Last week's season premiere made it crystal clear that the often frustrating slow pace of season two wouldn't be carried over to The Walking Dead's third season as the whiplash-inducing hour struck the perfect balance between action and drama. As Rick & co. continue to explore the nightmarish nooks and chill-inducing crannies of the West Georgia Correctional Facility, the show continues to alleviate fan fears while simultaneously presenting scenarios to truly be afraid of.
Like the aggressively graphic amputation of Hershel's leg after he became zombie food. Will Rick's split-second surgical decision save the farm patriarch? That's a question only tonight's episode can answer since the cast knows their way around a spoiler by this point. But TWD star Lauren Cohan did have a lot to say about how Maggie handles her father's uncertain future. I also found out how Maggie's relationship with Glenn grows in the coming weeks, and what fans can expect from the re-energized third season!
TheInsider.com: The season premiere ended with Maggie's dad getting bit by a walker and Rick doing an impromptu amputation. Where do we pick up tonight?
Lauren Cohan: Maggie is not handling it very well. She is trying to process it and trying to let go of him in a way because she wants to prepare herself for the worst. It's interesting with Maggie because she is a very rational person and sometimes jumps to reason too quickly, so she's kind of got this philosophical optimism. She's optimistic about everything and tries to find a silver lining with regards to losing her father, like it spares him from living in this world. So it becomes a question of at what point you decide it's not worth fighting anymore? Glenn really needs to pick her up and it's a great episode where everybody has a different perspective on Hershel and coping with the outcome of whether or not he's gonna pull through.
Insider.com: How do Glenn and Maggie fare this season?
Lauren: They actually fare very well. I like how accelerated their relationship is. We still go through those awkward "getting to know you" stages. The parts of relationships that are really interesting to me are when you are honest about your feelings and kind of not perfect in front of somebody. I think that we get to see all of that with Maggie and Glenn inside the context of this insane world where everyone is showing their best and your worst self. Maggie and Glenn's symbiotic relationship is really cool to me. There are times when she's defeated and he lifts her up, and there are times when he goes haywire and she needs to gently guide him back. I just think there's such a beautiful destiny to their relationship, and the apocalyptic conditions are sort of irrelevant to that.
Insider.com: Maggie has really grown a lot since we first met her. She's gone from being super-sheltered to aggressively exposed to this dangerous world in the last few months. Would you say that she's a little more hardened this season?
Lauren: Hardened is a great word, actually. I think what's interesting is that before Maggie met the group, she had the sense of waiting for a chance to dive into life and ironically, this gives her that opportunity. She's strong, but doesn't quite know what she's capable of and season three is exciting for that reason. She really rises up to that challenge. Maggie might be intimidated, but she doesn't let it stop her and through that she finds out that she can meet the next challenge. I think doing it because it's difficult is what really makes characters interesting. For all the characters, this season really whittles them down to the core of their own character.
Insider.com: With Andrea separated from the group and Laurie pregnant, will we see Maggie taking a stronger leadership role with the group?
Lauren: I'd like to think that Maggie leads by example. Maggie has very strong instincts, but she also has a level of respect to defer to the men to lead the situation. So she works in tandem with the unit. As is often the case with strong men and women, there in a silent support of their leadership, but we have some pretty potent male leaders in this group. That's why playing a strong character like this is really fun for me because her strength doesn't come from trying to be a dude, her strength comes from owning her femininity and still being able to be vulnerable while getting the job done. I love playing a real girl who is pretty tough and pretty strong, but is kind of matter-of-fact about it. She's always about keeping people strong and I think that not allowing these fractures to expand is a definite way of keeping the group strong and leading the group.
Insider.com: In the season premiere, the group was fighting for around seventy-five percent of it. This must be such a physically exhausting show to be a part of, to constantly bring that kind of life and energy to every single scene.
Lauren: You are so right. Season two was intense in a very quiet way. There was a lot of emotional intensity to that. But now we have a lot of high octane arguing, and slaying of walkers. I never knew I loved action this much. I never knew I loved gore this much. And shooting this season has been so much fun. We definitely scream and practice our war cries, and at the end of the day, you're covered in blood and sweat and you've never been more satisfied. It's the kind of acting you can really lose yourself in.
Insider.com: Looking at episode two and beyond, what are you excited for the fans to see?
Lauren: We're entering a whole new world and I’m excited for them to meet The Governor and Michonne -- she is amazing. As for Maggie, I'm excited about the journey she goes through. She is tested like never before. I'll get the scripts and am saving myself from throwing up. It’s really, really shocking. We also dive into the question of why we’re still here. We spend time really looking at the reasons you keep pushing through, while also asking, "What makes you human?" That's the biggest thing for Maggie in this season; what's keeping her going? Yes, she has this amazing relationship, but this season is just relentless. And just when you think they've had enough, there's a whole new light to reach for, which is just like life. You can be depressed for three weeks and then one good little thing happens and you're like, "Oh, OK....."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
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- Lauren Cohan