Warning: This article contains spoilers for “Acts of God,” Sunday’s midseason finale episode of The Walking Dead.
Hasn’t Maggie Rhee been through enough already? This poor woman! And Sunday’s midseason finale of The Walking Dead was just another example of the rough go the Hilltop leader has had to endure on this show.
On “Acts of God”, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was captured by her old nemesis Leah (Lynn Collins), who was seeking revenge for the Maggie’s killing of several Reapers… which was also done out of revenge. Revenge: It’s an endless loop, people!
But Leah didn’t just want to kill Maggie, she wanted to make her suffer. (Showrunner Angela Kang told us just what Leah planned to do to Maggie and it was… not good.) Though when Maggie was given an opening, she took it — leading to a big brawl between the two women, which culminated with Leah’s death after Daryl (Norman Reedus) shot down his former flame.
However, for fans of the show, that was not the most shocking Maggie scene of the episode.
That went down when Maggie asked Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to watch over her son Hershel. Yes, the same Negan that murdered her husband and Hershel’s dad. When Negan noted, “He doesn’t exactly trust me,” Maggie responded, “But I am starting to. You saved him at Riverbend. Whatever else happens, and whatever else has happened, I will never forget that.”
Maggie trusting Negan after everything he did to her family? That was a tough one for Walking Dead viewers to watch, and as we learned when we spoke to Cohan, it has a tough one for her to say as well. We chatted with the actress about that controversial scene, filming the knock-down, drag-out fight with Leah, and what’s next when the show returns.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s get into that scene where Maggie asked Negan to watch over Hershel and then says she is starting to trust him and will never forget him protecting Hershel at Riverbend. First off, how did it feel for you to say that line, that you’re starting to trust the dude who bashed Maggie’s husband’s head in with a barbed-wire-covered baseball bat?
LAUREN COHAN: I know. It felt like throwing up. It just came at a time when I had to leave. I was not willing to let anybody come with me. And I knew the only place I could leave Hershel was with them.
And I say “them” because I think, obviously, Maggie knows there are these qualities of protectiveness that Negan has towards young people and that he has changed. None of that really changes how she feels. It just means she has enough to go on to make this very difficult but necessary decision in this moment. But it is largely bolstered by the time and the instinct she has about Annie [Medina Senghore] — both Annie herself and the person Negan can be in connection with Annie.
But 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.
What does that statement mean for their relationship moving forward?
I hate to say it, but it really is just about this moment. I don’t hate to say it, but I hate it for Negan’s sake, because I know he is trying his darnedest to redeem himself in Maggie’s eyes. 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.
Let’s get into the big fight scene with you and Lynn Collins. Tell me what filming that was like.
It was rad. Okay, first off, Lynn, to watch her on screen embody this fierce lioness, Terminator beast mode is fantastic. And to act with her, with all that in mind, is just as fantastic. She is such a cool cat, and we just had a blast shooting that. The scene was great. Catriona McKenzie, who directed it, was amazing. 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.
What’s been gratifying in this last season or two with the Reapers is just knowing they are stronger, and they are equipped, and physically very intimidating, and that they bring out that animal instinct in their opponent. So with Lynn, I just remember watching the episode before this, and they discover she’s the one that stole the weapons. And it sort of pans up, and she just looks scary as hell. She slits the trooper’s throat, and then you realize it’s her that stole this stuff. And it’s like, that’s what we want. We want this feeling of being hunted by someone, where it would be terrifying.
And then 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.
How much do you get to do before they make you step aside and put a stunt person in?
We learned the whole thing. Then Marcelle, who does my stunts, who’s actually the greatest badass I’ve ever met, if it’s a real crash into something, or if it’s slamming to the ground, or those sort of things, then she’ll step in for that. But the choreography, and the kicking, and the punching, and everything else, we did the whole routine.
We definitely learn the whole thing, and you kind of have to, because if you try to do it in pieces, it’s harder. That’s why doing it with someone like Lynn was so great, because we’re both just very, very locked in. And you have to remember everything clearly, because missing one move means that your elbow goes in somebody’s cheekbone. And the headbutt actually makes it all the way to your head.
So Lance Hornsby has taken over the Hilltop as well as all the other communities. What can you tease as far as what that means for Maggie and the others in these last eight episodes?
We are homeless and outnumbered, but we never quit. And we have each other.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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