Ezekiel takes centre stage in the latest The Walking Dead. Alex White reviews.
The fourth episode of season eight of The Walking Dead, Some Guy, was very Ezekiel-centric, and firmly cemented him as one of my favourite characters.
The episode opened with a simple scene of Ezekiel getting dressed in the morning, but it was really more of a transformation. The man who wandered into that room in a plain black vest could have been anyone; it actually did take me a couple of seconds to realise it was him. But the man who walked out in his signature coat, dreadlocks out with a red feather in them, was Ezekiel The King. A leader we recognise.
We then saw Ezekiel walk outside to greet his subjects on the day that they were to go off to fight the Saviours. His pre-battle speech was inspiring and strong, and consistent with the optimism and drive that we know he had later on as they were carrying out their plans. This speech was delivered brilliantly by actor Khary Payton, and was the first of many outstanding moments of his this episode. Ezekiel told his people how he smiled in the face of adversity because they were all together and fighting for their futures, and his speech ended with a resounding statement of “we are one,” the people of the Kingdom gathering around him.
The scene then abruptly changed. The aerial shot of Ezekiel’s people surrounding him was replaced by the image of the Kingdommers lying dead, and in the center of the scattered corpses and body parts, a pile of bodies; the ones that at the end of the last episode we saw jump to protect their king as bullets rained down. This picture of sadness, sacrifice and loyalty on the tail of the inspiring “we are one” speech from before was some extremely powerful and moving imagery, with more emotional weight to it than I’ve felt in The Walking Dead for a while, and was extremely well done.
From under the pile of the dead Ezekiel emerged, wounded but alive thanks to the people that turned themselves into human shields for him. As he tried to escape from his former comrades that were now returning as walkers, he was rescued by a lone survivor, only for that survivor to be killed by a random saviour foot soldier who then took the King hostage. This was probably the weakest part of the episode, with strained dialogue coming from this nameless Saviour that taunted Ezekiel until his right hand man and fan favourite Jerry showed up to kill said Saviour and bring us hope once again.
Meanwhile, we saw a return of Assassin Carol as she had entered the Saviour compound and gunned down the people who had in turn gunned down the Kingdommers. At first it looked like Carol may get caught before she could do any good but of course she hid in and fired at them from the ceiling like the innovative person she is. Unfortunately in the end she couldn’t stop some surviving Saviours from making off with the oh so valuable guns, instead opting to come to the rescue of Ezekiel and Jerry, who it briefly looked like would go down fighting the dead together.
The trio tried to stagger to safety, but on Ezekiel’s wounded leg they weren’t going anywhere fast and were rapidly getting surrounded by walkers. His spirit utterly broken after so many had died for him, the leader broke down, saying Carol and Jerry should just leave him behind; he wasn’t a King, he was just some guy. It looked for a moment like this might genuinely be the end for him, until Shiva, who had been MIA up until this point, arrived. The tiger launched herself into the fray of the dead, distracting them long enough for Carol, Jerry, and Ezekiel to scramble out of their range. Unfortunately, she became surrounded and got taken down in a similar way to how Rick’s horse did in the pilot, and Ezekiel’s cries as he could only watch were utterly heart-wrenching.
The scene was extremely sad, but one small gripe I have with it is that surely such a large animal should have just been able to barrel her way out of the relatively small group of walkers surrounding her? It looked like there were only around eight of them that definitely weren’t that strong, so once she’d bought time for the trio to get to safety she should’ve just swiped the walkers aside to rejoin Ezekiel. I feel it might have made more sense, instead of having the tiger be completely taken down by walkers, to have had her escape their clutches but then turn out to have been bitten and therefore still die having saved Ezekiel. The tiger passing away in his arms would’ve been super sad, and though Shiva’s death was anyway, possibly a little more believable.
The episode ended with Ezekiel, Carol and Jerry arriving back at the Kingdom. The same people who at the beginning of the episode saying goodbye to their loved ones looked to their leader for answers and saw only a broken man who no longer wanted his crown. Carol and Jerry could only watch as Ezekiel wordlessly limped away, and it’s unclear now which direction his character will head in the future. All that can be said for now is that he’s still alive.
Khary Payton was undoubtedly the star of this episode, delivering an overall outstanding performance. His portrayal of Ezekiel’s progression from optimism and leadership to grief, self-doubt and brokenness was an absolute credit to the show and he carried the episode flawlessly, conveying emotion the likes of which I feel The Walking Dead has somewhat lacked for a while. This episode genuinely moved me and is possibly now an all-time favourite.
Other noteworthy things from this week are the great cohesion and continuity across episodes, seen both in the visceral opening imagery of dead Kingdommers, and also in Daryl and Rick chasing down the guns once the Saviours had gotten them away from Carol. Also Carol’s small smile and confidence once she heard the hum of Daryl’s motorcycle following the Saviour truck was a nice nod to and reminder of their relationship.
All in all, in my humble opinion, Some Guy was the best episode of this season so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Ezekiel.
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