That subway mission gets resolved with a satisfying Maggie-powered punch in this week’s new The Walking Dead Season 11 episode, "Acheron: Part II." As we surmised last week, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) survived Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) petty decision to leave his enemy dangling in the subway car full of walkers. His inaction poked the Maggie bear, and when they reunited, she laid him out with a jaw-cracker that evened the playing field between them once more.
**Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of The Walking Dead**
But soon after, when perennial screw up Gage (Jackson Pace) found himself locked outside of the one safe car on the train, Maggie, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and the rest of the recon group has to make a terrible decision to save the group instead of risking the entire Alexandria community to try and save Gage.
In an exclusive conversation with actress Lauren Cohan, she tells SYFY WIRE that Maggie’s decision to let Gage’s action determine his death reflects the very dark decisions her character has had to make since Season 2. As her former survivors, and the audience, get to know this version of Maggie, it’s moments like these that are keeping it fresh for Cohan.
“What I noticed and excited me the most is that she's doing so many things that you see male soldiers have to do, or men have to do, that I'm not as accustomed to seeing women on screen do,” Cohan says. “And of course, it hurts like when she lets Gage be killed by the zombies on the other side of the subway car door. But her brain is playing this tape through and saying, ‘I'm sorry, but this is the greater loss and the lesser loss. We have to take this road. And that's what it is.’”
Cohan says coming back to play Maggie full time this season has allowed her to look at her character in a big picture way. Using the metaphor of a car that’s been in a lot of collisions, she says Maggie has acquired a lot of “dents in her being” in trying to survive and keep little Herschel (Kien Michael Spiller) safe.
“And so, how do we push get these dents back out of the car, so that we have a full person again, who is able to let the subtler things exist, and let the subtler feelings come back and flourish,” the actress muses about the damage Maggie has experienced. “And it's more than just survival. I've been through the most heinous places with my child. I put my child in a room so I can go and slaughter three men! And then put three pregnant de-limbed women to death, to then go find the food that I know is in the house. That's the mindset she's had to inhabit. And that's what you'd have to do in this world. And that's something that female soldiers in a female environment would have to do. But how do you get through and wade through enough of that shit so that you can be Maggie again?”
Finding that place is the crux of Maggie’s Season 11 journey, Cohan says. “What's great to me is that she acknowledges that the woman she was, that there's just a tiny bit of that person left. And even going on this mission to build that and to restore that, sometime she’s failed and sometimes succeeded. But during the course of this final season, I hope to push the darkness away. And to come [back] in [to the series] at a point when there is so much mud, basically, packed around her soul that we are going to get this chance to say, these were the things that happened, but this is reminding [Maggie] of what's so important.”
New episodes of The Walking Dead premiere Sundays on AMC at 9 p.m. Eastern.