A Glimpse of Hope
This week’s episode of The Walking Dead brought a refreshing sense of continuity to a series riddled with confusion. But has it come too late?
As I’ve previously stated, series eight of the show has so far been extremely misleading and unclear for the viewer. As an audience, we’ve grasped the basics; Negan’s Saviors are now at full on war with Rick and his followers. However, none of details of how Rick plans to win this war have been revealed to any great extent. We know he and Daryl are on a mission to locate the Saviors coveted gun stash.
However, due to the tentative emission of detail and fractured structure of each episode so far, the series has failed to cultivate that sense of urgency it has been aiming for. We don’t really know the consequences if Rick doesn’t find these guns; especially as they have a seemingly unending supply themselves. Similarly, it takes some time to realise the outpost these guns have been moved to is actually the one Carol and Ezekiel are capturing. As a result, it’s hard to become invested in the supposed drama of it all.
Therefore, ‘Some Guy’ certainly felt like a well needed respite from this perplexing flow. Instead of trying to focus on several different character arcs at once, the episode hones in on Ezekiel and Carol. This allows the theme of character development in a zombie apocalypse to be explored in greater detail. This continuity from the last episode, and more centred episode plot makes the episode easier to follow and more engaging.
What Makes a King?
Between the comics and the TV series, Ezekiel has quickly become one of my favourite characters. And this episode showed exactly why he is such an intriguing character. Some might find his over the top regale charade hard to stomach, but in reality it is a necessity.
The episode essentially opens with Ezekiel’s beauty regime, which is important. While this may be somewhat comical, it mirrors an actor preparing for a show. It reminds us that Ezekiel doesn’t wake up as a king, with royal blood flowing through his veins. He is, in reality, just ‘Some Guy’ fulfilling a role that needs to be filled.
Surely enough, after getting himself into character, Ezekiel delivers one of his famous speeches to The Kingdom. His words exude confidence. Despite the fact those he is preaching to may never see their loved ones again, he inspires. He laughs and smiles, and removes any doubt of failure. He does this because he knows that, as these people’s leader, this is what is required of him. This is what the apocalypse has shaped him into: a king. Not out of a desire to satisfy his own vanity.
The same can be said for the show’s other characters. Within this episode, we’re reminded of just how far Carol has come since season one. We see her in ‘Some Guy’ at her best: pragmatic, unwaveringly strong and ruthlessly determined. While Ezekiel and the troops from The Kingdom stand vulnerable in a field, celebrating their victory pre-emptively, Carol is already on a solo mission to infiltrate the outpost.
We watch as Carol takes down a number of Saviors and escaping more than one tricky corner with impressive skill. Her concise and unhesitant style is matched only by that of Daryl. However, when faced with the option of saving Ezekiel and Jerry and stopping the Saviors, Carol chooses to aid her allies.
We know, though, Carol was not always this pragmatic, fast thinking killer that we see before us. At one stage, she was a fragile, abused and self-doubting version of herself.
So what has made Carol into this new, hardened version? What makes Ezekiel a king? What makes Negan act like Negan? A sense of necessity – be that for survival, control or power – brought on by the apocalypse.
The King is dead
‘Some Guy’ also deals with the concept of what would happen if this sense of necessity were to become threatened. Suddenly, we go from a shot of Ezekiel rallying the spirits of his troops with a motivational speech, to him lying under the dead bodies of his subjects. They slowly begin to turn, and grief and terror slowly takes over Ezekiel.
As the episode progresses, Ezekiel evidently loses faith in himself. He begins to fall out of character. His Shakespearean dialect falters, and his self-confidence evaporates. He no longer feels worthy enough to live, let alone be called a king, begging Jerry and Carol to leave him for dead more than once.
However, despite Ezekiel losing sight of why his royal regime is so essential, Jerry and Carol understand its importance. When a defeated Ezekiel announces to Jerry that he no longer has to refer to him as the king, Jerry simply replies “dude, yes I do”. Even though Jerry has primarily acted as a comedic relief up until now, he is by no means unintelligent. As one of the king’s loyalist subjects he comprehends that it is paramount the king remains strong.
Jerry doesn’t save the king and keep up his royal façade out of his love for theatrical. He does it because he recognises the necessity of having a king to rule The Kingdom. He, like everyone else, needs someone to believe in. And if Ezekiel was good at one thing it was getting people to believe in him. Without this belief, The Kingdom would undoubtedly ebb into a state of despair.
Even as pragmatic as she is, Carol also acknowledges the necessity of Ezekiel’s feigned royalty. She may not agree with the king’s methodology, but she cannot ignore its effectiveness. As a result, she does not hesitate to try to save the king on both a physical and mental level.
There is very little I can fault with ‘Some Guy’. It’s a well-acted, well-written and well-directed episode. The slower pace of the episode worked incredibly well, and helped to get the season back on track. Suddenly, when ammo doesn’t seem to be everlasting and threats are omnipresent, tension is a lot more tangible. With this tension present, it’s easier to invest in the show, and engage with the overall plot of the show.
Similarly, the episode ended on an impressively strong note. Though the death of Shiva was a huge emotional blow for fans, it was important development in the storyline. Now that Ezekiel has lost not only his greatest love, but his greatest weapon, the progression of this war will follow a very different path. It also seems to bring things back to reality a bit. While Shiva is an excellent and fitting addition to the comics, she never seemed to fit as comfortably in the TV series.
The car chase scene at the end of the episode between Daryl, Rick and Negan’s henchmen was also strong. The action of this scene fit in perfectly with the tone of the overall episode. It didn’t feel forced like in some of the previous episodes. It generated excitement and interest in a genuine fashion, and reminded us why we all started watching The Walking Dead in the first place.
Overall, I’m looking forward to next week’s episode and the return of Negan.
What did you guys think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!