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Spoiler alert for anyone who has yet to watch the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
Following the dark and dismal Season 7 premiere, The Walking Dead lighted up for the extremely well-received introduction of Khary Payton's flamboyant King Ezekiel, leader of The Kingdom. We also reconnected with a recovering Carol, and though her first impressions of Ezekiel and his leadership were less than encouraging, the two later bonded by firelight as Ezekiel gave her (and audiences) an insightful look at the man beneath the dreads. The episode's sweet final moments hinted at something more, and Payton offered up an amusing answer to the question of a potential romance.
He's trying to get laid. I mean, you come bearing fruit. He put on a different shirt. Dude puts on a different shirt in an apocalypse... you know how hard it is to get another shirt during the apocalypse? There's not, like, an outlet store nearby.
In post-apocalyptic times, there aren't as many ways to try and woo a prospective mate, what what flower deliveries and fancy restaurant dinners no longer an option. (And I don't even think Tinder would have existed in this universe.) So you gotta go back to the basics: pop on a shirt that doesn't smell rank with death, grab a piece of non-rotting fruit, and make sure the timing is perfect. While there wasn't anything overwhelmingly indicative of Ezekiel's success in winning Carol over, the way her mouth slowly curled into a smile was all viewers needed. It was one of my favorite moments for the character, who so rarely gets the comfort she deserves.
Comic fans know that Ezekiel's romance in the source material was all about Michonne, but she's currently in a relationship with Rick (who probably isn't too worried about sexual gratification at this point), so that opens the door for both a sensible comic change-up and a path to potential happiness for Carol. Of course, many fans have been clamoring for Daryl and Carol to hook up at some point, which hasn't happened despite a handful of instances where it seemed imminent. So maybe this burgeoning relationship will also take a detour.
Appearing on Sunday night's episode of Talking Dead, Khary Payton did say that Ezekiel isn't only looking for a good time behind closed doors where Carol is concerned, and that unburdening himself to her had another purpose.
I think it was important that he give a piece of himself to Carol. I think he needs her strength. I think he's looking for a confidante, in Morgan and also in Carol. In order for her to bring down that wall, I think he needs to reveal something about himself.
Now that Carol is sticking around inside that graveyard caretaker house and Morgan has been assimilated into Ezekiel's squad, we'll hopefully get to spend more time in this location than the comics gave readers, with deeper connections between more characters. It'll be nice to have The Kingdom already feel important and interesting by the time Rick & Co. arrive. And if he happens to get there right when Ezekiel and Carol are sharing smooches by the back of a school bus, so be it.
The Walking Dead will keep giving audiences glimpses into how love works in a walker-filled world every Sunday night on AMC. You can currently watch the first two episodes of Season 7 in different ways, though AMC's website will be your best bet for now.