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'The Walking Dead': Why Lauren Cohan 'hated' Maggie's big moment with Negan in midseason finale

Having to tell Negan that she actually trusts him to protect her son "felt like throwing up" to the actress.

By Josh Weiss
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee in The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 16

The Walking Dead continued to lay the foundation for its New York bound Maggie-Negan spinoff in Sunday's midseason finale ("Acts of God") of the show's eleventh and final season.

Determined to take care of Lance Hornsby and the Commonwealth soldiers who want her head on a pike, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) asks Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to keep Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) safe while she takes care of business. "He doesn't exactly trust me," says the man who bashed Glenn's head in with a baseball bat four seasons ago. After a pregnant pause, Maggie replies, "But I am starting to." It's quite the paradigm shift in an otherwise acrimonious relationship between a pair of bitter enemies.

"It felt like throwing up," Cohan admitted to Entertainment Weekly, going on to add that while her character does recognize Negan's journey toward becoming a better person, it doesn't exactly wipe away the sins of the past. "I absolutely hated it. And I was like, 'I think the reason I hate this is also why she hates it.' 'She' being Maggie. It's like 'Ugh, this is this moment, and this is what this is, but I'm going by myself, and I have to finish this, and you have to take care of my kid. And right now you're the best person for it.' And, you know, he's not going to be alone with him. I feel like I'm just justifying all these reasons, but it is true. So yeah, it's huge, that moment."

Just don't expect the pair to start hanging out every Sunday. "I know he is trying his darnedest to redeem himself in Maggie's eyes," Cohan added. "I don't think it's ever going to happen, but she needs his help at that moment. It's the best option she's got, and there it is."

According to showrunner Angela Kang, the former leader of the Saviors does strive for acceptance. "He's definitely an extroverted villain, and he doesn't like to be kind of off on his own," she explained in a separate chat with EW. "He's like, 'I want to be part of the gang.' And so, he hears that as like, 'All right, cool.' It's like, 'I'm going to take that and run with it.' He might be a little further along than she is."

The latest episode also settled the outstanding beef between Maggie and ex-Reaper Leah (Lynn Collins) with the latter holding Maggie hostage and threatening to kill every person she cares about most in the world. A struggle ensues before Daryl (Norman Reedus) shows up to save the day, forced to kill the woman he once loved.

"Catriona McKenzie, who directed it, was amazing," Cohan said. "She wanted an Atomic Blonde episode. She wanted this savage true fight to the death that these people would actually have to engage in. You don't really have to say that twice for us to just go whole hog into the stunt ... The fact that these characters could have been on the same side in a different life and the parallels between them…. That's what you'd have to do in this life: fight it out like that. On a very pure physical level, it's so fun to do the stunts."

When asked if Daryl felt any hesitation in pulling the trigger, Kang answered in the negative. "I think he felt that Leah was a person who could kind of go one of a couple ways, and he wasn't sure," the showrunner explained. "But it's worked out okay with Negan, even if it's been a bumpy road. I think that Daryl's thinking a lot about, 'Do you have to always kill people, or can you sometimes let them have another turn in the story for the story to change?' But when Maggie's in imminent danger, there's no way he's going to hesitate. That's Maggie, and they have a really important relationship. He's going to do anything to save Maggie."

All eight episodes of The Walking Dead Season 11 Part 2 are now streaming on AMC+.