Fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead are no strangers to spin-offs, with the latest being the recently announced Isle of the Dead. The series set to take place in the familiar post-apocalyptic landscape will see Hilltop leader Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohen) and the notorious Negan Smith (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) take the spotlight in the upcoming series, due to premiere in 2023.
The ongoing final series of the main storyline has seen their turbulent relationship start to soften. In light of the new series, Redditors have been sharing some of the best (and weirdest) moments between the foes.
The Saviour Outpost Debate – Season 11, Episode 7
Fans are conflicted when their heroes’ moral ambiguity is brought into question in Broken Promises (Season 11, Episode 7). Negan challenges Maggie’s perception of their shared history when he talks about the attack on the Saviour outpost, lead by Rick Grimes back in season 6. He admits that, if he could do it all again, he would have killed her entire group following the attack to protect his people from what was to come.
Some Redditors believe that the attack justifies Negan’s brutal response, while others argue that the events and the people behind them cannot be compared. Reddit user Mila-Mach makes the following point: “Negan is telling her to kill all the reapers if she doesn’t want it to backfire. It’s exactly what happened to him; he underestimated Rick’s group. Our heroes attacked the Saviours because they were doing terrible things.” Either way, the topic makes for a tense discussion between the characters.
The Sexual Tension – Season 11 (Various Moments)
The romantic pairing of characters from popular franchises by fans has been an element of fandom culture since the days of Spirk (Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock) in the 1960s. It’s no surprise then, that some fans of The Walking Dead are fuelled by a foe-to-friend fantasy in the case of Maggie and Negan.
Certainly, there are moments of tension littered throughout Season 11 that can be read as sexual, such as the lingering eye contact and heavy silences that make up most of their one-on-one interactions. However, there is a general consensus among Reddit users that this tension is “weird” and any romantic or sexual relationship between the pair would make for uncomfortable viewing. User Belmega81 says, “Glenn’s memory deserves better than that.”
Maggie Spares Negan – Season 9, Episode 5
When Maggie returned to Alexandria hellbent on killing the imprisoned Negan, he begged her to end his life so that he could be with his late wife, Lucille. Realizing that killing him would be a mercy that would grant him the reunion she couldn’t have with her own husband, Maggie left him to rot in the cell, claiming that he was already worse than dead.
Although this proved a satisfying explanation for sparing Negan then, some Redditors aren’t convinced that it holds up following his release. Reddit user MnyrenOn60FPS claims that Maggie’s hatred for Negan needs to be resolved and says, “I don’t expect her to forgive him at all but she should tone it down and focus on other things” since she allowed him to live. However, an accompanying poll suggests that more users disagree with this comment, with most arguing that her anger remains justified.
Negan Challenges Maggie’s Plan – Season 11, Episode 3
One thing the characters have in common is the fact that they are by no means black and white. Negan’s redemption arc has seen some fans forgive but not forget, while Maggie’s trauma and leadership responsibilities have hardened her in the eyes of viewers. Some people are set in their loyalties to either character, but others enjoy the moral balance between them that allows viewers to form their own opinions.
In “Hunted” (season 11, episode 3), Negan expresses his concern about continuing with the plan to retrieve stashed food and supplies after a near-fatal attack by the Reapers, to which Maggie replies, “Then you tell me a better one that doesn’t starve us all”. It’s a tough call where neither side is right nor wrong. Redditor IamVenom_007 says, “It’s up to the viewer to decide who they’re gonna support. Maggie is an optimist and Negan is a realist.”
Negan Walks Away – Season 11, Episode 9
Naturally, the relationship between the characters is going to be strained due to Negan’s terrorization of Maggie’s group and his killing of her husband Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the season 7 premiere. Some Reddit users particularly like that the writers do not push for a forgive-and-forget friendship between the pair and instead drive them towards a mutual understanding of one another.
This understanding reaches its peak in “No Other Way” (season 11, episode 9) when Negan sets out on his own after Maggie breaks her deal with the Reapers by murdering them. Negan comes to the resolution that Maggie’s need for revenge outweighs her word and so removes himself from the situation before he meets the same fate. User phantom_avenger says, “I like how the whole point isn’t to get Maggie to forgive Negan, but it’s more about them understanding each other […] Negan finally left cause he accepted that him and Maggie coexisting together is never going to work out.”
Maggie Starts To Trust Negan – Season 11, Episode 16
Season 11 of The Walking Dead will see a number of character arcs conclude that have developed throughout the series. Although Maggie and Negan’s story will continue with Isle of the Dead, their main arc too will conclude in the coming final episodes.
In the final episode of season 11’s second part, Maggie entrusts her son to the man who killed his father. When Negan points out that Hershel doesn’t trust him, she admits that she is starting to, to which he replies, “You have big balls, Maggie Rhee”. In a recap of the episode, Reddit user nladyman writes in response to the moment, simply saying: “What a f***ing character arc.”