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“I don’t know what the hell is going on in the most wonderful way!”
For anyone who shares Carol Peletier’s (Melissa McBride) sentiment, you’re likely not alone. The Walking Dead took a serious turn for the medieval with its latest episode, “The Well,” focused entirely on one of the apocalypse’s most vibrant and curious communities yet: the Kingdom, a former high school that now serves as a middle-ages society of sorts, ruled by the benevolent King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and his pet tiger Shiva.
A bit bizarre, right? It’s less murky once Ezekiel reveals his true backstory to Carol at the end of the episode: He’s a former zookeeper and community theater actor (who, yes, happens to have a pet tiger) who founded the Kingdom and built his own mythology in order to give the people someone to look toward in times of crisis. Ezekiel knows he’s not an actual “king,” he reveals, his royal accent dropping in favor of his pre-apocalypse voice. With his cards on the table, Ezekiel actually convinces Carol not to run away this time, and instead shack up in an abandoned house not far from the Kingdom. The episode ends as the two meet again, Ezekiel visiting Carol at her new home with some delicious pomegranates in tow.
So, what happens next? We’ll have to wait until the show returns to the Kingdom story in order to know for sure, but for now, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s comic books can provide a look at one possible path forward.
(Spoilers from the comics ahead.)
Ezekiel debuts in The Walking Dead #108, but there’s no Carol or Morgan (Lennie James) in sight. (Both characters are long dead at this point in the comics, though it’s also worth noting that the show and comics’ versions of Carol and Morgan are vastly different from one another.) Instead, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) becomes the first Alexandrian introduced to Ezekiel and the Kingdom, thanks to Jesus (Tom Payne) of the Hilltop. As in “The Well,” the comic book’s Kingdom is also under Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) thumb, and Ezekiel doesn’t care for the baseball bat-wielding maniac very much. From there, Ezekiel and Rick hatch their plan to stop Negan once and for all, leading to an all-out war that’s virtually guaranteed to hit the show during season eight, if not sooner.
But it’s not all blood and guts for Ezekiel. As he gets to know Rick’s group better, Ezekiel finds himself falling for someone — but, again, it’s not Carol. It’s someone else who’s still alive on the Walking Dead TV series …
… Michonne (Danai Gurira).
Ezekiel and Michonne have a nighttime conversation that plays similarly to the fireside chat between Ezekiel and Carol. The king reveals his pre-apocalypse history, and expresses his interest in and admiration for Michonne. Ezekiel doesn’t put Michonne up in her own house, but the next time we see them, they’ve wound up in one together anyway.
Since Michonne and Rick are an item on the show, one assumes the Ezekiel romance will play out with another partner — if the romance plays out at all. Given the events of “The Well,” it’s a good bet that Ezekiel and Carol’s current loose friendship “has the potential to eventually mean something,” in comic book Michonne’s words. It’s great news for viewers who are starting to fall for Ezekiel and already love Carol; not so great for Tobin (Jason Douglas) fans.
Sadly, it’s not always so great between Michonne and Ezekiel, either. After the all-out war between Rick and Negan’s factions, the comic books flash-forward a few years into the future, with Alexandria and surrounding communities thriving. Michonne, however, is nowhere to be found, at least not initially. We later learn that she and Ezekiel attempted to build a future together, and it worked out for a while, until it very much didn’t.
Michonne abandoned Rick, Ezekiel, the whole Kingdom and everyone else in order to find some solitude. Eventually, she reunited with the gang and decided to work for the communities out on the open seas, scavenging and searching for any signs of life — a good-hearted pirate of sorts. During that time, she completely cut contact with Ezekiel. It’s only once she returns to the mainland and speaks with Rick that she realizes how much she truly cares for the king.
If only she came to that realization sooner.
Shortly after Michonne’s return, Rick and his group encounter “the Whisperers,” a very different kind of enemy from any they’ve faced before. Without going too far down that rabbit hole, let’s just say these antagonists are quite fond of one of the Walking Dead universe’s most effective camouflage techniques, and leave it at that. The Whisperers announce their presence in Rick’s life with a very violent opening message, and the results are not great for those invested in Michonne’s love life.
Will any of this come to pass on the TV series? With Michonne still at the start of her romance with Rick, smart money says she won’t be available if Ezekiel comes calling with pomegranates. Instead, any potential Ezekiel romance is most likely to involve Carol, given how their first scenes together have played out. For his part, in speaking with THR, actor Khary Payton doesn’t rule it out as a possibility: “They could just as easily walk this road together and never come into contact together and then there’s a possibility one trips on a rock and falls into the other’s arms. It’s as simple as that kind of happenstance. This relationship is what it is; whether it gets physical or not, I don’t know.”
Fans have every reason to root for an Ezekiel and Carol relationship, not the least of which is this: If the story follows the comic books closely, and Carol takes Michonne’s role in the Ezekiel romance, then we can look forward to eventually seeing one of the truly great comic book characters come to life:
Pirate Michonne — or Pirate Carol, potentially. Doesn’t matter who, just as long as one of them turns into a pirate.
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