Shiva fans everywhere shed a tear this weekend when King Ezekiel’s pet tiger met her end during the fourth episode of The Walking Dead season 8, as the brave jungle cat died protecting her master from a horde of walkers. Though he lost his beloved sidekick, Ezekiel miraculously managed to escape death several times in the episode. However, there was a hint that he might not make it to the end of the season.
In one scene, Ezekiel’s held captive by an unnamed Savior who threatens to decapitate the Kingdom leader and put his head on a pike. Obviously, this turned out to be an empty threat in the episode itself, but the grisly phrase will stick in the minds of fans who’ve read Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comics, as in issue #144, Ezekiel died in that exact way.
So, was this a deliberate nod from the writers to warn viewers that Ezekiel hasn’t got long left? Obviously, going by the show’s current pacing and narrative progression, the TV series likely won’t reach that far ahead until at least season 9, or even 10. However, it’s worth remembering that the character has a pretty minor role in the comics after the “All Out War” arc. It’s conceivable then that they could kill Ezekiel off this season and not significantly impact upon future plotlines.
Actor Khary Payton wouldn’t be drawn on whether this is going to happen or not, but he does reveal that he’s at peace with the fact that his character is potentially due to die at some point, if the show echoes his comic book fate. Still, he does remind viewers that the TV series is an “alternate universe” and doesn’t have to blindly adapt what happened on the page.
“I am aware of what happens in the comic book. But it’s an alternate universe, No. 1. No. 2, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m having a ball playing Ezekiel. If and when he reaches his demise, that’s just the way this show goes. I don’t take anything that is written as anything more than something on the page, until they tell me that my head is dissected, or I’m killed in a different way from the comics. Or I might just hang around as long as Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride), you know? You never know. Either way, I always say this: as long as they miss me when I’m gone, I did my job.”
So, are we are on the right track here? We’ll just have to stay tuned and see as The Walking Dead continues Sunday nights on AMC.