Here’s a brief note to let those horrified by last week’s The Walking Dead know that — if you were wavering about whether to continue on with the series after the brutality of that episode — you should at least give tonight’s episode, “The Well,” a look see. In the episode, a new character is introduced: King Ezekiel. He’s the dreadlocked, sceptor-carrying, tiger-owning character that this show has been desperately missing. He speaks in ye olde English; his subjects ride horses and wear armor; and he has an honest to God royal court.
He’s also not what he seems, and I mean that in the best way. He’s not a dark figure with sinister ulterior motives. He’s a good guy. Not “good” like Rick is “good” by virtue of being a protagonist. He’s “good” like Glenn was good: He’s a genuinely decent man who — despite having his own run-ins with Negan and The Saviors — has not lost hope.
I sincerely love this character, and I am completely smitten with the actor who plays him, Khary Payton. He brings the same jolt of giddy excitement to the series that Tom Payne brought when he introduced Jesus (before Jesus sadly faded into the background). I do hope that Ezekiel plays a important role in the series going forward, and that Negan’s screentime is balanced by that of Ezekiel. They are, in some ways, the yin and yang of The Walking Dead right now. Negan is a menacing, ruthless, cold-blooded swallower of humanity ,and Ezekiel is the life-bringer: A funny, trusting, and compassionate leader who uses positive reinforcement instead of fear. He almost seems out of place, and given bleak tone of The Walking Dead in recent years, that’s a good thing.
Oh, and the actor who plays Ezekiel, Khary Payton? He’s good people. He’s mostly known for years of voice work in video games and animated television series (the list is literally too long to rattle off). He’s married to another actress, Stacy Reed Payton, and they have two children together. He can also sing, and he has a lovely voice. Here’s a video he made for his wife and kids.
I legit love this guy.