King Ezekiel Surrenders His Crown On ‘The Walking Dead’ And Becomes Just ‘Some Guy’ (TV REVIEW)

Before the eighth season of The Walking Dead premiered, Showrunner Scott Gimple and Executive Producer Robert Kirkman promised the show would move away from the single episode vignettes centered around a handful of characters, and broaden its scope for “All Out War.” It started with an inflated season premiere with lots of grandstanded chest-puffing, before giving us an episode-long gunfight involving nothing but redshirts on both sides. That spilled over into the third episode, which also answered the question no one asked: what happened to Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja) after he left the Atlanta camp, just before Daryl (Norman Reedus) put an arrow in his back?

With the fourth episode, we seem to pivot back into the smaller-scale storytelling, centered almost entirely on Ezekiel (Khary Payton), the community theater king and leader of The Kingdom. Starting with a slow cold-open that shows him getting out of the shower while donning his armor, he gives a rousing speech to his subjects, asking them to be optimistic in their chances as they make their first big movie against The Saviors. Cut to the aftermath of last week’s episodes, where The Kingdom’s soldiers were prematurely patting themselves on the back for a casualty-free battle (at least on their side), before being gunned down with heavy artillery by Saviors in their outpost.

Crawling out from a pile of corpses — his subjects who threw themselves on him in a valiant effort to save him — Ezekiel, solemnly looks around at the carnage. Before a drawn-out sequence where he watches his former allies turn into walkers, which really seems like something everyone should be used to by now.

Anyway, another member of The Kingdom comes to his aid, before being shot in the back by the sleaziest-looking IT guy in the post-apocalypse (who’s also a Savior). Thus begins a long, drawn-out scene where the IT guy brags about taking ‘the king’ back to the Savior’s compound and putting his head on a spike. Just as the herd of walkers formally known as The Kingdom are closing in on the two, Jerry (Cooper Andrews) shows up at the last second and chops the guy clean in half. Then has trouble making it through a chain keeping that’s keeping some gates locked. (Seriously, this show).

They’re saved by Carol (Melissa McBride), who was tending to a gunfight of her own, trying to keep the heavy artillery away from another faction of Saviors, before hearing Daryl’s motorcycle in the distance and erasing all doubt that they wouldn’t get away.

This led to one of the most utterly ridiculous sequences this week, with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl in hot pursuit of the artillery-hoarding Saviors. It was like something out of The A-Team, where even a gatling gun didn’t so much as slow down the two main characters. Though it did remind me of the following GIF.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, with the heavy artillery is acquired by Rick and Daryl, this now three-episode battle counts as a win for The Ricktatorship. Well, not so fast. With a limping Ezekiel shaking off his Shakespearean dialect, he tells Carol and Jerry to leave him to deal with a half-dozen toxic waste-dwelling walkers. Having lost almost his entire army, he seems ready to sacrifice himself for what little bit of greater good seems left.

That is, until Shiva shows up in another trademark last-minute save (though it really wasn’t ever made clear why these few walkers were suddenly such a profound threat to these three, but whatever). And if The Walking Dead has taught us anything about the laws of nature, it’s that a 600-pound tiger is no match for a few rotting, ambling corpses, who surround her and — of course — devour her alive. A noble sacrifice, sure, if we’re willing to suspend all logic and disbelief. And given that the show is now on its eighth season with the threat possibility¬†of 50 more years, why wouldn’t we?

Anyway, Ezekiel (who no longer needs help walking), Carol, and Jerry make it back to the gates of The Kingdom, with the once optimistic faces of his non-warring subjects now sullen with the inferred losses of pretty much everyone, he strolls off without a word about their sacrifice.

Way to lead, guy.

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