This week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “The Well,” was a good episode on its own, but an even better episode when contrasted with last week’s grim, brutal and horrifying season premiere. “The Well” is exactly what the series needed after an unrelentingly grim sixth season and a premiere that contained not one moment of relief from the dread beyond the Tostitos commercials that occasionally broke the monotony of shock and revulsion. This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was a welcome relief, a reminder that occasionally The Walking Dead can be hopeful. Or at least, amusing.
The episode also did a good job of previewing what the rest of this season is about: It’s not just about survival. It’s not just about defending themselves from Negan. It’s about how the survivors of the zombie apocalypse are going to rebuild the world, one settlement at a time.
What’s Up With King Ezekiel?
This guy is a character! Those who haven’t read the graphic novels — or bailed after Issue #100, as many did — probably didn’t know what to expect from King Ezekiel. The series promos suggested an imposing figure who ruled over his kingdom with a fierce tiger. What we see when we are first introduced to Ezekiel, however, is something completely unexpected: A circus act. He carries a staff, he has a royal court, he speaks in ye olde English, and his tiger is mostly a showpiece. It’s hard not to laugh at King Ezekiel, which is the first instinct of Carol. As she so often does, however, Carol decides to be who she thinks everyone wants her to be, which in this case is a fawning subject in the realm of The Kingdom.
The scene was almost comical. But here’s the thing: If King Ezekiel had remained a caricature — if he had been played for only laughs — it probably would’ve gotten old after an episode or two (or maybe three or four, because I really like King Ezekiel). But by the episode’s end, he was revealed for who he really is: A zookeeper with some community theater experience who is just trying to make the best of a bad situation, who is just trying to be what his people want him to be: A larger-than-life figure who can command a tiger and, most importantly, protect his colony. When King Ezekiel was on the level with Carol, he was a completely different man: Warm, charming, and completely beguiling. He is every The Walking Dead fans new favorite character.