'The Walking Dead' showrunner on revisiting Maggie's trauma caused by Glenn's death: 'It's a painful thing to acknowledge'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kirsten Acuna
·8 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
twd 1017 maggie
Maggie is beginning to realize that she needs to face a difficult moment from her past that she simply can't run away from anymore. Eli Ade/AMC
  • Warning: There are spoilers ahead for season 10, episode 17 of "The Walking Dead."

  • Insider spoke with showrunner Angela Kang about the show's long-awaited return.

  • The show will explore more of Maggie's journey and the trauma she experienced after Glenn's death.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

If you wanted to see more of Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) on Sunday's return of "The Walking Dead," don't worry, we're just warming up.

"There's going to be a lot of really good Negan and Maggie stuff," showrunner Angela Kang told Insider via phone last week.

"It's one of the relationships that just is so fraught and therefore it's dramatically interesting to us," Kang added.

On Sunday's premiere, the two shared a brief, icy exchange when Maggie refused to acknowledge Negan at the episode's start. Later, Maggie opened up a bit about Negan brutally killing her husband, Glenn, on the season seven premiere, for really the first time in four seasons.

twd 1017 maggie daryl
Maggie tells Daryl it's tough to avoid questions about Glenn now that their son is getting older. Eli Ade/AMC

Now that Maggie and Glenn's son, Hershel, is old enough to ask what happened to his dad - and if his killer got what he deserved - Maggie seems unsure how to navigate that question as her husband's killer walks free in her old community. Also not helping? Negan is now seen as some sort of an asset in Alexandria after single-handedly killing the Whisperer leader, Alpha.

Maggie tells Daryl (Norman Reedus) she left Alexandria in the first place because she couldn't let Negan take up any more space in her head. She also didn't want to expose Hershel to that environment.

"I think it just brings up a lot of questions about philosophy and humanity and all those things that we like to grapple with on 'The Walking Dead,'" Kang said of exploring more of the dynamic between Maggie and Negan, saying it was a tough thing for the writers to revisit.

"That's definitely just a pairing that we want to continue to mine a bit because we think there's a lot to go off of with the two of them," Kang added.

In addition to Maggie and Negan, Kang spoke with us about the new Reaper villains and Judith and Maggie's relationship as shooting for season 11 is well underway.

Filming for the show's 11th and final season is going well

twd season 11 filming
Crew members are seen with masks, double-masking, and goggles as they film season 11. AMC

Kirsten Acuna: It's been so long. I see you guys have started filming, what I hear is a two-part season 11 premiere. How has that been?

Angela Kang: We're kind of back to like our big scope-y, type of premiere episode. It's a long shoot. It's going well, we have a great director, Kevin Dowling who's working on it. I'm watching it on a feed so it's really cool. They're doing a great job.

The Reapers were originally supposed to be introduced on season 11

twd 1017 reaper
The Reapers are after Maggie's people for some unspecified reason. Eli Ade/AMC

When we spoke last year pre-pandemic - before these bonus episodes existed - you had noted that you guys were pretty deep into working on season 11. When things shifted because of the pandemic and the new plan became these episodes followed by a final season, how much of what you were working on for season 11 changed? Were the Reapers already part of the plan for season 11 or did that move up? Or were the Reapers maybe a by-product of the extended season 10?

So the Reapers were part of our plan for season 11, and then we wound introducing this element when we were sort of working on the season 10 extension episodes. So it gave us a chance to kind of show a piece of story that we were going to skip over. It kind of gave us the opportunity to show the first moment that Maggie was laying eyes on Negan and what had happened to her son and all of that. And so then that really, it sort of organically went into the very start of this story.

Maggie's little mention to Judith is referencing Michonne, but it could 'equally apply' to Lori

twd 1017 judith maggie
Judith and Maggie share a heart to heart at the start of Sunday's first new episode of "TWD." Eli Ade/AMC

I love Lauren Cohen's scenes in this episode and especially that Maggie and Judith got to share a small scene. There's a moment right at the start where Maggie goes, "You are your mother's daughter." Judith goes, "My father's too." Maggie doesn't respond. She changes the topic to R.J. So two things there. Was Maggie referencing Lori, Michonne, or both? No one ever talks about Lori. And why doesn't Maggie comment on Rick?

I think, in the present, she's kind of talking about Michonne because that's the only mother that Judith has known. But, you know, it could equally apply to Lori. They're coming in partway mid-conversation in terms of talking about what it means for Michonne to be off looking for Rick and Rick being gone.

There's a lot that Maggie has had to catch up on. She knows that Rick is gone obviously, and there's all kinds of things going on with the community, but we're just kind of catching them in the middle of talking about it and I think she's kind of more interested in, 'How's your brother doing?' and 'How did he take the news that Mom is off looking for Dad?' and all of those kinds of questions. So it's like, in her own way, she is referencing it. It's just that she's kind of getting back to the topic at hand.

Kang says it was 'heartbreaking' to revisit Maggie's trauma

twd 1017 maggie negan
Maggie walks away from Negan at the episode's start, head up, refusing to give him the time of day. Eli Ade/AMC

I want to shift to speaking about Maggie and Negan because one of the strongest scenes in 1017 for me was when Maggie tells Daryl that Hershel asks her how his dad died. That got to me because I was like, "Oh, we're going there." We're addressing the season seven premiere.

We've really never seen Maggie open up about this. As tough as it is for Maggie to return to the events of season 6, episode 16 and the season 7 premiere, is it tough for you and the writers to return to speaking about those events of 616/701 at all given the reception of that premiere? That upset a lot of show-only fans. When I talk to people, many of them tell me that's when they stopped watching.

Yeah. I mean, I think that it's a big moment. We all love Glenn and it's just, it's a painful thing to acknowledge, but I think any conversation where Maggie and Negan are having to face each other and figure out how to go forward, of course, Glenn is that thing that is always unspoken between them.

We really felt that we had to be true to Maggie's journey and what she's been going through and, as a character, just the deep, deep trauma that she went through with Glenn's death and can you truly ever forgive or come to any kind of terms with the person that was responsible for such a horrific thing? So, I think, even for those of us that are working on the show, it's sort of - it was a heartbreaking thing for us to do creatively, as well. But, it's part of the story of what happened with everybody.

twd 1017 negan
Negan tries to speak with Maggie. Taken aback momentarily, she decides not to engage and continues forward. Eli Ade/AMC

I commend you guys in "The Walking Dead" universe for not backing away from revisiting some of these more difficult storylines because I told the "Fear" showrunners I was shocked and impressed on how they handled Sherry with the PTSD and trauma brought on by Negan. Now, it seems like we're seeing this with Maggie as well, confronting her past. I feel like this is the sort of thing that fans have been wanting to see you guys acknowledge for some time.

Oh, well, that's cool. For me, trying to think about this character, it's so at the core of who she is. She has lost so many people. When she's talking with Daryl, that was important to us, just her acknowledging, not only Glenn, but her father, her sister, even the unseen brother and mother and stepmother that died offscreen.

She has lost her whole family, one at a time. It has shaped so much of who she is. The strength that she has had as a survivor to keep going in spite of it all, I think, is is one of my favorite aspects of that character.

We'll have more from our conversation with Kang after next week's episode of "The Walking Dead." You can follow our "TWD" coverage here all season.

Read the original article on Insider