Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't seen the second episode of The Walking Dead's latest season.
The Walking Dead viewers relished a stellar performance by actor Khary Payton when he was introduced on Sunday's episode as the comics' King Ezekiel. Proven quickly to be no idiot, Ezekiel made an intriguing choice when he slaughtered a group of pigs that he had set to feed on walker guts, and then used those pigs' meat as his offering to Negan's Saviors. Some fans took the zombie connection to mean Ezekiel was trying to sabotage the villainous minions' health in one way or another, but there are several reasons why that's not the case.
It's easy to see why one would think a zombie-eating pig would be able to pass along all sorts of awfulness to any humans with a taste for pork. (Basically anyone in this world.) But it would be hard for the pig meat to straight up give the Saviors the zombie infection, considering they already have it. Using that particular food for a mid-day barbecue won't turn the Saviors into the undead anymore than them wishing for it will.
One might then think that the infection being innate doesn't necessarily mean that eating walker-fied meat couldn't speed up the effects. But The Walking Dead universe has already put that one to rest in two different formats. In one issue of the comics, when Shiva is going to town on a couple of walkers, Ezekiel points out to Michonne that whatever it is fueling the walkers doesn't have any effect on animals. So it's likely they wouldn't be a very good conduit to pass anything on to humans.
But wait! Just because it doesn't turn the pigs into instant zombies doesn't necessarily mean that any potential diseases in the meat wouldn't surface in some way after being digested by people. Plus, the show doesn't always stick to the exact details of the comic book source material, right? Well, we actually got this concept disproved in live-action already, too.
Fear the Walking Dead took viewers down a particularly gruesome road in the Season 2 midseason premiere, which focused almost entirely on Nick at his most desperate. And in this case, "desperate" meant getting hydration from his own urine, as well as getting a meal out of a pair of dogs who had just been chomped on by a pack of walkers. And since Nick isn't one of the characters who bit the dust by the time the finale ended, we have our proof that eating even RAW meat from a walker-tainted animal won't kill or turn humans.
And if you needed some proof straight from the mouth of the man himself, actor Khary Payton shared with ComicBook.com exactly what Ezekiel has in mind when he's giving those pigs walkers to eat.
Hey, man, if the Mafia dude comes over and makes you a deal, and he's like, 'I want a bunch of pigs and they better be a nice size,' and you've got limited options, you go fill a bunch with zombie guts. There seems to be no end in sight as far as the supply of zombie guts. I got to feed my people, too, so I'm going to feed them the good stuff!
Truer words, right? Ezekiel knows exactly what's up in his "partnership" with the Saviors, and he doesn't mind helping out his own people while also sending them an unspoken message. But oh, man, how crazy would it have been if Ezekiel did want to poison the Saviors by sending the pig meat, but it ended up poisoning Daryl, who's currently being held captive.by Negan. That would not be the best way for Daryl to die. I don't wanna have to riot over pig meat.
All that said, I'd still think that some of that meat would have to make someone sick; not in a zombie sense, but in the "I just ate bad meat" sense. Doesn't anybody get food poisoning on this show?
The Walking Dead will give viewers a non-tainted taste of how Negan and his Saviors have been living. It airs Sunday nights on AMC. To see what else is yet to debut this year, check out our fall premiere schedule.