Maggie (Lauren Cohan) makes a "heartbreaking" decision when the Reapers endanger a mission to Meridian on The Walking Dead. Spoiler warning for Sunday's Season 11 Episode 3, "Hunted." After an attack that leaves most of the Wardens dead and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) gravely wounded, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie must keep moving to find a supply house and reconnect with their scattered group of survivors. With Alexandria starving and in dire need of supplies, the injured Alden presses Maggie to leave him behind — for now — and continue the journey with Negan. If they fail, Alden warns, their hopes for the future die. And Alexandria dies with it.
When Negan tells Maggie to make a decision — drop the "dead weight," as Alden puts it, and leave him behind or stay together — she snaps back.
"It's easy for you, isn't it? Being reckless with somebody else's life. But you don't get to decide who lives and who dies anymore," Maggie scolds Negan. "It's your fault that we're here. It's your fault. Because you destroyed everything that we built."
Negan doesn't argue: "You still have to decide."
It's decided. Maggie and Negan will continue on, leaving Alden with some supplies and a knife. They barricade Alden in an old church, Maggie telling Alden, "You better be here when we get back."
"By the time we get to that big scene with Negan and Maggie at the end, and Alden's there, and Maggie's going to make this heartbreaking choice that they do have to keep going and leave Alden, which she absolutely does not want to do," showrunner Angela Kang said on The Walking Dead: Episode Insider. "I think that, for Negan, he's a smart guy. He can see that she doesn't really want his advice. That doesn't mean he's going to stop giving it altogether, but I do think he's at a point where he realizes if he's trying to push her too hard here, all that's going to happen is she's going to get angry and it's going to delay maybe this choice that she knows herself she needs to make."
"He's pretty sure that she's going to make the choice to keep moving. He knows that she's mission-focused," Kang said. "But she kind of has to go through the emotion of it and it makes it even that much more heartbreaking when the person who should be panicking is like, 'You know as well as I do what has to be done.'"
Like Maggie making the call to leave Gage (Jackson Pace) behind to die in a zombie-swarmed subway, Kang said, "At the heart of The Walking Dead, it's about those hard choices, and sometimes our heroes make choices that they don't like. Sometimes they make the wrong choice. And sometimes they make the choice that is right and feels good, but this ['Hunted'] is one of those ones where it just feels like there's no win in any situation. They just have to make the one that helps them do the most good for the most people."
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.