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“The Walking Dead” Finally Got Real With Ezekiel for Best Episode This Season

“The Walking Dead” Finally Got Real With Ezekiel for Best Episode This Season

Just over one year ago, we met one of the more interesting characters in “The Walking Deaduniverse. Played by actor Khary Paton, “King Ezekiel” was a character already well known to fans of Robert Kirkman’s comic books (he first appeared on the page way back in 2013), but his arrival on the AMC series, well, let’s just say he didn’t quite fit in with the overall tone of the show – *especially* in Season 7, which memorably kicked off in the most dour way imaginable.

It was only one week after Negan beat Abraham and Glenn to death that Carol arrived in The Kingdom, a sanctuary ruled by the man they call King. Flanked by a loyal servant wielding a massive battle axe, as well as a literal tiger, King Ezekiel appeared to be living in a world that wasn’t actually overrun by the walking dead. Through it all, still he smiled, displaying a theatrical attitude and swagger that reeked of a man hiding himself behind the facade of an off-Broadway caricature.

Later in Season 7, we learned Ezekiel’s origin story: in short, he was a zookeeper in his past life – an ordinary man who decided to become something more once the world went to shit. Granted, that describes most characters on “The Walking Dead,” but Ezekiel particularly went for it, adopting a “King” persona and coping with the horrors of the world outside his Kingdom by playing pretend.

Through it all, still he smiled. But on last night’s episode, titled “Some Guy,” Ezekiel finally stopped smiling. Ezekiel’s crown was removed, making him “some guy” once more.

In the battle against Negan and his Saviors, Ezekiel promised that none of his soldiers would be lost, but that fantasy was shattered by the sound of gunfire at the tail end of the previous week’s episode. Picking up where “Monsters” left off, “Some Guy” showed us that pretty much nobody – aside from Ezekiel – survived the brutal assault at the hands of the Saviors. And though Ezekiel may have been the sole survivor, he emerged from the battlefield a broken man. A king without his crown. Some guy with dreadlocks.

If Ezekiel was living in a fluffy, happy-go-lucky cartoon prior to “Some Guy,” well, let’s just say he officially became a “Walking Dead” character last night.

After being kidnapped and almost beheaded by one of the Saviors, an injured Ezekiel was dealt one final blow in the episode with the death of his beloved pet tiger, Shiva. It was Ezekiel who personally rescued an injured Shiva back in his days as a zookeeper, and the roles were reversed when Shiva returned the favor – rescuing an injured Ezekiel from a pack of melty, toxic zombies… but unfortunately losing her own life in the process.

In what was easily the most depressing moment in Season 8 thus far, Shiva was torn to pieces by the undead. If you shed a couple tears, trust me, you weren’t alone.

Broken, injured and stripped of the persona that allowed him to become something more than a man for so many years, Ezekiel returned to The Kingdom. It wasn’t a triumphant return, however. It was something more akin to a sad walk of shame, as Ezekiel said not a single word to his loyal followers. It was understood, presumably even by them, that the man before them was no longer their king. Rather, they were seeing the man behind the crown for the very first time in their lives.

To its credit, Season 8 of “The Walking Dead” has thus far evoked the spirit of guns-blazing, ’80s action flicks, but the first three episodes did little to advance the story forward or really even make the show’s return very exciting. Instead, they recycled tired old themes from the past, serving up a buffet of gun violence but little else to speak of. “Some Guy,” however, brought to the screen a wonderful character arc in and of itself, telling the first side story of the season that was actually worth paying attention to and being invested in.

Ezekiel is a better, more realistic character in the wake of “Some Guy,” and the best episodes of “The Walking Dead” have always been the ones that strip away facades and show us precisely who we’ve chosen to spend our Sunday nights with. If he didn’t quite fit alongside the other characters prior to last night, Ezekiel damn sure does now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finishing crying about a dead tiger.




    Man, that episode was brutal. Ezekiel has been one of the few sources of optimism in that dreary world. And now, like almost everyone else, he’s been broken.

    It was just one spirit-crushing blow after another, from having all his people killed and turned to walkers, to having that nerdy Savior ridicule his fraudulent persona, to finally losing his beloved Shiva. I’m sure he’ll eventually rebound, but I’m not sure how or what it will take.

    And yeah, I’m sad too about Shiva. That was painful to watch. Someone had already spoiled Shiva’s death for me, so at least I knew it was coming.

  • The Night King

    So you can knock a walker over with little effort, easily pull their teeth out with pliers, crush their heads with your boot, but 5 or 6 of them can hold down and devour an enraged, several hundred pound tiger? Yes, I know, it’s just a tv show and if I don’t like it I shouldn’t watch rather than criticize something you like because it makes you all sad and angry inside, but the show is to the point where you watch just so you can make fun of it Mystery Science Theater style.

    • Jon Lavia

      Yeah I feel the same way. I can suspend my disbelief to a certain point, but when it’s all for plot convenience, I get frustrated. Jerry’s broken axe handle punctured the skull of a freshly turned walker to the point of killing the brain? Ezekiel’s sword lopped off the top half of a skull? Shiva should’ve done a lot more damage than we saw, but it would was probably too impractical effects wise.

      • NoGutzNoGory

        I really am getting fed up with how these crazy ass assault weapons can’t penetrate pieces of sheet metal siding and vehicles… how many shots did they take at Carol? Several hundred and she’s just chillin? Also, no recoil or nothing from any of these weapons… no bullet casings flying out… I know its just a tv show… but I’ve been watching this entire series since it started and I keep going back to it, hoping for glory… but holy shit, man….
        Like really, that crazy ass gun bad dude was firing at Rick in the jeep, he was maybe 50 feet away? Couple of sparks. Like holy shit, man….

    • dsxy

      My thoughts exactly, the whole thing was done poorly. If Shiva had saved them from a horde then fair enough, but like 6 or 7? Some of the slowest moving zombies ever…. Come on.

      I still watch the show, but they need a new showrunner.

  • Necro

    I have one thing to say………GOOD! The start to this season has been extremely predictable, I mean you had to know this ‘war’ was going to drag out the whole season. To much fluff with way too many characters to keep up with, and the show is suffering from it. Now last night was able to focus and provide us with an episode that this show has proven on more than several occasions that it’s highly capable of doing……..and do it well I might add! It’s things like last night as to why this show skyrocketed to the popularity that it did. See simple, but very effective. When it was just a few ‘main’ characters that’s when this show was at its best. Now, I don’t know who 3/4’s of these people are. Lastly, I’m an animal lover and I know it’s just a show, but that fucking tiger had to go! Sorry but it did! A wild animal who can differentiate between good and bad people! Please! Wild is wild, and raw, primal gut animal instinct is pure with no emotion attached.

  • Brandon

    TWD killed Shiva for the same reason they killed Abraham, that cat wouldn’t put up with Negan’s shit and they needed to eliminate that threat. The show already had an opportunity for Shiva to eat Negan and they pooched it.

  • ScaryLarryV

    If you read the comics its obvious Shiva dies, the realism on TWD is completely video game-ish. But the war and gun battles is great and this season has been action packed.

  • Travis_Bickle

    didn’t this show get cancelled?

    • Max_Nerdcore

      Obviously not.

      • Travis_Bickle

        Sarcasm…google it.

  • DukeStKing

    ” Didn’t this show get cancelled? ” Man this is even funnier the 100th time I’ve read it on here. More sarcasm for you.

  • IhopeLinneaQuigleyisinit.

    The most painful element of this episode is that in the hands of an adept writing team this could make an incredible story arc. Sadly we know Got Scimple will destroy this in lieu of something cheap and tawdry.

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