The Walking Dead 10x04, “Silence the Whisperers,” briefly flirted with a romance between Michonne (Danai Gurira) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) as a nod to their comic book relationship. When en route to Hilltop, Michonne spots a depressed Ezekiel wandering into the woods alone. There he considers suicide, weighed down by his failure as leader of the shuttered Kingdom, his failure as father to murdered son Henry (Matt Lintz), and the failure of his marriage with ex Carol (Melissa McBride). After Michonne talks him down from a ledge, Ezekiel kisses her, and she kisses back. He apologizes, and Michonne admits it “never would have worked out anyway.” In a nod to creator Robert Kirkman’s comic books, Ezekiel says, “Maybe in another universe.”
Michonne and Ezekiel shared a rocky romance in the comic books. The Walking Dead #115 reveals they slept together, but Michonne insists it was a meaningless fling. “This has the potential to eventually mean something,” Michonne tells Ezekiel, “but for now… it doesn’t.”
In The Walking Dead #126, after defeating Negan and ending the war against the Saviors, Rick Grimes asks Michonne if she might depart Alexandria and join Ezekiel at the Kingdom, but she’s unsure about her future. Issue #127 reveals a two-year time jump, during which time Michonne ended her relationship with Ezekiel.
Michonne returns from life at sea in issue #139, where Ezekiel is noticeably anxious when awaiting Michonne’s arrival. “Everyone knows you’re not over her,” Rick tells Ezekiel when waiting at the docks. This scene played out differently in The Walking Dead’s Season 10 premiere, “Lines We Cross,” where it was Carol who returned after months away at sea.
When Michonne arrives, Rick chastises her for abandoning Ezekiel and leaving the communities without a word. “Things with Ezekiel… I just couldn’t… I couldn’t live there anymore,” she admits.
Michonne then confesses she inadvertently abandoned her children during the initial outbreak. Haunted by her failure to save her family, Michonne explains she ran away because she felt guilty over the “do-over” she was getting when facing a “new pretty life” with Ezekiel.
Rick encourages Michonne to “go home,” and during the fair hosted by the Kingdom, sailor Pete tells Ezekiel the distant Michonne is being stubborn. “You asking me if you should go after her? Hell yeah,” Pete says in issue #143. “Do something to knock some damn sense into her.”
But Michonne and Ezekiel would never reunite. Issue #144 ends with Rick, Andrea, Carl, Lydia and Michonne discovering a Whisperer border topped with the decapitated heads of one dozen victims, including Ezekiel’s.
“When you think about Ezekiel losing the Kingdom, all of the people that were in the Kingdom, Shiva, the actual structure itself, not to mention his adopted sons — both Benjamin and Henry — it’s a lot for a guy who tries to look on the bright side,” Payton said on a past episode of Talking Dead. “I think people who tend to look on the bright side are really trying to force that darkness back down, but the truth is, it’s still there, it’s brewing. It’s been no walk in the park.”