The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman Explains Why Maggie Isn't Looking for Beth
Season five of The Walking Dead has been hailed by the vast majority of fans and critics alike as an improvement over last season, and by some as the best season of the zombie apocalypse show yet. But there have been a few writing faux-pas this season, chief among them Maggie's behavior regarding the disappearance of her sister.
Maggie was separated from her sister, Beth, shortly after the gruesome death of their father last season. One would think she would be most concerned with finding her last remaining family member after suffering such a loss, but she was primarily concerned with finding her husband, Glenn. That's somewhat understandable, but she never even mentions Beth, even after she's reunited with Glenn. And then she finds out in the season premiere that Beth was still alive when she was last seen, but she still hasn't made any effort to look for her.
Robert Kirkman told Hollywood Reporter that Maggie is not disinterested in finding her sister as a result of indifference, but because she has come to the conclusion that Beth is most likely dead. "It's definitely something that will be explored. Maggie is aware that her sister is out there. Because of the nature of this world, she is probably a little bit more willing to admit that she is more than likely dead than Daryl is. That's Daryl's M.O. Daryl is somebody who wouldn't stop looking for Sophia. He is not somebody that is going to accept reality in the way some of these other characters will."
This seems fairly reasonable, as Daryl witnessed Beth being kidnapped under suspicious circumstances. The viewer is biased in favor of thinking that Maggie isn't looking hard enough for Beth because we know for a fact that she's alive (and even before we saw her on our screens, we all figured they wouldn't kill off a regular without more fanfare), but from Maggie's perspective, she has every reason to believe that Beth is more likely dead than alive.
Kirkman further explained that, even if Maggie had wanted to look for Beth, she had no leads to go on: "Daryl and Carol hadn't gone on a mission to find Beth until they saw that car. There are really no options here. If Maggie had somehow been with Daryl in that scene, she would have been racing after that car jut as intently as Daryl had. The story just hasn't shaken down that way."
This is also perfectly reasonable, as the car that took Beth could have taken her almost anywhere, and without any clues a search would have been somewhat futile. Although, to be fair, the futility of trying to find someone in the zombie apocalypse didn't stop her from searching for Glenn. Plus, she doesn't need clues to talk about Beth, or to make plans around the possibility of finding her. She got on the bus to go to DC seemingly without a thought to the fact that leaving Georgia made it much less likely that she would ever see Beth again, if she were still alive.
Then Kirkman makes an argument that I don't buy one bit: "You can also complain that Maggie hasn't expressed too much loss over Hershel just because we haven't spent a great many scenes talking about the loss of her father. There's been so much other stuff going on that this character is dealing that there hasn't been an opening where she would sit down and say, 'Oh my gosh, she's still out there. What can we do?'"
First, a proactive character like Maggie would be less likely to talk about her grief over someone who is definitely gone, a situation which she can't do anything about, than to talk about her sister who may still be alive. Second, the argument that "there's been so much other stuff going on" might have worked during the Terminus episodes, but she had enough time and mental energy to talk to Glenn about the future and make fun of Eugene's mullet in last week's episode.
Finally, Kirkman said, "We will be dealing with it in upcoming episodes and you'll definitely see where Maggie stands on this. I do stand by the fact that the character's behavior is very much in line with the way we've established her." I respectfully disagree, Kirkman. Maybe they'll present a "she was in shock" kind of explanation in future episodes that will make her behavior seem slightly more plausible, but it mostly seems like a lack of attention to characters and relationships, possibly in service of their newly quickened pace.