King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) could be masking more than a depression that might have caused his suicide if not for the intervention of Michonne (Danai Gurira). In the first clip from The Walking Dead 10x05, “What It Always Is,” Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Siddiq (Avi Nash) reach Hilltop to lend a hand as the colony continues to recover following a collapsed tree and an invasion by walkers. When Ezekiel asks if they’ve managed to track down Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — who was set loose from Alexandria’s prison with the help of an accomplice — Ezekiel coughs. Is there something he’s not sharing?
According to the official synopsis for episode 10x05, “Supplies go missing from Hilltop; Negan is idolized by an Alexandrian; Ezekiel holds a secret.”
This marks the second time this season attention has been drawn towards Ezekiel’s coughing. In the Season 10 premiere, “Lines We Cross,” Ezekiel had a coughing fit when helping extinguish the forest fire caused by a crashed Soviet satellite. At the time, there was no reason to suspect the cough was caused by anything other than Ezekiel’s proximity to smoke and flames.
But Ezekiel’s secret just might be an undisclosed illness. And if he’s keeping it hidden, it’s likely more severe than the common cold.
The king told worried best friend Jerry (Cooper Andrews) he’s all good, but is Ezekiel good?
“I doubt it. I doubt it. Therapy usually doesn't go the way of one session,” Payton told ComicBook.com of Ezekiel’s quiet sit-down with Michonne. “You know, one conversation with Michonne probably isn't enough. I think he probably going to have to find a couch to lean on and wax dramatically about the problems that are going on in his brain. But I think it'll probably take a little more than one conversation to get him all the way back.”
Because Ezekiel is leaning into his dark side in Season 10, there are worries something horrible is close to happening. But Payton, tight-lipped about Ezekiel’s future, says that’s par for the course on The Walking Dead.
“Something horrible is always about to happen. Absolutely,” Payton said. “I mean, what are you talking about man? You know the show that you’re dealing with. You know the show that you’re dealing with and you also know that I’m not going to be able to tell you a g—damn thing.”