The Walking Dead has returned to the airwaves for the second half of Season 7, and the midseason premiere finally introduced Rick and Co. to King Ezekiel and his crew at The Kingdom. Rick came to ask Ezekiel to join the folks from Alexandria and Hilltop in fighting the Saviors, but Ezekiel was less than enthusiastic about teaming up with them. Actor Khary Payton has come out to explain what was going through Ezekiel's head in the midseason premiere, saying this:
I don't know these people! If anything, they came knocking on the door and they want to go to war. He's asking to go to war. That's a big deal. So far, Ezekiel has been the only leader that has dealt with the Saviors that hasn't lost anybody. In Ezekiel's mind, he's like, 'I'm doing this right. I'm protecting my people. I'm doing enough to get by. I'm keeping the peace, and I understand that you guys are friends with Jesus, but I just met you.' There's a difference between helping somebody I just met and going to war with somebody I just met! That's a different story.
Given that we've been following the exploits of Rick and his merry band of survivors for seven seasons now, it's sometimes easy to forget that they don't exactly look like the most appealing allies in the zombie apocalypse. Sure, Rick is no longer wearing his crazy beard and Daryl changed out of his dog-food stained sweatsuit, but I can't blame Ezekiel for not jumping out of his throne at the opportunity to join them in opposing Negan, especially after Rick just announced to Morgan that two of their group had been killed. Going by Khary Payton's comments to ComicBook.com, Ezekiel needs more than a desperate group of outsiders to convince him to go to war.
As much as we should root for Ezekiel to join Rick and the other good guys in taking down Negan, the good king has a point about why The Kingdom is better off continuing their deal with the Saviors than rebelling against them. Why would Ezekiel want to form an alliance with a community that just had two of their members brutally murdered when The Kingdom is getting by without bloodshed? Honestly, Ezekiel deserves credit just for agreeing to harbor Daryl. The midseason premiere revealed that the Saviors are on the hunt for Daryl and won't be giving up anytime soon; Ezekiel could get his community in a lot of trouble if the Saviors discover that Daryl has sanctuary with them.
Of course, the episode also revealed that not everybody within the walls of The Kingdom is willing to sit by in relative peace while Alexandria and Hilltop amass forces for war. Still, Ezekiel reigns supreme, and it's likely that the people of The Kingdom won't be able to rise up as an organized force unless Ezekiel gives the order. Even if Ezekiel doesn't agree to go to war with Rick and Jesus any time soon, we can bet that there will still be plenty of action in The Kingdom. Now that most the major characters aren't split up and needing solo episodes of their own as they did in the first half of Season 7, the show will undoubtedly have more time to spend at The Kingdom.