The Walking Dead – Some Guy
By: Kelly Kearney
The Kingdom and its theatrical leader will never be the same after this week’s, “The Walking Dead,” but at least fans of the show got their first good episode of Season 8. When Ezekiel (Khary Peyton) celebrated his win over the Saviors by saying, “Not one of us will fall,” he probably should have stopped his soliloquy there. With Negan’s men ambushing the Kingdomers in an open filed (a serious battle no-no) and Carol (Melissa McBride) on the hunt for the gunmen, Ezekiel comes face to face with the realization that he’s not the battle wise King he pretends to be.
What’s a King without his people?
The episode begins with a flashback to Ezekiel preparing for war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The proud and optimistic King showers, shaves, rolls his dreadlocks and walks out into the streets to greet his loyal followers, many of which are saying goodbye to their loved ones. The regal leader readies his troops with an inspiring pep talk and even stops to reassure a young boy named Henry (Macsen Lintz) that all who leave the gates will come back heroes. This memory haunts Ezekiel as he lies bleeding under a pile of his own men, all of whom are dead. The Saviors’ ambush was like shooting fish in a barrel and Kingdomers bodies litter the open field with only their King left alive. Ezekiel may be breathing, but he’s been shot and now facing an even bigger threat – his men are quickly turning into walkers. The scene is as gut wrenching as is the look on Ezekiel’s face when he sees his kind hearted friend Daniel (Daniel Newman) amongst the dead. It’s clear the King might be alive, but he wishes he was dead along with his people. After a few awkward tries at standing and fighting off his zombified friends, a few Kingdomers that were hiding in the woods swoop in to rescue him.
As Ezekiel limps through a herd of walkers with the help of his friend Alvaro (Carlos Navarro), Carol sweeps the building for Saviors and guns, both of which she stumbles upon. Willing to take the risk for her community, Carol hides as Negan’s men talk about loading their Jeep with the .50 caliber rifles Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was looking for. Obviously, this is bad news for these Saviors because Carol climbs up into the ceiling and when they approach she shoots them from above and then jumps down and finishes the job with a few bullets to their heads. Carol has finally dropped that guilty housewife in the woods act and has reclaimed her title as “Queen of the Apocalypse!” Of course, the other Saviors in the building hear her gunfire and take off through the halls looking for Carol who does a great job of staying elusive and eventually makes her way outside.
You’re not a King, you’re just a man
While Carol’s keeping Negan’s men busy inside the gate, Alvaro is shot in the back of the head and Ezekiel is captured by a nameless Jeffrey Dahmer looking Savior. What does Dahmer want? He wants to deliver Ezekiel and the guns to Negan, proving his value to the Sanctuary and their bat wielding psychopathic leader. As Dahmer drags an injured Ezekiel to the gates of the weapons supply building, he mocks the King and his regal title. Without Shiva and the people Ezekiel’s duped, the King would be nothing but a low-level con-man. He’s no King, he’s just a man and If it wasn’t for Negan’s orders Dahmer would put Ezekiel’s head on a spike for all his subjects to see. **side note: if you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead” comics you know that threat is a big Ezekiel Easter egg. ** All spikes aside. Negan wants the King, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Rick alive, but as this Savior points out he never said he couldn’t rough Ezekiel up along the way.
Inside the gates of the weapon’s supply building, Carol is hiding and listening to the men talk about where they’re sending the guns as they load them in a Jeep. She knows whoever has these guns has an upper hand in this war and she’s not about to let them leave without a fight. She ambushes the men and they exchange gunfire and Carol gets trapped behind a truck. With nowhere to go and the bullets coming down like rain, Carol raises her arms and agrees to surrender. She promises to give up the location of her fighters if they can call a truce. As one Savior (Trey Butler) approaches to take her hostage, she turns the tables and grabs the man in a head lock and whips out a knife, pressing it to his throat. She warns his friends to back off, but they decide he’s not worth it and open fire. Carol uses the man as a human shield, then hits a button on the fence behind her that opens the back gate and in comes the walkers. The armed men get attacked by the zombies and winds up wasting the bulk of their ammo. Always the practical one, Carol takes the gun full of ammo off the dead Savior knowing she has the men right where she wants them.
Outside the fence, Ezekiel tries to overpower Dahmer but with his leg injury he doesn’t have the stamina to fight and ends up in his back. The Savior brags about Negan’s quest to tie Maggie, Rick and Ezekiel to a fence like walker bait and then he gathers some blood from Ezekiel’s wound and paints his face with it. The two make it to another gate, but when Dahmer tries to open it the gate is stuck. Dahmer is getting frustrated and sees Ezekiel as more of a problem than a solution, so he decides to break Negan’s orders and kill the dread locked man. As he raises his gun, Jerry (Cooper Andrews) comes out of nowhere and drives his ax clean through Dahmer’s head and torso, cutting the man in half! Ezekiel looks on in shock and horror because let’s be real, cutting a man in half is no easy feat and its extremely gruesome. Bloody ax and all, Jerry starts hacking away on the fence’s lock, but strike after strike he gets nowhere and eventually his ax pays the price and it breaks. With no weapons and walkers slowly marching towards them, Ezekiel tells Jerry to save himself and leave the injured King behind. Jerry refuses and reminds Ezekiel that he’s his King and he will stay and fight for the man’s life.
Queen Carol to Save the day
Carol makes a tough choice to leave the two Saviors and go save Ezekiel and Jerry. It’s a choice that Carol would always make since everything she does is to protect the people she cares about. Without her focus on the Saviors, they get the guns in their Jeep and take off towards the Sanctuary. She opens the gates just in time to get Ezekiel and Jerry away from the pack of walkers, but Ezekiel is more concerned about the guns. Carol isn’t because in the distance she can hear the roaring sound of Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) bike that I like to call “The Pookie Mobile” and she knows Rick and the archer won’t let those guns get too far.
We flashback to gearing up for the fight and Carol and Ezekiel talk about what they were like before and how they became who they are now. Ezekiel talks about a time when he was a zookeeper and had a choice to climb into Shiva’s cage and save her or let her die. He chose to save her and in doing so chose to become the man he is today. He asks Carol if she was always this strong and capable fighter and she smiles and admits they’re the same and that life helped her make the choice to become who she is.
Brothers in Arms
Carol was right, Rick and Daryl are hot on the trail of the two Saviors and their Jeep. Daryl ends up killing one of them that was shooting out the back of the Jeep. With one down and one to go, Rick pulls some serious superhero moves when he jumps from his Jeep into the Savior’s and drives a knife into the man’s (Charles Halford) gut. The Jeep goes careening off the road, but Rick is fine and the two men smile knowing they finally got the guns they were searching for.
Cut to Carol and Jerry who are attempting to lead Ezekiel through the woods and back to the Kingdom. Carol is a total boss and hacks her way through packs of roaming walkers while carrying the King up and down muddy embankments and across streams with the help of Jerry. The walkers start attacking in droves and Ezekiel does his best to fend them off until it becomes too overwhelming and he orders Jerry and Carol to leave him. Jerry gets upset and says he can’t do that to his King and Carol agrees that Ezekiel doesn’t get to make that decision. Ezekiel loses it and screams that he’s not their King, he’s just a man who’s staring at the realities of his own mortality. The Walkers are what’s real, not his regal façade. But Jerry disagrees, he’s their King because they need him to be their King. As the Walkers keep coming forward and things starts to quickly turn to chaos, Shiva flies in to save the day! The big cat tosses and tears through the zombie pack, but even she can’t stop the relentless force of a herd. Ezekiel tries to save her, but Carol and Jerry stop him as Shiva gets torn to shreds by the undead.
With Shiva and the rest of the fighters now dead, Ezekiel, Carol and Jerry make their way back to the Kingdom where groups of people await the return of their loved ones. When only three enter the gates, silence and realization hit the community in force. Young Henry approaches the limping King, but all Ezekiel can do is walk past the boy and the rest of the grieving families in silence.
For a man who promised his people success, it’s got to be both embarrassing and heartbreaking to know how wrong he was. Will this change the King’s position with his loyal subjects or was Jerry right? Does the community need a King regardless of his mistakes? What will happen now that Shiva is dead? Has Ezekiel lost his kitty fear factor and will it make his community more vulnerable than ever? Time will tell, but if I was Ezekiel I would lay low for a while and steer clear of any stakes that could easily display a head.