AMC has published the opening minutes from The Walking Dead 10x04, "Silence the Whisperers," the first episode of Season 10 directed by Michael Cudlitz. Set to "Heaven I Know" by Gordi, we see Daryl (Norman Reedus) leave a tray of food for a still-recovering Carol (Melissa McBride), while former Whisperer Lydia (Cassady McClincy) is left feeling out of place within Alexandria's walls. Meanwhile, at Hilltop, couple Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Magna (Nadia Hilker) enjoy private time together while colony leader King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) grows listless. Tormented by his separation from Carol and the death of son Henry (Matt Lintz), Ezekiel's troubles worsen when a tree collapses and takes out a wall — leaving Hilltop exposed to a flood of walkers in a suspected attack from the Whisperers.
Showrunner Angela Kang at San Diego Comic-Con noted Ezekiel's story in Season 10 would be a "surprise left turn for people" when praising the "deep and touching work by our wonderful Khary Payton." Payton later said Ezekiel is considering revenge against Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) for Henry's murder, but his ability to lead is affected by his depression and dark mental state.
"He's always been the guy who acts after thought. When Rick and the gang came to meet him, he didn't rush into the fight with Negan. When Carol said 'It's time to fight,' [he said], 'Yes, but not today,'" Payton previously said on Talking Dead. "He's always thinking about action, but wanting to think his way through it. I think dealing with his whole guilt thing on top of that, he's not gonna rush in. He's not Carol, who's just like, 'Let me find something flammable and throw it on somebody.'"
Carol is struggling with her own self-destructive behaviors, having grown obsessed with avenging Henry's death. Though they now reside in separate communities following their split and the shuttering of the Kingdom, both Carol and Ezekiel share unbearable guilt over Henry, whose memory haunts Carol in the form of disturbing visions.
"I think that, like so many times when bad times happen, you blame yourself. I think Ezekiel blames himself, I think Carol blames herself," Payton said. "[They feel] that they should have been more vigilant, they should have been better protectors, better parents, somehow they should have seen three steps ahead of where Alpha was going. I think that's what happens with their relationship, is that you turn that turmoil, sometimes you turn it outwardly, but both of them are very guilt ridden about what's happened."