Published On: Mon, Nov 13th, 2017

King Ezekiel and the Kingdom pay a steep price in The Walking Dead

Spoiler alert: This story contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 4.

The king is dead. Long live “Some Guy.”

The Walking Dead offered one of the better episodes of the season so far on Sunday in “Some Guy,” told from Ezekiel’s and Carol’s perspectives after the Kingdom battalion was mowed down by the snipers at the end of Episode 3.

It used the season’s “all-out war” setting to break down both the myth of King Ezekiel and the man himself. Khary Payton does great work for the whole hour and is especially affecting at the moment Ezekiel has given up his Shakespearean dialect for slang out of pure terror and guilt.

By the end of the episode, Team Rick may have won a victory in the war against Negan (they did get the guns), but the cost is steep. Ezekiel’s leadership collapsed quickly. There have long been rumblings in Alexandria about Rick’s leadership and Gregory is back in the Hilltop, presumably scheming to overthrow Maggie. How long these three communities can last, and last together, seems precarious as the war continues.

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A con man in a costume

The bombastic episode started quietly, showing in flashback how Ezekiel dresses, putting on the “costume” the Savior who captures him will later reference. “Costume” is a good word for it, as Ezekiel takes care in each detail of his appearance to present his people with someone worthy of their admiration and respect.

Ezekiel then gives one of his inspirational speeches to the people of the Kingdom, as the soldiers he’s taking to Rick’s war kiss their loved ones goodbye. His people love him and embrace him in a huge group hug as Carol watches, bemused. The scene then cuts to the present, where Ezekiel emerges from a different press of bodies — the pile of his dead compatriots who rushed to protect him as the bullets started flying last week.

The sequence where a wounded Ezekiel crawls amongst the remains of his people, who slowly begin to rise as walkers, is both terrifying and emotionally gutting, and is some of the best stuff The Walking Dead has done in quite a while. Eventually, another surviving Kingdomer finds Ezekiel and tries to help him escape, only to be shot by a particularly vicious Savior who hopes to bring the king to Negan but wouldn’t be opposed to killing him, either.

After some heavy taunting, Ezekiel is rescued, again, this time by Jerry, who cleaves the Savior in two with his battle axe in the most graphic scene of the episode. The two are pinned down by a fence as walkers attack them, but isn’t it handy that Carol just happens to be on the other side of it?

Just some guy

Carol, meanwhile, also survived and also found her own way into the compound where she tried to get the guns all by herself. She’s pretty successful; that is until she notices Ezekiel in trouble. She has to choose between love and the tactical advantage, and she chooses to save Ezekiel (and Jerry, but we’re guessing he wasn’t really a part of the equation).

It would have carried more emotional weight if Carol letting the Saviors go with the guns had any actual consequences. Instead, Rick and Daryl come speeding by at the exact right moment and take out the truck with the guns. There’s a brief moment where it looks like Rick may have died in a car crash during the chase, but it was laughable for the series to even attempt to make it seem like he was gone.

Meanwhile, Carol is now fleeing the same hoard of walkers that were attacking Ezekiel and Jerry, and the trio is slow thanks to Ezekiel’s wound. He repeatedly asks for them to leave him behind, but they refuse and Jerry adamantly declares that he can’t leave his king. As they try to run through what appears to be a polluted river Ezekiel finally loses it and screams at Jerry that he’s not a king, he’s “just some guy,” his accent breaking and, with it, his entire facade.

It looks, for a moment, as if he may actually sacrifice himself for them. Then Shiva the tiger appears (from where is super unclear) to save him. There are too many walkers for her to fight off and she becomes yet another being who trusted Ezekiel and paid the price in an incredibly horrific scene.

Eventually, the trio returns to the Kingdom, where the beloved king is greeted by his anxiously waiting people, who he simply blows past without saying anything.

There’s something rotten in the Kingdom and we wonder if Ezekiel will ever recover.

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King Ezekiel and the Kingdom pay a steep price in The Walking Dead