Walking Dead Showrunner Breaks Down Negan's Wicked Grin and the 'Battiest' Scene Ever: 'It's So Weird, Right?'

The end of Sunday’s excellent Negan-centric Season 10 finale of The Walking Dead felt like the beginning of something big — and possibly the rebirth of a Big Bad. (Read the full recap here.)

What was with the s—t-eating grin the reformed (?) villain shot Maggie, the protagonist he’d widowed? Might we get another flashback to find out how Laura went from selfless do-gooder to ruthless Savior? And how the hell did the show pull off Negan’s apology to the murder weapon he’d named after his late wife, Lucille? Here to tell all to TVLine — well, at least most — is showrunner Angela Kang.

TVLINE | Let’s start at the end. I translated that look Negan shot Maggie as he reentered Alexandria as, “Watch out, baby, Bad Negan’s back!” Is that how we were supposed to take it?
[Laughs] I took it as, “Alright, I heard you’re going to kill me, but I promised my wife that I was going to be brave, so I’m here and you’re going to have to deal with it. We’re both going to have to deal with it.” It’s not necessarily like “I’m bad” but more “I have a right to be in this space.” They’re each standing their ground, and that might lead to conflict between the two of them.

TVLINE | I suspect that’s putting it mildly. But would Maggie really kill Negan? Because she did already have the chance…
She did. I think Carol’s instinct [in warning him] is that this is not going to be easy for either of them, and it could get explosive. Before, Maggie had all the power, because he was behind bars. But Negan is walking around free now. And you know, she didn’t show him mercy when she left him alive in jail. She was like, “He’s miserable. He can stay in jail forever. This is almost better than having him die!” But the whole situation is flipped upside-down now.

TVLINE | What did Negan mean when he told Lucille that he’d do her fighting for her now?
What it means to him is that he’s gotta go out in the world and do things that are scary to him. What was scariest for him was accepting that his wife was going to die and he had to do this without her. Now what’s hard for him — and we tried not to be too on-the-nose about it — is the idea of having to be in the same space as Maggie and figure out what their shared traumatic past means going forward. He doesn’t like to deal with that kind of stuff. It’s easier for him to make a joke or just make a brutal decision. So for him, [doing Lucille’s fighting means] claiming a place in society and figuring out what he wants to be in the future.

TVLINE | Did you have any sense of how much viewers kinda wanted that apology for Negan naming his bat after his wife?
[Laughs] You know what? We stole that from the comics, because it’s just this really odd moment that’s so memorable. I was like, “We’ve really got to figure out how to do this” — because it’s so weird, right? It’s weird that he named the bat after her! But what’s cool is that when you’ve got an actor like Jeffrey Dean Morgan doing it, all of a sudden, this bizarre “Wow, a man’s really apologizing to a bat” moment becomes kind of this tearjerker where he’s telling his wife everything he loves about her, and it’s truly like… I believe it! We hoped it was going to work, and it did, even better than I’d hoped.

TVLINE | I had no idea Laura was going to be in the episode until boom, there she was. Could there be another backstory episode in Season 11, maybe to explain how she became a Savior?
I can not say never because we’re still working on some parts of the season. But I think probably not. That’s not to say there won’t be some iteration of that backstory, though, in something else, because there are other things brewing in the universe at all times.

TVLINE | Was it difficult to resist the temptation to give us a little glimpse of the Commonwealth?
We have sort of a different way into [that arc from the comics] in the show. So, knowing that we would have stuff coming up, we were like, “Let’s just keep it clean, because we’ve got a plan for how that is all going to roll out.” [Plus,] we were excited to finally do a version of “Here’s Negan,” because we’ve been trying to slot one in for a few years.

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