Have you ever made the same mistake twice?
Let’s face it, we all make mistakes – there is no shame in that. But when we make the same mistake more than once, we experience a whole different level of embarrassment. There is nothing worse than knowing that the bad situation that we got ourselves into is one that we could have avoided if we had just learned from our own mistakes. As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
This is such a common theme on The Walking Dead that it probably could be discussed after every episode. People make mistakes all the time on this show. A few die immediately because of their mistakes. A few get to learn from them, but very few get to learn from a mistake that they made twice. Tonight, Daryl gets to survive again even though he makes the mistake of ignoring his instincts and following others to their doom. Chances are he won’t get to do this ever again. The world of TWD is just too dangerous.
The episode is titled “Twice As Far” because this is the excuse for the major mistake that they make. When Daryl, Rosita and Denise go on a run for medical supplies, they reach a crossroads and they have to decide which way to go. One way is a road and the other is a train track. Of course, they know that they have to be cautious. Over the last couple of episodes they have been blowing up, burning, shooting, stabbing and feeding “Saviors” to walkers. They have to know that the Saviors are now looking for them, and they certainly know that the last thing that they want to happen is to be ambushed by these guys. So when they reach the crossroads, Daryl knows exactly which is the wise way to go. He knows that even though the road goes “twice as far”, you should never take the train tracks. Remember terminus? Remember Joe? Bad things happen on train tracks because they are open and predictable. They are probably the easiest place to ambush these guys, and if they didn’t know it before, they should know after everything that has happened to them on train tracks.
Daryl does the right thing and doesn’t take the train tracks on the way to the apothecary. However, somehow he seems to lose his brain for a second and decides that it would be a good idea to just chance it and take the tracks on the way back. We are not surprised that this is a huge mistake.
Even as they are walking on the road, Daryl is aware that Denise is way outside of her depth. At one point, she makes Daryl aware that there is a cooler she wants inside a car. The problem is that there is a walker inside the car. Daryl wisely tells her to just leave it alone because a cooler just isn’t worth the risk. He also knows that stopping for any reason is not a good idea. But Denise ignores him and awkwardly tries to kill the walker and get the cooler. She barely succeeds and is excited that her prize for doing so is a soda from the cooler. Daryl confronts her.
Daryl: What the **** was that? You could’ve died right there. You know that?
Denise: Yeah. I do.
Daryl: Are you hearing me?
Denise: Who gives a ****? You could’ve died killing those Saviors, both of you, but you didn’t. You wanna live, you take chances. That’s how it works. That’s what I did.
Daryl: For a couple of **** sodas?
Denise: Nope. Just this one.
Denise seems to believe that surviving in this world has something to do with taking chances. Of course, Daryl’s point is that it is important to take chances, but only for times where the reward is worth the risk. If there is one thing that everyone should understand at this point in the show, it is that taking unnecessary risks is just plain idiotic. Way too many people have died on this show for taking very stupid risks.
Of course, this time it comes as no surprise that this decision not only leads to Denise’s demise, but almost leads to the death of some of our most beloved characters. Readers of the comics will instantly recognize that the arrow that lands in Denise’s eye is actually the arrow that should have found its way into Abraham’s eye. It is possible that Scott Gimple wants to keep Abraham around a little longer than he is in the comic. But either way, Daryl knows instantly that he should have known better. The look on his face says everything. It tells us that he is very aware that this situation is really his own fault because he didn’t follow his instincts. He should have just taken the long way home.
Fortunately, Eugene has an unusual distraction that gives our heroes the advantage when attacking their Savior ambushers. Abraham, Rosita and Daryl are more than a match for the Saviors, including Dwight (the guy that Daryl saved right before he stole his crossbow and motorcycle). Dwight survives this battle, and is able to run away, but the good news is that Daryl is finally reunited with both his motorcycle and his crossbow now. Of course, Dwight is the first Savior to survive a battle with our heroes, so Negan is now definitely going to get a report from him. Hopefully he won’t have the other half of his face burned off by Negan for the trouble (comic readers will know what I am talking about).
When most of us make mistakes the stakes are not as enormous as they are on the show. No one has ever died because of a mistake that I have made. However, I have suffered enormous consequences for mistakes that I have made. Others have also. And I am ashamed to admit that many of these mistakes were made because I just wasn’t paying attention. In most of these circumstances, I had been in the situation before, so I should definitely have known better. And perhaps this is the most shameful type of mistake, the type of mistake that I had already made before.
It reminds me of the title of the old blues song made famous by Led Zeppelin, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” In the original version by Blind Willie Johnson the lyrics say “I have a Bible in my home. If I don’t read my soul will be lost … nobody’s fault but mine”. Mistakes made again are no one’s fault but our own.
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon talks about this scenario. In chapter 27, verse 12 he says,
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (NIV)
I love the image of the “simpleton” here. He is basically saying that there is a blindness that can occur with some people that keeps them from “foreseeing” danger. What does he say the “prudent” person does? He says that they are able to “forsee” danger. How do they forsee danger? I think that the answer is actually really simple – they pay attention. They are not blind to the danger because they simply are aware of it when it happens.
Think about it. Often when we repeat mistakes the first reaction that we have is surprise. Surprise about the fact that we can’t believe that we weren’t paying attention. Surprise about the fact that we should have known better. Sin has a way of just sneaking up on us and catching us when we are unaware. This is why it is very important to actually pay attention to what is happening around us. That is also why it is equally important to pay attention to what has happened to us in the past.
What Solomon is saying here is that the wise person is the person who “takes precautions” when danger is near. The wise person is the person who knows what situations are dangerous and what situations to avoid. Often the problem isn’t that we didn’t know a certain situation was dangerous, the problem is that we just weren’t paying attention.
SEASON 6, EPISODE 13 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1) At the beginning of the episode Daryl asks Carol what the Saviors did to her. She responds by telling him that “they did nothing.” What do you think that Carol meant by this?
2) Morgan is in the process of building a jail cell. He tells Rick that this will give him a choice next time. What do you think Morgan meant by this? Does having a jail cell give them more choices in how they deal with people?
3) Why do you think that Daryl decides to take the shortcut on the railroad tracks on the way back?
4) What do you think that Daryl feels at the moment that the bolt from the crossbow kills Denise?
5) What do you think that Daryl feels when he sees Dwight again?
6) Do you think that Daryl was paying attention to what was happening around them? Was he paying attention to what he had learned from past experience?
7) Have you ever made the same mistake twice? Were you paying attention, or did it take you by surprise?
8) What are some good strategies for not making the same mistake twice?
Thom McKee Jr. is a husband, father, pastor… and film geek (and brother of Jonathan McKee). Thom lives in Northern California with his wife and two kids.