The Consequences of a Bad Decision

by Mariann E. Danko

As a writer (yet-to-be published, produced, or paid) discussing the storyline of a TV show, movie or book is one of my favorite things to do. I love to hear writers, directors, producers, and actors talk about their craft, about bringing characters to life and the path those characters take or could take along the way.

Turns out my son has inherited this gene and although for many years has fought the writing thing, I found out recently that he now considers English not only a favorite subject, but one of his better ones, plus, lists writing as a top skill. You can only imagine what joy this brought to me when I heard those words.


My son’s imagination is like no other I have come across. His ideas go far and wide and I have always told him to write them down because one day his mind will be cluttered with so much real world crap he may forget these brilliant sparks of creativity. He has yet to do this with all of his ideas, but he has over the years kept a file on game ideas, which all evolve from a storyline, so he’s got that much going for himself.

Needless to say, him and I can get into some serious discussions about story lines and characters, especially when it comes to “The Walking Dead.” Since he has read the graphic novels the show is based on, he often gets very excited when things play out according to the book or when a new character from the book is introduced. I saw a lot this over the past season, especially the closer we got to the season finale.

Whether you have read the books or not, if you are an avid fan of the show, you are aware of the notorious barbwire wrapped bat wielding villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Moragn) (evil personified) and the anticipation of his arrival on the show was making book readers in particular salivate.

I myself was dreading it because along with his arrival brings the departure of a beloved character in an extremely brutal way. The key question was whether the writers of the show would stay true to the book or deviate, which is often the case. And, how on earth would they show this horrific scene (barbwire covered bat connects to victims head multiple times) on regular TV?


My son and I had many speculative discussions leading up to the season finale, each with our own ideas about where the writers may take the story. My son believing they will stay true to the books, and me feeling stronger that they would switch things up. Turns out they ended the show on a cliffhanger, so we will have to wait till Season Seven to see who became Negan’s first victim, but, we both feel that the cliffhanger did not detract from the brilliant story telling in this finale. (Note, we are in the minority here.)

For six seasons we’ve been following the plight of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the stories protagonist. We have always looked at him as the good guy. Making wise decisions, based on the facts and his observations. At times even taking days to ponder things and often getting feedback from the group.


In addition, he’s tried hard to stay on the side of morally right. Of course living in an apocalyptic world this isn’t always easy and the laws of morality can shift. Killing walkers is basically an every day occurrence, but taking the life of another man was limited to those who attacked or threatened first. That was until this season and to an extent the back half of Season Five.

Once within the “safe” confines of the walls of Alexandria, one would have expected Rick to relax a bit, but he was fooled by a false sense of security within the walls of the prison, and look where that got his group. He would not allow that to happen again.

Being ever vigilant regarding the security of Alexandria and his people, Rick won over Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh), the leader of the community, who assigned him the duty of constable. All was basically “OK” until Rick and his crew slowly discovered the ineptness to the inhabitants of Alexandria and realized if they want this place to stay standing, they will have to take charge.

In addition, Rick began to take a fancy for Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), the wife of the resident wife abusing, child-hitting doctor, who kindly offered him a haircut soon after his arrival in Alexandria. It was obvious there was a connection, but Jessie was married and very much not available.

Rick tried his best to keep things kosher, but once he confirmed the Pete (Corey Brill) was hitting Jessie and her children, he was hell bent on eliminating him, whether it is by banishment, imprisonment or death. Deanna would have none of that. He was their doctor and they needed him. Plus it wasn’t their place to meddle in their relationship unless Jessie asked for help.

It was at this point Rick began to shift, seriously bending the rules to fit his desires. Fast forward to the end of Season Five, the Rick/Jessie/Pete triangle came to a head, with Rick and Pete getting into a knockdown drag out fight, ending in the streets of Alexandria for everyone to see.


Rick had definitely pushed the parameters of his moral compass. He had officially lost it and was close to being voted out of the community. Fortunately for him Pete was extremely possessive and came after him during the meeting. Reg (Steve Coulter), Deanna’s husband, unfortunately, got between them. With Reg dying in her arms, Deanna gave Rick the go ahead to eliminate Pete. Shooting him in the head just as “All life is precious” Morgan, enters the gates to the courtyard.

Little did we know Morgan’s entrance at the end of Season Five was more than a coincidence as to where Season Six was headed. As the season unraveled we saw the gang deal with disbursing the threat of a walker horde, the attack of the Wolves, the walls of Alexandria coming down, the horde of walkers taking over Alexandria and the Alexandrian’s banding together to end this massive threat once and for all. Lives were lost, but the community banded together and with Deanna gone, Rick took charge.

With a few weeks of peace post the horde attack, replenishing the food supply was on the top of the list. While out on a run Rick and Daryl came upon a guy named Paul ‘Jesus’ Rovia (Tom Payne), who is part of another community, called the Hilltop, north of Alexandria. Turns out the Hilltop crew are pacifists and farmers, who have been able to survive because a third group called the Saviors has offered protection in return for half off all their supplies. It was more of a demand, not an offer. The Hilltop community had no choice but to accept.


Upon meeting the Hilltop crew, it’s obvious they could be of great assistance to the Alexandrians, but they too have their demands. Everyone is just trying to survive. Gregory (Xander Berkley), the Hilltop leader strikes a deal with Rick. The Hilltop crew will give the Alexandrians half of their supplies if they eliminate the Saviors and their leader Negan.

Without batting an eye, or asking for more details about Negan and the Saviors, Rick accepts this deal and leaves with a months worth of supplies.

Where is the old thinking things through, get all the facts Rick Grimes? I get that they need supplies, but this just seems like a deal that could go south. Becoming hit men for food is very risky, especially when you know nothing about the target.


As we discover the Saviors are far from saviors and do nothing out of kindness. They are viscous and if their demands are not met will stop at nothing to prove they are in charge.

Flash forward to the Season Six Finale. Rick and company have successfully eliminated a large number of the Saviors, some out defense, but the bulk of them were killed during a late night attack on the Saviors’ compound, some even while they slept.

Killing in cold blood is just not Rick and companies standard MO. I get that times are tough, but this is extreme and there’s bound to be repercussions for their actions.

Needless to say, Negan was not among those killed and he’s not happy.

Based on the Saviors that the Alexandrians had come in contact with, it appeared they were not that bright, but what transpires in the finale is proof that they are anything but that, especially Negan.

An elaborated series of roadblocks are set-up for Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Aaron (Ross Marquand) who are trying to transport a very sick and pregnant Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to the Hilltop for medical help.


Basing his opinion about the Saviors on the less than stellar ones they had previously defeated, Rick believes they can outsmart Negan’s band of thugs. He finds out quickly how wrong he is. With every blockade, he becomes less and less confident. The noose is tightening and you can see it on Rick’s face. For the first time ever Rick looks defeated.

There is no way out, they are trapped.


As if things weren’t bad enough, they find out that Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) impulsive decision to go after Dwight, the Savior who killed Denise, not only got Daryl caught, but also Rosita (Christian Serratos), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Glenn (Steven Yeun), who went after Daryl.

So, after a serious of very bad decisions, the bulk of the Alexandrian’s now find themselves on their knees waiting for one of them to be executed for taking the lives of more than 20 Saviors.

On their knees

This scene has got to be one of the most dramatic and intense scenes in the history of the show. Rick is crushed. He has failed and now someone will die all because he made the wrong choice and acted impulsively.

Granted, we are all at fault when it comes to making bad decisions or acting impulsively, we are human, and driven by emotions, but, when it comes to taking another man’s life, one would think you would pause and truly think about the repercussions of such a serious action.

Trying to encourage our children to think before they act can be a daily discussion, especially when they hit their teens. Hormone brain takes over.

Having Season Six of “The Walking Dead” play out the way it did is a huge asset for me when pushing the importance of considering all the angles when making a serious decision, like say, where you’re going to college or should I respond to a text while I’m driving?

I realize there are plenty of real-world examples of the repercussions of poor decision making, but knowing how caught up my son is in the fictitious world of “The Walking Dead” is a plus in my book. Seeing smart characters like Rick and Daryl make impulsive,  bad decisions that put more than themselves in harms way is a great reminder of the importance of thinking before you act. And one I will be sure to point out for years to come.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2016. All rights reserved.

TWD Photos Courtesy of AMC

Writer – Copyright: <a href=’’>aniriana / 123RF Stock Photo</a>