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Spoilers ahead for the Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead.
The Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead was a wild ride that saw the conclusion of the all-out war between Rick and Negan, and it ended with Rick and Michonne on top with Negan captive. The good news for all the survivors is Negan is out of the game and the remaining Saviors aren't looking for another war; the bad news is that Maggie didn't take Rick's decision to let Negan live well, and Rick is going to be in trouble with Maggie in Season 9. Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, weighed in on the upcoming conflict with Lauren Cohan as Maggie, saying this:
She's terrifying. When she comes full-Cohan, that emotional force is like a freakin' hurricane. It's crazy. That's a big turn. It makes for a very interesting set up for this year, certainly. I'm excited. She's a wonderful actress, LC. She's so true. When she hits it, there's nobody like her. I think it's wonderful that she's got this power as a performer and also the stage that Maggie now has in the show and in the community, what she represents, I think it makes for a formidable force.
For a while there, it seemed that Lauren Cohan might not be back in Season 9 as Maggie, but the Season 8 finale was quite clear that Maggie will have a major part to play in the next stage of the series. Cohan showed her acting range in full force in the episode as she went from furious and emotional at Rick's refusal to kill Negan to cold and calculating when telling Jesus and Daryl about her plan to "show" Rick and Michonne that they were wrong for sparing Negan. She didn't go into detail about what "showing" them would entail, and we can be sure that she (not to mention Jesus and Daryl) wouldn't go so far as to kill them. Still, it's already clear that, as Andrew Lincoln said in his chat with ComicBook.com, Maggie will be a formidable threat to Rick and Co. in Season 9.
All things considered, Andrew Lincoln is probably in for plenty of intense scenes next season. He and Lauren Cohan are bound to face off, and his scenes with Norman Reedus should take a different tone as well. Daryl and Rick's relationship as brothers in arms may be effectively done, even if the plan is currently for Team Hilltop to bide their time without making any overt moves. Season 9 should take the show in a fresh direction after a couple of seasons of Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.
Of course, the new dynamic won't necessarily be Team Hilltop vs. Team Alexandria either. Current showrunner Scott Gimple described to TVLine what Maggie is really after moving forward:
What Maggie has said to Daryl and Jesus was, 'The Hilltop is going to flourish... I'm going to lead this place and make it work. But after that, I have this little thing on my to-do list, and it has to do with Negan.' That's the main thing. It isn't like, 'I wanna get Rick!' or something like that, it's about Negan.
Maggie may be looking for revenge, but revenge on Rick isn't her top priority. She wants Negan dead, and I'm guessing a fair amount of the audience may side with her in Season 9. Even if it would be rough to lose Jeffrey Dean Morgan from The Walking Dead, surely we can all relate with Maggie's burning desire to take him out. He did brutally beat her husband to death in front of her, and his track record didn't exactly improve after that. Can we really blame her for wanting to live in a world free of Negan? If she has to be pregnant, widowed, and stuck in the zombie apocalypse, surely she deserves some peace of mind regarding Negan.
We'll have to wait and see what happens next. Even comics fans can't say for sure what's going to happen given how differently the show is handling Maggie compared to what happened on the page. The Walking Dead is done until Season 9, but you can still catch zombie apocalypse action on AMC with new episodes of Fear the Walking Dead on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET. For more viewing options that don't necessarily involve zombies, take a look at our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule.