Warning: The following contains spoilers for Sunday’s 11th and final season premiere of The Walking Dead. If you’d rather watch first, read later, treat this post mortem like a walker and avoid it all costs.
Irony alert: In Sunday’s Season 11 premiere of The Walking Dead (recapped in full here), Negan attempts to lengthen his life expectancy by ignoring a vengeful Maggie’s cry for help and allowing her to fall into a pack of handsy walkers. But if his action, or rather inaction, yields the desired result — her death — her friends would all but certainly see that he met the same end, and quickly. What was he thinking? To answer that very question for TVLine is the reformed (?) villain’s portrayer, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
TVLINE | So what gives? Does Negan really think that he can get away with kind of passively killing Maggie?
I don’t know that he thinks he’s going to get away with it, but… Look, he knows that she’s out to kill him. So he just doesn’t lift a finger to help her, because he knows goddamn well that she wouldn’t lift a finger to help him. If anybody turns their back, he thinks that Maggie’ll put a gun to his head, and that’ll be the end of it.
TVLINE | If looks could kill, he’d already be dead.
Yeah, he’s keenly aware of [Maggie’s feeling about him]. So the play makes sense. If she makes it, she makes it; if she doesn’t, she doesn’t. He knows there’s going to be repercussions if she makes her way out of it. He’s prepared to deal with them.
TVLINE | Would you call this a return to villainy for Negan… or is it simply self-preservation?
The audience will take it as they will. There are Negan fans who will understand that move, and there are people who hate Negan who will see it and say, “He’s the same old guy.” For me, it’s about survival. This is a person that wants him dead. But he’s not going to go out and bash her head in, because he’s also in a precarious place with everyone else. So this was kind of an opportunity that arises, and he makes a decision.
TVLINE | It just happens to be one that looks a lot like villainy.
Villainy is a side of a coin. With Negan, you spin that sucker, and wherever it falls is the answer. He might save you, he might let ya die. I think anyone in that position will have that same decision that they have to make. I’ve always said that I don’t necessarily think that Negan is the villain. I mean, I know he is for the purpose of the show, but he’s also done so many things to redeem himself. And Maggie is not the innocent one in any sense of the imagination. They are just two people who don’t get along, and we know why she doesn’t like Negan. I get it. I wouldn’t, either! So it’s a tricky road.
What do you think, Dead-heads? Did Negan sign his own death warrant by leaving Maggie to become Walker Chow? Or, if she survives, will he find a way to save his hide?