In just a few short weeks, Khary Payton’s reign as King Ezekiel (first of his name) in The Walking Dead will come to an end after six years with the long-running AMC series. During a recent conversation with Well-informed personPayton (who is also famous for playing Cyborg in teen titans Y Teen Titans Go!) admitted that he is “not at all satisfied” with the ending of the character’s story. At the same time, however, the actor fully understands why things had to be the way they are.
“There are so many places and situations that I would have loved to explore,” Payton explained. “But that’s one of the things that happens when you have a show that has so many dynamic and interesting characters. Forty-eight minutes or sometimes more than an hour-long episode just isn’t enough. These characters are beautifully built. I I think the strength of the show is that these characters are nuanced, they’re interesting, and there are so many of them that you just can’t understand all of them.”
Ezekiel first appeared in season 7 as the grandiose ruler and tiger trainer of The Kingdom, one of the communities forced to pay homage to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors. The king eventually joined Alexandria, Oceanside, and the Hilltop as the downtrodden survivors of the zombie-infested wasteland successfully revolted and freed themselves from the tyranny.
After this bloody war, Ezekiel married Carol (Melissa McBride), though the couple tragically parted ways when their adopted son, Henry (Matt Lintz), was beheaded by the Whisperers. Despite losing his kingdom and the love of his life, Ezekiel continued to lead by example and volunteered for the expedition that led to the Commonwealth. It was here that he not only received top-notch medical treatment for his growing thyroid cancer, but he was also able to resume his pre-apocalypse job as a zookeeper.
He and the other Alexandrians were suddenly exiled from the Commonwealth after the death of Pamela Milton’s son Sebastian (Teo Rapp-Olsson). Ezekiel in particular was assigned to the job detail (one that includes Angel Theory’s Negan and Kelly), which was transported to Outpost 22, a drab processing facility in Alexandria Payton described as “this sad Siberian version of Alexandria.”
While Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Carol, Rosita (Christian Serratos), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) hope to reunite with their loved ones and reclaim their old home, there are no guarantees. that everyone will come out of the fight alive, even if our protagonists know the terrain better than anyone.
“I think there’s home-court advantage, and then there’s coming home to a devastated place,” Payton continued. “Depends on how you’re thinking. At least for Kelly, Negan and Ezekiel, Alexandria isn’t exactly home.”
If the celebrated royal kicks the bucket in the next three episodes, there’s always the possibility of a prequel. “I’m so sorry to say goodbye to Ezekiel and I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that maybe at some point we can tell the story of how Ezekiel came to be king or something,” Payton said, later reaffirming his hope that the character’s survival to the end. series finale. “I could play not just flashbacks, but before and after. Fingers crossed I would really love to play Ezekiel again one day.”
New episodes of The Walking Dead premiere on AMC every Sunday at 9 pm ET. AMC+ subscribers can access them a week early.
If you’re looking to satisfy your zombie craving right away, head over to Peacock and see the movie that started the entire genre: George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Or check out SYFY’s original series, Day of the Dead.