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Spoilers for those who haven't yet watched The Walking Dead's episode "A Certain Doom."
As many Walking Dead fans are aware, Lauren Cohan's Maggie was supposed to return to our lives back in April for the Season 10 finale, but the dumpster fire that is 2020 had other plans. Instead, viewers had to wait until October to see Maggie come back into the narrative for the reveal-filled "A Certain Doom," which now serves as a bridge to the six installments that will close out the current season. The silver lining, however, is that the creative team has been working on future episodes in the interim, meaning Cohan now has a better idea of Maggie's future than she did before.
I had the pleasure of chatting it up with Lauren Cohan ahead of Episode 1016's debut, and she seemed pleased as punch to be back in the career-defining role of Maggie Rhee née Greene. On top of discussing what Maggie was up to during the time jump, which we'll get to further down, we also obviously talked about her relatively brief but all-important arrival in "A Certain Doom," so let's start there.
Maggie Returns To Save Father Gabriel
After getting the note about the Whisperers, Maggie miraculously arrived within the hospital just in time to save Father Gabriel alongside her metal-masked friend, totally shocking comic fans who were no doubt ready for Gabriel to bite the bullet. The smiles on their faces were probably the biggest smiles of any characters in Season 10, and Lauren Cohan told me those emotions were definitely as genuine as they come. Here's what she had to say about that scene playing into her big return episode.
That was such a great moment. And definitely, like you say, for people who are familiar with the comic story, that is the moment when Father Gabriel would have left this earth. And luckily, for us, it's not. It was so much fun to shoot that with Seth. That moment just warms my heart so much, because the great actor that he is, he communicates so much. It wasn't scripted that Father Gabriel sort of like laughed or anything when he was reunited with Maggie, and it was just infectious. Like, his energy is completely infectious. The reunion, and everything that the episode was about, was so illuminated by his reaction to me, was so illustrated by his reaction. Maggie coming back, and just the levity and the break and the relief and the breath of maybe things are going to be okay at this moment. When we see the group is in dire straits and they've been through hell, and when we're about to lose Father Gabriel and who knows who else, that we sort of turn this corner and there's another possibility that feels and felt to me – reading it and playing it and watching it afterwards – just so [The Walking Dead], and it was great. He laughed; he and I joked that we had to run my line. Because I had one line in the episode and I kept joking, 'Oh, no, I've been gone a while. We better run my line.'
It did almost seem like Maggie was taking lessons from the now-deceased Beta or something, seeing as how she stayed mostly quiet while letting her wistful and loving gazes do the talking. (It's like she was taking lessons Thankfully, she nailed her one line, all that (jokey) rehearsal work paid off. Really, it speaks to what Lauren Cohan said about the sense of levity and hope that instantly returned once Maggie was back with the current Team Family ensemble, which were present without the character having to say any words of comfort at all. Considering everything she's been through, if Maggie is smiling, we're all smiling.
What Comes Next For Maggie
Maggie apparently wasn't all smiles after first leaving the Hilltop, though. That's to be expected, what with the zombie apocalypse still happening, and surviving humans growing all the more desperate and dangerous as time goes by. (Not to mention this being The Walking Dead, where signs of happiness aren't always easy to come by.) During my conversation with Lauren Cohan, she talked about how viewers will definitely get to delve into her more recent past in upcoming episodes, as well as in Season 11. I asked about how much she knew of Maggie's time away – either from the script or hearing it from showrunner Angela Kang – and if she thought of Maggie's limited presence during her big return episode as more of an appetizer for what's yet to come. In Cohan's words:
Yeah, that's funny. Like a little amuse bouche. I had a lot of my own suspicions about what may have happened, just knowing the things that Maggie was pursuing and what she was interested in as she led Hilltop and developed Hilltop when we were still in Season 9. So I had some suspicions about where she would be going. And when she came back, I knew that some of those desires had been fulfilled, that some of that exploring had been fulfilled. And as per Angela, what I knew beyond that was that some pretty unpleasant people had also kind of intersected with her path along the way. So I knew about as much as that. And I knew I would be coming back with a couple of friends; these friendships that had been developed through trying situations. So that was it, and the rest of it was kind of left up to my actorly imagination, knowing that it would all be fleshed out. But it's relatively conceivable to paint pictures of wonderful things and horror things when you've been in the show for this long, and yet it was still beautifully surprising to see what, in actual fact, Maggie has been up to now that I have the script. [Laughs.]
So not only do fans now need to discover where Maggie went when she vacated Hilltop after Rick's disappearance, but we also need to learn who she was getting friendly with at the time (even beyond Mr. Masked Man), as well as what kinds of unpleasant people came along and tried to disrupt her happiness. Thankfully, we know she made it through everything not only intact, but also satisfied with her journey to a certain extent.
When I asked how she thought Maggie had changed as a character during that time period, that's when Lauren Cohan brought up the old demons that Maggie will have to contend with as she gets reacquainted with life in and around Alexandria.
Besides upgrading her headgear. It was fun for me to find out, too, because obviously a lot of that was left to my imagination. Where she may have been, what may have been happening. And now that I'm here with script in hand, I'm like, 'Ahh, this is where she's been. This is what was happening.' It's not been simple, and she will have a lot to navigate. Especially as she's re-confronted by these sort of old demons coming back home. The comfort and the necessity of coming back to the Hilltop - even though the Hilltop is gone, she doesn't know this yet – and coming back to Alexandria and her family is going to be incredible in many ways and incredibly challenging in many other ways. So the changes that she's gone through, and what she's learned and how she's developed, is really going to be shown over these next 30 episodes that we have, [as well as how she deals with things]. Just the fact that I'm now raising my son and we'll meet young Hershel, which is very exciting for me, as well as I hope it is for the audience.
Audiences can definitely expect for Negan to be one of those old demons, given his central role in Glenn's death. It's presumed that Maggie wasn't given constant updates about Negan's whereabouts, so she probably has no idea he's living as a free (if not exactly welcomed or appreciated) man these days. Their situation is definitely going to get heated whenever they cross each other's paths, so I hope Negan is ready to start groveling.
It's not entirely clear what other demons might be around to give Maggie trouble in future episodes, but it's awesome that she's going to have Lil' Hershel around to keep her company and make her feel better. In any case, it does seem clear Maggie's prior home wasn't exactly a perfect set-up, or else she would have gotten Father Gabriel, Daryl, Carol and everyone else to come to her instead of the other way around. Lauren Cohan agreed with that line of reasoning, too, saying:
Yeah, if she thought it was safe for everybody, she probably would have sent some pigeons with some messages.
Hopefully audiences won't be waiting too long to get answers about the past 6+ years of Maggie's life. The latter Season 10 episodes are heading into filming now so that The Walking Dead's traditional and well-oiled production schedule can presumably get back to normal in 2021 heading into the usual October premiere windows.
Following Episode 1016, The Walking Dead is heading back on hiatus so that the cast and crew can film the next six episodes in Season 10 before jumping into production on the eleventh and final season. (Well, at least the first twelve episodes.) While waiting to hear more about when fans can see more Walking Dead on AMC in the future, stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more exclusive coverage, and head to our 2020 Fall TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way.