King Ezekiel’s Journey Will Take ‘Surprise Left Turn’ On ‘The Walking Dead’

Khary Payton attending “The Walking Dead” Premiere and After Party.
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As fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead may already know, King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Queen Carol (Melissa McBride) ended their relationship during the show’s Season 9 finale. Now, with Season 10 drawing closer, showrunner Angela Kang is teasing a new direction for Payton’s newly single character, according to a report from Comicbook.

The couple’s six-year marriage ended after the death of their son, Henry, played by Matt Lintz. Henry and almost a dozen other members of the group were targeted and slaughtered by Samantha Morton’s Alpha and her merry band of Whisperers. During an earlier episode, Alpha decided to mark her territory by chopping off the heads of her victims, attaching the heads to pikes, and arranging them in a line for the remaining members of the group to see on their way back home.

At the end of the Season 9 finale, a grief-stricken Carol declared she was ready to move back to Alexandria while her now-estranged husband, Ezekiel, continues to oversee his group of survivors at Hilltop.

Kang said it’s not unusual for couples to lose their way and end their relationships after the loss of a child, and she’s taking the opportunity to create an exciting new and different storyline for Payton.

“I think Ezekiel, he’s definitely dealing with issues of leadership and what his place in the world is. I think Khary is doing an amazing job with the journey that he’s on this season,” Kang said. “I don’t want to say too much about it, because I think it will be a surprise left turn for people, but a lot of deep and touching work by our wonderful Khary Payton.”

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Payton’s Ezekiel has outlived his comic book counterpart, who was killed along with the other pike victims in issue 144 of Robert Kirkman’s comic book.

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“There’s definitely a lot of fertile ground for Ezekiel, because the interesting thing with our show is we rarely kill a person the same way on the show that Kirkman did in the comic,” Kang told Entertainment Weekly, before adding that Steven Yeun’s Glenn was the exception.

The official trailer for Season 10 showed Ezekiel kissing Michonne, played by Danai Gurira. Michonne was previously romantically linked to the show’s lead, Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, who has been believed dead for six years. When asked about the blossoming romance between her character and the king, Gurira said she wasn’t able to share details, according to a report from Entertainment Weekly.

The Walking Dead Season 10 will premiere on October 6, on AMC.