive is pretty wily. You know what I mean? You have to just sort of tiptoe through just getting yourself alive for a little bit longer. You have to just keep yourself alive. You have to adjust. You have to just keep adjusting.
And at every juncture Negan has just done what he thinks is going to work for that much longer. I don't know if I'm Maggie or Lauren at the moment, but it's just like, we're forced to keep him there. And she says that he knows the city, blah, blah, blah. But it's not just that he knows the city. It's like, if I kill him, once you cross that line, you can't go back.
It almost seems like a problem with no good solutions.
That's why the storyline is fun for us, because there are times when you're just so fricking frustrated with this person all the anger and all this deep resentment is actually even more overwhelmed by, "Ugh, you're so f---ing annoying!" We did one take on the subway where he is in front of me and he's not going up on the train, and I did that thing where like your sibling is just annoying and you're like, "Will you just go?!" We ended up doing one like that.
I think what's interesting here is as she's gone to this darker place, he feels like he's redeemed himself in so many ways that he's kind of come a bit more into the light. And both people have done what they perceive to have been necessary to survive. We see that there's commonality in some ways. And that that's something that Maggie definitely doesn't want to acknowledge. It's so complicated. That's why there's a whole season about it. That's why we're spending 24 episodes on it, because people are not straightforward. People are complicated.
Let's juxtapose that to the decision she makes then afterwards to not let that kid Gage in, and they stand there and watch him get devoured. And then she tells that story about the men she had to take out, and finding the women with the limbs cut off and their eyes gouged out. And she says she lost something in that moment. What is it that she lost?
I think it's that you lose what she perceives as a luxury to make anything less than black and white decisions in terms of which one equals living and which one equals dying. And she's on the road with her child. And she can't stop long enough to be sad about seeing what these people have done to these other women and how they've descended into their complete animalistic base nature.
Because them being alive means that there's food and that's all that matters. And that in itself is her being an animal, and that's what the truth of the moment is. Having the wherewithal to make decisions from a place of anything more than survival is such a luxury. And having Alexandria and those places where you can begin to hope to live is bigger and more important than anything else. And it's bigger and more important than her anger at Negan, honestly.
So how does that help inform her decision on what to do with Negan moving forward?
If there's the tiniest possibility that he helps them complete this mission of making it to Meridian and back so that the people that Alexandria and her own child have a hope of five more days of making headway in this crazy desert, then that's fine. And then any other way that she feels about Negan, it just doesn't matter, because all that matters is recognizing when you have something good and that you need to protect it.
And I'm so glad that it clarifies that for her. Having seen all these terrible things, the point isn't that, oh, it's this horrible ghost story that we're telling. It's that sometimes you need to lose almost everything. And with The Walking Dead, if the characters don't keep reminding each other what there could be, then what are they doing?
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AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.