One of the key concepts behind AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is the fact that the brutal world left behind by the zombie apocalypse can turn even the nicest people into ruthless killers: even those as kind-hearted series regular Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan).
Maggie was first introduced back in Season 2 as the kind-hearted daughter of Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), who joins up with Rick’s group after her family farm is overrun by walkers. Since then, she’s lost her entire family (other than her son) and watched her husband Glenn (Steven Yeun) die right in front of her eyes. By the time we catch up with her in Season 11, it’s clear all of that trauma has affected her permanently. She’s hardly the same character at all –- having transformed into a battle-hardened, ruthless leader who commands the survivors of Hilltop County. This transformation was emphasized in the series’ most recent episode, “No Other Way,” wherein Maggie finally appeared to snap, and give in to her darker side once and for all.
The episode saw Daryl (Norman Reedus) brokering an uneasy truce between his group and the Reapers, which quickly falls apart when Maggie makes the fateful decision — seemingly inspired by the words of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a few episodes prior — to murder the party of Reapers. It’s a side of the character we’ve never seen before, but one which Lauren Cohan seems to think came out for a very understandable reason.
Lauren Cohan sat down with Entertainment Weekly following the episode’s premiere and to discuss this change in the character, giving fans some insight into what it was like to play this new version of Maggie. She says the reason that Maggie went rogue and massacred the Reapers — other than having just heard Negan argue that, in retrospect, he thinks he should’ve “killed you all” (meaning Alexandria and Hilltop) back when he murdered Glenn — was because of her newfound role as a leader, and because of the “duty” she owes to those that follow her. “They’ve already proven to be the threat that they are,” Cohan explained. “How can I, in this position of leadership that I’m supposed to be in, not eliminate that threat?”
Maggie’s attack on the Reapers was certainly unexpected, (coming at the end of a truce agreement between both groups, when the Reaper leaders all had their backs turned) but Cohan asserted that Maggie’s revenge against the group was inevitable at this point. “I think there was always going to be a part of me that needed to do it and to see it through.”
The episode ends with a 6-month timeskip, where it is revealed that Maggie is still leading the people of Hilltop, and that she seems to be in some sort of conflict with the army of the Commonwealth, who are now seemingly led by Daryl. It seems that Maggie’s split-second decision to betray the negotiations may have caused an irreparable rift between her and Daryl, though it also reaffirmed her commitment to keeping Hilltop safe -– no matter the cost.