'Walking Dead's' Lauren Cohan on Maggie's Bombshell and Hope for Glenn

"Glenn is my Elvis," the actress tells THR about how she's handling fan reaction to her onscreen partner's uncertain fate.
Gene Page/AMC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 605, "Now," of AMC's The Walking Dead.]

AMC's The Walking Dead put its focus back on Alexandria during Sunday's episode when Michonne, who returned to the community, was tasked with telling Maggie that Glenn is presumed dead.

While Michonne (Danai Gurira) explained to Maggie (Lauren Cohan) that Glenn's (Steven Yeun, who for the second week in a row isn't featured in the opening credits) planned signal never came, Maggie refused to accept that her husband may be dead, and instead left Alexandria with Aaron (Ross Marquand) in a bid to find her last surviving family member.

While Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has miraculously returned to Alexandria — and led half the herd to the gated community — Aaron leads Maggie down a potential way around the undead as the two travel via an underground sewer as they try to make their way past the threat and find Glenn — and Nicholas (Michael Traynor).

Instead, Maggie and Aaron run into a literal dead end when they are unable to get through the gate at the end — which also leads them directly to another pack of roamers. It's there that Maggie drops a bombshell: She's pregnant. The reveal also explains Glenn's urgency to return to Alexandria and the likely reason why he insisted Maggie stay behind rather than join Rick's effort to lead the herd away from the community.

Elsewhere, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) is forced to put down an Alexandria resident who slashed her wrists and turned while the ill-prepared survivors feel they are doomed to death now that the walkers are just outside their walls. Jessie delivers a killer speech that inspires everyone to get their acts together. It leads to a long-overdue kiss between Rick and Jessie at the end of the day.

Additionally, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) finally pulls it together after an encounter with a walker and pep talk from Rick, and she maps out a future for the community that includes an education center and crops.

Not to be outdone, Denise (Merritt Wever) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) share a romantic kiss after the latter inspires the town's resident "doctor" to keep hope alive and treat the injured.

It's a big episode that sees Maggie experiencing the same plight the audience does in terms of Glenn's fate. The hour also sets the stage for Alexandria to finally prepare itself to fight — either walkers, Wolves or other human threats (ahem, comics villain Negan, who is rumored to be coming in the season six finale).

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Cohan to discuss Maggie's big reveal, hope for Glenn and why the character is her Elvis.  

This episode is so interesting because Maggie is in the same place the audience is: wondering if Glenn is alive or dead. What makes Maggie believe that Glenn is still alive?

I don't know if she believes [it] but she is unwilling not to believe. They've been through so much together and it always turns out right. I think that belief that as long as they have each other, things will be fine. So it's a refusal to acknowledge otherwise at this point.

Was Glenn aware of Maggie's pregnancy before he left? They had that whisper exchange in the season premiere before he left Alexandria. Is that why he had Maggie stay in Alexandria?

Yes! It's definitely a big theme: what parameters do you put on yourself and as a couple — which is what we saw earlier this season. In that episode when they whisper to each other, that's what that is. That's actually when Steven and I found out [about Maggie's pregnancy], too. It's not a shock because we've seen these characters talk about wanting to be pregnant and what that would mean — during season three, when they thought they might be pregnant. It's been a simmering pot in the back of their minds. I feel like Maggie and Glenn are in tandem with the audience during these stories.

This season, structurally, has only taken place within a day or two as the show continues to play with time. Will we see flashbacks with Maggie and Glenn and his learning that she's pregnant?

We're going to explore the decision but not flashbacks, per se. This couple has never been adverse to the idea of having a baby. There is an element of letting the world decide, letting God decide if they should. But for me, looking at this without trying to color anyone's perspective — I want people to take it as they want to — there's always the responsibility to create life because of death rather than a responsibility to be cautious because of death.

Maggie's speech to Aaron is very moving. Does she blame herself for what's going on with Glenn? Does she think she could have stopped him from going?

I love these two characters [Maggie and Aaron] together; they feel like siblings; there's some kind of kindred spirit. She recognized something in him when he first approached her and Sasha. In this episode, he's confronting his own sense of blame when he speaks out  to the group that he dropped his pack and it's not Rick's fault; and they're pointing their finger at the wrong person. They're both on this mission for same reason and that's why she is able to admit to him that she's pregnant and have that understanding.

Will Maggie and Aaron continue to search outside the walls for Glenn and Nicholas? How will Maggie and Aaron's friendship evolve?

Part of what's happening here is Maggie is realizing — when she says, "I don't get to know," she wanted to go out there alone because she wanted to get out there before she could think about it and know it was rash and acknowledge that it's unwise. It remains to be seen how we move forward from here. When they reach the gate and the walkers, this is an emotional impasse as much as anything.

Maggie and Aaron remove Glenn and Nicholas' names from the wall. Is there a potential that Nicholas could still be alive, too?

There is the potential for everything in this world (laughing).

Maggie is working with Deanna to effectively become a leader at Alexandria. How will the Wolves' attack change how Deanna views Maggie? At the end of this episode, Deanna finally appears ready to fight, and Maggie has been trying to get her to that point. Together, they could be quite a force.

Maggie and Deanna have so much to gain from each other. Maggie is thrilled to see her come back around. It's a confirmation that hope prevails.

Will Maggie's pregnancy change how Deanna treats her?

No, I think it makes them closer. Deanna, as mother and leader, has the utmost respect for Maggie coming into this stage of life. This is the ultimate quest.

This episode is filled with hope: Maggie's pregnancy, Rick and Jessie hooking up, Denise and Tara kissing, and Deanna finally coming around. Should the audience feel optimistic about what's to come or is this more of a false safety?

They should always feel optimistic because this is a place full of fighters and people completely unwilling to give up. I love the turn in Deanna and the potential of love and the electricity between Rick and Jessie. People are not dead in that their spirit never dies in who we have in this community. Seeing that turn in Deanna and that fire come back, it's that creativity and as long as that's alive and you see the potential to build and create, I think there's hope.

This season is largely about transformation. I know you can't say much, but how might Glenn be different when and if he does return? Could this experience force him to start killing people for the first time on this show?

I watched this episode and part of what makes it so heartbreaking for me is if I put myself in the audience's mind: Glenn — and Steven himself — is the epitome of perseverance, hope and goodness and he is a beacon of light and all things good and honorable. We saw that characteristic in him as a young, young man and when there's the potential for things to go so badly and you see someone like that grow even stronger, it's one of the most reassuring things in life. There is nothing else I can say! (Laughing.)

If Glenn is, indeed, dead, how will Maggie's grief be different than when she lost her father, Hershel, and sister, Beth? This is her partner, they can see a future in this community with electricity, a place to live and she's pregnant. It seems like she has two choices: to go dark if he is dead or, if he isn't, turn her into even more of the figher than she is in the comics.

In Maggie's mind, she refuses to believe that Glenn is gone. Lauren doesn't have anything to say! (Laughs.)

Showrunner Scott M. Gimple told THR that Glenn's fate will be revealed in the first half of this season. There are three more episodes to come. What can you say about what's ahead?

From the vault of The Walking Dead, see you next week! Or something equally elusive! (Laughs.)

The fan reaction to Glenn's cliffhanger has gone viral. What has the response been for you?

I can't even go on social media right now. We did a fan convention in Atlanta [where the series is filmed] and we always meet a lot of people but the amount of grief from everyone that we met was like being at a wake. It's not easy to see and feel how much people are hurting. There was a girl that had "Glenn lives" written on her face in face paint. It made me think of Elvis. I have a documentary called Elvis Lives and Glenn is my Elvis.

People have seen Steven on set filming the second half, too, which is part of what's making people think that Glenn is still alive …

Well, you know we have flashbacks … 

You're shooting the season finale. How would you describe it? There have been rumblings that Negan may make his debut in the episode.

You can put "something elusive from Lauren" in quotes again here! This comes with a gag order, there are people standing outside my door! (Laughing and kidding.)

What did you think of Maggie's journey in this episode? Sound off in the comments below. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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