Warning: this story contains spoilers for The Walking Dead series finale. Si vis pacem, para bellum: “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Sunday night’s series finale of The Walking Dead, titled “Rest in Peace,” saw enemies-turned-allies Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) do just that. As the survivors fought to take back the Commonwealth from Governor Pamela Milton’s (Laila Robins) army and an invading walker horde, and with General Mercer (Michael James Shaw) leading the revolt, Maggie and Negan splintered from the group to assassinate the child-shooting politician. Using an army rifle, Maggie planned to pull the trigger on Governor Milton and avenge the gunned-down — but still alive — Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming).
Maggie rejects Negan’s offer to team up and “take out the bitch” together, so he tries to sneak away and go after Governor Milton alone.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Maggie asks Negan. “What is your angle?”
“There’s no angle,” Negan barks back, calming himself. “I am doing this for you. You take Pammy out with this thing, hell is gonna rain down on you. And you ain’t gonna come back. And you have to come back. So I’m gonna do it.”
When an iron-fisted warden forced Negan to his knees to execute him alongside his pregnant wife Annie (Medina Senghore) at Outpost 22, Negan explains, “I was about to lose everything. And I finally understood what you must have felt.” Through tears, he says what Maggie thought she would never hear Negan say: an apology.
“I know that I probably owe you more than this,” Negan says, “but I am so sorry for what I took from you. What I took from your son.” Maggie snatches her rifle and walks away, finally turning back to ask: “You coming?”
Later, when she has Governor Milton in her sights, Maggie and Negan watch as General Mercer orders Milton arrested for high crimes against the Commonwealth. “For a person like that, it’s worse than death,” Negan says of Pamela, fated for a life behind bars. Once the survivors have destroyed the zombie horde, a solitary Negan throws away his Whisperer’s mask.
In the end, “Rest in Peace” lays to rest a vendetta that has weighed on Maggie ever since Negan bashed the brains out of Glenn with his barbed-wire covered baseball bat.
“I want to thank you,” Maggie tells Negan. “I can stop wondering if you’ll ever say those words, and if I can ever forgive you. Because I know now… I can’t.”
Maggie and Negan are no longer enemies. But they aren’t friends, either, and they never will be. Sitting face-to-face with Negan, Maggie delivers the following speech:
“Glenn was beautiful. I’ll never love anyone like that again. I remember his smile. His goodness. The way he made me feel. But when I look at you… all I see is that bat coming down on his head. Blood running down his face. I hear him, I hear him calling for me. And I hear you mocking him while he’s dying. So I can’t forgive you. Even though I’m so grateful that you saved my son. Even though I know that you’re trying. I’m trying, too. ‘Cause I don’t want to hate you anymore. I don’t want to hurt like that. And I don’t want my son to see that anybody has that kind of hold over me. If you and Annie want to stay, you have earned your place. If I can’t look at you some days, if I can’t work with you, and if I can’t move on — that’s why. Because all I have are my memories. And I don’t want to remember Glenn like that.”
Negan walks away from the Commonwealth alone, his fate left open-ended. He presumably returns to Alexandria to retrieve his wife, Annie, but the couple has relocated to parts unknown after a one-year time jump. Meanwhile, having built back up the Hilltop colony where she lives with son Hershel Rhee (Kien Michael Spiller), Maggie is optimistic about the future.
Maggie and Negan will return — and will somehow reunite — in The Walking Dead: Dead City. Originally titled Isle of the Dead, the Maggie and Negan spin-off follows the two characters “traveling into a post-apocalyptic Manhattan long ago cut off from the mainland,” per the official synopsis. “The crumbling city is filled with the dead and denizens who have made New York City their own world full of anarchy, danger, beauty, and terror.”
TWD: Dead City premieres April 2023 on AMC and AMC+.