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A lot of ongoing Walking Dead conversations are focused either on Carl's impending exit or on Morgan's impending arrival on Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, but let's all remember to celebrate Maggie's ascent to leadership in the face of all things Negan. Maggie's shit-starter of a midseason finale plan will certainly raise the All Out War's stakes, and actress Lauren Cohan talked about why her long-suffering character has now added impulsive revenge murder to her list of talents.
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 fucking 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.
On The Walking Dead, characters sometimes do have hard times getting their points across, what with all the zombies and violent commotion underfoot. But as Maggie has shown us (likely not for the final time), a quick and effective way to earn others' attention is to execute someone, which is what she did with that wormy Savior Dean before sending the corpse to Negan as a warning message. It was an extremely ballsy move for a woman who just lost her husband to Negan and Lucille just a few weeks previous, and Lauren Cohan says it's all about getting Maggie to a headspace where she understands these horrifying acts are necessary to retain her role as the Hilltop's leader.
The whole "kill first and possibly entertain questions later" tactic is a familiar one for Rick and Daryl, two Team Family members who have rarely hesitated when lethal options were on the table. Maggie has, in the past, come across as someone who might prefer to hash things out with a conversation as opposed to a gun fight, but even such limited pleasantries are a thing of the past now. She's lost so much already, and she'll be damned if she's going to lose Hilltop so soon after witnessing and grasping its full potential as a safe haven. Things don't bode well for Gregory or his stupid face.
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.
Maggie's gray morals should be good news to Rick and the rest of the protagonists, since brutal murder is increasingly becoming the only way to get things done in the post-apocalypse. (Carl helped Siddiq, and got zombie-bitten for his efforts, so I think we can all agree on what the show is trying to say here. Maybe.) Of course, Rick will likely now view Carl's untimely death in such a way that makes him more willing to seek out true peace for humanity, which would put him at odds with Maggie's new "life ain't so precious" outlook. It would be just like The Walking Dead to pit two good guys against each other while Negan is still a threat.
The Walking Dead will return to AMC for the back half of Season 8 on Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other shows are debuting and returning soon, head to our midseason premiere schedule.