The final eight episodes of The Walking Dead are here! Considering the postapocalyptic thriller’s finish was announced in 2020, they’ve been coming at the slow, shuffling pace of a walker, but the wait is over. Our heroes face what may be their final battle, with the oppressive Commonwealth. TV Guide Magazine spoke to Lauren Cohan, whose Maggie Rhee has evolved from capable farm girl in Season 2 to steely leader in Season 11. She shared the jumble of emotions she felt as she counted down her time on The Walking Dead.
It’s not that often in life you know something’s finite and you’re actually in the moment 100 percent. As we’ve gone into the new series [Cohan’s NYC-set spin-off The Walking Dead: Dead City is currently shooting], I tried to take a lot of time to reflect, and all these moments that have happened over the years truncate into these high-speed montages. I remember a lot of trees, a lot of running in the woods, a lot of sweat. But what you really remember is the sense of people. Our tribe, our little sweaty team. And just how much everyone enjoyed being there and knew that this was once in a lifetime.
Those last few days were like recess. You know the teacher’s going to blow the whistle when it’s time to come back in. We took so many photos. We were on locations a fair amount, like school trips. You get dropped off on the bus here and go and fight the zombies. Get the blood off and go back. Come in the next day.
I don’t want to say goodbye to Melissa McBride, Christian Serratos, Norman Reedus, Josh McDermitt — I don’t want to say goodbye to anybody. We had a couple of days where we could not get through a scene. We were laughing so much. Everything was giggly and stupid. Then we all started crying about it.
I’m in the final episode. My last shot was the perfect scene to end on because it has a lot of hope and possibility. When we got to the end of it, it was very windy where we were shooting. Suddenly, it got very strong, to the point where everything was wild, hair was whipping around. You were even holding on to people. It was so strange. A couple of others who wrapped in the same scene said their goodbye and thank you to the crew. I knew what I was going to say, had it all under control, but when I looked around at everybody’s faces, I was just so overwhelmed. It was such a wave of disbelief and love at what we had all achieved.
I think that we on the show need to inhabit this aggressive persona to protect the vulnerable things we enjoy in life. For me, having that reminder has been such a reassurance of why the people we love, and love itself, are so important.
There are some of the highest highs and lowest lows within this final episode and these last eight. There’s a good amount of us all together. Things that you always dreamed of — but they don’t come without a cost. I hope fans will feel a similar combination of what we felt while filming, where some things are answered but nothing’s really complete, and you still have to find the beauty in that. — As Told by Emily Aslanian
The Walking Dead, Returns, Sunday, October 2, 9/8c, AMC
This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2022 Returning Favorites issue. For more first looks at fall’s returning shows, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.