This past week’s episode of The Walking Dead was a well welcomed change from last Sunday’s bloody premier.
The carnage and butchery of last week’s premier, which left two beloved character dead, allowed for week two to be more thought provoking and peaceful. In this episode, we arrive at the Kingdom. In the Kingdom we meet the king, Ezekiel, and he is arguably one of the first “good” leaders we’ve seen thus far in the series.
King Ezekiel is a captivating new character. His presence left me smiling for the first time in a long time while watching The Walking Dead. On one hand his Shakespearean theatrics throughout the episode were off-setting considering what the audience went through last episode; and on the other hand, he appears to be a caring person who has constructed one of the most efficient safe havens we’ve come across in the series.
Like Alexandria, the Kingdom is safe, prosperous, and inviting. Unlike Alexandria, its people are experienced survivors. Among them are two familiar faces, Melissa McBride’s Carol Peletier, and Lennie James’ Morgan Jones. Historically, whenever our main character go somewhere new and “safe” it never goes well. It usually results in said place to fall. This makes me worry for the Kingdom. Despite the fact that it is just Carol and Morgan in the Kingdom right now, will their past experience and way of life ultimately make it fall?
I genuinely like Ezekiel. He too, plays into the hands of the Saviors (Negan’s men). Morgan accompanies Ezekiel and his men to a meeting with Negan’s men. They give pigs to the Saviors, which unbeknownst to The Saviors were fed zombie corpses. During the exchange Ezekiel proves to be both brave as well as wise. He does not want to go to war with Negan because if he does, there are only two outcomes; Win and lose a lot of people and morals, or lose and everyone dies. He shows a judgement and a quality of character that previous leaders lacked.
Unlike Deanna, Alexandria’s leader, Ezekiel is able to balance both success and safety. He does so by not only keeping danger at a distance – by meeting The Saviors away from The Kingdom – but he also keeps his people safe by keeping trained warriors on watch.
Unlike Gregory, Ezekiel keeps his priorities straight.
Unlike Negan, Ezekiel is compassionate and is not barbaric.
Unlike Rick, Ezekiel has built something that is actually sustainable and can think rationally in the midst of hardship. He isn’t driven by emotion, but rather logic.
Another reason I enjoy Ezekiel’s character is because he has a pet tiger, Shiva. Watching the previews last week I was concerned that the computer-generated imagery tiger would look bad. The directors did an amazing job in making Shiva look as legit as possible.
When Carol meets Ezekiel for the first time she has a hard time taking him and the Kingdom seriously. She tells Morgan that, “this place is a joke.” What she fails to see is that the system works. She is so used to chaos and instability that she can’t trust anything that is safe. Honestly, throughout the episode I enjoyed Carols reactions. She was dripping in sarcasm and constantly mocking the Kingdom and Ezekiel. She takes on an arrogant and almost superior persona in this episode that makes it hard to take anything she says seriously. She implies that she has been through too much to go back to this overly simplified version of life. At the end of the episode she has a heart to heart with Ezekiel, where he calls her out on her façade.
“You can’t bullshit a bullshitter,” King Ezekiel says this after he drops his own theatrics and opens up. He tells his story about how he came about Shiva and built the Kingdom. He turns out to be surprisingly humble and is proud of his accomplishments.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode. It was more thought provoking and calm. The writers took the opportunity to let the audience decompress from last week’s horrors. Ezekiel is a quality character that is very deep when he drops his theatrics.
I asked fellow WBHS student, Alexis Chism, her opinion of the episode and she made some valid points. “I thought it was strange. It was weird being in almost a safe place. [it was] also weird seeing how people really believed [that there is] really a king. I liked the actor that plays [Ezekiel]. It sucked knowing Carol and Morgan don’t know about Glenn and Abraham.”
Hopefully in the next episode Carol and Morgan will learn the fate of their family members, Glenn Rhee and Abraham Ford. Overall, I give this episode a 4 out of 5.